Photo courtesy of the Winthrop Gallery Don McIver’s “Walking Bowl” will be on display.

Photo courtesy of the Winthrop Gallery
Don McIver’s “Walking Bowl” will be on display.

By Ann McCreary

Four artists working in photography, handmade furniture, pastel painting and woodturning bring their work together in an exhibit called “Natural Elements” at the Winthrop Gallery that opens Wednesday (July 27).

An artists’ reception will be held Saturday (July 30) from 5 – 7 p.m. at the gallery.

The exhibit features reclaimed fir and pine furniture by Cliff Schwab, works by woodturner Don McIvor, photography by Matt Firth, and pastel paintings by Laurie Fry.

Fry said the artists chose the theme of natural elements to express “our love of what’s close by, natural, indigenous — we have in common our indigenous subject matters and materials.”

Schwab’s work for the exhibit continues his line of reclaimed fir and pine furniture, which features dovetail joinery and Oregon black walnut accents.

“The material was reclaimed from a local Methow Valley ranch and provides rich, deep tones,” Schwab said.  The pieces include local handmade iron pulls.

“Each piece of furniture is unique in character, aesthetically pleasing as well as functional,” Schwab said.

Firth said his landscape photography is strongly influenced by the elements of nature — color, light, pattern and form.

“As a landscape photographer, I’m presented with an embarrassment of riches, the landscape delivers all of these elements in spades,” Firth said.

“The real trick is not to be overwhelmed by the abundance of texture, the pretty damn stunning form of the Methow Valley overlain with spring clouds, the subtle textures and color in rushing water, and that ever-elusive light,” he said.

Often a good photo requires “paring away the extraneous,” Firth said. “I’m looking for the just right combination of the pattern and texture of ridge lines running to the valley floor, the pattern and density of cloud shadows as they run across the hillsides, the color of a deep green valley surrounded by bright white mountains and a deep blue sky.”

A woodturner for more than 25 years, Don McIvor said many of his pieces are utilitarian, but also reflect his conviction that art should be a fundamental part of daily life.

His work for the new Winthrop Gallery exhibit “is more manipulated than my typical line of craft,” McIvor said.

“This series investigates shape and texture … manipulating forms to challenge our traditional expectation of a vessel,” he said. “I am also using dyes, colors and integrating metal to produce contrasting textures.”

Fry said she draws her inspiration “from the beauty and excitement of our natural environment.”

She has created nine new pastel paintings for the exhibit, with subjects that include aspen groves, alpine lakes, rivers and mountain landscapes, and encompass spring, summer and fall in and around the Methow Valley.

“Using a technique I call ‘lyrical realism,’ my pastels will suggest not just the appearance, but the experience of the place,” Fry said.

The exhibit continues through Sept. 12. Winthrop Gallery is open Wednesday–Monday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.