Monday, July 27, 2015

July 2015 Gallery Picks Newsletter

Abundance, color, and awesome art.

That's July here at the Gallery, where we are enjoying many beautiful new creations from our artists.  Scroll down to see several of these, and be sure to click on the images to be transported to our online shop for more information about each individual piece.


Ripening.  Sandy Haight

Our current exhibit, running through August 2nd, has been quite inspirational,
especially for would-be watercolorists.  Sandy Haight has shared
her magnificent pieces with us, and if you haven't already seen them do
consider a visit.  We should have them all up in the online shop shortly.

Here's a little about Sandy:

After earning a BFA in drawing and painting at the University of Colorado,
establishing a career as an illustrator of educational materials, a self-publishing
venture into cookbooks, and having two children, Sandy Haight stumbled into
trying watercolors in a life drawing session.  Once  introduced to the medium, she
was hooked. “I loved the luminosity of the paints so much that I went on to practice
through a variety of assigned subjects as watercolor paintings in my School of Visual
Concepts illustration courses.  As I got more and more familiar with the strategic
planning and execution of a painting, I was expanding my illustration portfolio
beyond the educational market.  I love the sensuality of the medium, the glow of the
colors and the fact that it can move and flow on its own while wet, intermingling
with other colors.  Magic happens.”

Use of watercolor in her illustration work became part of her signature style.
To be more widely marketable and contemporary her illustration style departed
from the realism she had worked hard to master as a student into a more
simplified bolder look. Now as a teacher, she’s rediscovering the joys of building
a nuanced painting, rich with built up color and texture.

After years of “drawing with a brush” in her illustration work, Sandy Haight
took on the study of sumi painting with its challenges of simplicity, controlled
tones, brush loading and expressing qi energy on traditional subjects in nature.
“I’m still feeling my way and love it when the simplest line can reflect an emotional gesture.”

For the last few years Sandy has focused on painting the inner landscape of flowers. 
 She calls these works Floralscapes.  They evolved during a transition from a
career as a commercial illustrator to a discovery of herself as an artist.  Teaching
watercolor to students at Bellevue College helped redirect her focus as she explored
the various subjects and techniques of representational watercolor before realizing
that immersing into the shapes, designs and patterns inside flowers and plant life
was the subject that awakened her love of painting and gave her a chance to
create a series of stunning beauty.  Both her watercolor and sumi life drawings
have been shown in and around Seattle; showing her paintings in the Northwest
Watercolor Society’s juried shows qualified her to become a signature member in
2012.  The initials NWWS now follow her signature on the Floralscape paintings.

Sandy, whose work has been chosen for the 2015 Bainbridge in Bloom poster,
has roots on Bainbridge Island going back four generations.  Gazzam Lake was
named for her great grandfather Warren Gazzam, who built a large house in Crystal
Springs in 1905.  He started a Mosquito Fleet line, so that his wife wouldn’t have to
row across Agate Pass to get their mail, among other accomplishments.  Sandy’s father,
Gilbert Haight, grew up on Bainbridge, returning to retire in 1989 after an illustrious
career as a chemistry professor. He and his wife Shirley lived on Manitou Park
Boulevard overlooking Puget Sound. Her brother Chad Haight settled on the
island after college to extend the family to four, now five and six generations.

After Bainbridge in Bloom she has the honor of being selected to paint the poster image
for the 2016 Skagit Valley Tulip Festival.  Sandy's sumi work will also be
included in our August 2015 show, Pets on Parade.


Long Batik Jacket.  Lou Zeldis & Rana Helmi
From the Gallery's beginning 13 years ago the work of these
two artists has defined style and quality, visual drama and
workmanship.  When their skills are combined the results are
always stunning.  In this case, Rana created new works from
Lou's batiks; there are several now in the Gallery.

About these very special artists:

Lou Zeldis, who passed away in May 2012, lived in Bali for some twenty years.
He produced unique examples of modern handicraft in various mediums using ancient
techniques and material.  He worked with living treasure artisans in wide ranging
cultural groups around the Indonesian archipelago.  He attributed this maniacal
need to invent to his theatrical background and meetings with
remarkable men and women.

Lou’s batiks are all hand made with canting using natural dyes, primarily
indigo and soga tree bark dyes. They are produced in Solo in Central Java.
The indigo dye (called Nila in Java) is a living culture made with the mashed
and fermented indigo leaves “feeding” on lime/lye (baking soda) and brown sugar.
This is the part of the indigo process that is so delicate and is carried out by
an older man with long experience. The dyeing with indigo takes about
50 immersions over three days.  After the blues are completed, the cloth is
boiled to remove the wax and dried, then rewaxed in the secondary pattern.
Then the much longer process of the brown tones is begun, since
complete drying of each cloth is required between some 50 immersions
in the brown dyes.  More boiling and washing is required before
the cloth is completed.

