“Syrinx” by Matt Armbrust, photographed by Laurelle Walsh

“Syrinx” by Matt Armbrust. Photo by Laurelle Walsh

By LAURELLE WALSH

A new show that explores harmony between people, interior and exterior living spaces and the objects that fill those spaces opens at Confluence Gallery and Art Center this weekend.

“Inside Out” emphasizes the design aspects of arts and crafts and how “thoughtfully designed objects and the environment we create with them has the

power to enrich our lives,” according to show curator Laura Karcher.

“There is design in absolutely everything we use every day,” said Karcher. “The objects we live with can make life easier or more difficult. We can choose to acknowledge this fact and use design to make our lives easier and more lovely.”

Inside Out opens on Saturday (Aug. 3) with an opening reception from 4-8 p.m. at the gallery. The show runs until Sept. 21.

Confluence Gallery’s show committee conceived the design-themed exhibit to pair with the gallery’s popular Home Tour, happening the following Saturday, Aug. 10. And on Aug. 17, three prominent designers – interior craftsman Rick Swanson, architect Ray Johnston, and visual artist Theresa Miller – will involve the community in a presentation and panel discussion considering issues of design and the built environment. Karcher hopes that the panel discussion might jumpstart a local designers guild, something she’s been trying to get off the ground for several years, she says.

The show’s title – Inside Out – refers to the show committee’s desire to “do away with the idea that certain things belong inside and other things belong outside,” says Karcher. “It’s part of the Methow Valley lifestyle; people here live outside and build nests inside their homes.”

Exhibit designer Theresa Miller brings her experience creating outdoor living spaces and designs for theater into arranging the disparate work of over 40 local and regional artists: furniture makers, painters, photographers, sculptors, and glass, ceramic and textile artists.

Among the artists represented, Hal Tangen, professor of design at Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, reveals the unique characteristics of each humble strip of dimensional lumber when assembling them into elegant benches and airy hanging wall panels.

Linda Mortensen, one of Tangen’s students at Cornish, “achieves a beautiful harmony between things typically found and thought of as being outside” – for example metal roofing – and makes both wall art and functional pieces like her dining table top covered with pebbles and succulent plants, Karcher says.

Local metal artist Barry Stromberger manages to capture a sense of lightness and air in his metal sculpture entitled “Cattail on Stone,” which features a tiny hummingbird perched at the end of a swordlike cattail frond.

From an installation originally at Central Washington University, clay artist Matt Armbrust strings bead-like ceramic tubes onto arching metal posts to create giant bamboo stalks arranged into graceful lines or clustered into a bouquet. “Great outdoor art,” notes co-curator Sue Marracci.

Two-dimensional art also plays a role in the show, including the landscape paintings of Rod Weagant and Cheryl Wrangle, “probably the most representational work in the show,” according to Marracci.

Marracci also enjoys the harmony and tension that occurs between the intricate wall pieces of Yuko Ishii and Vblast. Ishii’s mounted panels appear to be ancient leather-bound books ornamented with designs from sacred geometry, while Vblast assembles a grid of textured gesso tiles – some with embedded treasures – onto a door-sized black panel embellished with shiny metal gears. “You could look at them for quite a while and keep finding things,” Marracci says.

A nest-themed collaboration between Bellingham artists Denise Snyder and Trish Harding is showcased in a subdued corner of the gallery called “the night garden.” Harding paints the circular nest form in somewhat unsettling moods, from vulnerable hanging birdhouses to tiny robin’s eggs embraced by menacing branches, while Snyder weaves three-dimensional organic nests of raffia, twine and branches.

Sections of the gallery have been painted spring green, saffron and burgundy to delineate space and mood. “Once you come in you are drawn into the gallery so that you move through it in a certain way,” says Marracci. “We hope viewers will come away with inspiration for their own homes and see color and movement in new ways.”

“Maybe people will take away an object to fill a space or an idea of how to use space in creative ways,” says Karcher. “We hope it inspires people to reassess their interrelationships with the objects we live with.”

Confluence Gallery and Art Center is located at 104 Glover St. in Twisp. Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

For more information call 997-2787 or go to the gallery’s website www.confluencegallery.com.