"Once I Was a Baby Blue Convertible," linoleum block print by Mimi Williams

REVIEW: Papercuts, Pastels and Prints at Childhood’s End

VISUAL ARTS REVIEW by Alec Clayton for OLY ARTS

I have been following Sherry Buckner’s art, mostly in shows at Childhood’s End Gallery, for well over 20 years. Her latest serigraphs and pastels might be her best yet. There are two groups of these works in the current show. On the first group of panels upon entering the gallery is a small sampling of landscapes in pastel. These are soft, muted and misty, predominantly light gray, with accents of subdued color here and there—a hint of blue sky peeking out from behind clouds, some rust-red bushes in the foreground. They remind me of seascapes by J.M.W. Turner or of Monet’s paintings of the Saint-Lazare train station, but without the drama and turbulence of either. These are quintessential Pacific Northwest landscapes filled with mist and clouds, soft modeling and a minimum of detail.

They are delicate, restful and quite lovely. A typical example is Mist in the Clearing, in which the mist is so heavy that viewers can barely make out what appears to be a body of water with trees on the far shore and tall bushes or grasses in the foreground. In the water (I believe it’s water; it’s almost like a desert mirage) there are hazy white lines that look like reflections of tree trunks or posts on what might be an old pier. It’s almost an optical illusion with movement created by reflections in the glass from cars passing by on Fourth Avenue outside the gallery: an unexpected accident that adds to the mystery of an already-veiled image.

Her other works comprise a set of seven serigraph landscapes. These are not as impressionistic as the mist-shrouded landscapes. They’re more like pop-art landscapes with broad swaths of land, water and sky in muted but clear colors, mostly flat with very little modeling. Where there is modeling it looks almost like spray paint.

The other three featured artists are showing work that’s more decorative. They could be illustrations for picture books.

Yoshinko Yamamoto and Mimi Williams are showing wood and linoleum-cut block prints. Yamamoto’s prints are landscapes and bunches of fruits and vegetables drawn with heavy black lines defining flat areas of color. Williams’s are similar but drawn in an almost cartoon style. She’s showing landscapes and scenes with people and animals. Examples are Stout Friends, a visual play on words depicting two elderly gentlemen at a bar drinking beer, and Dance Party, a colorful and delightful scene of a dance with strung lanterns and an accordion player in the foreground. One of her most enjoyable pictures is Heaven is Blue, an almost-abstract image of a window on a wall with printed wallpaper. The window looks out onto an expanse of blue. Another is a picture of two cars on a mountain road; its title is taken from a Lucia Perillo poem: Once I Was a Baby Blue Convertible.

The final artist in the show is Aki Sogabe, who’s represented by papercut drawings. Some have people or animals in natural environments, and some have recognizable, Pacific-Northwest scenes. I like her integration of moody black, white and gray with happy colors, as in Cat Nap 17. This one pictures a Japanese-style house with a rock pathway and a white cat sleeping on the walk. In the sky and on the ground is a sprinkling of tiny, pink blossoms.

There are also terrific raku pots with glazes of wonderfully dark purple and rust colors by Robert Ellert, an Oregon artist.

(This review appears courtesy of The Weekly Volcano.)

What: papercuts, pastels and prints

Where: Childhood’s End Gallery,
222 Fourth Ave. W, Olympia

When: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays – Saturdays,
11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays through April 23

How much: free

Learn more: 360-943-3724 | Childhood’s End Gallery




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