Lou also worked with two groups of traditional weavers in Sumba, to produce
some wearable objects for cold weather people.  These ikats are hand woven
with local natural dyes, indigo (known in Sumba as wora) and kombu, a
red color using three different tree barks.  He also developed unique jewelry
designs using silver and local gems as well as woven attar vines.

Lou is known for his modern bold motifs.  In his batiks, his motifs range from
images of rice paddies and ivory beads, maps and numbers, to the dome
of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.   In his collaboration on ikats, we see the
Tibetan Tiger Rug and Northwest Coast American motifs.  We are privileged
to retain a large collection of Lou’s designs and will continue to exhibit them as
a tribute to his artistry and that of the artisans who collaborated with
him over the years.

Rana Helmi was born in 1951 in Jakarta, the capital of a then new Republic of
Indonesia. Her father was an Indonesian diplomat and her mother was Turkish.
She began moving around the world from the age of nine months, attending
schools in various countries and various languages.  It was a life of continuous
discovery, a stream of new cultures and new views.

 A well-dressed mother was her first introduction to the fascinating transformations
that could be brought about by colors, shapes and fabrics. Many childhood evenings
were spent watching as she experimented with different “looks,” mixing fabrics,
accessories and styles from all over the world.

“Years spent in London in the late sixties introduced me to a more
daring spectrum: there was an explosion of freedom and clothes were
costumes that mixed designs, textiles and art forms from all countries in
the world at any date in history. It was exhilarating, and dressing became
a means of escaping narrow confines, of participating in an open world.
In particular a Magritte exhibition at the Tate made a very strong impact on
the rebel in me: here was a way of putting things that made one laugh
instead of feeling frustrated and wound up.

“My university years were spent in Provence, in the South of France – limestone
country with a strong play of light. During winter days, the Mistral harrowed
the atmosphere and the huge limestone mound transformed into every
shape, size, and color imaginable in the space of a few minutes; during the
long summer evenings, the sun fell slowly like honey bringing the country
to light. The interplay of light and colors absorbed much of my time.

“Years later, having moved to Bali, I had yet another important formative
experience: building my own house from scratch. The months of agonizing
over blending practicalities and aesthetics introduced me to the creative
aspect of construction, an intimacy with a process that I had never experienced
before.  It gave me new perspectives. A sewing machine, a gift from my mother
that I had initially viewed with suspicion, suddenly offered new creative
possibilities to express all that I had learned and absorbed.”

Nacho Poncho.  Amy Brill
We are delighted to welcome back the hand-knitted
fashions of Amy Brill.  Lightweight, soft and versatile, these pieces are
flattering and available in many colors and styles.  Some are
designed for maximum "playability" - wear back-to-front, create a new
silhouette or neckline with the included pin or clip - allowing the
customer to participate in the design!

A little about the artist:

Amy Brill realized when she was very young that she gave her all to whatever
she did, so she had better do the things she loves. Her fascination with textiles,
fabrics, and making things took form first with the creation of soft sculpture dolls,
which then led to wool spinning and dyeing, which led to her current love of knitting
and design. Amy Brill is known for styles that emphasize ease and wearability,
and the invention and reinvention of sweaters with interesting
lines and vibrant colors.

Each piece of Brill's work is created in the United States from beginning to end.
The artist designs all of her own yarns -- the polyester/acrylic combination yarns
are made for her in North Carolina and the cotton/rayon tweeds are hand
twisted in her studio using American cotton. Every sweater is knit one at a time
by one of six knitters, all of whom reside in Upstate New York.

Amy often jokes that the one thing she did wrong was to make wearables
that are just too well-made and simply do not fall apart. Each sweater looks
like a piece of art, but the real creation is in the durable and flexible nature of
each piece. "The fact that my sweaters fit well, wear well, do not fall apart, look
stylish and style-full forever, is miracle enough for me."


Rectangular Wood-fired Vase.  Mitch Iburg
Mitch Iburg has recently sent us several lovely new pieces of
wood-fired ceramics.  Always organic, always reflective of his
natural surroundings, we are endlessly delighted with his
seemingly simple yet deeply evocative forms and clays.

