Sumi Small Works at the 5th Avenue Loft Gallery

By Alec Clayton

A collection of 50 small Sumi artworks from 22 members of Puget Sound Sumi Artists fills the walls at the Fifth Avenue Loft Gallery.

“There’s a good cross section of traditional sumi-e and contemporary mark-making in the show, which more and more of our members are trying,” says artist, teacher, calligrapher Sally Penley, proprietor of the gallery. “This is also a first attempt by some to work on eight by eight cradled panel boards.”  

The many small works range widely in subject matter and style, from purely abstract mark-making to pictures of flowers, animals and landscape scenes. Many look like traditional Japanese and Chinese ink drawings, while others are more contemporary in the Western tradition.

“We’ve been pushing the fringes of Sumi art, which has been fun.” Penley says.

There is a group of three pieces by Faye Clerget with broad, sweeping, lyrical ink strokes in black that appear to dance as if in air. One has a tiny red accent, and another features two small pieces of gold leaf as sparkling accents.

Melinda Brottem’s “Insect Patchwork” is a collage of 16 small squares sewn together with gold threat, each a tiny painting of insects, leaves or calligraphic Asian writing in earth tones predominantly in the orange-to-red section of the color wheel.

“Living Water II,” by Judy Kalin, is a landscape picturing trees on a river bank. The tree branches sway and twist rhythmically, and the rushing water of the river is purely abstract.

There is a suite of three pictures of owls with great big eyes by Karen Dedrickson. These are quite comical in their expressions, as if the owls have human personalities ― which owls may very well have.

“Nude Opus 19,” by Barbara Yunker, is as minimalist as possible with a single sensuous line delineating the shape of a body.

There are many excellent works in the show, on display through July 27, 2019.


Sumi Small Works


Buck’s 5th Avenue Loft Gallery,

209 5th Ave. SE, Olympia (upstairs)


11 a.m. to 5 p.m., through July 27