A Brush With Creation
A Brush With Creation features two friends who have exhibited together in the Hope Arts Gallery Back Room for several years--Jenny Wolpert and Shirley Wotherspoon.
The first impression from the threshold of the room is awe, incredulity. So many pieces, so much work, new work, all completed since last year's show. Almost overwhelming. You tell yourself to focus: on this wall, then this wall, then this, and this, and this.
To your right, Shirley has two jewel-toned crazy-quilt inspired stitched fabric landscapes, "Mountain Lake", "Moons Up", with four large acrylic landscapes. Straight ahead, Jenny's two colourful quilted fabric hangings, "Legends of the West" and "Flight to Freedom" are featured, along with digital collage paintings beside oil paintings and encaustic paintings by Shirley. The end wall features a large mixed media painting of Jenny's, "Dancing to the Exit", its yellows repeating Shirley's fall landscape above it. The fourth wall holds a mixture of acrylic paintings and smaller watercolour landscapes by both artists, and a shelf with small paintings and Jenny's pine needle sculptures and decorated gourds. The gourds are trimmed with stitchery and painted with a mysterious hieroglyphics first seen on the hanging featured behind the front desk. This object, some sort of fabric--is it plastic? is it leather?--attracts first by its uniqueness. It is peach-coloured with a grey shadow pattern, over-stitched, scribed with those same turquoise shapes giving an impression of glyphs, as if the shapes contain/conceal/reveal meaning. "Stelae of a Passing Culture: History detectives speculate about the rise and fall of culture. Why did this civilization fail? Will they identify the lowly pine beetle?" Aha, the subtextual pattern is that of the stains in pine-beetle-destroyed wood.
Although their work is very different, there are always surprising connections between these two artists. Exuberant colours. Nature. Explorations of several different media each. Shirley uses acrylic, oil, and watercolour paints as well as encaustic and fabric to portray natural objects, scenes, and settings. One painting shows a cabin on Mt. Ogilvie, another a bear popping out of a bush. The other nineteen pieces show no signs of human habitation beyond a footpath which could just as easily be a deer trail. It is as if she has chosen to focus upon Beauty and Peace, and to explore that beauty in several different media.
Jenny's work--fabric art, acrylic and watercolour paintings, photography, digital collage, pine needle weaving, decorated gourds--tends to feature symbolic and mythic creatures such as coyote, salmon, and eagle in the fabric art, or swans, bears, and butterflies in the collages, dead trucks, and humans moving through a landscape. There are men in meaningful pursuits (walking with briefcase on highway, exploding) or girls (in adolescent glory, rising from a sea shell, dancing with trailing ribbons) in allusive and symbolic poses. Jenny also engages viewers with the written commentary to each work, explaining some of her own observation, inspiration, or interpretation. The comments in many of these captions suggest that Jenny works to transform anger into art, pain into beauty.
Two different artists. One great show, in the Back Room at the Hope Arts Gallery, Hope, British Columbia, until September 28, 2008.
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