Visual

Growth Patterns

Observing nature through oil and stone

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

On the bitter-cold day I visited Smith & Vallee Gallery in Edison to see Patty Haller’s oil paintings of flowers and forest scenes, it was like entering a verdant greenhouse. No wonder so many of her beautiful paintings have been chosen by hospitals—they offer healing, visual therapy.

And the stoneware sculptures by Brian O’Neill in the exhibit, “Growth Patterns,” are a perfect complement to Haller’s sinuous designs and exuberant color. His work has been seen at the Smithsonian and many Western galleries. While he claims to portray the “universal rhythms of nature…evoking stone and the natural landscape,” I saw archaic shapes the Mycenaeans might have left: sphere, ax head, wedge.

O’Neill’s “Lichen Sphere” is endlessly wrapped with ribbons of brown and white glaze, suggesting an ancient origin within the earth. “Iron Squared Sphere” has a massive, powerful quality beyond all proportion to its domestic size.

Haller has been a forester and a financial analyst. A keen observer of nature, she admires artists of historical significance, like Mondrian, Piero della Francesca, David Hockney, and Gustav Klimt. In her own work, she seeks to create a dialogue “between contemporary and full-on old school” techniques.

Many pieces have a filmy haze to the colors and outlines, as if seen through sleepy eyelids. She blends her oils with thinned paint and wipes them with tinted glaze, leaving subtle traces of the brush.

Her study of art history inspired her to incorporate memento mori in her paintings. Dead branches and dried ferns are little reminders to acknowledge “life’s seasons and natural cycles.”

This concept inspired her to paint a life-sized portrait of a fallen tree, which in decay is smothered beneath foliage and flowers. She labored on the 15-foot-long triptych six days a week for two months.

But here she focuses not on death, but life, calling it a memento vivere—a “reminder to live in the present, to laugh and love, make new friends, celebrate babies and enjoy nature.”

She continues to celebrate nurturing with “Madonna of the back 40” in the form of a live, mature tree, shown as an upright trunk shadowed in violet. Under its branches flourish delicate, pastel flowers, rendered in silhouette. A tangle of stems and twigs metamorphoses upward into a semblance of stained glass.

Haller has not forgotten the male principle. She names her small painting of a logging slash pile, “Schumpeter’s Logic,” in memory of the Austrian-American economist who justified “creative destruction” as an essential part of capitalism.

One large painting stands out from others, seemingly an outlier with its comparatively monochromatic scheme. In “Jaune Brillant,” a forest pool glows with magical, golden light in a blue/violet forest. It’s a nice break from the stuffy, curatorial logic that requires an artist to stick to one style. Is this a new direction for Haller?

More Visual...
Creature Feature
All about the animals

If you don’t like animals, there’s something wrong with you and it might be time to seek professional help. Another option would be to peruse the following creature features during the month of August to find out if local artists’ renderings of the furry and the feathered and the scaled…

more »
Museum Meandering
An intimate look at creation

It was purely accidental that one of the hottest days of the summer coincided with a visit to Whatcom Musem’s Lightcatcher Building to view “Crow’s Shadow Institute of the Arts at 25” and “The Intimate Diebenkorn: Works on Paper 1949-1992.”

That said, the sweet relief I felt…

more »
Preview Party
Arts at the Port

Before the Anacortes Arts Festival brings hordes of visitors to Fidalgo Island Aug. 3-5, get a head start on the action by attending “Arts at the Port,” the largest annual group show in Skagit County that regularly features some of the finest art in Washington state.

