By Laurelle Walsh
An artifact is “a usually hand-made object (as a tool or ornament) representing a particular culture or stage of technological development,” according to Merriam-Webster.
In a new show at the Winthrop Gallery, the member-artists take Webster’s definition one step further by supposing that an artist’s body of work “becomes the artifacts they will be remembered by,” according to the gallery’s head of promotions, Laura Aspenwall. “Functional or fanciful; plain or elaborately embellished; our creative expressions document our lives and the times we live in.”
The gallery’s 30 cooperative members interpret what that concept means to them in a show called “Artifacts” opening today (April 23).
An opening reception for the exhibit will be held on Saturday (April 26) from 5 – 7 p.m., with an opportunity to talk to the artists about their submissions, refreshments provided.
Aspenwall, a glass blower, contributes an artifact she created for outdoor display called “Arrow (non-functional).”
“I was interested in exploring the effects of weather and age on glass and copper,” she said. “This piece was mounted on a fencepost in my yard for several years, in all weather. I was pleased to see that where copper was covered by glass it remained bright and colorful, in contrast with the exposed copper that turned a lovely steel gray.”
For her artifact, fiber artist Susannah Young dug into the scraps of fabric in her sewing room that she “can’t bear to throw away,” she said.
Out of those scraps, which have been used in the creation of her multi-media textiles in the past, Young created a colorful, dimensional wall hanging called “Artifacts of a Sewing Room.”
“Once I had them sewn together I realized that they do constitute a kind of history of my work over the past year,” Young said.
Watercolorist Carol McMillan experienced complete immersion in centuries-old artifacts while spending two summers working in archeology at Mesa Verde National Park.
Her still life of a circa 1100 A.D. black-on-white mug reflects the “love and admiration” she developed for the pottery of Mesa Verde’s original inhabitants, McMillan said.
Patty Yates considered prehistoric wall art, revisiting her sketchbook renderings of petroglyph sites she’s visited over the years. “Petroglyphs came to my mind the second we came up with artifacts. It made me think about early artists and what they left behind,” she said.
Yates painted images of those petroglyphs onto silk circles and squares that hang suspended from the gallery’s ceiling. The pendants shine in the light “like silk stained glass windows. They are totally impermanent in comparison to rock art,” she said.
Paula Christen spent part of last winter drawing up a list of “iconic Methow images,” as potential subjects for her watercolors, she said. At the top of her list was a falling-down homestead she calls the “marmot house,” located at the base of Patterson Mountain, highly visible to anyone driving Twin Lakes Road.
Christen’s painting of that homestead, called “Old Timer,” is rendered in warm spring colors, the little cabin nestled in a grassy meadow with the North Cascades as a backdrop.
These pieces and many more are on display at the Winthrop Gallery, 237 Riverside Ave., through May 26. The gallery is open 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Thursday through Monday. For more information call 996-3925.