Visual

Dialogues

From Seattle to Skagit

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Many Skagit Valley artists are inevitable satellites of Seattle; they train there and market their work down south. Two new shows this month underscore that connection. 

At i.e. gallery in Edison, owner and artist Margy Lavelle brings the whimsical and edgy work of Seattleites Julie Paschkis, Warren Dykeman, and Joe Max Emminger to the forefront. And in Mount Vernon, transplants Trina Perry Carlson and Christian Carlson offer a joint exhibition of their own work.

The title of the Perry and Carlson Gallery show, “Dialogue,” reflects the couple’s mutual criticism and support. Although they work in very different ways, the art of each expresses intimate and revealing moments.

Now in his second year here, Christian has fallen in love with the Skagit winter landscape. He says his lustrous and moody encaustics evoke the “heavy white skies, the burnt-reds of blueberry bushes, the ochres and umbers of damp tilled land, the brown-greens of tidal flats, dark hills ghostly white in the mist… lending a sense of tempestuousness, stillness and melancholy, which the Dutch landscape painters understood.”

Trina turns antique and found elements to novel purposes. To challenge the notion of what is “hidden” and “revealed,” she flips over a stretched canvas and fastens objects on the reverse, which gives her “a shadow box, an embroidery hoop, a frame.” Each of her profoundly ambiguous works makes an eloquent statement: “A sense of something lost or cast off, taking on a new life that honors the past or aches after it.”

In “Slip,” a network of threads binds a faded nightdress into mute obedience. In “Root Bound,” dried sticks arise from what looks like a caterpillar nest, and an underlying piece of lace refers to lost domesticity. “Ascending” displays a Victorian infant’s smock stretched like a crucifix, with desiccated fibers in place of internal organs.

Trina’s work “finds a balance point between the sentimental and the macabre,” Christian says. “Not macabre,” she answers, but “mortality.”

At gallery “i.e.” the theme is naïf. Dykeman comes from a street art/skateboard tradition (he’s been collected by Microsoft). He mixes colorful blocks of collage and paint into heads, vases, shoes or ducks in unmodulated color: “Red Plant” features a menacing, one-eyed, red octopus with legs.

Julie Paschkis has published and illustrated some 30 children’s books, but what she does for fun is draw gouache and ink figures suggesting folk tales. A blushing lady rides a fire-breathing, wheeled horse above a tree-bearing golden fruit. A square sun smiles upon a woman and cat, all jumbled around with solid colors.  She draws weathervanes and silhouettes in a quasi-Victorian style.

Joe Max Emminger offers rough, monochrome clay sculptures reminiscent of African carvings. A platter textured like chiseled wood boasts a stick-lizard soaring over a leaping cat. Others are “horizontal totems”—a man’s head on a fish, on top of a real brush.  Another man rides in a bird-shaped boat.

Reports from both galleries are favorable—customers from Seattle and even Portland are following their favorite artists north.

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