Precisely Abstract

The nature of things



WHAT: “Precisely Abstract”
WHEN: 11am-4pm Tues.-Fri., through Aug. 1
WHERE: Allied Arts, 1418 Cornwall Ave.

WHAT: “David Syre: Envisioning a Better Future”
WHEN: 12pm-4pm Tues.-Thurs., July 21-Nov. 7, and by appointment
WHERE: Gallery Syre, 465 W. Stuart Rd.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Until reading the title for Kevin Forrester Coleman’s “Blue sloth in green lush” piece currently on display as part of the “Precisely Abstract” exhibit at Allied Arts, I didn’t comprehend what the wiry assemblage bound to large twigs represented.

Upon closer inspection, however, the form became clear. So too did the fact that the acrylic painting located behind the rendition of the notoriously slow-moving mammal was alive with the colors of the jungle, and an entire world was contained within a 12-inch square. (Apparently, many of his layered images also glow in the dark, so that’s another plus.)

Coleman, a self-taught painter and master of many mediums—including murals, sculptures and interior design—is one of five artists showing their abstract work through Aug. 1 at the downtown Bellingham gallery. And in addition to the common theme pointed to by the show’s title, nature is a shared element of inspiration for he and his fellow exhibitors.

For example, longtime glass artist and painter Christopher Morrison’s “Florescence Spectra: Female” features an opaque blue vase with an hourglass figure placed in front of a painted bouquet of what appears to be burgeoning buds. The title suggests that the process of flowering is about to commence, and the feminine form is represented by the vase’s lush curves.

Morrison is known to incorporate environmental concerns into his art, but this particular piece appears to celebrate beauty and bounty. “The Last Sea Fan Under a Bell Jar,” a striking sculpture comprised of blown glass and steel, is more up his activism alley.

Also on display are creative contributions by another renaissance man, Mitchell Van Duzer. The pro artist is also a graphic designer and published writer, and his eye-catching paintings are known to focus on the relationship between humans and technology while still maintaining a sense of the natural world.

Meanwhile, Liz Cunningham’s beaded necklaces and bracelets may look straightforward, but they’re not. The intricate “brushstrokes” of different bead stitches and patterns she weaves into her jewelry took her years to master, and the result is adornment that is far from ordinary—especially when polished gemstones are added to the final product.

Finally, painter David Syre’s contributions to “Precisely Abstract” bring the exhibit to its essence with bold acrylics inspired by travel, his subconscious mind, and nature. Circles, rectangles, helixes and triangles become something new under his able hand, and symbolism is abundant in offerings such as “A Blessed Ona,” “Love Rising,” and “Fragmented.”

I’m not sure when the pieces for the Allied Arts assemblage were submitted, but the works that are part of “David Syre: Envisioning a Better Future”—which opens Tues., July 21 and shows through Nov. 7 at the artist’s eponymous Gallery Syre on West Stuart Road—are definitely of the here and now.

At a time when many of us have been binging-watching Netflix shows and wringing our hands about COVID-19 and the state of the world, Syre took advantage of the quarantine to dig deep and create more than 60 new paintings and drawings aiming to explore and unveil the plurality of human existence. It’s heady subject matter, but is meant to be hopeful.

“The works that Syre created during this time have a unique language and message for a better future,” gallery manager Casey Curtis says of the exhibit that will reopen the gallery after a three-month shutdown. “Mostly abstract and painted with powerful colors, these recent canvases inspire people to take a leap into the unknown, to think about new forms of living together and a new world in which humans can coexist with nature again.”

Curtis adds that a culminating aspect of the project asks viewers to become a part of the process toward change. Visitors will be invited to comment on one or more works and to share both their impressions and dreams on sticky notes, which will be collected on a public canvas at the gallery’s entrance with the intention to create a collective vision board for a better future by the time the exhibit wraps up in the fall.

Via works like the vibrant “Beyond the Sun: Climate Change on Earth” (pictured), patrons can decipher for themselves what the labyrinth of lines, shapes and colors mean to them—and then share why that particular piece resonated so deeply. By doing so, they’ll become not only part of the artistic process, but also harbingers of change.

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