Matzke in Motion

From gallery to garden


What: Spring Show

Where: Matzke Fine Art Gallery and Sculpture Park, 2345 Blanche Way, Camano Island


WHEN: 11am-5pm Fridays through Sundays, weekdays by appointment


Wednesday, June 10, 2020

With the transitioning of Island County into Phase 2 of the coronavirus-related reopening of Washington state, Matzke Fine Art Gallery and Sculpture Park on Camano Island recently began welcoming visitors again—with precautions, of course.

Within the gallery—masks and social distancing, please!—smaller sculptures by a number of featured artists are surrounded by colorful paintings. Several sculptors are rigorous abstractionists, such as Jan Hoy, Randall Leek, and Chuck Lopez.  

Hoy approaches her works as answers to questions of structure. “Geo Cubes” is a sober meditation of five rust-color cubes atop a base of black basalt. Leek’s graceful sculptures in Norway maple rotate smoothly on marble bases, as befits his background in engineering. Lopez, who is a glass studio technician at Pratt Fine Arts Center, creates exquisite “tessellated” blown glass creations such as “Marianas Oblong.”

Nearby, Tracy Powell tells stories in his work. Visitors can admire his “Birth of the Flower Children” in the 10-acre sculpture garden—it’s similar to Bellingham’s Big Rock Garden Park, but with more picnic spaces—and the “Maiden of Deception Pass” in the state park. In the gallery, view “Mom and Child” (limestone) and the diminutive “Mermaid” (alabaster).

Judith Heim tells tales with subtle suggestions of posture. Her “Fox and Hare” (acrylic and collage on canvas) leaves me happily puzzling:  A grounded man encounters a slightly off-balance female, both observed by a diffident-looking king.

Equally whimsical and symbolic are Deb McCunn’s ceramics. Her “Electrolux Girls” (in the garden) and bunny nurses (in the gallery) are not merely cute; she uses them to poke fun at stereotypes of females as sex objects.

Salyna Gracie’s colorful encaustics like “our everyday mystics” celebrate flowers and birds. Bird songs make the “petals of [her] soul unfold.” But how profoundly different in style is her collage, “The Trail:” An elderly person bends over an astrological disk, witnessed by images of mother and child, a shrouded figure and an owl. It’s weirdly unforgettable.

Schack Art Center’s artist of the year in 2019 was Janie Olsen. Her richly detailed work combines portraits of animals surrounded by insects, mushrooms and ferns, juxtaposing romance and menace, ugliness and beauty.

Olsen’s “Nyx” shows an opossum amid mushrooms, moths, ferns and worms. “Aziz” finds fox, frog and owl among ivy, toadstools and checkered lilies. Her canvases evoke 17th century painter Rachel Ruysch, whose flower and insect paintings once sold for higher prices than those by Rembrandt.

The paintings of Kristi Galindo Dyson, a member of the Northwest Watercolor society and past president of Women Painters of Washington, express expansive joy and exuberance. Her all-over, edge-to-edge designs are solid American abstract expressionism. In “Flotsam,” a brilliant cloud of multicolored fragments flies up with joy and excitement.

The richness of soft pastel recreates a rural sunset in Janet Hamilton’s “Evening Glow.” She’s a superb technician of the medium and has won many awards and commissions in the Northwest during the past 20 years.

Once you’ve soaked up the gallery scene, head back outside to discover more of the sculptures tucked into the natural vegetation and flower beds, then buy a work of art to take home.

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