Small Works, Big Ideas

Honey, I Shrunk the Art



WHAT: 24th annual “Honey, I Shrunk the Art” exhibit
WHEN: 11am-5pm on weekends and by appointment through Jan. 18
WHERE: Matzke Fine Art Gallery and Sculpture Park, 2345 Blanche Way, Camano Island

Monday, December 1, 2014

Small works pay off with big satisfaction in the new Karla Matzke show, “Honey, I Shrunk the Art.” Her gallery opening was the best thing going on a rainy, dark Camano Island evening. We stepped out of the car into fragrant salt air, perfumed with cedar.

Many artists and friends celebrated together. Newcomers were Ante and Lisa Svircic, who also show at Gallery West in Fairhaven. She, with a painting and drawing degree, has been sculpting since 2008, when she bought a piece of stone and simply “went for it.” Her smooth, alabaster pieces are intriguing and evocative. 

As for Ante, Lisa had given him a box of pastels and some encouragement. The result is a set of tiny, vivid forest and water scenes, quite powerful.

Kirk McLean, who is best known for large basalt and granite sculptures, owing to family tragedy has recently been carving small pieces in soapstone, which convey powerful emotions. These works express his grief about the death of his wife. “New World” is a prostrate tree clinging to rock, carved all in the rough. The partly polished “Lost World” portrays two tree trunks wrapped around each other.

The many other fine sculptures include tiny figures by Philip Levine, polished abstract belemite, chlorite and steatite pieces by Reg Akright, and a graceful circle of limestone by Robert E. Gigliotti.

Richard Nash, creator of several large works in the sculpture garden, contributes a series of small acrylics with classic lines.

In a conversation with Lin McJunkin, I learned how she took her experience with traditional pat de verre glass sculpture to a new medium: tempered glass. She places even-sized pieces of the broken material in a mold with colorant and heats them in a kiln, creating the effect of frozen movement.

The young Madeline Owen enjoyed a stunning debut in last spring’s Matzke show, when she also played a violin solo. She has returned with expressive charcoal portraits of crows, rabbits and hummingbirds. They are full of energy. She has a great natural gift.

Jack Gunter works in egg tempera: his whimsical and colorful “Noah’s Arc [sic] on Puget Sound,” “The Bathers”—a riff on Cezanne—and “Winter on the Stilly” are the delightful headliners of the show.

The magical prints and acrylic paintings of animals by Janie Olson seem to be everywhere. She combines formal portraits of a goat, bunny or owl with extravagant trappings of ivy, unicorn’s horns, sprays of clover, bleeding heart, butterflies and moths. A Renaissance-style background creates a surreal effect. 

As you would expect at a Matzke showing, everything deserves study and praise. There are pieces by Anne Martin McCool (small, monochrome abstractions), Donna Watson (collage), and superb abstract acrylics by Joan Enslin. I appreciated Don Haggerty’s tiny oil-bar-on-hardboard studies of dancers: they are gracefully done, capturing movement and gesture, in the spirit of French Impressionism.

Matzke, herself an accomplished pastel artist, has only two works in the show: “Meadow” and “Fall Walk.” In her service to others, she hasn’t had time to create. Who else would mow the 10-acre sculpture garden? 

“Have you tried goats?” I asked.

“The coyotes got them.”

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