By Marcy Stamper
The notion of the hearth conjures up warmth and coziness, and there is no shortage of those sentiments in Confluence Gallery’s new exhibit – nubby shawls, tempting ceramic tea sets, and paintings and sculptures that complete the ambience of home. But the theme also inspired artists to reflect on the more freighted meanings of hearth and home.
“We have invited artists to create work that summons the idea of Hearth — the lighter brighter side of hearth and family or the darker, perhaps more honest side of home,” wrote exhibit coordinators Jennifer Molesworth and Brian Sholdt about the show, which opens Saturday (Sept. 3).
The exhibit will enlarge anyone’s concept of the hearth. There are paintings that are as much about being en route to home as being confined inside. Perri Howard, influenced her experience as a pilot, is exhibiting paintings animated by the geometric patterns of earth as seen from above.
The show features both decorative and functional art, including ceramic pieces by Emily Post and Robin Nelson Wicks; furniture by Rick Swanson and Cliff Schwab; fire pits by Tim Odell; and textile art — rugs and shawls — by Jae Cremin and Katie Swanson.
Some of the artists’ view of hearth and home encompasses the landscape of the Methow Valley and activities that wed people to the land. There are animal homes — photographs of nesting birds — and weathervanes that orient people toward home.
Cindy Ruprecht is exhibiting several baskets woven from the bark of Douglas firs and cedars, extending the connection between the hearth and the environment even further. Rebecca Wolf made pouches to collect items that hold special meaning, as well as sculptural lanterns to symbolize connections between earth and sky.
Molesworth captured the idea of the hearth in brightly colored placemats with animal and bird tracks leading to that rooted place at the table. Some use pigments she made from minerals collected on local trails.
Kayla White brings a different perspective to the concept of the hearth, in ceramic sculptures that are her response to what was left when people’s homes were demolished by wildfire.
“Artists are exploring the topic of home, for better or for worse,” said Salyna Gracie, Confluence’s executive director. “A lot of them dug really deep. What does it feel like, this thing we call home?”
Erika Rier created a series of black-and-white pen-and-ink drawings that she calls “Fever Dream,” visions of home during illness. The drawings feature domestic scenes with something slightly awry, such as vines creeping up the walls and feathers and footprints strewn across the floor.
Sholdt is exhibiting paintings from a series he calls “Pretty with a Punch.” The paintings, simultaneously humorous and vaguely disconcerting, reflect on family gatherings, missed connections and consumer culture in vivid, primary colors.
“Hearth” is accompanied by a solo show by painter Kim Matthews Wheaton in Confluence’s Community Gallery. In “Earth and Sky,” Matthews Wheaton continues her exploration of the colors, simplicity and emptiness of the Eastern Washington landscape.
The Community Gallery is a space where a single artist can exhibit a more extensive body of work, such as older themes and current explorations, said Gracie.
“Hearth” and “Earth and Sky” are on exhibit at Confluence Gallery in Twisp through Oct. 8, with an opening reception on Saturday (Sept. 3) from 4 to 8 p.m.