The Art of Appreciating Art

The Land of Chief Joseph inspirational original oil painting by Wenaha Gallery artist Steve Henderson
Regional artists of the Pacific Northwest capture the area in which they live. The Land of Chief Joseph by Wenaha Gallery Artist Steve Henderson.

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.

Kokopeli Dancer birdhouse by Papa Jon's Fly Inns of Wenaha Gallery
Sculpture comes in all shapes and forms, and Papa Jon’s Fly Inns creates birdhouses that are functional and decorative. Kokopeli Dancer, by Wenaha artists Jon and Marilu Bryan of Wenaha Gallery.

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.

Great Blue Heron Wildlife painting by Hiroko Cannon of Wenaha Gallery
Original watercolors and prints are available by wildlife and Wenaha artist Hiroko Cannon. Shown is Great Blue Heron.

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.

Pierced wood bowl by wenaha gallelry artists pat and peggy bookey
Pat and Peggy Bookey of Alaska join forces to create hand pierced wooden vessels that are both functional and decorative.

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.

On the John Day inspirational original oil painting by Wenaha Gallery Artist Judy Robertus
Dayton artist Judy Robertus paints the Pacific Northwest in which she lives, and which she loves. On the John Day by Wenaha Gallery artist Judy Robertus.

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.

Websites:

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 GalleryWenaha 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 art@wenaha.com; website http://wenaha.com/ 

This article was written by Carolyn Henderson.

 

 

It Takes a Village — or a Friendly Small Town — to Keep a Community Food Bank Full

Dayton Community Food Bank near city hall in Dayton, WA
Organization doesn’t just happen. A dedicated group of volunteers is an important component to the success of the Dayton, WA Community Food Bank.

 

Community.

Before it became a television sitcom, the word was used, and overused, by businesses and organizations trying to infuse a sense of humanity into the corporate framework. Before all that, however, the word had a viable meaning describing a group of dedicated people who — in a small, friendly town sort of way — pull together to do good things.

In Dayton, WA, the Community Food Bank lives up to that cozy, friendly definition.

Dayton's Community Food Bank is located in the former fire station next to City Hall in Dayton, WA
Dayton’s Community Food Bank is located in the former fire station next to City Hall in Dayton, WA

“We are a volunteer organization with our own time and often money going into the system to keep it running,” Laura Thorn, director of the food bank, says. “We distribute food to clients whose income falls below 185% of the federal poverty level. We do this on Tuesdays, from 2 – 4 p.m., but besides all that, we need people to manage the accounts, order the food, schedule the volunteers, arrange the call lists, make the decisions, and keep the unit together.”

Volunteers do everything from sort and pack food to lift heavy boxes –(“We’re always looking for people who can lift weight to unload a monthly delivery truck on the third Wednesday of the month,” Thorn slips in) — and one dedicated couple cleans and guts fresh fish that the bank receives in the fall and spring through the Department of Fish and Wildlife.

“Many of us organize our life around Tuesday distribution day, taking vacations from Wednesday to Monday,” Thorn adds.

The thing about a community food bank is, not only are a lot of volunteers needed, but so is, quite naturally, a quantity of food. Serving between 140-160 households, representing up to 550 people, per month, the non-profit organization works in conjunction with federal, state, and local agencies, including the Blue Mountain Action Council of Walla Walla, which once a month sends the aforementioned truck with federal and state food supplies. Those supplies include 4,000 to 6,000 pounds of food — hence, the request for people who, literally, lift weight.

Winter squash provided by local gardeners to the Dayton, WA community food bank
Local gardeners, generous with their bounty, are an important part of the Dayton Community Food Bank.

But while agencies and organizations and boards are all part of the team, the “community” factor of the food bank is supplied by just that — the local people and civic groups who live in the area and care about their fellow residents who struggle to get food on the table.

“Many family gardeners share their food with us as a project,” Thorn says. “Last year we received strawberries and vegetables from local growers.

“Another family volunteers regularly with their two young daughters.”

Throughout the year, the Country Cupboard bakery donates surplus products; McQuary’s Grocery provides freezer space beyond what the food bank enjoys at its location in the former fire station next to City Hall; and many businesses and school organizations make a yearly tradition of gathering food.

“Food drives are particularly useful for us because they promote awareness and publicity in addition to gathering food,” Thorn says.

Laura Thorn, director of the Dayton Community Food Bank, keeps food and paperwork smoothly moving.
Laura Thorn, director of the Dayton Community Food Bank, keeps food and paperwork smoothly moving.

“We enjoy visits from Vacation Bible Schools every summer. Community events — like Dayton Mule Mania, the Wellness Coalition, Relay for Life, and Turkey Bingo — include us.

“In the fall, the Future Business Leaders of America did their major food drive, going door to door at Halloween, gathering 300 pounds of food.”

And coming up in January, Wenaha Gallery downtown embarks upon its 6th annual month-long food drive, which last year collected 550 pounds of food. While the gallery offers an incentive of $2 off framing for each can donated, (up to 20 percent off), gallery manager Lael Loyd says that many people are equally enthusiastic about adding to the growing display of food that the gallery features near the front window.

