Visual Arts Review: Marilyn Bedford at Allsorts Gallery

Visual Arts Review by SUSAN CHRISTIAN (special to Oly Arts)

Marilyn Bedford is showing her paintings at the small home gallery — Allsorts in Olympia — for the next two weekends. In this exhibit of Bedford paintings there are works from several series as well as single works which punctuate themed groups; a few works don’t hold up to the high quality of the best. That said, the work is deeply felt and emotionally arresting, and should be seen in our currently difficult times.

Allsorts Gallery operates with amazing generosity out of a family home in the South Capitol neighborhood of Olympia. The beautiful public rooms, with their high ceilings, excellent lighting, and quiet furniture make looking at art easy and natural. The entire family of the gallerist Lynette Charters Serembe, a painter herself, has given Olympia a resource unmatched anywhere else in our state capitol, especially in terms of offering an opportunity to look deeply at one artist’s vision without distraction.

Bedford’s work can appear simple and is not. Single works punctuate themed groups; there are a few works which appear to be included for comic relief, such as a big yellow chicken in the midst of small, serious studies of domestic paraphernalia. Kind of fun.

Forcefulness in the paint application invigorates inanimate objects whose purpose is comfort: pill bottles, pillows, takeout containers. A series of small paintings called “Smoking in the Garden” is very touching — in this painting, a summery landscape is impinged upon by drifts of grey. The symbolism is open to interpretation; you’re invited to engage in person.

Many of the paintings are quite tiny, imposing a sense of intimacy. (A large pastel-toned landscape in the hallway seems like a courteous nod to decoration.) Indeed some of the works in this intensely personal show appear to have been included not for their meaning but because they balance a given wall compositionally (the gallerist is a noted painter herself), and this interestingly increases our sense of effort to keep working whatever is going on in the artist’s life. The power of this painter is in her determination. Her work inspires, with guts and grace.

WHAT: Marilyn Bedford at Allsorts Gallery

WHEN: 5-7 p.m., July 13-14 and July 19-22
Reception July 15, 4-7 p.m.

WHERE: Allsorts Gallery, 2306 Capital Way S., Olympia

HOW MUCH: free

All Sorts Gallery page