By Ann McCreary
Three local artists have taken on the challenge of capturing the Methow Valley’s “Spirit of Place” in the Winthrop Gallery’s new exhibit.
Laurie Fry portrays the concept in her pastel painting of animal tracks beside a remote tarn near Copper Pass in the North Cascades.
“It’s a beautiful tarn, and there were animal tracks around it. It’s almost like the tracks are their spirits, left at the tarn,” Fry said.
Inspiration for Patty Yates comes from “the wonderful, simple things I see every day.” Her watercolor, acrylic and silk paintings focus on those simple things “and how they change. It’s the sunlight; the change of light is what gives me the spirit of place,” she said.
Enamel and bead artist Gloria Spiwak created a population of wetlands animals in pins, pendants and earrings. “I got caught up in the wetlands. I started doing frogs and creatures that make their homes in wetlands – loons, redwing blackbirds, otters,” Spiwak said. “This is what was inspired by nature for me – an active and healthy pond.”
The “Spirit of Place” exhibit, featuring the works of Fry, Yates and Spiwak, opened Wednesday at the gallery and an artists’ reception will be held Saturday (Sept. 7) from 6-8 p.m.
Fry has created 12 new pieces for the show, most of them focused on autumn. “It’s one of my favorite seasons to paint, and my favorite season overall,” Fry said.
Her subjects come from her extensive explorations of the Methow Valley and surrounding mountains. “I’m absolutely in love with this area, the mountains and the valley. I just love portraits of our landscape,” she said.
One of her favorite hikes is the Maple Pass loop at Rainy Pass, because of its panoramic vistas and seasonal changes. “I do Maple Pass loop six or eight times a year. We start when there’s snow on it and end when there’s snow,” Fry said. “In the fall it’s one of my favorites … with oranges and golds and greens. I think of it as a brocade fabric.”
Fry takes photos of the places she wants to re-create in a painting. “I use a certain amount of artistic license,” adding a freshly mown field, for instance, or changing the lighting. “It’s kind of like the artists’ version of Photoshop,” Fry said.
Patty Yates loves the view toward the hills to the east as she drives from Twisp to Winthrop, and captured the snowcapped peaks of spring in an acrylic painting called “First Light.”
She likes to anticipate how the sun or snow will play off the mountains. “The feeling of what changes – it’s different every time, yet it’s always going to be the same,” Yates said.
Aspen trees are another favorite subject of her work, especially in fall as leaves change color. “They are so beautiful. This time of year is so gorgeous. Just the light this time of year, and the shadows … I’m so simple,” Yates said with a laugh.
Yates often makes large paintings, but for the “Spirit of Place” show she also worked on a smaller scale.
“I’m used to painting kind of big. For me to tell a story in a small space was very interesting,” she said.
She also has some silk paintings on small squares of fabric, which are intended to hang in a window to catch the light. “They’re so much fun, just to have some flash in the windows, and they deter birds,” she said.
Birds, dragonflies, butterflies and other creatures inhabit Gloria Spiwak’s wetlands art world of vibrantly colored enamel and bead jewelry. “I especially love the otter pieces,” Spiwak said.
Her enamels are ground glass fired to a metal back of copper or fine silver. She has also created small bead “pictures” of birds and animals. Two of them will be in Bead and Button magazine’s December issue.
The “Spirit of Place” exhibit continues at Winthrop Gallery through Oct. 7. The gallery is open every day in September, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. For more information call 996-3925 or go to the website at www.winthropgallery.com.