Summer Sights

Treasures in Lynden

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

What did the Hagia Sophia of Constantinople look like in the year 537? 

You’ll have to make your way to Lynden and Jansen Art Center’s “Summer Juried Exhibit” to find out.

Eric Chauvin devoted two years to portraying a remarkable likeness of the Byzantine church as it must have looked when newly built by the Roman Emperor Justinian. His painting is uncannily detailed, down to portraits of priests, candles, holy icons and beams of light gleaming through clerestory windows.

Though Chauvin has built a career as a digital matte painter, in recent years his passion has shifted to the fine art world and getting back to the use of traditional materials and techniques.

Following a different personal journey, Gene Jaress, of Mount Vernon, left combat in Vietnam to study art at Cornish College. In a “Paintings and Prints” show curated by the gallery, his meditative oil paintings of Skagit scenes are on view in the lobby and also on the second floor of the Inn at Lynden. 

Jaress’ work ranges from magisterial to extreme gentleness. His “Cloud Series #1, Thunder” can be appreciated as a realist study or abstraction. “Break in the Storm” depicts black, red and white clouds rising like a malevolent fist.

On the other hand, the smaller works, “Skagit from Little Mountain,” and “Trees off McLean Road,” are soothing and peaceful.

The center’s several galleries offer a wide range of styles in nature painting and photography. Peggy Woods’ “Along Water’s Edge” watercolors are in the Fine Arts Gallery. Woods enjoyed a 30-year career in illustration and graphic design; her delicate, realist, Northwest scenes often suggest a story.

Norman E. Riley’s traditional, large-format photographs in the Library Workshop Gallery are the product of a month as artist-in-residence in Glacier National Park. As Riley says, “The great miracle of photography does not occur in the developing tray… It occurs within the photographer.”

You may compare Riley’s traditional, large-format black-and-white photos to the color photographs by Jeanne Burton and Richard Cavnar close by in the hallway. Burton’s “Moment in the Sun” captures autumn leaves still bright above fresh snow, while Cavnar’s “Ornamental Basalt” finds a strong composition in a rock formation set off by sparks of autumn color.

Jackson Faulkner photographs historic relics in the Northwest. His shot of a decaying railway car, “Crawling Through the Wreckage,” features light and shadow on splintered wood, rusted metal and fading green upholstery.

Near the end of our visit, we listened to a concert of Debussy’s piano music played by Andrew Le while admiring the nature paintings of Ria Harboe and Nancy Canyon in the Chamber Hall Gallery.

In their “Organic Shape and Perception” exhibit, Canyon is inspired by patterns of nature reflected in water. Harboe, influenced by Van Gogh and Edvard Munch, suggests in her work a level of awareness beyond the real world. A mountain in her “Ascension” exhales a divine fragrance. This and her “Stormy Island Morning” have a dreamlike quality similar to the great paintings of the Canadian, Lawren Harris. Stop by the J through the summer, and see what I mean.

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