Origins and Evolutions
Family ties at Gallery Syre
What: "Origins and Evolutions: 5 Generations:
WHEN: 11am-4pm Tues.-Thurs. through May 22, and by appointment
Cost: Gallery Syre, 465 W. Stuart Rd.
Wednesday, February 3, 2021
“She loved her paintings to sparkle,” David Syre says about his grandmother, one of the artists highlighted in the “Origins and Evolutions: 5 Generations” exhibit that recently opened at Bellingham’s Gallery Syre. Sometimes, he adds, she’d attach bits of foil to her landscapes in order to better catch and reflect the light.
It’s one of many cherished memories Syre shares during a short video available to patrons perusing the multigenerational show featuring works by Clara “Grandma Joe” Anderson, Syre, and his adult daughter, Amy Healy. To complete the circle, Amy’s daughter Ann also shares her burgeoning talents.
Before entering into the voluminous gallery space to discover how their pieces complement yet are decidedly different from each other, watch the compelling footage explaining how family ties influenced the generations of artists.
Using his relationship with Grandma Joe as a starting point, Syre notes how he came to live with her for a spell during his childhood. He was recovering from a near-death experience with polio and his parents were busy rebuilding their farm in Everson after an epic flood, so the time spent with her is fixed in his mind.
“She became my go-to person, and I became her go-to person,” he says. She also became the one who encouraged him to express himself through painting. It was an artistic outlet she had only fully embraced in her early 70s when she began using her kitchen in Edmonds as a makeshift studio, but one she kept exploring until her death in her mid-90s.
While Syre’s childhood paintings included in “Origins and Evolutions” point to his innate talent, his creative trajectory was similar to Grandma Joe’s. It wasn’t until he’d raised a family and had a career that he allowed art to truly consume his life, but since 2012 it’s turned into a full-time endeavor that has enabled him to show his work at galleries around the globe. At 80 years old, he shows little sign of slowing down.
A walk-through of the exhibit reveals the rest of the story, beginning with a faithful re-creation of Grandma Joe’s kitchen studio and continuing with collections of family photos and assorted assemblages from each of the three spotlighted artists.
Grandma Joe’s pastoral paintings speak to her love of nature, as do Syre’s small- and large-scale drawings, sculptures and paintings—but in an entirely different way. Hers are faithfully rendered depictions of familiar rivers, forests, barns and houses, while his recent pieces are abstractly bold, daringly colorful and elicit a variety of emotions.
Healy, a formally trained artist with an exacting eye, also contributes pieces that make it crystal clear talent runs in the family. The three-dimensional framed paper collages on display are difficult to look away from, as they are complex and playful and speak to a larger vision.
There’s plenty to unpack in “Origins and Evolutions,” so take your time when exploring the exhibit, and try to make your own creative connections with the artists whose works have been a century in the making.
Image credit: “Morning Christianity,” by David Syre