The venue’s location…

more »
Events
Today
Boating Center Open

10:00am|Community Boating Center

Bard on the Beach

4:00pm|Vanier Park

Skagit Tours

10:00am|Highway 20

Skagit Tours

10:00am|Highway 20

Northwest Washington Fair

9:00am|Northwest Washington Fairgrounds

Skagit Tours

10:00am|Highway 20

Sedro-Woolley Farmers Market

3:00pm|Hammer Heritage Square

Wednesday Farmers Market

3:00pm|Fairhaven Village Green

Barkley Market

4:00pm|Barkley Village Green

Battle of the Bands

5:00pm|Burlington Visitor Center Amphitheater

Group Run

6:00pm|Skagit Running Company

Creekside Open Mic

6:30pm|South Whatcom Library

Brewers Cruise

6:30pm|Bellingham Cruise Terminal

Vaudevillingham

7:00pm|Cirque Lab

Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1
Tomorrow
Skagit Tours

10:00am|Highway 20

Northwest Washington Fair

9:00am|Northwest Washington Fairgrounds

Skagit Tours

10:00am|Highway 20

Literacy Council Seeks Volunteers

8:00am

Skagit Tours

10:00am|Highway 20

Boating Center Open

10:00am|Community Boating Center

Skagit Tours

10:00am|Highway 20

Bard on the Beach

12:00pm|Vanier Park

Bow Farmers Market

1:00pm|Samish Bay Cheese

Blues and Brews

5:00pm|Hotel Bellwether

Jazz Jam

5:30pm|Illuminati Brewing

Food Preservation Workshop

5:30pm|Community Food Co-op

Fairhaven Wine Walk

5:30pm|Historic Fairhaven

Elizabeth Park Summer Concert Series

6:00pm|Elizabeth Park

Riverwalk Concert Series

6:00pm|Riverwalk Plaza.

Pub Run

6:00pm|BBay Running

Bellingham Go Club

6:00pm|Community Food Co-op

Ales & Sails

6:00pm|Bellingham Cruise Terminal

Balkan Folk Dancers

7:00pm|Fairhaven Library

Choice

7:00pm|Village Books

Summer of Blood Finales

7:00pm|Rexville Grange Amphitheater

Marian, or the True Tale of Robin Hood

7:30pm|Maritime Heritage Park

Hound of the Baskervilles

7:30pm|Anacortes Community Theatre

2018 Cascadia Kids Village Books
Friday
Northwest Washington Fair

9:00am|Northwest Washington Fairgrounds

Skagit Tours

10:00am|Highway 20

Literacy Council Seeks Volunteers

8:00am

Boating Center Open

10:00am|Community Boating Center

Skagit Tours

10:00am|Highway 20

Skagit Tours

10:00am|Highway 20

Bard on the Beach

12:00pm|Vanier Park

Summer of Blood Finales

7:00pm|Rexville Grange Amphitheater

Marian, or the True Tale of Robin Hood

7:30pm|Maritime Heritage Park

Hound of the Baskervilles

7:30pm|Anacortes Community Theatre

Wild Things

9:30am|Lake Padden Park

Skagit Tours

10:00am|Highway 20

Summer's End Music & Art Gathering

12:00pm|Zuanich Point Park

Drive for the Arts

1:00pm|Swinomish Golf Links

Books and Bites

1:00pm|Blaine Library

Roadeo

1:00pm|Blaine Library

Food Not Bombs

4:00pm|Downtown Bellingham

Wheelchair Gangball

5:00pm|Bloedel Donovan

Beachside Barbecue

5:30pm|Semiahmoo Resort

Beachside Barbecue

5:30pm|Semiahmoo Resort

Beachside Barbecue

5:30pm|Semiahmoo Resort

Family Story Night

6:00pm|Fairhaven Library

Commercial Street Night Market

6:00pm|Commercial Street

Salmon Dinner Sail

6:00pm|Bellingham Cruise Terminal

Anacortes Summer Concert Series

6:00pm|Seafarers' Memorial Park

Farm Tunes

6:00pm|BelleWood Acres

Sin & Gin Tours

7:00pm|Downtown Bellingham, historic Fairhaven

Whiskey Fever

7:00pm|Eagle Haven Winery

Hot August Nights

7:00pm|Majestic

Hotbox

7:30pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

Push it to the Limit

9:00pm|Upfront Theatre

see our complete calendar »

Village Books Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1 2018 Cascadia Kids Trove Web