About his work, Mitch says:

As a place based maker, my practice is reflective of my surrounding environment.
Each region offers unique natural resources which form the foundation of my work.
Indigenous clays and minerals are harvested and minimally processed to retain the
inherent expressions of the landscape from which they originate. In doing so,
I not only wish to highlight the qualities of these resources, but also the
unique voice of the setting itself.

"The behavior of a landscape, its geological history, and its subtle ways of
communicating each influence my approach to form, decoration, and firing.
Through careful observation, environmental consciousness, and a reverence for nature
as mentor, I engage in a collaborative practice with material, processes and setting that
allow for this voice to be translated within the finished product.

"By digging and shaping the ground upon which I walk, and firing with the fallen trees
that provide shade, I wish to capture the essence of my environment, its
geological history, and its intrinsic beauty."

The following are excerpts from an essay
Mitch Iburg’s Elemental Understanding of Clay and Fire
by Kathryn Pombriant Manzella, May 13, 2014:

Mitch Iburg, a wood-fired ceramic artist, spends a considerable amount of time

thinking about clay: its elemental composition, its interaction with other forces of

nature, and what it produces. The artist’s stunning work clearly demonstrates his

contemplative nature but I am enchanted by the way his pieces so readily synthesize

his understanding of his raw material.

Mitch grew up in Wisconsin and Iowa surrounded by nature. More importantly, he

was encouraged to explore and appreciate it. Camping in the woods, tending a garden,

and observing and absorbing the colors and cycles of the sky and harvests impressed upon

him the vastness of nature which he finds utterly humbling. Given the artist’s respect for and

awe of nature, it is no surprise that he would be drawn to the wood-firing process with its

powerful yet simple combination of clay and fire and to the naturalistic “landscapes”

that the process produces.

After graduating from Iowa’s Coe College with a degree in art, Mitch immediately

moved to rural Appomattox, Virginia to be an Artist in Residence at The Cub Creek

Foundation.  He had two specific reasons for moving to Cub Creek: to study with its

founder, John Jessiman, and to work with–and wood fire–the three types of clay

found on the facility’s 100-acre property.

Listening to Mitch speak about clay is akin to hearing a wine enthusiast

speak about terroir.  Mitch, unlike many potters, is willing to dig and process

the clays himself in an arduous task that an observer might liken to a harvest.

[Mitch says] that he “loves to share the unique properties of the clay with people

who have been stepping on it their entire lives.”

Recognizing the clay’s unique properties is also an important part of the

lengthy and labor-intensive firing process. Knowledge of the clay’s properties

is imperative to correctly placing a piece in the kiln where it will best capture

the interaction between fire and earth. For example, some pieces are better

suited to the natural wood-ash glaze that forms in interior of the kiln while

other pieces fire best when insulated by the coals.

Although the majority of Mitch’s work is unglazed, his shino-glazed tea bowls

display the beautiful soft quality that is so desirable in shino wares. His facility with

the glaze is demonstrated by the fact that he has already shown work in Japan

where shino originated. The country is also home to the large, anagama-style of

wood-fired kiln which, admirably, Mitch has designed and built.

Always thinking about the clay, Mitch summarizes our conversation by telling

me that his “real motivation is for the final product to truly convey something about

the material in its natural state.”


Amber and Crystal Necklace.  Bara
Well, this is so gorgeous we have to show it twice.

This necklace of soft amber nuggets and large faceted crystal
beads might have appeared magically from an ancient trader's
caravan winding across a great continent, bearing gems fit
for an emperor's crown.  Its dusty stones evoke splendor,
abundance and romance; in metaphysics amber is admired for its
soothing energy that is reputed to be both calming and energizing at the same
time, helping to  manifest desires and heighten intellectual abilities, clarity
of thought, and wisdom.

We have no idea if any of that is true, but no one can deny the
appealing beauty of the necklace, nor the talent of the artist:

Bara deMarino, formerly a leading Fashion Designer in New York City,
moved out West in 1986 and turned her talents to writing, sculpting and creating
unique pieces of jewelry, which she considers “Body Art”.  Her forms are
influenced by nature and movement.

Fascinated with indigenous cultures, she found herself traveling to different
parts of the world collecting artifacts. Truly inspired, and back in her studio,
these artifacts are created into unique sculptural “Body Art.” A sculptor by
nature, her designs are strong statement pieces.

Along with her travels and life experiences her writing has become an
influential part of her creativity.  Her poems have been published in
The International Library of Poetry.  A member of the International Sculptors
Association she is still involved with sculpting although her latest
focus has been on “Body Art”.

"Bubbly-Rainbow", Titanium Drusy Necklace.  Christine L. Sundt

My goodness, what have we here?

