Most of us understand and empathize with our fellow humans who are afraid of mice, spiders, snakes, small spaces or vampire movies starring Christopher Lee. We all have our fears and foibles, and they vary depending upon the person.
Many people, however, are frightened — in a different way — of something that is designed to bring joy and dimension to their lives: fine art, as in paintings and sculpture, jewelry and prints, woodwork and photography. Whether it is years of the discipline being overrun and overruled by the extreme abstract movement, resulting in viewers being condescendingly ushered from the room when they asked, “Why is this piece worth $25,000? It really looks like something an eight-year-old could do,” or not, too many individuals are missing out on an element of life that should be part of all our lives.
So, let’s change this, and aggressively make art part of our lives.
Appreciating fine art, like most skills, is easy yet difficult, but it doesn’t start at all until we begin. While it sounds simplistic, initiating the process involves nothing more than looking at art — in books, online, or in person — and doing just that: looking at it. The more we expose ourselves to different styles, different media, different subject matter, the more experience we gain in art, and of art, and soon find ourselves developing a sense of confidence in our judgment.
“I don’t know much about art, but I know what I like,” is a common phrase of the common man, and like most such phrases, it imbues a factor of commonsense as well. Art, which is both subjective and objective, appeals to different people for different reasons, and in the same way that some people love goat cheese and others don’t, or some people prefer a red Malbec over a white Pinot Grigio, or a black Nilgiri tea over a South African honeybush tisane, some viewers gravitate toward bold brushstrokes and vibrant color, while others prefer subdued colors and a smooth, blended surface.
Most fortunate of all are those whose experience is so wide and diverse that they see merits in various styles — they like herbal infusions as well as white tea, bitter dark chocolate and the sweeter milk kind, representational art and abstract. And, because they’ve looked at a lot of art, and asked questions about what they’ve seen, and pondered the various answers they were given, they are free as well to say, “This is good, and this is not,” because art — while it is very, very subjective — possesses objective elements as well, although, within certain areas of the art world, this is a well kept secret.
Because art, in various forms, is literally everywhere, the ability to see it, and learn from it, is open to anyone with access to books, images on a computer, or — and this very much an option for people in Southeast Washington — brick and mortar galleries that house and showcase art. Known for being an art community, Walla Walla — and the area around it — is fortunate to possess private and community establishments that show art, sell art, and encourage people to visit and physically view art.
Any fears that aspiring aficionados have about walking into a gallery and feeling like an idiot should be immediately put to rest, because anyplace that prompts a reaction of insecurity in its patrons is not a place where they will learn about art. And it’s not a place that viewers will find in this area, which enjoys a number of ways to view original art.
In Walla Walla, WA, Kingfisher Gallery and Custom Framing at 11 South Spokane Street features original art from Walla Walla based artists including Carol Cole, Bob Baker, Ed Stone and Mark VanDonge, and new works are added on a changing basis through the year.
Darrah’s Framing and Decorator (39 East Main) focuses on artists of the Walla Walla Valley, spotlighting the work of one artist for special two-month-long shows.
Todd Telander Gallery at 34 South Colville features landscapes, still life, and wildlife work of the artist.
A short drive away, Wenaha Gallery (219 East Main) in Dayton showcases Pacific Northwest artists in its Art Events, every two weeks bringing in the two- or three-dimensional work of regional painters and sculptors. The gallery also houses the original work of some 30 artists from Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and Alaska.
Dayton artists with studios include Monica Stobie (610 North Touchet Road) and Steve Henderson (by appointment: 509.382.9775); and the Delaney building, next to the public library (111 South Third Street) hosts a monthly rotating display of artwork by the Blue Mountain Artists Guild.
Further afield, but still within an afternoon’s drive, are the Valley Art Center in Clarkston, WA (842 6th Street); the Pendleton Center for the Arts (214 North Main Street, Pendleton, OR); and the Allied Arts Gallery (89 Lee Boulevard, Richland, WA). All three of these community art organizations operate a rotating monthly calendar of juried competitions, regional exhibitions, and individual and group artist shows. A short hop from Clarkston (16 miles northeast in Uniontown, WA), the Dahmen Barn carries the work of 120 artists, some of whom maintain studios in the building and are more than happy to talk with visitors.
This is, indeed, an area rich in the visual arts, and the opportunity to make art a part of our daily lives — viewing it, appreciating it, and owning it — is big and bold and beautiful. Let’s make 2015 the year to embrace art.
Todd Telander — http://www.toddtelander.com/
Kingfisher Galleries and Custom Framing — Kingfisher Walla Walla (Facebook)
Darrah’s Framing and Decorating — http://www.darrahsdecorating.com/
Wenaha Gallery — http://wenaha.com/
Monica Stobie — http://www.monicastobie.com/
Jill Ingram — http://www.jillingram.com/
Steve Henderson — http://stevehendersonfineart.com/
Allied Arts Gallery — http://www.alliedartsrichland.org/
Pendleton Center for the Arts — http://www.pendletonarts.org/
The Dahmen Barn — http://www.artisanbarn.org/
Wenaha Gallery is your destination location for Greenwich Workshop Fine Art Prints, professional framing, and original fine art paintings and sculpture by notable Pacific Northwest artists. Books, gifts, note cards, jigsaw puzzles, and more are also available. Visit at 219 East Main, Dayton; phone 509.382.2124; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; website http://wenaha.com/
This article was written by Carolyn Henderson.