“They see the display in the window one afternoon, and the next day they’ve parked their car in the front and are bringing in cans,” Loyd says. “They’re really excited to see us as a convenient drop off point.”

Extra excited this year is gallery associate CJ Horlacher, who creates art displays throughout the year, and considers the aesthetic arrangement of disparate cans and boxes and bags a satisfying challenge. Thanks to another local grocery, Dayton Mercantile, Horlacher will have a shopping cart as part of this year’s display, and she is already running through ideas, none of which she will share early.

“It’s a surprise,” she says with a smile. “Even to me.”

Food is, obviously, one of the essential elements of life, and giving it to those who don’t have enough is an act about which one can feel good.

“Our goal is to provide a few days of balanced meals to enable our regular clients to afford some of their other basic necessities,” Thorn says.

“We are privileged to be part of a strong local base for funding and support.

“It takes a community working together to fight hunger.”

Wenaha GalleryWenaha Gallery’s 6th Annual Food Drive for the Dayton Community Food Bank runs from January 2 through January 31, 2015, and people may drop off non-perishable canned and boxed food, as well as personal care items such as deodorant or toothpaste, at the gallery, 219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday.

Contact the gallery by phone at 800.755.2124 or e-mail art@wenaha.com. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

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 art@wenaha.com.

This article was written by Carolyn Henderson.

Mountain Man Painter — The Landscapes of Jim McNamara

Bend in the River, original oil painting by Wenaha Gallery Artist Jim McNamara.
Bend in the River, original oil painting by Wenaha Gallery Artist Jim McNamara.

Jim McNamara is a man who moves mountains, because that is what landscape painters do.

“Cameras can do a better job at exact duplication,” the Walla Walla fine artist says, “but one of the great advantages of being a painter is the freedom to move elements around to suit the needs of the composition. So if a tree isn’t where I want it to be, I move it.”

McNamara, whose day job until retirement 15 years ago was in public education as a school psychologist, has been drawing and painting all his life, thanks to a bunch of determined women:

Dirt Road, Big Sky by Wenaha Gallery Artist Jim McNamara
Dirt Road, Big Sky by Wenaha Gallery Artist Jim McNamara

“The nuns at St. Bridget Elementary in Omaha saw a spark in me and coaxed my parents into sending me to summer school at Joslyn Art Museum when I was barely old enough to ride the bus,”  McNamara remembers. Art classes continued in high school and college — interspersed with courses in English literature, counseling, and school psychology — and specialized workshops followed throughout adulthood, as McNamara studied under some of today’s outstanding outdoor painters: Jim Lamb, Ned Mueller, Ken Roth, Matt Smith,  John Budacin, and Ralph Oberg.

The result of all the study, eclectic interests, and hard work has been McNamara’s unique style, blending brushstrokes with realism, plein air with studio work, a painterly attitude with attention to detail:

“My colors and shapes are broadly realistic but I prefer to employ a ‘painterly’ style,” McNamara explains. “I think painting is more interesting and involving if it leaves something to the viewer’s imagination.

“I like to see brushstrokes in a finished painting: it adds a textural dimension, and makes the work more fun to look at close up.”

McNamara, who prefers oil but forays into watercolor on occasion, is a consummate landscapist, focusing on broad, sweeping images of the Pacific Northwest and West, which he captures both on scene — en plein air  — and in his studio, inside an old house, built in 1900, with the high ceilings and quantity of windows that prompt other artists to sigh with envy.

“Where I paint is what I imagine was once the master bedroom,” McNamara says. “There are paintings on the walls, as well as art books, paints and brushes set up. I have an iMac with four or five thousand images to keep my mind occupied in the winter, when it’s hard to get outside.”

Trailhead View by Wenaha Gallery artist Jim McNamara
Trailhead View by Wenaha Gallery artist Jim McNamara

With such an ideal set-up, one would think that McNamara would stay in the studio all the time, content with the absence of rain and wind, but the Great Outdoors seductively calls,  and McNamara has painted en plein air from the Rockies to the coast, covering most of the western states in his travels with his wife. His favorite painting experiences involve backpacking to some remote location, setting up his easel, and painting directly from nature.

“Painting outdoors produces the most accurate color and the most spontaneous result,” McNamara says. “But because outdoor conditions are not always ideal in the Northwest, especially in winter, I do rely on reference photographs, which are always taken by me.” Hence, the iMac, with its 5,000 images.

While in the earlier years of his full-time painting McNamara entered juried shows and competitions throughout the  region — the Wallowa Valley Festival of the Arts and the former Walla Walla Carnegie Art center, the latter where he won People’s Choice Award and sold the painting the same day — the artist now concentrates his time on as much painting as he can get in. Most of his sales generate from his home studio, The Fort Walla Walla Winery on Main Street, or Wenaha Gallery in Dayton, with one of the most pleasurably memorable sales being to a collector in France, in Walla Walla for a wine tasting — from one area known for its wines, to another.

“I think representational art always makes a statement because it regards its subject as important and significant,” McNamara reflects upon what he does. “Just the act of intensely looking at a subject for the sometimes lengthy time required to render it gives it significance.

