Paintings by Bill Collins

by Alec Clayton for OLY ARTS

Here’s a match made in heaven: Bill Collins and Allsorts Gallery. Olympia native Bill Collins has been painting pictures for 38 years. Allsorts is the living and dining rooms of artist Lynette Charters’ Olympia home, which every few months is turned into an art gallery. Charters says of Collins, “He is highly regarded among local artists. He has shown his art in various locations around Olympia including The Side Door Gallery, Batdorf & Bronson, and Matrix Coffee Bar in Chehalis. At first sight Bill’s paintings seem innocent enough, but they are not a quick read. The more you see, the more you begin to appreciate, as the paint reveals its story bit by bit.”

Collins is an eclectic artist whose painting style, if not his artistic history, puts him in the ranks of outsider artists—artists who are self-taught and outside the mainstream. Until recently, his work has been narrative in nature, with pictures of people and animals in their natural and sometimes not-so-natural environments. Now he’s taken a turn toward the non-objective. In his show at Allsorts, there are stripes and circles and splotches of paint on such surfaces as scraps of cardboard and old bedsheets. His painting is gritty, rough and raw. He slaps down colors and shapes and leaves them untouched. Signs of any reworking, adjusting or refinement are almost nonexistent.

There are a couple of bright and vibrant paintings in the style of the Washington Color Field painters Gene Davis and Morris Louis, with brilliant stripes applied directly to unprimed surfaces and allowed to soak in, and there are arrangements of multicolored dots reminiscent of Thomas Downing, another of the Washington Color Field painters.

Along one wall are nine painted collages on corrugated cardboard, which work beautifully together as a frieze or can be appreciated as individual paintings. In these, Collins pastes small chunks of cardboard (long strips, square, rectangular and triangular shapes) onto fields of corrugated cardboard that are like plowed dirt fields. Then he adds a few strokes of color. They are simple, direct and nicely designed.

Light refreshments will be served at the opening Dec. 8 from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m.

What: Bill Collins paintings

Where: Allsorts Gallery,
2306 Capitol Way S, Olympia

When: 4:30-7:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 8;
5-7 p.m. Friday-Saturday and 2-5 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 9-18

How much: free

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