Arts and Entertainment

Looking at Bainbridge

Images from Looking at Bainbridge, the new exhibit at Bainbridge Arts & Crafts
Images from Looking at Bainbridge, the new exhibit at Bainbridge Arts & Crafts' The Gallery. The show's opening is from 6-8 p.m. Jan. 8 during Art Walk.
— image credit: Mesoge Barn by Joel Sackett, The Agitator by Kristin Tollefson, Winter Blackberries by Richard Brown, Johnson's Farm by Sue Christiansen

Ask 15 islanders to describe Bainbridge, and you’re liable to get different answers from each. Ask 15 artists to depict Bainbridge and you come up with as many interpretations, bound by a few common threads. Not surprisingly, the island’s natural beauty dominates in “Looking at Bainbridge,” which opens at The Gallery at BAC during a rare second Friday Art Walk from 6-8 p.m. Jan. 8.

Island portraits

The works appear to be mostly landscapes, but on second look you see that they’re really portraits: the choice of subjects testifies to an intimacy born of a longstanding relationship, something most of these artists have had with the island.

You won’t find scenes of tourist haunts, crowded cafes or iconic landmarks. Hung Dec. 31 through Feb. 2, not even considered a “shoulder” season, the show is by islanders, for islanders.

The invitational show includes works by artists Richard Brown, Gillian Bull, Sue Christiansen, Oliver Devin, P.C. Harper, M.J. Linford, Claudia McKinstry, Elizabeth Moga, Sally Robison, Susan Croy Roth, Cameron Snow, Barbara Wilson, and Ellen Wixted.

Brown, longtime executive director of Bloedel Reserve, offers detailed close ups: the lacy infrastructure of a decomposed leaf silhouetted against duff and rocks or the backlit glow of frost-covered blackberry leaves.

Meanwhile, Snow puts us thigh-high in a field of Queen Anne’s lace and allium tucked in a quiet cove.

Barbara Wilson found that rain-soaked pavement we love, warm light bouncing off her stormy Northwest pallete. Look, but don’t touch: Both her Bainbridge studies were bought before the opening.

Time to stretch

Island Treasures photographer Joel Sackett and sculptor Kristin Tollefson share the back gallery, the inner sanctum, this month.

Sackett, who has spent “20 years looking at Bainbridge,” stretches the medium beyond the “defining moment” that has been photography’s currency for the last 75 years. In the Projection Series, he superimposes images from the Bainbridge Island Historical Museum onto local scenes, creating visual poems of sorts. Diptych images juxtopose time in “then-and-now pairs.”

“I am finding the parameters of single-frame photography confining,” Sackett said. “Not only the single frame, but a whole set of parameters that once were useful, now seem limiting.”

Exploring another dimension

Tollefson’ sculptural works offer metaphors for human behavior, growth and systems.

Cross-pollinating yin and yang, she uses a crochet hook to manipulate thin-gauge wire in “Island Portraits,” a series of amalgamations – clusters of pods, propogations and aggregates. She juxtoposes steely material with the fluidity of organic forms.

State of the arts

The down economy has taken its toll across every sprectrum of life, and those who make their living through the arts have had to adjust like everyone else.

Some artists are working smaller, lowering prices, working a second job or abandoning the business indefinitely.

This month’s Art Walk reflects a few of the shifts under way:

A is for Artist Gallery closed Dec. 26 with hopes of reincarnating in another form.

Oil & Water moved upstairs next to the Creativity Center.

BAC is holding steady.

“We’re OK,” Susan Jackson, executive director of Bainbridge Arts & Crafts said of the nonprofit gallery’s financial status. And OK is the new fabulous. Galleries that are simply leveling out are grateful, she said.

“We’ve had to retrench. Staff are taking furlough days, we’ve taken cuts in salary, but no one has been laid off,” she said.

BAC resurrected its Crab Feed fundraiser last fall to raise money for its outreach and educational programs, student scholarships and classes in Winslow retirement houses. This month, they are collecting art books for the library.

But BAC, which turns 62 this January, isn’t close to retiring.

“BAC isn’t going anywhere,” Jackson said. “Not on my watch.”

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