Works by Ward

An evolution in style

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

What do we know about why some artists work for years in the same style while others develop new ones? Does an artist “freeze” his or her output into a popular style to satisfy the expectations of the market? Do curators discourage novelty because they believe it suggests immaturity?

The history of art celebrates artists such as Manet and Picasso, who found new styles and changed the way we see the world. But even these innovators may stick to a novel style long after they have exhausted its possibilities.

The present show at the Scott Milo Gallery on Commercial Avenue in Anacortes gives us examples of artists whose approach has remained fluid over time and some who have held onto a style perhaps too long.

A fine selection of works by Dederick Ward, “A Collection of Paintings from 1990-Present,” illustrates the evolution of his art from 1992 to 2015. Ward retired to Anacortes in 1990 and taught himself how to paint. His first efforts (not on view here) related to his former profession in geology. The earliest we see, “Catalyst” (1992), is a bold, abstract expressionist work, built upon the popular rectangular grid, with wide, sweeping brushwork and commanding color contrast.

In comparison, “Fir Island Reflection” (1998) is a lovely, semi-realist landscape. It reminds me of the work of Raoul Dufy—who himself went from impressionism to cubism and back again. Ward might profitably have painted for years in this style.

A trio of Ward’s paintings from 2003-2009—“Jackson Ridge,” “Black Buttes,” and “Sky over Edison”—fit squarely in the pictorial category. But the splendid “Autumn Wetland” (2007) is a pure gestural abstraction of stripes in gold, blue and black, bursting with energy.

In his more recent “atmospheric” paintings, Ward appears to be moving squarely into minimalism, especially the delicate “Shades of Lavender” (2016), which is basically a color field study.

Ward’s evolution in style is paralleled by cast-glass artist Lin McJunkin. Several of her sculptures are taking successful new directions, including “Farmland at Risk,” “Resilience,” and “Bactra Moth,” each uniquely beautiful.

The work of other artists on view (not retrospectives) reflect the opposite approach. Brooke Borcherding burst onto the scene a couple of years ago with a vibrant, cubistic style. She must have found her market, as she has doubled-down on this style.

And here also are graceful, still-life pieces by Melissa Jander. They might not have been out of place in the 19th century.

Or would they? On second glance, we discover subtle, cubist angles married to impressionist brushwork. Jander has found a vision which leaves her abundantly capable of freely varying her color and brushwork to make each painting appear distinct and fresh and lively —just the thing for the Skagit Valley on a gloomy day.

More Visual...
Cup Show
An exhibit that runneth over

I have three coffee cups I keep in constant rotation. One is a dark blue and dense, and was handcrafted by a ceramicist who obviously knew exactly what they were doing. The second has a hairline fracture in it, but the painted-on fir trees and snow on it are so lovely I can’t bear to ditch…

more »
Night Moves
Art and action after dark

At last Friday’s Wine Walk in downtown Bellingham, more than 700 humans purchased tickets to sample grape elixirs and explore 20 unique venues in the urban core. While wine tasting was the official reason for the spring soiree, I heard more than one attendee express amazement at discovering…

more »
A trio of tales

Sara Siestreem was “thunderstruck” to hear her ancestors speak to her through handmade Indian baskets. A professional painter, trained in modern expressionism, she was visiting a private collection of indigenous artifacts. If DNA persists in whatever we create with our hands, she…

more »
BC Morgan Horse Show

9:00am| Northwest Washington Fairgrounds

Twelfth Night

7:30pm|Philip Tarro Theatre

School of Rock

7:00pm|BAAY Theatre

Boating Center Open

10:00am|Community Boating Center

Back to the basics


Ski to Sea Race

7:00am|Mt. Baker to Bellingham Bay

Rabbit Ride

8:00am|Fairhaven Bicycle

Images of Resilience Farewell

12:00pm|Whatcom Museum's Lightcatcher Building

Fairhaven Festival

12:00pm|Historic Fairhaven

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

1:00pm|Lincoln Theatre

Audubon at the Museum

2:00pm|Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall

Art of Jazz


Village Books
Open Mic

7:00pm|Village Books


9:30pm|Green Frog

Village Books Northwood Steak and Crab
Fermented Vegetables

6:30pm|Community Food Co-op

Skagit Folk Dancers

7:00pm|Bayview Civic Hall

Gather Round

7:00pm|Honey Moon Mead & Cider

Chamber Concerts

7:30pm|Performing Arts Center Concert Hall

see our complete calendar »

Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1 Trove Lester and Hyldahl Village Books Northwood Steak and Crab Bellingham Farmer’s Market