River's Edge

Seasonal sights in Mount Vernon

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The River Gallery on Landing Road near the lower Skagit River, once a commercial greenhouse, is a natural home for art. The light is perfect and it’s roomy enough to show off works by 38 artists—more than most museums.  I always look forward to the harmony and balance of the exhibition as a whole, curated by Sylvia Strong and Coizie Bettinger.

Currently on view at the “Fall Show” are works by more than a dozen first-rate landscape and nature painters, of whom Christine Troyer, Jennifer Bowman, Cynthia Richardson, Lynn Zimmerman, and Dedrian Clark are perhaps the most familiar names.

And here are other artists, who glide from nature into something beyond, like Joan Enslin, Ria Harboe, and woodworker and painter Gary Giovane. 

Some, like Charlotte Decker and Lavone Newell-Reim, are equally at home in realism or abstraction. Jacqui Beck and Yvette Newman, on the other hand, are both trenchantly abstract, although Beck may allow a whimsical cow or clothesline into her compositions.

Each new season, Brooke Borcherding seems to find a new focus: cityscapes, then landscapes, and now her distinctive brushwork has very appropriately settled on still-life flower studies.

Flowers in the most formal sense have been a speciality of the late Czech master, Jarmila Radova. She and her son, Vojtech Rada, have enjoyed a personal connection with the River Gallery and Rada’s work has been featured here for several seasons.

Trained as an art restorer, Rada’s beguiling blend of architectural precision and fantasy appears profoundly European. His paintings run the gamut—from channeling Cezanne to rivaling Salvador Dali. Perhaps his most public project was a commission to paint the stations of the cross for St. Prokop Church in Prague.

Don’t overlook the small statues by Robert Gigliotti and Maria Wickwire among the bright aisles of paintings. Their contrasting styles whisper an emotional dialogue between head and heart, as old as humankind. Gigliotti carves in several media, abstract as well as realist. His small bronze sculptures celebrate athletic perfection and the beauty of the human figure. 

Wickwire’s ceramic figures—here, all female—hide within boxes, suffer dismemberment, sprout porcupine quills where arms should be or recline sacrificially on an altar of antlers. They are dramatic beyond their minute proportions—but how much greater impact would they have if even half-life-size, like her “Clevis, Goddess of the Deep!”

One can be brainwashed by so much beauty. Driving home, the Skagit farmland looked as if Monet had painted it—meadows grazed by black-and-white cows, plowed fields paralleling toward darkly forested hills.

If you have time, I’d also advise stopping in downtown Mount Vernon to visit the Perry and Carlson Gallery at 504 S. 1st St. Their October show features Deer Harbor painter Marilyn Jonassen. She works in the difficult medium of encaustic, in which she has developed a number of innovations. Her present work appears almost minimal, perhaps more confident than her earlier work shown at the (now closed) Fetherston Gallery in Seattle.