“I believe the natural world deserves being looked at intensely and wordlessly.”

Wenaha GalleryJim McNamara is the Art Event: Pacific Northwest Artist at Wenaha Gallery from December 16, 2014 through January 10, 2015 at Wenaha Gallery’s historic Dayton, WA location, 219 East Main Street.

Contact the gallery by phone at 800.755.2124 or e-mail art@wenaha.com. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

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 art@wenaha.com.

This article was written by Carolyn Henderson.

Win Big at Dayton’s Scavenger Hunt!

Here's the list of questions, and the participating businesses for the Dayton Scavenger Hunt, which runs through December 6, 2014. Drop in to any of the businesses and grab your card today!
Here’s the list of questions, and the participating businesses for the Dayton Scavenger Hunt, which runs through December 6, 2014. Drop in to any of the businesses and grab your card today!

Who doesn’t love a scavenger hunt?

By the time we’re old enough to get really good at it, however, they’re difficult to find — but not in Dayton, WA!

Seventeen Dayton businesses have joined together to create a fun hunt for the Christmas Kick-off season that involves grabbing a Signature/Stamp card, visiting each shop, and determining which question on the back of the card has to do with that business — like this:

At Wenaha Gallery, what artist has bird sculptures on display?

or

What type of milk does Little Dipper Dairy use in their cheese?

The Gardener wooden sculpture by Wenaha Gallery artist Jordan Henderson
It’s a sculpture! Ah, but not a bird. Keep looking and you’ll find the answer to question 6. (The Gardener Sculpture by Wenaha artist Jordan Henderson)

In cases like these, finding the business that has the answer to the question is pretty straightforward, but other questions get a little tricky:

Where can you find Yankee Candles?

or

Where can you find a shuffle board countertop at a local restaurant?

Once you figure out the right business to go with its question, you’re in the right place to find the answer. And when you do, a representative at the business will provide a stamp or initial in the box on the Signature Card for their business. Participants have until December 6, 2014, to complete the card and drop it off at any of the 17 businesses, or at the Dayton Chamber of Commerce.

Then what?

Then your card with your name is entered into a drawing with three winners:

First Prize — $100 in Dayton Dollars

Second Prize — $50 in Dayton Dollars

Third Prize — $25 in Dayton Dollars

Redtailed Hawk by Hiroko Cannon at the Wenaha Gallery
It’s a BIRD! But not a sculpture. But you’re close — if you’re in the Wenaha, you’re in the right place to answer question 6 (and we’ll help you, you know). Red Tailed Hawk by Hiroko Cannon, Wenaha Gallery guest artist.

AND — even if you don’t win, each business is providing a gift or offering a special exclusively for the customers playing the scavenger hunt. At Wenaha Gallery, we are giving a coupon for $3 off jigsaw puzzles of 500 pieces or more.

Got questions? Call Wenaha at 509.382.2124 or drop in and ask.

This event is sponsored by Pacific Power and brought to the good people visiting and living in Dayton by the Dayton Business Association in collaboration with the Dayton Chamber of Commerce and the Port of Columbia.

These are the 17 participating businesses where you can go and pick up you Scavenger Hunt card:

  1. Wenaha Gallery
  2. Little Dipper Dairy
  3. Boldman House
  4. Crofts Floral & Gifts
  5. Weinhard Hotel Gift Shop
  6. PDQ
  7. Blue Mountain Station Co-op
  8. Historic Depot
  9. General Store at Conoco
  10. Jacci’s Yarn Basket
  11. Rey’s Coffee
  12. Dingles
  13. Skyline Parts
  14. Village Shoppes
  15. Chief Springs & Iron Brew Pub
  16. Weinhard Cafe and Bakery
  17. Hometown Carpets

Life Outside the City Really Is for the Birds — the Wildlife Art of Hiroko Cannon

Hiroko Cannon drawing of Great Blue Heron in Brown Grass at Wenaha Gallery
Great Blue Heron in Brown Grass by Hiroko Cannon at Wenaha Gallery

The world of birds is thoughtful, peaceful, meditative, a far cry — or chirp — from the hustle and noise of Osaka and Tokyo, Japan, two metropolises known for their economic and commercial activity.

Fine artist Hiroko Cannon, who now calls Pendleton, OR home, was for many years a commercial and graphic designer in Japan’s two largest cities, creating illustrations for department stores during the day, and studying under her dream teacher, noted fashion and figurative illustrator Setsu Nagasawa, at night — that is, when she wasn’t still completing drawings for work:

“It was very hectic — projects came in the morning for the next morning’s newspaper,” Cannon remembers. “I would finish the drawings in the afternoon and wait for the first proof prints to come out for me to check. After the second and final checks I was free, to catch a taxi to go home in the middle of the night.”

And the next day, it started all over again.

Swainson's Hawk by Hiroko Cannon at the Wenaha Gallery
Swainson’s Hawk by Hiroko Cannon at the Wenaha Gallery

The quantity of work required, at the speed it demanded, was an art school all its own, and this in conjunction with studying human figure drawing and watercolor painting at the prestigious Setsu Nagasawa Seminar pushed Cannon to finesse her skills, and accuracy, in drawing.

