Art galleries come and go, but Childhood’s End Gallery has been a stable anchor in downtown Olympia for 45 years. It represents a cornucopia of the best local and regional artists. In celebration of the gallery’s 45th anniversary, owner Richenda Richardson invited a bunch of favorites from over the years, giving three-dimensional artists clusters of sculpture stands and each two-D artist 10 linear feet of wall space. The result is a show crammed with artwork stacked salon-style. There’s a lot to see here, and it’s all good.
Marilyn Frasca is showing a suite of pastels on monoprints. Her unique style is to create monoprints with odd methods and materials in fields of fascinating textures, upon which she then draws animals, people and scenes that vary from surrealistic to serene, from disturbing to tender and loving. The five pieces shown here are all in muted tones of gray, white, orange and black with minimal value contrast. Frasca strikes a balance between narrative content and pure aesthetics. She draws the viewer in with stories more implied than spelled out, then holds your attention with texture, composition and skillful draftsmanship. Her pieces are full of surprises.
“Gravity” pictures a boy hanging upside-down by his toes from a tree limb. The glowing white and soft gray of the heavy tree trunk both contrast and reflect similar marks in the background and the boy’s shorts. The boy’s limbs and tree’s limbs form interesting structural patterns.
“Blessed Art Thou” is a manger scene with a mother and child, a cow and a goat, and a cone of light highlighting the woman’s face in a kind of halo as she studies herself in a hand mirror. The possible interpretations are numerous.
Susan Christian has only two paintings in the gallery, one of which, “Long Haul,” is the most unusual and avant-garde piece in the show. It’s a hunk of painted wood eight feet long and mere inches in width, painted a deep blue-gray with two swaths of dull orange on one end and a sawtooth edge along the top like a snow-covered mountain range in the distance—or, perhaps, one can see the whole thing as a crosscut saw. I like it. It has an undeniable presence.
Chris Maynard is showing a large group of his cut-feather bird pictures. I see these as craft more than art. I realize, of course, that books could be written on the distinction between art and craft, but these I see not only as craft, but as decorative novelty pieces. In any case, they are lovely to look at, delicate, inventive and highly skilled with birds and nature scenes cut out of feathers as both positive and negative images reverberating against their own shadows.
Among the most gorgeous paintings in the show are Mary McCann’s mountainous landscapes. Rendered in subtle shades of brown, orange and violet, they glow as if lighted from within.
Compared to the fiery glow of McCann’s mountains, Jonathan Happ’s dark landscapes are moody and mysterious with tree limbs and campfires that can barely be seen in the overall dark-gray surfaces. Looking at these is like listening to the spookiest of ghost stories.
Also shown are ceramics by John and Robin Gumaelius and works by John Hannukaine, Barb Noonan, Judith Smith, Don Sprague, Lisa Sweet, Rabun Thompson and Don Tiller.
(This review appears courtesy of The Weekly Volcano.)
What: 45th-Anniversary Show
Where: Childhood’s End Gallery,
222 Fourth Ave. W, Olympia
When: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays,
11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Sundays through Dec. 31
How much: free
Learn more: 360-943-3724 | Childhood’s End Gallery