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Twenty years of fiber art

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Book Group Mixers

5:30pm|Village Books

Bringing history into sharp focus


Fall Craft & Antique Show

10:00am|Northwest Washington Fairgrounds

U.S. Citizenship Class

6:00pm|Lynden Library

Balkan Folk Dance

7:00pm|Fairhaven Library


7:00pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

The Women of Lockerbie

7:00pm|Lynden Christian High School

Summer Bike Stories

7:00pm|Cafe Velo

Young Frankenstein

7:30pm|Anacortes Community Theatre

Mt. Baker Theatre Undersea Bubble
Fall Craft & Antique Show

10:00am|Northwest Washington Fairgrounds


7:00pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

The Women of Lockerbie

7:00pm|Lynden Christian High School

Young Frankenstein

7:30pm|Anacortes Community Theatre

Wild Things

9:30am|Stimpson Family Nature Reserve

Book and Bake Sale

10:00am|Lynden Library

Grand Opening and Open House

11:00am|Social Fabric

Books and Bites

1:00pm|Blaine Library

Clean Eating

2:00pm|Cordata Community Food Co-op

Coffee Tasting

3:00pm|Camber Cafe

Food Not Bombs

4:00pm|downtown Bellingham

Art Night

5:00pm|SpringHill Suites by Marriott

12 Minutes Max Auditions

5:00pm|Firehouse Performing Arts Center

Amber Sky CD Release Party

6:00pm|Presence Studio

Gore & Lore Tours

6:00pm|Historic Fairhaven, downtown Bellingham

Falliday Vintage Market

6:00pm|Port Transit Event Center

Family Story Night

6:00pm|Fairhaven Library

Wild & Scenic Film Festival

6:30pm|Lincoln Theatre

Poetry Party

7:00pm|Mount Baker Theatre


7:00pm|Village Books

USA Dance


Thriller Dance Class

7:00pm|Moles Farewell Tributes

Halloween Movie Night

7:00pm|BHS Performing Arts Center

Friday Night Flicks

7:30pm|Van Zandt Community Hall

Sanford-Hill Piano Series

7:30pm|Performing Arts Center


8:00pm|Upfront Theatre

Holding the Light

8:00pm|Honey Moon

Trove Bellingham Farmer’s Market
Fall Craft & Antique Show

10:00am|Northwest Washington Fairgrounds


7:00pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

The Women of Lockerbie

7:00pm|Lynden Christian High School

Young Frankenstein

7:30pm|Anacortes Community Theatre

Book and Bake Sale

10:00am|Lynden Library

Gore & Lore Tours

6:00pm|Historic Fairhaven, downtown Bellingham

Falliday Vintage Market

6:00pm|Port Transit Event Center


8:00pm|Upfront Theatre

Harvest Happens

8:00am|Bellewood Acres

Lynden Breakfast

8:00am|VFW Hall

Ferndale Breakfast

8:00am|Ferndale Senior Center

NSEA Work Party

9:00am|Terrell Creek

Scarecrow Stuffing Contest

9:00am|Garden Spot Nursery

Twin Sisters Farmers Market

9:00am|North Fork Library, Nugents Corner

Landscape stewards work party

9:00am|Chuckanut Center

Pumpkins 4 Pajamas

9:00am|Lakeway Fred Meyer

Anacortes Farmers Market

9:00am|Depot Arts Center

Pumpkin Patch on Rails

9:00am|Wickersham Station

Port race ponders a wasted waterfront


Everyday Superheroes 5K

10:00am|Squalicum Creek Park

Blaine Gardeners Market

10:00am|H Street Plaza

Bellingham Farmers Market

10:00am|Depot Market Square

Bellingham Comicon

10:00am|Ferndale Event Center

Fall Family Fun

10:00am|Glen Echo Garden

Blaine Oktoberfest


Community Cider Pressing

10:00am|Chuckanut Center

98221 Studio Tour

10:00am|Fidalgo Island

Correspondence Club

10:30am|Mindport Exhibits

Enlightened Caterpillar

10:30am|Village Books

Holiday Gifts from the Kitchen

11:00am|Community Food Co-op

Crown Jewel Wilderness

11:00am|Western Washington University Bookstore

Mushrooms gone wild


Fidalgo Youth Symphony

1:00pm|McIntyre Hall

Conquering Writer's BLock

1:00pm|Blaine Library

Winter Birds of Whatcom County

2:00pm|Ferndale Library

Undersea Bubble Fantasia

2:30pm|Mount Baker Theatre

Brew on the Slough

5:00pm|Maple Hall

Community Library Celebration

5:00pm|North Fork Library

Bellingham Hoptoberfest

6:00pm|Bellingham Sportsplex

Seeds of Change

6:30pm|Edison Granary

The Great Unconformity

7:00pm|Village Books

Skagit Symphony's Gala Concert

7:30pm|McIntyre Hall

Whose Live Anyway?

7:30pm|Performing Arts Center Concert Hall

The Tannahill Weavers

7:30pm|Littlefield Celtic Center

Original Comedy Night

8:00pm|Lincoln Theatre

see our complete calendar »

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