Last spring, I had a birthday. I thought it might be fun to do plein air painting that day out at the pond, so I invited a few people to paint and party with us. We had a lot of fun. Even the dogs were celebrating.

Then during the fall studio tour in Whatcom County, I saw that my friend Nancy Canyon had a painting on the wall that looked very familiar. On closer inspection, of course it looked familiar. It was a painting of the pond! Now it’s hanging in the studio.

Noon Road Pond by Nancy Canyon

Noon Road Pond by Nancy Canyon

Nancy Canyon is a Bellingham poet and artist who also teaches and writes memoir and fiction. A talented lady! You can see more of her work here: http://nancycanyon.com.

The photo below shows the current view from the little spit between the two ponds near where Nancy painted. Right now, the two are one pond, and frozen over solid. I think I might even ice skate out there tonight under the gibbous moon. We’ll see if the wind dies down enough.

Frozen over, December 8

The pond is frozen over, December 8

Even if I don’t skate, I love this time of year if the pond freezes over. Otherwise, I’m waiting impatiently for the warmer colors of spring.

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The Transformations & Translations Show will be held at The Works Studio, Gallery and Conversations: 301 W. Holly, #U3, Bay Street Village, Bellingham, WA. Stop in to see the artworks during Bellingham’s Art Walk Night—Friday, June 5 from 6 to 9 PM. And also on Friday, June 12 from 7 to 9 PM, for an evening of music, poetry and art (with musician Allison Preisinger, and poets Nancy Canyon, James Bertolino and Anita K. Boyle). This event is an “official” pop-up gallery show.

Mary Jo Maute in her studio

Mary Jo Maute in her studio (photo by Rifka MacDonald)

Mary Jo Maute is an acclaimed and respected artist working in Western Washington. Her art has been celebrated in New York, North Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Colorado, Wyoming, California and Washington. No wonder she’s smiling.

“Self Portrait” by Mary Jo Maute

Richly colored with provocative shapes, subtle details, and more than a few surprises, Maute’s paintings never fail to challenge and delight the viewer. At a distance, this self portrait offers an appealing arrangement of strong color areas. Then, on closer viewing, it is full of forms that suggest creatures and symbols.

“Burial” by Mary Jo Maute

It’s exciting to closely examine all the marks and areas between the forms. What the viewer brings to abstraction is very important to the experience of the painting. For example, the blue area could be a reclining person or animal. I see a bird, a goose—and the brown area could be a nest. There may be a green dancing figure with a brown paw near the center foreground. But I tend to enjoy animals and nature. None of this might be the artist’s intention, but this is what happened for me in looking deeper into the paint.

In 1997, Maute received the Distinguished Service Award from the Washington Art Education Association. She continues to offer Whatcom County residents many opportunities to learn more about art at the Whatcom Museum.

“Reading in Bed” by Mary Jo Maute

In this painting titled “Reading in Bed,” some of the shapes seem animal-like, while others might suggest an open book or a bed. Symbolically, the rectangular area could be read as both a book and a bed. The outlines create a contrast with the color forms. Much of the painted surface offers broad, soft modulations, while other areas are more stippled or even ragged. The white areas, or spots, might suggest the ability to look through the painting to what might be beyond.

Maute’s solo exhibitions include Yellowstone Art Museum in Montana, Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, and Allied Arts of Whatcom County in Bellingham. She has received seven awards since 1982, including a Ucross Foundation Residency in 2013, and a Montana Arts Council Artist Fellowship in 1987.

Anita K. Boyle, with camera

Anita K. Boyle, with camera

Anita K. Boyle is an artist who is also a poet, graphic designer and publisher. She was an art and English major at Western Washington University, graduating cum laude in 1998. Her works have been exhibited at the Hanson Scott Gallery in Seattle, Loomis Hall Gallery in Blaine, Jansen Art Center in Lynden, and Lucia Douglas Gallery, Allied Arts of Whatcom County and Whatcom Museum in Bellingham.

“Municipal Circuitry” by Anita K. Boyle

Boyle’s assemblages often use her handmade paper, as well as items she’s gathered, which, in numerous ways, represent aspects of her life and the lives around her—both natural and inanimate. “Municipal Circuitry” includes washers, electrical components, part of a cell phone, a roll of copper wire and a wasp nest on handmade paper with dandelion seeds. The assemblage is placed on green ink-stained plywood under copper-foiled glass.

