The exhibition of drawings and paintings by Kathy Gore Fuss at Salon Refu offers proof positive that practice makes perfect. When she started plein air painting in the dense forests in and around Olympia, then later at the gritty, industrial Port of Olympia, she found her truest voice and raison d’etre. She and the subject of her painting have become one.
Her forest scenes, painted in Priest Point Park and other wooded areas, each completed in a single session, capture tangled limbs, tree trunks and leaves and the glow of light in all seasons. She does not copy nature. She interprets it as she sees, senses and feels it. Looking at these painted scenes allows the viewer, to whatever extent possible, to feel what Gore-Fuss must have felt when she was painting them.
There is a strong yellow glow of sunlight coming through the woods, as if from a deep tunnel, in the painting on the show announcements: “And They Call This Home.” The effect is otherworldly yet restful and comforting. The variety of brush strokes and the nuanced color changes in this and all her forest paintings are astounding.
Despite the truth-to-nature aspect of her images, these are essentially abstract paintings, beautifully composed with all-over patterns reminiscent of Jackson Pollock’s drip paintings. They connect with nature emotionally rather than pictorially. They bring to mind what Pollock must have meant when he said, “I am nature.”
Her pencil and charcoal drawings of workers loading logs onto ships at the port have a heavy feel to them, despite energetic movement within softly nuanced areas. Her small, oil-on-paper paintings of port scenes feature muted colors and minimal detail in stark contrast to the complexity of detail in her larger paintings. They have the spontaneous feel of watercolor sketches knocked off in minutes.
Her largest port scene in this show, “The Cotillion,” oil on canvas, pictures bundles of logs being lifted by chains and hoisted onto ships. There is a feeling of frantic movement with lines of motion such as those used in cartoons. In the background is a “forest” of spars and booms painted with white and light yellow, ghostlike against a clear blue sky. I could look at this painting for days, weeks, years and never tire of it.
The newest works in this show are small ink drawings of forest scenes on walnut that have a lot in common with her larger forest paintings, but these are all in sepia tones with exciting textures and marks in batiks. These need to be studied at close range so one can get lost in their swirls, darts and depths.
I can’t recommend this show highly enough.
(This review appears courtesy of The Weekly Volcano.)
What: Kathy Gore-Fuss
Where: Salon Refu,
114 Capitol Way N, Olympia
When: Thursday – Sunday 2-6 p.m. (and by appointment) through Oct. 30
Artist talk 4-5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 22
How much: free
Learn more: 360-280-3540 | Salon Refu