“How to quickly catch the human movement on paper was one of Nagasawa’s curriculum, which I enjoyed a lot,” Cannon remembers.

In 1985 Cannon immigrated to the United States, and while she continued to produce illustrations and write articles on a freelance basis for women’s magazines in Japan, life changed from hectic to busy, simply because Pendleton, at its most frenetic, is not Tokyo. In the midst of raising two children, Cannon took a break from art, exchanging painting  for chauffeuring:

“Both children were heavily involved in music and required lots of shuttling to and from practice sessions, performances, and other activities,” she explained. But life goes on and children grow up, and when Cannon’s youngest child hit high school and began driving, Cannon knew that it was time to pick up painting again.

It was sheer happenstance that Cannon turned her skill, background, passion, and expertise to birds, sparked by a donation request from Lynn Tompkins of Blue Mountain Wildlife Rescue, who asked if Cannon would create a painting for the organization’s annual auction. Always a bird lover, as well as a strong supporter of the area’s non-profit organizations, Cannon agreed.

Redtailed Hawk by Hiroko Cannon at the Wenaha Gallery
Redtailed Hawk by Hiroko Cannon at the Wenaha Gallery

The public’s enthusiastic reaction to that first painting took its creator by surprise. Quickly sold for a good price, the painting sparked comments from others at the auction, who wanted to know where they could purchase more of her work. Cannon painted more originals which she reproduced as fine art prints, selling them briskly at the Pendleton Center for the Arts. Twice, Cannon walked away with the coveted People’s Choice Award at the center’s Open Regional Exhibit, and the demand for her work continued to increase. She then added greeting cards to her offerings.

Now working out of her house, which she uses as her work and storage place, Cannon explores the intricate detail and coloration of nature around her, concentrating on the big world of small things: birds, in their habitat; insects; spiders; flora; and the occasional snake. Her style is delicate, yet firm; accurate in detail; capturing the personality of her subject matter through its pose, or the expression upon its face. There is a sense of peacefulness far removed from sights and sounds and demands of a huge city.

“Looking back on my life in Tokyo, it was not for me anymore,” Cannon muses.  “Now, with my paintbrush, I am gently and slowly observing nature, including my life.”

Wenaha GalleryHiroko Cannon is the Art Event: Pacific Northwest Artist at Wenaha Gallery from November 17 through December 15, 2014. She joins Vancouver, WA, wood artist Craig Hardin at an artist’s reception Friday, November 28, 2014, at Wenaha Gallery during Dayton’s annual Christmas Kick-off.

Meet Cannon at the evening reception, from 4-7 p.m., and enjoy good company, fine art, and free refreshments at Wenaha Gallery’s historic downtown location, 219 East Main.

Contact the gallery by phone at 800.755.2124 or e-mail art@wenaha.com. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

Wenaha Gallery,  located in historic downtown Dayton, Washington,  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 art@wenaha.com.

This article was written by Carolyn Henderson.

Sometimes, Good Art Makes People Cry — the Paintings of Michele Davis

Playtime Noah's Ark oil painting by Michele Davis
Playtime Noah’s Ark by Wenaha Gallery guest artist Michele Davis.

For an artist, bringing a viewer to tears is a triumph indeed, and painter Michele Davis, of Spokane, WA, has experienced the exultation of this moment more than once:

“When someone sees my art and is touched to the point of tears, then I know it has hit the mark,” Davis, who focuses on figurative oil paintings of children and religious themes, says. “When that happens, there is something more at work than just some paint on canvas, and I find myself in awe — like I am standing on holy ground. That part has nothing to do with me.”

Her most memorable emotion-gendering moment, however, was a bit different from an exultant one:

“When my first child was born, we decided that I would stay at home with our children,” Davis remembers. “At first I set up a table in the dining room to paint watercolors.

A Future and a Hope original oil painting of Jesus and child by Michele Davis
A Future and a Hope by Wenaha Gallery guest artist Michele Davis.

“This worked for awhile, but after a year or two of this, it became evident that I needed to give more attention to our kids.

“After my little girl burst into tears one day as soon as she saw me heading to my art table, I decided I needed to give it a break.”

So, while the five kids were young, Davis packed away the boxes of art materials and focused on other matters, but she never abandoned art. A voracious reader, she absorbed instruction through books, DVDs, and interaction with others, so that by the time the children were older and less inclined to meltdown at the sight of brushes and canvas, Davis was ready — with a far different, and greatly matured concept of how, and what, she wanted to paint.

Landscapes and still lifes, the subjects upon which she had focused when her art studio was the dining room table, were still enjoyable, but Davis yearned to learn the human figure, a desire that went back many years to when she was in high school, filling stacks of sketchbooks with whatever she was into at the time.

“As a teenager, I wrote this plea in my diary: ‘I want to learn to draw faces, but no one will teach me!’

“So much for drama . . .”

But she did begin to learn. Through books and DVDs an adult Davis mentored under artists like Morgan Weistling, Mian Situ, and Richard Schmid, with the most dramatic learning curve manifesting itself as she participated in a live-model drawing group hosted by wildlife artist Terry Lee.