SongOfTheBoneCrickets

“Song of the Bone Crickets” by Anita K. Boyle

In “Song of the Bone Crickets,” the black clusters spread across the lower area consist of ink that dried on glass and was then scraped off in rolls. The left elephant garlic flower cap holds moth wing “petals” around a section of wasp nest. Below the garlic cap on the right are two songbird bones that appear as crickets to the artist.

“Leaf Poem” by Anita K. Boyle

“Leaf Poem” begins with a stanza of corrugated cardboard that supports a row of garden snail shells. The thin line across the cardboard is a sky-blue insulated wire. Below the cardboard, we see tea leaves, strands of ink shavings on the left and right sides, and metal fasteners, all on handmade paper. On the black paper, there is a column of poppy pods, and the main leaf-poem stanza of the artwork, which has chrysanthemum leaves in a rhythm on more paper. The ink on the right column is woven into the fasteners, and is intended to be the final stanza of the poem.

Both artists, Mary Jo Maute and Anita K. Boyle, communicate through symbolism in their artworks through different media. They use different mediums to transform their ideas into a visual format. The placement of each element within the artworks is a translation from the imagination to the visual, and has yet to be translated into language, or actual words. Artists often attempt to “write” the ineffable.

—written by James Bertolino

From the Press Release…

Two artists—Mary Jo Maute and Anita K. Boyle—will share their evocative paintings and assemblages in Prentiss Cole’s The Works Studio… for two Fridays in June. On June 5, Maute and Boyle will be present to chat with you about art and technique. Then, on June 12, Boyle will read her poems, and be joined by singer/songwriter, Allison Preisinger, as well as poets Nancy Canyon and James Bertolino.

Mary Jo Maute’s work is inspired by natural forms – the human figure, animals, plants and micro-organisms. She prefers to jump in and let the ideas, shapes and relationships emerge uncensored. Images are layered, erased, overlapped, and interconnected to create a luminous interplay between the sensual nature of paint and marks, and the intangible aspects of memory, sensation, and emotion.

Anita K. Boyle’s assemblages could be called environmental self-portraits. For this show, she will feature artworks that are language-related in some way: titles include “R Story,” “Letter from the Country,” and “Self Portrait of an Iceberg,” among others. Boyle’s experience as a graphic designer adds balance, contrast, texture and value to each piece, as much as her understanding of several art techniques—from papermaking to drawing, painting and more. Natural and synthetic materials present a communication between conflict and harmony. Stories are the inspiration for some of the assemblages; in others, a story happens as the artwork is being made, and still others tell their own stories.

About Mary Jo Maute

Former Montana resident, Maute now lives in Bellingham, Washington and works as education coordinator at the Whatcom Museum of History & Art. She earned an MFA from University of Colorado, Boulder and a B.F.A. from Daemen College in her native city, Buffalo, NY. She has exhibited in New York, California, Colorado, Montana and Washington and has work in public and private collections including the Yellowstone Art Museum, Billings, MT; the Missoula Museum of the Arts, Missoula, MT; and Deaconess Medical Center, Billings, MT. She recently completed a residency at Ucross Foundation in Clearmont, Wyoming. 

About Anita K. Boyle

Poet and artist Anita K. Boyle is a freelance graphic designer and sole proprietor at Egress Studio, and a publisher of Washington State poets. She is currently working on illustrating a book of poems—The Moon’s Answer by Lana Ayers—which will be published by Egress Studio Press in both hard and soft cover, handmade, limited editions before year’s end. She is also working on several new assemblages that use handmade and naturally-made paper, which you can see at the July juried exhibit at Allied Arts of Whatcom County. New poems are also in the works. In 1998, she graduated cum laude with a BA from Western Washington University (Art and English majors.)

Space Hawk

Where the sphere of actuality
and the sphere of possibility turn
against each other, a winged creature

is flying through the Earth.
Broad rhythmic strokes
propel it through densities of stone

inward to the molten core.
Then, like a red-tailed hawk riding
a sudden thermal, it is buoyed outward,

erupting from the surface
into space, where it disappears
in a shimmer of exhilaration.

