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Savor a teatime for the soul

Island artist Hidde Van Duym unwraps a mystery with each box of wonder. - JULIE BUSCH photo
Island artist Hidde Van Duym unwraps a mystery with each box of wonder.
— image credit: JULIE BUSCH photo

Roby King Galleries offers art to go with the reflective drink.

A calming ritual, a social occasion, a reflective time, a warming drink. Tea in all its expressions gathers on Friday at Roby King Galleries.

Visitors can experience special moments with tea, both captured in art and the ritual of brewing and drinking at First Fridays, from 6 to 8 p.m. on March 3, when Roby King Galleries opens an exhibition of “Visual Tea Stories” with works by six artists.

Bringing real tea to the “painted tea party” is Sina Carroll who will perform tea prepration demonstrations and offer tastings.

What it won’t be is stuffy.

“I didn’t want to go the high tea (route),” island artist Hidde Van Duym said. “I wanted to do something that had to do with a special moment.”

For Van Duym, tea is both social and reflective. He will exhibit three watercolors nestled in his unique boxes, covered in exquisite silks or fiber papers.

Van Duym loves the child-like excitement of opening a box, much like opening another flap on an Advent calendar.

“They’re great. It augments this mystery. We’re not attuned enough to those experiences,” Van Duym said.

Although he is an enthusiastic tea drinker, with easily 15 different types in his kitchen, Van Duym says he found the theme challenging. He eventually decided on reflective tea moments.

Opening the “doors” of one box reveals a nearly empty cafe counter, with two men sitting at the end on a warm summer afternoon drinking tea.

“I liked this moment, kind of like (the famous urban diner painting of) Edward Hopper,” Van Duym said. “It’s a moment all of us have had in a restaurant or cafe. It’s kind of a suspended moment.”

But ask him what the men are talking or thinking about, and he is mum.

“It has a lot of dimensions, which I think should be left up to the viewer. All I’m responsible for is a certain kind of image,” Van Duym said.

Another box reveals two sparrows pecking at a plate with the remains of a poppy seed cake and a cup of tea on the cafe table, based on a photo Van Duym took while sitting at a Berlin cafe with a friend. The two birds suddenly hopped onto the table to finish the cake crumbs.

Taking leaves

Island artist Patty Rogers took a different approach to the theme. A mixed-media artist, she chose to adhere actual green tea leaves to her work.

In one work titled “Infusion,” papers and tea leaves are layered over a turquoise background.

Rogers says the turquoise reminds her of tropical waters. And as spring approaches, “I think that right about this time, everyone’s ready (for sun) and just ready to encase yourself in color,” she said.

The “Infusion” is the combination of the turquoise and bright red eucalyptus leaves and rose hips scattered at the bottom of the picture.

Another piece will feature a branch evocative of looking out the window of a teahouse.

Friday evening the gallery will feel like a teahouse as Carroll, who grew up on Bainbridge Island, returns to share her expertise.

She recently completed an 18-month internship as a “tea bartender” in San Francisco, where she learned to prepare 70 different varieties. She will demonstrate how to maximize the flavor of teas through water temperature and method.

“Hand-tied Jasmine tea” will be one selection. The high-quality tea “blooms” when brewed in an unusual glass teapot that cools quickly to prevent the tea from being “cooked.”

Carroll begins her mornings by brewing and drinking Chinese tea. It is a calming ritual that grounds her.

Although there are many brewing methods, “what you like about tea is really all you have to learn. The rest follows,” she said.

In life or art, she said, “Tea will meet you at your level. It doesn’t have to be intense or intricate, it can be as simple as you want it to be.”

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Gallery times

First Fridays introduces new art exhibits at downtown Winslow galleries with artist receptions 6-8 p.m. March 3.

Roby King galleries presents “Visual Tea Stories” with works by Raenell Doyl, Pam Ingalls, Patty Rogers, Hidde Van Duym, Jane Wallis and Lael Weyenberg. At Island Gallery, the “Functional Wood Fired Pottery” show, with John Benn, Barb Campbell, Gina Freuen and Colleen Gallagher, continues with the addition of shibori master Carter Smith’s hand-dyed textiles.

On display at Gallery Fraga will be oil and fresco paintings of Alica LaChance, while Bainbridge Arts and Crafts presents “The Abstracted Landscape” by artists of the Women Painters of Washington organization. Curator Victoria Josslin will discuss the exhibit in the context of modernist painting (see story at right).

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