“There’s no substitute for something like this,” Davis says.

Hope, by Wenaha Gallery guest artist Michele Davis.
Hope, by Wenaha Gallery guest artist Michele Davis.

“Recently, my focus on subject matter has clarified, and I have devoted my hands and heart to painting Biblically-inspired images,” Davis says.

“I believe there is a great need for accomplished artists in this field.  The Harry Anderson images of Jesus that I grew up with made a huge impact on the way I viewed God.

“What a high calling for artists! What a responsibility!

“I do not take this calling lightly, and make every attempt to approach my easel with a humble and teachable spirit. Prayer before paintbrush.”

Davis’s figurative works, which celebrate simplicity, light, and the innocence of children, focus on the pleasurable work of being a child: playing with toys, climbing a tree, gathering flowers, One of them, “Playtime Noah’s Ark,” is soon to be released as a SunsOut jigsaw puzzle, through Davis’s licensing agency, The Ansada Group of Sarasota, FL.

Another project — a painting of Christ in a modern-day setting with several high school students — is literally the most sizable project she has ever embarked upon, and at 10 by 5 and a half feet, it’s a bit too big for her upstairs loft studio.

“The only wall it will fit on is in our bedroom. So my husband is patiently putting up with it for the weeks/months that I will be working on it.” Upon completion, the painting will be displayed in a private Christian high school.

“My artwork resides in homes around the country, hospitals, schools, and churches,” Davis says.

“Whether I paint Christ in a modern-day setting, or a child just being a kid, or a quiet still life, I hope it pulls the viewer up, helps them remember the good in life, and see that there is undoubtedly still much beauty to be found in the world.”

And if recognizing that beauty brings tears to a viewer’s eyes, so much the better.

Wenaha GalleryMichele Davis is the Art Event: Pacific Northwest Artist at Wenaha Gallery from October 20 through November 15, 2014. View Davis’s works at the gallery in historic downtown Dayton, WA, 219 East Main.

Contact the gallery by phone at 800.755.2124 or e-mail art@wenaha.com. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

Wenaha Gallery,  located in historic downtown Dayton, Washington,  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 art@wenaha.com.

This article was written by Carolyn Henderson.

A World of Experience in Life and Art — the Paintings of Craig Whitcomb

Blue bird with flowers painting by Craig Whitcomb
Blue Bird with Flowers by Craig Whitcomb

 

From the Old West to the Far East, world traveler Craig Whitcomb, who settled down in Lewiston, ID, captures it all in watercolor, pastel, graphite, acrylic, and color pencil, because, in addition to not being stuck to any one subject, he doesn’t limit himself in the medium used as well.

A prolific artist who has been painting for more than 50 years, Whitcomb has fit art, quite prominently, into a career path that encompasses, first, 20 years in the U.S. Air Force, where he served as a government analyst. This position took him throughout the U.S. and overseas to England, Korea, Japan and Vietnam.

Blue Indian by Craig Whitcomb of Wenaha Gallery
Blue Indian by Craig Whitcomb of Wenaha Gallery

After retirement from the military, Whitcomb embarked on a second career in teaching, focusing on art, philosophy, English, history and other disciplines — because why box oneself in to just one subject? — at Walla Walla Community College and other area schools in Clarkston, WA. Somewhere along the line he found himself in China and Japan, teaching English. And while he was teaching, he was learning — from the people, from the culture, from their art.

“My paintings, regardless of media, reflect what I have seen in my years of travel and work around the world and how I have perceived the subjects,” Whitcomb explains. Over a lifetime, those travels have taken him to more than 40 countries, with a resultant art portfolio encompassing subject matter that ranges from Nez Perce Indian “fancy dancers” to English thatched cottages, from Japanese Shinto temples  to landscapes of Idaho, near Whitcomb’s Lewiston home.

Oh, and scenes from Aruba,  an island off the coast of Venezuela that is the birthplace of Whitcomb’s wife, Stephanie. Now retired, although it doesn’t really look like it, the couple travels there to visit family, and Craig brings back images — solitary country homes, lush tropical flowers, idyllic island scenes — to paint.

The reason it doesn’t look like Whitcomb is retired is because he’s so incredibly busy — in his laid back, relaxed way. A member of the Northwest, Spokane, and Palouse Watercolor Societies as well as various general art groups, he has served as curator of the Valley Art Center in Clarkston, WA, a position that demands administrative and public relations skills as well as an eye for what constitutes fine art.

Whitcomb has exhibited with the Fred Oldfield Western and Wildlife Show, the Spokane Museum of Arts and Cultures, the Museum of Eastern Idaho, and national and international miniature shows in Florida, Virginia, Texas, Nebraska, England, and Japan. He jumped head first into 30-30-30, a gallery challenge in Moscow, Idaho that required daily paintings over the course of a month, and every year he takes part in the Clarkston Valley Art Center’s “Faking the Master’s” Exhibition, in which artists choose a famous painting to replicate.

“I know I will never duplicate a great master,” Whitcomb says, “but it gives me a challenge.”

