Enchanted in Edison
WHAT: Works by Ann Morris and Kathleen Faulkner
WHEN: Through March 31
WHERE: Smith & Vallee Gallery, 5742 Gilkey Ave., Edison
WHAT: “Backwards and Forwards”
WHEN: Through March 31
WHERE: i.e. gallery, 5800 Cains Court
Wednesday, March 13, 2019
One of the most refreshing exhibits in the Skagit Valley is the combined show of artwork by Kathleen Faulkner and Ann Morris at Smith & Vallee Gallery in Edison. Faulkner’s work, often seen here during the past 10 years, has achieved a high level of beauty and significance in her recent oil pastels.
Her images of the valley, its mountains and waterways, are based on photographs, enhanced by memories. “The Source” is the view of Mt. Baker from her bedroom window in Anacortes. “Some Days Are Like That,” at first glance a magnificent abstraction, turns out to be a study of water reflections.
“Edison Slough” and “Minus Tide” are magical: cloud reflections glow against water, luminous with the illusion of depth created by countless fine pastel strokes.
Three smaller works, “Things We Need,” are fanciful groupings of enigmatic shapes floating on black backgrounds. Are they diatoms seen through a microscope?
Once again, boats become a medium of expression—as we have seen before at Smith & Vallee and at MoNA‘s recent “Surge” exhibit. Ann Morris uses a jig on which to build delicate “vessels” that she hopes will survive to glide into the next dimension carrying traces of her life and personality.
“Twisted Basket” is made of cane and date palm shards. Others incorporate bracken stems, rope, twigs, slivers of bamboo, gauzy veils—even remains of butterflies and dragonflies, delicately brushed with acrylic to ward off bugs and decay.
Curator Andrew Vallee arranged the lighting to cast a web of shadows from the delicate vessels onto the wall beneath them, enhancing the drama of intermeshed object and space.
In contrast, Morris’ bronze sculptures are compact, weighty and convey a sense of endurance. The skeletal “Raven Bowl” is cast bronze—skull, beak, ribs and vertebrae. “Crow Boat” is comprised of two bronze bird’s claws in a foot-long canoe. For Morris, these vessels are “symbols of our own journey through nature and time.”
Just down the street, i.e. gallery offers “Backwards and Forwards,” a retrospective of 40 years of work by Ed Kamuda. Half a century ago, the young New Yorker arrived in La Conner intending to write poetry. He quickly fell under the spell of artists Guy Anderson and Clayton James, who challenged him to become a painter.
Kamuda has been an avid student of 20th century European artists. You can see possible influence of Chaim Soutine in his early work and of Paul Klee in the exuberant “Seeding the Planets” (1996).
Compare the gestural energy of Kamuda’s colorful “Man Measuring” (1994) against Chagall’s “Green Violinist.” But it’s Kamuda’s own sheer originality behind “As Time Goes By,” (2009-2010)—a highway twisting into the sky, witnessed by somber ellipses suggesting heads and distant hills.
Around the same time, he created the powerful and intriguing “The Clock in the Ice.” Across a blue-black background adorned with yellow rectangles and brown chestnuts, a fluted spiral winds into a black square. You could look at it forever and never understand.
Scenes from the studio
When I moved to Whatcom County more than 20 years ago, I spent the first year of my residency at my family’s longtime cabin on Lummi Island. It was the only time in my life I’d ever lived alone, and I soon learned that being surrounded by natural beauty 24 hours a day took some of the sting…
From nature to abstraction
Perry and Carlson Gallery in downtown Mount Vernon never fails to offer superbly curated exhibits of local and regional artists. The present show is of sculpture and monoprints by Jean Behnke, whose work has appeared at the Whatcom Museum, Smith & Vallee Gallery, the Museum of Northwest…
Landscapes of loss
A scant three days after viewing “Water’s Edge: Landscapes for Today” at Whatcom Museum’s Lightcatcher Building, I awoke to the unsurprising news that a report had just been published by the United Nations noting that as many as one million of Earth’s plant and animal species are currently…