Masterpieces in miniature
What: "Honey, I Shrunk the Art"
Where: Matzke Fine Art Gallery and Sculpture Park, 2345 Blanche Way, Camano Island
WHEN: 11am-5pm Fri.-Sun., through Jan. 17
Sunday, January 3, 2021
Once again, Karla Matzke offers her 32nd annual small works show, “Honey, I Shrunk the Art,” in the spacious gallery at the heart of her 10-acre sculpture park on Camano Island. Forty artists have each contributed multiple pieces, and all measure up the exacting standards that have made Matzke’s gallery a must-see for artists and collectors in the Puget Sound area.
Robert Gigliotti invites us to understand that “Any separation between ourselves and the physical and spiritual realms is an illusion.” Hence, we see his bronze sculpture of a crow with a gold coin in its mouth, “Bird Bank,” intended as a puzzle leading to spiritual awakening.
Well-known sculptor Tracy Powell offers a tiny alabaster dove in his unmistakeable style. There are several bronzes by Kevin Pettele, including his exquisite, “Scorpion,” portraying a female gymnast. It’s accompanied by Leo Osborne’s admirably “Entwined” bronze ruby-throated hummingbirds.
Hiroshi Yamano, a regular at Matzke’s, contributes small masterpieces; “Fish,” with upturned lips and staring eyes, and “Golden Bowl with Fish,” featuring sculpted, etched silver leaf in blown glass.
In a minimalist mood we find our Skagit friend, Pieter VanZanden, submitting two spare works, the menacing “Triumph of Death Soldier” and skeletal “It is What It is” (bike chain, nails, marble).
Lloyd Whannell of Whidbey Island has been working in stone for 30 years. His 53-inch-tall “Silent Moment” features a cast glass head on a tall, narrow basalt column. The expression is serene, introspective and timeless. It bears comparison with the nearby oil painting by Irena Jablonski, “Charon’s Guest,” which manages to express so much in a sequence of small oil canvases.
We are accustomed to think of Richard Nash as a sculptor. Equally skilled in designing in two dimensions, he submits small acrylic paintings that suggest geometric statuary seen in soft light. The abstract motif continues in Kathleen Seacrest’s subtle and mysterious soft pastels.
For sheer whimsey and elegant color, nothing beats Judith Heim’s magical animal assembly, including “The Committee Meeting,” the tipsy salute in “Cheers, Dear,” and her dreamy meditation on Russian winter, “Rein-Hare.”
Stephanie Hargrave returns this year with enigmatic encaustic works (“Floating 1 and 2”) suggesting bird or aquatic forms.
A dedicated open-air painter, Rod Sylvester of Marysville packs a complete landscape into a five-by-nine-inch canvas in his two Green Lake Park images and the dreamlike “Cannon Beach.” He paints quickly to capture the true colors of light before it changes. I wonder whether Dee Doyle’s “Mountainscapes” are also plein air, or are they studio works? She shows five, all displaying depth and majesty.
Paul Elkins has created some beautiful open-air pastel chalk landscapes. Their serenity is in striking contrast to his tinkering with minimalist bicycle campers and hazardous-looking, tiny boats.
Susan Cohen Thompson gives us a sophisticated explanation for her playful yet mysterious collages of ceramic bears and fish and moons. “Journey to the Other Side of the Eclipse” is a joy, with a whirl of mystic animals in a haze of ink dots around an eclipsing ceramic disk.
It’s great to find recent work by Jack Gunter. Always imaginative, he submits several views of the late-lamented Kalakaua ferry and a haunting vision of “NW Clam Digging” in egg tempera.
Frank Renlie brings humor to the gallery with his cartoonish cats—three of whom have a feather in their mouth. “I paint what I see in my head,” he says, which was good enough for an exhibition in the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art in 2017.
Bainbridge Island-based Fatima Young describes her painting as influenced by Russian expressionism. She uses a palette knife to give mass and depth to her oil compositions, which exhibit a dramatic sense of color contrast.
If you’ve ever dreamed of owning a painting by Skagit mystic Ann Martin McCool, now’s your chance. My favorite might be “untitled #6,” (mixed-media) with one of her signature moons suspended in a yellow arc above a swath of brown, flecked with green and red.
Marji Thompson’s oil and cold wax abstract paintings are also sensational. Her “Ice Cold” juxtaposes vertical columns (which evoke trees) with slanting, ice-like, transparent wedges, all in pale gray, white and blue with just a startle of orange peeking through.
“Tranquility” might be a distant mountain and lake scene, except for the skateboard park shape swinging through and dissolving from the right, telling us, “No, this is trenchant abstraction.”
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