Eclectic Art in the SPSCC Juror’s Invitational

by Molly Gilmore

Unlike many group shows, South Puget Sound Community College’s Juror’s Invitational has no theme, no overarching vision. Rather, the annual show provides space for artists selected from the college’s Southwest Washington Juried Exhibition to show any work they choose.

Humor is evident in David Moore’s Smirk, on view as part of the Juror’s Invitational at South Puget Sound Community College.

The 2024 invitational, on view through April 26, spotlights a diverse array of work in paint, clay and mixed media by a half-dozen artists — four selected for merit awards by painter and teacher Nathan Barnes, the juror for the 2023 exhibition, and two whose work was chosen for purchase by college President Timothy Stokes.

“It’s an eclectic mix,” said Sean Barnes, the director and coordinator of the college’s Leonor R. Fuller Gallery. “It’s fun to go into shows where you have this eclectic work — to appreciate how that much diversity can exist in a single space. I strive to get the work to come in to share a space and have a conversation. It’s like planning a dinner party, in an old-school sense.”

The party guests, so to speak, are paintings by Jane Degenhardt, Rebecca Madsen and JW Harrington; watercolor collages by Amy Fisher; mixed-media pieces made with recycled materials by Bella Kim and clay sculptures by David Moore.

And there’s plenty to talk about. “There’s always a common thread,” Barnes said. “I’ve yet to hang a juror’s invitational without their being some unifying element. They are all tapping into a collective unconscious of some kind, and who knows where that comes from.”

One theme he sees is a Northwest classic. “If there’s a unifying theme in this work, it is the natural world and our relationship to the natural world,” he said. Degenhardt’s realistic and highly detailed acrylics and Fisher’s watercolor collages both exhibit a fascination with the world around them. “The lush Pacific Northwest rainforests continue to inform and inspire, providing endless opportunities for exploration,” Degenhardt wrote in her bio.

“In a time of so much greed driving destruction of habitat and pervasive climate injustice, I paint to celebrate the beauty around us, to acknowledge the human connection to all forms of life and to witness the sacred,” Fisher wrote in an artist’s statement.

Bella Kim’s Mindful Hermitage exemplifies the artist’s work revitalizing discarded materials and inviting viewers to reflect on ways to create a more sustainable future.

Kim’s Mindful Hermitage, a large hanging piece made up of circles of repurposed plastic packaging and fabric, calls to mind a jellyfish and perhaps a collection of ocean plastic.

“My art reflects a deep awareness of the global ecological environment, incorporating food packaging materials collected in the Northwest … along with leftover fabrics from my home in Korea,” she wrote in an artist’s statement. “I wash and patch recycled materials like avocado mesh, leftover fabrics, and plastic packaging to create artworks inspired by Jogakbo, a Korean domestic textile tradition.”

Harrington also addresses the natural world, most explicitly in “Snow Moon” and “Cold-Wax Landscape Study.” One of his inspirations is the “vibrant beauty of the Puget Sound region,” he wrote in an artist’s statement.

Animals are a focus for both Madsen and Moore. “Rebecca Madsen’s work is symbolic with the ponies and the moon shapes and the choice of colors,” Barnes said. “There’s a certain magical element. There’s a repetition of mark making — all of those staccato marks. There is something archetypal.”

Moore’s sculptures, which share with Madsen’s paintings a certain whimsical feel, include a buffalo, rhino and steer as well as such playfully titled human forms as Snob, Eh? and Look Up There. “He’s making these little clay sculptures, and that’s refreshing,” Barnes said. “They are not overly constructed. There’s something playful and childlike about them. … He has a sense of humor and wit.”

Another thread involves the use of color. There’s a specific hue — Barnes calls it “taupeish salmon” — found in the work of Degenhardt, Fisher, Kim and Madsen, and the colors and color relationships grab attention. In this company, even the color of Moore’s unglazed clay is striking.

Photos courtesy of South Puget Sound Community College.

SPSCC Juror’s Invitational

Through April 26.
The gallery is open from noon to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The Leonor R. Fuller Gallery at The Kenneth J. Minnaert Center for the Arts, South Puget Sound Community College, 2011 Mottman Road SW, Olympia


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