Perhaps a greater challenge faces Whitcomb each time he finishes one work, before deciding upon, and starting another: what to do? It could be a portrait, or a landscape; a full-sized piece or a miniature so detailed that it requires a magnifying glass and a very thin brush; a whimsical approach, or a serious one. Whatever it is, it will be an eclectic blend representing years of travel, a mind sharpened by wit, and a background incorporating, literally, a world’s worth of experience.

Village Church by Craig Whitcomb at the Wenaha Gallery
Village Church by Craig Whitcomb at the Wenaha Gallery

“Art is intrinsic to every culture,” Whitcomb observes. “I haven’t encountered a culture yet where they don’t have some form of art.”

And looking at the vast repertoire of paintings spanning more than 50 years of capturing the world’s cultural heritage, one can’t help but wonder if Whitcomb hasn’t put a significant amount of it on paper or canvas.

Craig Whitcomb is the featured Art Event Pacific Northwest artist at Wenaha Gallery (219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA) from September 22 through October 11, and October 4 he joins floral, Western, and wildlife artist Janene Grende at Art Walk, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the gallery, part of the Dayton on Tour celebration.

Wenaha GalleryContact the gallery by phone at 800.755.2124 or e-mail art@wenaha.com. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

Wenaha Gallery,  located in historic downtown Dayton, Washington,  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 art@wenaha.com.

This article was written by Carolyn Henderson.

 

Too Busy to Paint, But That’s Never Stopped Her — the Oil Paintings of Marilu Bryan

Blue Door Cottage original oil painting by Wenaha Gallery artist Marilu Bryan
Blue Door Cottage, original oil painting by Wenaha Gallery artist Marilu Bryan

Most people, in the midst of raising a family on a tight budget, have little time, money, or resources to seriously attack fine art oil painting, but this never daunted Dayton oil painter Marilu Bryan, who has been pursuing her interest in art for more than 40 years.

Off and on.

When she can.

But consistently, sort of.

Beside Still Water original oil painting by Marilu Bryan
Beside Still Water, original oil painting by Wenaha Gallery artist Marilu Bryan

“When the children were younger I kept my dream of doing art to myself for awhile, but then started to study art, color, and composition in spare moments of time,” Bryan remembers.

“I read library books, researched, and studied in whenever I could; I bought my first set of oil paints and started to paint.”

When Bryan says that she was busy, she means it, and not just the raising three children and three step-children while holding down an assortment of jobs part.

“There was a mother-in-law requiring special attention, a bi-polar brother-in-law who needed a place to go after being evicted from the state of Hawaii for stealing a car.

“There were deaths in the family, a cousin who needed a place to stay at a transitional time in her life and a stream of struggling youth who came into and out of our home through the church youth group we ministered to.”

The Duck Herd original oil painting by Marilu Bryan
The Duck Herd, original oil painting by Wenaha Gallery artist Marilu Bryan.

After the kids were grown and flown, Bryan’s husband, Jon, started an excavating business and needed an office manager. In the midst of this, Bryan’s father was badly injured in a construction accident and fell into a coma, necessitating the temporary  dropping of everything else. A son had emergency surgery and skin grafts for cancer. Fulltime and part-time jobs came and went. Somehow, two houses were remodeled.

“But I kept painting,” Bryan says. “At each new start, I fell in love  all over again with painting, and learned and grew.

“And the desire, the need to paint, was always there.”

When the day came that the couple moved to a little Beach House in Gig Harbor — “I thought we would stay there forever, and I would have time to paint. And I did for awhile.”

But then a granddaughter needed time and attention.

And a son, teaching in Indonesia, encouraged Marilu and Jon to visit, and “I, working as a travel agent at the time, was able to get us a good deal on tickets to go visit.”

So they began to travel.

Out to Pasture original oil painting by Marilu Bryan
Out to Pasture, original oil painting by Wenaha Gallery artist Marilu Bryan.

“Somehow we started an import business that was fairly unsuccessful but a great adventure. It enabled us to visit our family, to  see amazing and wonderful art, intriguing places, and meet fascinating people. But it also demanded huge resources of time and energy.” Painting waited, yet again, for a time when Bryan had more time. When that theoretically looked to happen, with the phasing out of the import business, Jon retired — and threw himself  into creating art-sculptured birdhouses and selling them on the art show circuit — joined by Marilu.

“There were times when I thought I would never paint again, that I might have forgotten everything I had learned,” she remembers.

“But Jon always supported me, and he was convinced I would get back to it. In the middle of one of  our busiest times — remodeling a house  with walls to paint and floors to grout — he bought me a new easel!”

Unsurprisingly, that went over with mixed emotions, and the easel stayed in its box indefinitely. And though the couple moved from the west side  of the state to Dayton with intentions to slow down and truly enjoy retirement, the acreage they took on seemed as if it would consume all energy resources they had available. One day, when a son and grandchildren were visiting and admiring the moon rising over the Bryan’s house, Marilu commented, “Someday I’m going to paint that.”

“When?” her son asked.

“That’s when I thought, ‘Wow! I’m 66 years old — if not now, when? I’d better get started!'”

