By Marcy Stamper
“This has to do with change — we kind of get stuck in what we perceive as being normal and don’t perceive that change is occurring,” said Dan Brown, one of three curators of Confluence Gallery’s new show, “Shifting Baselines: The New Normal.”
Artists had a wide variety of responses to the shift in perspective. A majority chose to explore environmental changes and transformations of an extremely personal nature, said Brown.
The show, which opens Saturday (April 18), includes depictions of rivers and flowers and of men walking on the moon. One artist contemplates the fate of fish in a warming ocean, while another used river rock in a sculpture about retreating glaciers. Others ponder the meaning of empty chairs and their relationship to population growth. Several pieces reflect on the transformation of the Methow landscape after last year’s wildfire.
Terra Holcomb expresses her environmental concerns through self-portraits in natural settings. In her photographs in the Confluence show, Holcomb is seen wearing elaborate garments that she creates herself — including a dress made from hydrangea blooms and a floor-length gown fashioned from mussel shells affixed to a crocheted bodice.
Several artists are showing bowls and sculptures made from woodturning. John Eskelson described one bowl he coaxed from a rotting piece of wood: “Pieces like this come out of the dust cloud, to show that even something so broken, imperfect and fragile can sometimes be most interesting.”
Each curator is exhibiting several pieces. Brown repurposed car parts, painting vintage hoods with images of an octopus and of birds. Co-curator Jennifer Molesworth is showing paintings of birds and fish, including one of red-tail hawks who painstakingly rebuilt a nest in the burnt forest near her home. The third curator, Mike Azzano, whose family farms in the Okanogan, created multi-media works that reflect on the changing nature of ranching, on greed and on exploitation.
Each artist has contributed a statement reflecting on the theme of change.
The gallery is also exhibiting poetry and collage by sixth-grade students in the Loovre.
“Shifting Baselines” runs through May 30. There is an opening reception on Saturday from 4 to 8 p.m.