By Alec Clayton
“Compliments” at Childhood’s End Gallery is an exhibition of pairs — couples who both complement and compliment one another. It is a show of paintings and ceramics by artists who either live together or work together and whose artworks look well together. The couples are painters Christopher Mathie and Chuck Gumpert, ceramicists John Benn and Colleen Gallagher, and painters Ryan Weatherly and Tarran Sklenar.
Mathie and Gumpert are longtime favorites at Childhood’s End whose work is known far beyond the local markets. Their works are so similar that viewers may naturally expect they have influenced each other, which is highly likely. Both paint in an Abstract Expressionist manner with energetic mark making and brilliant colors, especially in the lively blues of Mathie’s turbulent seascapes.
Gumpert shows a group of landscapes in this exhibition that are more ordered and placid than his early works yet still showing highly energetic brushwork. Typically, his paintings in this show are marked by an orderly procession of evenly spaced tree trunks, mostly in shades of white, with explosions of color between the trees — a compositional trope remindful of Jackson Pollock’s “Blue Poles.”
Mathie is represented with paintings of stormy seas and seashores and birds, all work of a type that has been shown here many times. It is exciting and emotional and celebratory.
Weatherly, a Seattle painter, paints highly abstracted figures, usually in isolation, that appear to emerge from or fight their way out of excitable abstract forms. In many of them the figure is almost lost among a sea of abstract forms, peekaboo figures with here or there a hand or a part of a face emerging as solid and recognizable form amidst more bombastic mark making.
Sklenar, who works alongside Weatherly and in a similar manner is the most abstract of the artists shown in this exhibit. Her gestural abstract paintings evoke landscape with areas of blue and areas of green implying sky and ground and forms in tones of pink, violet and tan evoking dirt or fallen trees or perhaps reclining human figures. A gallery statement says she “seeks to explore the relationship between power and the body.”
Due to the nature of their materials — clay and glazes — Gallagher and Benn’s pottery is not as energetic or bombastic as the works of the painters. They are more in keeping with modernist ceramics. Benn’s pots — some surprisingly small — have beautiful yet gritty surface glazing. Gallagher’s plates and bowls and other vessels have images of sea life such as dolphin and octopi.
“Compliments” — an art exhibition
10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Saturday;
11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday;
Through Aug. 29
Childhood’s End Gallery, 222 4th Ave., Olympia