Flora, fauna, grapes...?  Actually, they are perfectly natural round quartz stones
with areas of sparkling drusy exposed here and there.  And the rainbow colors?
Man has indeed lent a hand here:

Natural drusy gemstones occur in a variety of colors, but new colors not found in nature
can be created by depositing a film of metal only a few atoms thick on natural
drusy gemstones like these through high-tech chemical vapor deposition in a
vacuum chamber. The metal atoms bond to the quartz to produce vivid colors.
Titanium is one such metal and produces a range of blue colors.
Drusy stones may be coated with other metals such as cobalt, gold,
silver or platinum to create different color effects.

Great, but what is drusy, you ask?

 Drusy stones formed millions of years ago when hot groundwater saturated
with silica penetrated porous mineral layers. The rock cooled the water
enough for the silica to crystallize into quartz, which filled the pores of the
mineral layer. Over geologic eons, the mineral layer worked its way to the
surface, where humans discovered these pretty sparkling rocks and made
drusy jewelry from them. Drusy stones have been known for many years,
but became popular as jewelry only in the last 10 years or so. Drusy stones
are mined in the United States, Mexico and parts of South America,
Africa and Europe.

As to our wonderful jewelry designer, Christine L. Sundt's designs can be
considered wearable sculpture as much as they are jewelry.  Beyond her
interest in jewelry creation, Christine is a visual resources curator and art historian.
With degrees from the University of Illinois, Chicago and the University of
Wisconsin-Madison, she began her career in visual resources at Madison.
Prior to moving to Oregon in 1983, she was the founding president of the Visual
Resources Association and was named Technology Editor of Visual Resources.
As a faculty member and visual resources curator in the library at the University of
Oregon since 1985, she was promoted to full professor in 1999. She has served
as a consultant regarding imaging management and technology for academic
institutions as well as corporations.  

Pieces of metal, faceted or natural stones, colors, textures around me
are the forces that help me shape and make my jewelry designs. I draw
inspiration from art and nature, but seldom start with a firm idea of what my
final design will be. My drawings are merely records of thoughts rather than
plans or patterns. Works come together on my workbench as elements
find each other through proximity, association, and chance.

I enjoy working in precious metals, but cannot resist the possibilities of
other metals and even found objects such as coins, parts from old, discarded
jewelry, and broken or shattered stone (the slate in some of my pieces, for example).
I am inclined to produce geometric, highly stylized and polished pieces,
despite the unstructured nature of some of these elements.

An increasingly common feature in my work is the ability to transform
the look of the piece in wearing it. My rings are often asymmetrical and
can be worn on either hand or another finger to produce a different look or
perspective, and some of my pendants double as brooches. Other pendants
can be transformed by changing the means of suspension
– from pearls to gold or silver.


Leopardwood Salad Servers.  Tiplin Taylor
If you haven't visited the Gallery since we received these wondrous
bent hardwood salad servers and utensils, do make your way in:  from
spatulas and cheese spreaders to rice paddles, cake servers and
double-sided cutting boards in woods ranging from elm to purpleheart to
walnut to leopardwood (shown above) and others, these are not only delightful
to look at but functional as well, and very affordable as gifts or for your own
cooking or serving needs.

They are created by John Taylor of Tiplin Taylor Fine Woodworking
and we think they are rather fab!
A few words from John about his work:

Growing up a few miles from the Canadian border in northwest Washington,
the woods were my back yard. Outside there were trees to climb and inside
there were heirloom pieces of furniture and three sisters. As a child, my mother
insisted that my sisters and I make gifts for each other rather than shop
for gifts at the local department store. I treasured these handmade gifts
and their hours of care and perfection.

As a woodworker, I combine my love of the woods and heirloom furniture
with made-from-the-heart objects to create functional, beautiful pieces that
will be around for a long time for many people to use and enjoy.

I am a self-taught woodworker. Books and videos have been my
resources for invaluable learning from the masters. Because I work alone, I
discover things about woodworking and myself.

The name Tiplin Taylor honors both of my family names. With my family's
encouragement, I strive to build finely crafted, functional objects from
hand-selected woods. My core drive is to bring joy to the user through artistry,
elegance, and the warmth of well-finished wood. Wood is a divine medium
that never ceases to inspire me. I hope its natural beauty and my hand provide
a lasting voice as part of someone’s living or work space." 


July is almost over, but we'll be back with more lovely pieces in August!  If you'd like to sign up to have our Newsletter notice e-mailed to your inbox please contact sr [at] theislandgallery [dot] net and we'll put you on our mailing list. (Unsubscribe requests may be sent to the same address.)

Enjoy summer!