Diverse shows include works from Kittitas County artists

By Marcy Stamper

A diverse collection of art and artists — most new to local viewers — will be featured in a trio of exhibits at Confluence Gallery starting this weekend.

The main gallery is exhibiting some of the best art produced by artists from Central Washington over the past decade in a show curated by Gallery One in Ellensburg.

In a new collaboration, Confluence Gallery and Gallery One are showing art selected by one another’s curators. The collaboration will help cross-pollinate the rich artistic traditions of each area, said Salyna Gracie, executive director of Confluence Gallery.

The “Best in Show — New Works by Kittitas County Juried Winners” exhibit highlights selections by Gallery One Executive Director Monica Miller from the past 10 years. The exhibit showcases the breadth and diversity of artists in the Ellensburg area, including painting, sculpture and digital manipulation. “There is lots of contemporary art being produced in an area thought of as the cowboy West,” said Gracie.

Photo courtesy of Confluence Gallery
Bobbie Halperin’s work, “First Snow” will be on exhibit.

Justin Gibbens’ images of animals and the natural world have been featured at Confluence before, but the other nine artists in the show — some with national reputations — will be new and thought-provoking for local viewers.

In Confluence’s Community Gallery, painter Brian Sostrom is presenting a solo exhibit called “Darkening Light.”

Sostrom’s atmospheric acrylic paintings are heavily inspired by the beauty and emptiness of nature. They’re not intended to communicate a specific perspective but instead to create what Sostrom calls an “intriguing visual poem.”

By painting on Plexiglas with acrylics, Sostrom creates paintings with a unique, interesting texture and atmosphere that captures the mood of weather and light, said Gracie.

“Lighting and atmosphere are at the very heart of my work and, to create the brightest glow, I find myself darkening the light,” said Sostrom.

Confluence was first introduced to the art of Idaho-based painter when he submitted work for an exhibit two years ago. The gallery is excited to be able to feature more of his work in this show, she said.

The third exhibit is in the gallery’s gift shop, where “New Portraits by Tess Jenkins” will be on view. Jenkins was an artist-in-residence at the gallery last year.

Jenkins is a portrait artist with a strong background in figure drawing and a love of human anatomy, but this series takes a new approach to portraiture. The paintings are loose abstractions, with some self-portraits and some more general archetypes, said Gracie. “Jenkins focuses on the beingness of a person, rather than the exactitude of their features, to pull out their essence,” she said.

Jenkins brought her practice of Vipassana meditation into the studio, starting each session with a 30- to 60-minute meditation. “I found the experiences and sensations from these sittings began to appear in my work,” said Jenkins.

Meditation allowed her to shift from the defined sense of herself into “an open, unbounded and often confusing space,” said Jenkins. “[The figures] eventually began to seem more like apparitions in a fog than solid forms.” she said.

All three exhibits run from Sept. 30 to Nov. 11. There is an opening reception on Saturday (Sept. 30) from 4 to 8 p.m.