And once she started, she hasn’t stopped. Boldly confident with color, Bryan paints humble places and simple  things, some straight from her imagination, others from reference photos she takes of a house, a garden, an old truck.  For the first time in her life, she focuses on creating one artwork after another, Jon remaining her biggest supporter and encourager, insisting that she keep painting when she questions if she isn’t being selfish, perhaps, in spending so much time doing something that she loves.

“There are weeds in the flower beds, the house might get messy, but I paint — it’s what I do.

“Psalms 16:5 says it all — ‘The lines have fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage.”

Marilu Bryan is the featured Art Event Pacific Northwest Artist at Wenaha Gallery, August 25 through September 20, 2014. Come see the exhibit at the gallery’s downtown Dayton, WA location, 219 East Main Street.  Wenaha Gallery

Contact the gallery by phone at 800.755.2124 or e-mail art@wenaha.com. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

Wenaha Gallery,  located in historic downtown Dayton, Washington,  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 art@wenaha.com.

This article was written by Carolyn Henderson.

 

A Boy’s Insistent Dream Becomes Reality — The Welded Metal Sculpture of Carlos Acevedo

Welded horse sculpture by wenaha gallery artist Carlos Acevedo
Untitled welded sculpture by Wenaha Gallery artist Carlos Acevedo

From the time Carlos Acevedo was a little boy, he wanted to be an artist. He knew that he was an artist.

But like many determined people with a strong dream and an equally strong personality to make it happen, he didn’t always have the support of the people around him.

“I can remember, in grade school, when the art teacher came into my fourth grade classroom to pick out the students who were ‘privileged,'” Acevedo says. He was never chosen.

Circumstances notwithstanding, Acevedo never gave up, and the way he let his wishes be known is one that generations of artistic students have used, and generations of teachers have scolded about:

Touchet welded metal horse sculpture by wenaha artist Carlos Acevedo
Touchet by Wenaha Gallery sculpture artist Carlos Acevedo

“I doodled on all of my homework and class worksheets, and was always trying to demonstrate to my teachers that I, too, had artistic abilities.”

It was not until three years later, however — upon entering junior high school — that Carlos achieved his goal of art study when he was now required to take the class as an elective, and all those years of persistent tenacity finally accomplished their purpose:

“That is when I was introduced to clay, block prints, drawing and painting,” Acevedo remembers.  “More importantly, I learned a valuable lesson back then — to never give up on what you dream.”

Acevedo’s dreams achieve reality these days in sculpture: his signature creations, many of which are horses, start out as eclectic fabrications of wood, metal, wire, and paper which he intertwines into the finished form, then casts into bronze. The resultant work of art is fluid with movement, spirited, conveying a sensation of action skillfully woven with a singular sense of tranquility.

Acevedo credits seven years of working at Walla Walla and Trevor Hunter Foundries with expanding his skill, his understanding of the different ways that metals interact, and his confidence as an artist:

“During my time working at these foundries, I had invaluable access to the contemporary art world,” Acevedo says. “It was there that I helped fabricate large and small-scale bronze sculptures for national and international artists.” Now, as a student at Columbia Basin College in Pasco, working on his AAS Welding Degree, Acevedo continues to learn, and when he isn’t studying, Acevedo creates in his art studio, an old army bunker at the Walla Walla Airport which he shares with photographer Amahra Leaman and two studio cats, Noche-No-Tail and Professor Tubby.

“The cats earn their keep,” he observes.

Welded metal horse sculpture by wenaha gallery artist Carlos Acevedo
Untitled 3 by Wenaha Gallery sculpture artist Carlos Acevedo.

So . . . why welded art?

“The welding process has always fascinated me,” Acevedo explains. “When I was a young boy, I watched my brothers fix broken bikes and other metal objects. It was truly remarkable that they could take something that was broken and make it function again.”

And the horses?

It’s back to those brothers again: “I remember my oldest brother, Jose, being placed on a beautiful black and white ‘Paint Horse’ to have his picture taken with his cowboy boots, caballero suit, and sombrero. I looked at that photo of Jose on that horse, wishing I too could only be placed on that same beautiful black and white paint horse to have my picture taken.”

Like the grade school art lessons, it never happened, but the love for horses, and the desire to sculpt, draw, and paint them, was born in that moment.

In many ways, the young boy in Acevedo — the one who watched other children attend classes he longed to be in, and an older sibling sit proudly astride the horse he would only admire in a photograph — has never grown up, but he’s done something better:

Welded metal horse sculpture by Wenaha Gallery artist Carlos Acevedo
Untitled IV metal sculpture by Wenaha Gallery artist, Carlos Acevedo.

He has taken the setbacks of youth and its frustrated dreams and translated them into a reality of adulthood. Like many artists, he juggles school and work and family to achieve that precious, never-enough-time in the studio, and the finished pieces reflect all of the time and process it takes to create them:

“Emotion for each piece is born simply by using my hands and physically feeling the materials,” Acevedo says. “It is this emotion, the tactile act of creating, and allowing my heart a chance to speak, that drives me to continue to create.”

