Stretching from Alaska’s Copper River to Cape Mendocino in northern California and eastward to the Yellowstone Caldera and the Continental Divide, the Cascadia bioregion encompasses Washington state’s Cascade Range.
In celebration of this vast and diverse bioregion, Confluence Gallery and the Methow Valley Citizens Council (MVCC) are partnering on a new exhibit where “artists will fathom the land, waters, plants and animals that have endeared this region to them, with the aim of instilling an appreciation of our region’s very special place in the natural world,” said Penelope Varn, exhibit curator.
Called “Cascadia: Flora and Fauna of the North Cascades,” the exhibit is “representational work of the flora and fauna and terra of the North Cascades,” Varn said, “and its charismatic megafauna feature largely: bears, wolves, cougars. It’s the iconic mammals of this place.” (“No wolverines though,” she lamented. “I would have loved to have a wolverine in this show.”)
The exhibit opens Saturday (Aug. 14) and continues through Sept. 25.
Featured pieces vary in size and scope, from jewelry by local silversmiths Joanne Marracci and Sarah Jo Lightner (who is also Confluence Gallery’s former executive director), to the multi-media 3D sculptures of weeds by regional artist Renee Adams, to sketches and paintings by Nichole DeMent, Justin Gibbens, AJ Power, Shaila Tenorio, Victoria Weber and others. Methow Valley bronze sculptor Shannon Fharnham will exhibit highly realistic cranes and bobcat sculptures alongside the 3D works of Okanogan-based sculptor Dan Brown.
“The sculptures were supposed to be exhibited outside homes along the Methow Valley Home Tour,” Varn said, referring to the 19th annual tour of homes that was canceled due to smoke and fire. “Now people can see them in the gallery.”
A portion of the sales of the gallery show are dedicated to the MVCC. In conjunction with the exhibit, MVCC will offer a series of evening presentations, covering topics like lynx habitat restoration and wolves in the Methow Valley.
Also opening Saturday in Confluence’s Community Gallery: Twisp artist Mark Easton offers a solo show called “Subject to Change — Between Dreams.”
The show is “a conversation with change and the space between dreams, with listening. Informed by the climate catastrophe, the pandemic, family, humanity and space,” according to a Confluence press release.
Easton said that his show is offered from the point of view of system collapse. Things — climate, infrastructure, social systems, relationships — are changing at a meteoric pace and an old way of existing is dying, leaving space to imagine, to dream, new possibilities for the world.
“What we’re in right now, this is a dream,” Easton said. “It’s ending, and we don’t know what the new way is going to be. But each of us is dreaming about what we would want it to be.”
Easton said that his work in this show was influenced by climate change (“climate catastrophe”) in general, and by the 2006 (and ongoing) worldwide bee colony collapse in particular.
“In hindsight I see that [colony collapse disorder] as a canary in a coal mine as far as climate change,” he said. “We just didn’t know it at the time. My show is exploring that question of climate change, what is next, what will that world look like.”
“It was really hard to paint,” Easton acknowledges, referring to the period of instability that encompassed the early pandemic, social unrest, a contentious election, and a season of national megafire. “I admired my artist friends who just kept producing art, but I just couldn’t find it in me.”
But Easton’s mind kept turning to climate change, and found himself envisioning, and then, finally, painting, acrylic-on-canvas works in yellows and oranges, all with animals in them. One features a house on fire (“society’s house,” Easton said). These are the paintings in the show that represent the “before” aspect of his dream continuum. The “in between” works turn toward cooler colors with warmer red and yellow accents, and the final, “dream” paintings are all blue hues, “wet, cool, nourishing colors,” he said.
Easton is hesitant to assign meaning — and even titles — to his paintings because he doesn’t want to interrupt or confine a viewer’s experience of a painting. But, he said, “I’m hoping that some people who view my art can view the sadness, the intense grief, of animals dying, billions of sea creatures dying due to warmer water temperatures. Through my art I’m addressing the grief and looking at what we could have done and what we could do now. The intent is very powerful.”
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