By Laurelle Walsh
The Gallery at Sun Mountain Lodge invites art lovers to come and view its summer exhibit, which features the recent work of painters Donna Keyser and Margaret Kingston, and photographers Teri Pieper and Ken Smith. The show is co-curated by Keyser and Laura Karcher.
An artists’ reception will take place in the Pasayten Room Foyer at the lodge on Sunday (Aug. 2) from 5-7 p.m., with light refreshments and a chance to meet the featured artists. The exhibit runs through November.
“Sun Mountain works hard to provide a place of quiet retreat for its guests,” Keyser said. “It’s a special environment, and we are trying to reflect that in the gallery. It’s a place of relaxation, restoration and recovery that everyone can enjoy.
“We have added quite a few pieces and refreshed the gallery for summer,” Keyser continued. “I think people will find the art enticing, precise and subtle.”
Both Smith and Pieper capture moments of quiet contemplation in their photographic studies. Keyser and Kingston paint impactful mountain scenes.
Pieper said most of her photos in the show came out of a black-and-white project she did in the Methow in early 2014. “For me, they particularly represent a time before the fires came and changed so much,” said Pieper, whose home on Rising Eagle Road was spared in the Aug. 1, 2014 fire, while the beloved natural landscape around it was left blackened.
A photo simply titled Aspens is emblematic of the time before fire, Pieper said. In it, a line of leafy aspens angle across a sky full of wispy clouds. “Those trees all burned,” said Pieper. “Somehow in my mind I still see them growing and green, but when I walk to that spot, they are dead black snags with sprouts on the ground feeding the deer.”
Smith is a fine-art photographer from the Okanogan Valley, whose work ranges from still life to the female nude. This show features otherworldly landscapes, carefully arranged botanical still lifes from his “on my mind” series, and a stark black-and-white diptych called Evidence 1 & 2.
“In the 24 years I’ve been doing art full-time, the Evidence 1 & 2 diptych most clearly expresses what I wish my art to be,” Smith said. “I find it the most succinct and beautiful of anything I’ve ever done.” His subjects — two delicate, bare branches — mirror each other upon a bare background; each wispy stem casts its own fragile shadow.
“I am attempting to get beneath the surface to the spirit of the subject. Reveal what is an intimate secret. Find what there is that I belong to,” said Smith. “It is an adventure of discovery and surprise.”
Kingston paints landscapes that are often mistaken for photographs; in fact viewers of Kingston’s work have often been observed pressing their faces close to the canvas in an attempt to determine the true medium. “My style is realistic, but I try to turn up the atmosphere and the emotions,” Kingston wrote in an artist’s statement. “I want the viewer to feel like they are there.”
A passionate backcountry skier and climber, the Mazama artist paints from her mountain experiences. “Margaret gets out and immerses herself in her subject. She really understands the nature of light,” remarked Keyser, noting how in her piece called Thunder Creek, Kingston captured an alpine moment, sunlight spilling over a dark ridge line, a glaciated peak rising in the distance.
Keyser paints scenes of the Methow Valley on large, human-sized panels. Like Pieper, Keyser was moved to make art in the aftermath of fire. “On nights when it was really smoky last summer I would drive up past Washington Pass until I got to a place where the air was clear, and sleep,” Keyser said. Her four-panel piece called Stay, which depicts the blackened skeletons of trees against a smoky, flaming mountain, came out of that period, she said.
“Once painting this a year later, my grief and fear over change and loss quite unexpectedly came flooding out. An appropriate vehicle, size and subject matter for my release,” Keyser said.
To find out more about The Gallery at Sun Mountain Lodge, go to www.sunmountainlodge.com/category/news/, or call the lodge at 996-2211.