Carlos Acevedo is the featured Art Event Pacific Northwest Artist at Wenaha Gallery, August 11 through September 6, 2014. Come see the exhibit at the gallery’s downtown Dayton, WA location, 219 East Main Street.  Wenaha Gallery

Contact the gallery by phone at 800.755.2124 or e-mail art@wenaha.com. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

Wenaha Gallery,  located in historic downtown Dayton, Washington,  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 art@wenaha.com.

This article was written by Carolyn Henderson.

The Artist’s Life, and Wife — A Different Perspective on Fine Art Painter Steve Henderson

The Land of Chief Joseph, original oil painting by Wenaha artist Steve Henderson
The Land of Chief Joseph, original oil painting by Wenaha artist Steve Henderson.

“It must be fascinating, being married to an artist!”

This is one of those less than profound comments one encounters in social situations in which the speaker is really looking for someone else to talk to, but you’re the only one next to a free chair.

Child of Eden, original oil painting by Wenaha Gallery artist, Steve Henderson.
Child of Eden, original oil painting by Wenaha Gallery artist, Steve Henderson.

But yes, since you asked, it is fascinating being married to an artist, and my particular artist, painter Steve Henderson of Dayton, WA, is a man I haven’t completely figured out in 32 years of being together. (Of course, he’s still puzzled about me, and this is a good thing.)

The other day, we were sitting in the river — not just dabbling our feet, but immersing the bottom part of the canvas chairs and everything that was resting upon them, chatting. Steve had spent the afternoon in his renovated barn studio, working on an oil painting teaching DVD, and the river is our air conditioning.

Midway through an observation on the genius of Nikola Tesla and the lack of any serious follow up on his many and varied discoveries in electricity, the man stops.

Most of the time, this means that he has heard or seen an animal — a deer, a dog, a snake, this latter not a comforting thought since these reptiles manage to swim — but  this time it was the river itself.

“That light, reflecting on the water,” he mused.”And the canopy of vegetation. I wonder if I can get  my camera out here without slipping on the rocks?

“Ah, but we were talking about Tesla . . . ”

Three Horses, original oil painting by Wenaha Gallery Artist Steve Henderson
Three Horses, original oil painting by Wenaha Gallery Artist Steve Henderson

(He did manage to get the photo, and he didn’t slip on the rocks. He has the balance of a mountain goat, the hearing of a deer, and the eye of an eagle which occasionally requires reading glasses.)

In movies and books, artists are unbalanced, eccentric creatures, and the only reason in a murder mystery that they are not the perpetrator is that they are so scatty in their random, disparate thoughts. It’s a wonder that they manage to hold a paintbrush, much less wield it, but given the artwork that they purportedly create on screen, perhaps this isn’t such a surprise after all.

But in the real world, at least in the world I inhabit with Steve Henderson, the artist is an organized, well read, soft spoken, articulate, intelligent man who at any given moment is either digging up potatoes in the garden, taking photos of a model in Dayton’s Boldman house for a future series of 1940s period paintings, mending  a goat fence, dressing up as Santa Claus for one of his holiday works, or reading George Orwell’s 1984.

In the Workshop, original Santa oil painting by Wenaha Gallery artist Steve Henderson.
In the Workshop, original oil painting by Wenaha Gallery artist Steve Henderson.

He hikes to and through the landscapes he paints. He does not mind rain or inclement weather. He eats anything, with gratitude, and he treats every person as if they were equal to one another. His artwork is a fusion blend of representational attention to detail with impressionistic brushwork, and he loves rich color, complex light, and intricate shadow.

What he creates on canvas is the result of years — years — of time behind the easel, experimenting, learning, trying, retrying, and absorbing himself in beauty.

His philosophy of art — and  of  life — is that the world is a rough, cruel place, and it doesn’t need yet another painting about darkness, despair, gloom, hopelessness, discouragement, and muddy, mangled, greyed out colors.

“Hope, peace, joy, goodness — those are part of reality, too,” he says. “And they certainly look better on the living room wall.”

As an ordinary man, one who spent many years in the cubicle business world of commercial illustration, he is committed to getting art in the hands of real, regular people, and to this end he keeps the prices of his original works reasonable, and partners  with his agents to get his works licensed and available at online and retail establishments.

“Art is a necessary component to a well-rounded life,” he says. “Everyone should have an opportunity to own, and enjoy it.”

By choosing to focus on goodness, one is not denying the existence of evil,  he adds. Rather, one is not allowing evil to triumph over good by feeding it, extolling it, concentrating upon it.

“Artists interpret the times,” he says. “And in every historical time you will find children, family, people who love one another, picnicking, reading, walking, daydreaming. You will find trees, mountains, rivers, clouds, deserts, meadows, beaches, and sunsets — and all of these aspects of nature are filled with color and complexity.

“That’s what I paint.”

Steve Henderson  is the featured Art Event Pacific Northwest Artist at Wenaha Gallery, July 13 through August 9, 2014. Come see the exhibit at the gallery’s downtown Dayton, WA location, 219 East Main Street.  Wenaha Gallery

Contact the gallery by phone at 800.755.2124 or e-mail art@wenaha.com. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

Wenaha Gallery,  located in historic downtown Dayton, Washington,  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 art@wenaha.com.

This article was written by Carolyn Henderson.