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BIMA’s first solo show to feature artist Gayle Bard
Renowned landscape artist Gayle Bard likes tricks. She loves optical illusions and her work features many surreal shifts in scale, media and subject matter.
Though she is primarily known as an landscape painter, Bard’s work has far more going on than simply pretty scenes.
“I started out as an abstract painter,” Bard said.
“The landscape is abstract to me in many ways like form, color and line. That’s coupled with the fact that I really love the land. I have a strong tie to the land,” she said. “We all do, but most of us are not aware of it.”
The Bainbridge Island Museum of Art has chosen Bard’s work for its first major solo retrospective. Bard’s long and rich career will also be charted in images and in an 88-page book that will be published to accompany the retrospective by the new art museum.
“Gayle Bard: A Singular Vision” will open Saturday, Oct. 12 and will run through Jan. 5. Museum officials said the exhibition will fill most of the second floor gallery spaces, the entire Rachel Feferman Gallery and the Beacon Gallery.
“I’m very honored,” Bard said of her feelings about her selection as the show’s subject. “That’s a dream I think that many, many artists have and I feel incredibly fortunate to be the subject of that initial effort.”
Greg Robinson, executive director and curator of BIMA, said that Bard is the ideal choice for the museum’s first solo show.
“The Bard retrospective and book project truly reflect the core mission and goals of the new art museum,” he said. “This project showcases a remarkable artist whose work reflects our beautiful and diverse region.”
Born in Kansas City, Mo., Bard has been in the Pacific Northwest since 1978 and on Bainbridge Island since 1986. Her professional career as an artist spans 40 years, and the BIMA exhibition will showcase artworks from the 1970s to the present including sculptural works, prints, smaller scale paintings and at least 40 large-format landscape paintings.
“I think my work is a lot about seeing,” Bard said.
“There are several aspects to it,” she explained. “Discovery is a huge element in my work. It’s a matter of discovery when I’m on the road and it’s very much a work of discovery as I’m painting. Another part of my work is taking everyday elements, that we all live with, and imbuing them or putting them into an artistic form. I’m hoping that enables some people to see that their lives are raw material for art.”
Bard was encouraged to explore art from an early age. However, her career as an artist was altered when she survived a car crash involving a semi-trailer truck and lost her right eye. Bard had to endure four years of surgery and now sees the world with monocular vision and no depth perception. She currently works predominantly with landscape paintings, typically devoid of human figures and structures, in oil on large canvases. Her paintings evoke a dreamlike state, the lighting is ethereal and unfocused on the landscape featuring open fields, rolling hills and waterways.
“Because I have no depth perception,” explained Bard. “I have learned how to turn that, I hesitate to call it a handicap, how to get depth in my work through strictly formal means.”
Bard said that the artists she most admires all use light very effectively.
“Vermeer, definitely,” she said, “and the Dutch painter’s quality of light. I think it’s one of the things that drew me to the Northwest, or at least made me want to stay here, is the light. It’s that marine light, it’s the moisture in the air.”
Bard’s other inspirations include art history, architecture, garden and set design as well as the varied landscapes of her many travels throughout the region.
“I’m hoping to start a connection between the viewer and their genetic memory of the land,” Bard said. “Some people are in touch with it, some are not. I work a lot with memory.”
The hardbound retrospective, which includes 48 full-color plates, will be available in mid-October in the BIMA Store. The cost is $42 plus tax.
For more information about the Bard retrospective, BIMA itself and future exhibitions visit www.biartmuseum.org.