==

“Cosmic Bird” by Leo Osborne

This poem, which inspired a sculpture, is from my book Snail River—published in 1995 by the Quarterly Review of Literature Award Series, Princeton University. Leo Osborne created his sculpture in response to the poem, and it will be up for auction (together with a copy of the book with Leo’s drawing on the page with the poem), at the Museum of Northwest Art in La Conner, Washington. The event is scheduled for Saturday, June 16th—doors open and silent auction begins at 5 pm; live auction begins at 7:15 pm.

Osborne is a Guemes Island artist, and his sculpture reminds me that I wrote a poem inspired by a Philip McCracken painting––Phil is another long-time Guemes artist who, well before Leo arrived on Guemes, was well-known for his sculpture. Back when I first lived on the Island, it was in a rental house about three doors south of Phil and Anne McCracken’s house and art studio. That was the mid-eighties. One evening when I walked up the road to visit the McCrackens, I was enjoying the sound of frogs singing. I noticed that the frogs got louder as I approached the house. When I mentioned that phenomenon to Phil and Anne, they pointed to a small pond near the front door, and insisted that all frogs were quite welcome. Later Phil loaned me that painting titled “Frog Voices”—which, in a somewhat abstract manner, depicted the rising music of the frogs.

Frog Voices by Philip McCracken

I spent a number of evenings meditating on the painting. Then I wrote a poem which I titled “Frog Voices” in honor of the artwork it was interpreting. The McCrackens liked the poem very much, and Phil said he wanted me to keep his painting as a gift. The “Frog Voices” poem was soon to be published in my volume First Credo, 1986, which was the first of two books that were published in the Quarterly Review of Literature Contemporary Poetry Series.

Here is the poem:

Frog Voices

The swamp is silent.

Dawn’s slow voltage
reaches wild currant, and each twig,
each slim living rheostat
feeds light to the blossoms.

Then one by one open the gold
and green-flecked eyes of the frogs.

Over the distant Bering Sea,
over resting bowhead whales
and sea birds at roost,
a missile punctures the brilliance
of morning sky.

Shivering ponds of swamp water
harbor a grim reflection
as the projectile descends its chilling arc.

Suddenly the frogs begin.
Their voices rise,
feathery trebles, croaks and trills
all weaving a shield
of sound.

When the missile explodes
the blinding egg of fire is enclosed
by singing, then is repelled
into cold space
beyond the range
of song.

––For Philip McCracken

Poems by James Bertolino

Sumi Ink and Watercolor on Crinkled Mesa

Watercolor and Ink Painting on Crinkled Masa
An Artist’s Two-Day Workshop at Egress Studio

About the Workshop:
This workshop will explore the crinkled masa paper painting technique.

This enjoyable class combines Asian and Western painting techniques, and uses Japanese sumi ink and watercolor on Japanese paper. Each person will learn the techniques for crinkling the masa paper, which will produce intriguing textures, introduce the element of chance, and is very fun, as well. By the end of the workshop, everyone will go home with at least one finished artwork, and the knowledge to make more.
The instructor, Sheila Sondik, has explored this method of working for many years. See beautiful examples of her experience with the medium on her website at www.SheilaSondik.com/paintings.html.

About the Artist:

The workshop instructor at the helm of her studio.


Sheila Sondik is a prolific artist whose works have been exhibited in many states and in South Korea and Japan. She has taught individuals and groups in Berkeley, California, and in her Bellingham printmaking studio. Sheila is currently working on a series of prints inspired by Chuckanut sandstone. For more information, visit her website at SheilaSondik.com.

How to Register:
Saturday, January 21, and Sunday, January 22, from 1 to 5 both days.
Instructor: Sheila Sondik
Location: Egress Studio, 5581 Noon Road, Bellingham
Registration: $100 for two days
Materials list will be distributed to registrants. Most materials will be provided, and are included in the registration fee.
Workshop is limited to eight participants.
To register, please make check payable to “Sheila Sondik,” and mail to:
Sheila Sondik, 1809 Summit St., Bellingham, WA 98229.
Questions? Ask Sheila at (360) 306-8284 or ssondik@gmail.com