Visual

Flights of Fancy

Even the birds are excited

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Five bald eagles watched me turn off Highway 11 on my way to see “Flight of Fancy,” the new show of works by 50 artists at Smith & Vallee Gallery in Edison. So, even the birds are excited. 

What better place to mount an avian art show than in the Skagit Valley, where you can count as many as 362 species, plus 50,000 migrating geese and swans?

Vikki Jackson’s heron portrait, “Sentinel,” stands watch at the entrance. Jackson is a professional ecologist as well as a wildlife artist. Except for her grumpy heron, the birds in the show appear to be lighthearted.

The eagle in Anne Schreivogl’s acrylic painting, “Light as a Feather,” might be chuckling as it perches on a clothesline between astonished songbirds. 

Cheri O’Brien puts delightful images of nuthatches and chickadees into her gouache compositions, “Under the Winter’s Moon” and “Winter Sun Breaks Through.” The birds are realistic and the background imaginative, with rays from both the sun and moon depicted as rippling breath or song.

Dedrian Clark gives us “Ruffed Grouse Peek Hole” in pastel. Leo Osborne’s wall sculpture of a house wren on a branch won him the honor of “Best in the World” some years ago. He was bitten with the love of nature as a child in the forests of Massachusetts, and has been an artist ever since, living and working in his studio on Guemes Island.

Curt McCauley brings whimsy to his Oriental-style portraits of birds in watercolor and sumi ink—“5 Little Birds” and “Yakity Yak, Don’t Talk Back.”

Linda Okazaki’s cheery “Party in the Palouse” features festive women with bird-heads—and a real wolf. The Port Townsend artist has for years created portraits of humans, animals and disturbing dream sequences, all in a vigorous style which hovers somewhere between Munch and le douanier Rousseau.

Human/animal hybrids fascinate sculptor Sandi Bransford too. For her, they allude to the dual spirit nature of all human beings. “Nested” sports a woman with a ruff of feathers and a nest on her head and “Swarm” depicts one with birds for hair and a crown. 

Barry Herem’s sandblasted glass sculpture, “Flight Fall,” will require careful study to find the eagle in the Native American “form-line” style.  He adopted this tradition in the course of investigating indigenous artwork in more than a thousand sites in Southeast Alaska.

The abstractions in the show deliver much of the visual “punch.” Keith Sorenson’s “Songbird,” orange and yellow, streaks across a green/black background. His “Avian” is a grey smear, outlined in black, on an orange/yellow field—more like its dinosaur ancestor than any living bird.

Don’t leave without a visit to hidden treasures in the back room, including two abstractions by Julia “Joules” Martin: “Raptor Spiral” and “Rise to the Flight.” Move close to study her fascinating swirls of color—she textures the paint with hair picks or a fork—then step back and watch the hawks appear.

If you’d like to see even more birds materialize, time your visit for Sun., Feb. 25. It’s the final day of the exhibit, and the date of the town’s annual Chicken Parade. Are the birds excited for it? Find out for yourself.

West Coast
More Visual...
Basket Case
The art of weaving

Pardon the pun, but I was a real basket case when I arrived to view “Rooted, Revived, Reinvented: Basketry in America” on a recent Wednesday afternoon at Whatcom Museum’s Lightcatcher Building.

I was leaving for a two-week tropical vacation the following day, and had delayed my museum…

more »
True to Form
A closer look at the human body

On a recent Monday afternoon, Heidi Wood pointed to
“Mass #4,” a painting of a torrid tangle of naked humans involved in what appeared to be an orgy.

“I think this artist—Eleanor Ortland—is really going to go places,” Wood proclaimed with an accent reminiscent of a character on…

more »
The Homecoming
When photographs tell stories

A sophisticated artist and professor in Portland, Oregon, Holly Andres remains refreshingly modest about her sudden success. She receives commissions for photo shoots from mainstream publications like the New York Times, Time, and the New Yorker, and her fine art gets attention in Art in…

more »
Events
Today
Bellingham Cocktail Week

5:00pm|Throughout Bellingham

Bellingham Human Rights Film Festival

12:00pm|Throughout Bellingham

A Murder is Announced

7:30pm|Claire vg Thomas Theatre

Wild Things

9:30am|Interurban Trail

Painting at the Library

10:00am|Blaine Library

Valley Writers

1:00pm|South Whatcom Library

Coffee Tasting

3:00pm|Camber Cafe

Food not Bombs

4:00pm|Downtown Bellingham

Backcountry Horsemen's Fundraiser Auction

5:30pm|Everson Auction Barn

Beauty and the Beast

7:30pm|McIntyre Hall

Bellingham Youth Jazz Band

7:30pm|Bellingham Senior Activity Center

The Queen of Rock

7:30pm|Mount Baker Theatre, Lincoln Theatre

Cupid's Arrow, Backyard Brawl

8:00pm|Upfront Theatre

Celtic Nights
Tomorrow
Bellingham Cocktail Week

5:00pm|Throughout Bellingham

Bellingham Human Rights Film Festival

12:00pm|Throughout Bellingham

A Murder is Announced

7:30pm|Claire vg Thomas Theatre

The Queen of Rock

7:30pm|Mount Baker Theatre, Lincoln Theatre

Beauty and the Beast

7:30pm|McIntyre Hall

Cupid's Arrow, Backyard Brawl

8:00pm|Upfront Theatre

Children's Literature Conference

8:00am|Western Washington University

Ferndale Pancake Breakfast

8:00am|American Legion Hall

Winter Celebration of Hellebores

9:00am|Christianson's Nursery

Small Farm Expo

9:00am|Northwest Washington Fairgrounds

Bonsai for Beginners

9:00am|Garden Spot Nursery

Smelt Run

10:00am|La Conner Middle School

Garden Design

10:00am|Blaine Library

Nooksack River Writing Group

10:00am|Village Books

Fiberfest

10:00am|La Conner Middle/High School

An expo for everyone

12:00pm

Tax Help

12:30pm|First Congregational Church

Raising Pigs

1:30pm|Cloud Mountain Farm Center

Naturally Speaking Panel Discussion

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

The art of weaving

2:00pm

Birding for Kids

2:30pm|Skagit Valley

Songs of Protest & Social Justice

3:00pm|North Fork Library

Song of Fire Book Launch

3:30pm|Upper Skagit Library

Bourbon Street Bingeaux

5:30pm|Boys & Girls Club

Contra Dance with Northern Contraband

7:00pm|Fairhaven Library

Oceans of Hope with Celtic Nights

7:30pm|Mount Baker Theatre

Serial Killers

7:30pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

Bayshore Symphony

7:30pm|St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Central Lutheran Church

Celtic Nights Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1
Sunday
Bellingham Cocktail Week

5:00pm|Throughout Bellingham

A Murder is Announced

7:30pm|Claire vg Thomas Theatre

Beauty and the Beast

7:30pm|McIntyre Hall

Winter Celebration of Hellebores

9:00am|Christianson's Nursery

Birding for Kids

2:30pm|Skagit Valley

Bayshore Symphony

7:30pm|St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Central Lutheran Church

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

1:00pm|Lincoln Theatre

Audubon at the Museum

1:30pm|Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall

Birding for Kids

2:30pm|Skagit Valley

Sunday at 3 Young Artist Concert

3:00pm|Jansen Art Center

Divinely Flawed

4:00pm|Village Books

Lenny White Trio

7:00pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

Take Me to Church

8:00pm|Rumors Cabaret

see our complete calendar »

Village Books Trove Web Celtic Nights Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1