The mirror pooledArtists go through the looking glass at the BAC gallery.
June 9, 2008 · Updated 3:44 PM
"Mary Jane Rehm invited 15 artists to come with her through the looking glass, as curator of Mirror Mirror on the Wall, the Bainbridge Arts and Crafts exhibit opening April 7.Former owner of Artworks Gallery in Pioneer Square and display designer for BAC, Rehm wanted to do a group show based on a functional object - a format she had employed in the past with shows featuring teacups and other items.What often happens, Rehm said, is that when you invite artists to step out of their usual medium, they take the opportunity to do something truly different from their own imagery. Rehm chose mirror for the wealth of metaphorical and visual possibilities attached to the subject matter.Rehm also knew that if all the artists made variations of the same object, the show would hang together conceptually and visually, no matter how individuals chose to develop the theme. Rehm's artists took one of two general approaches to the theme: those who stay off the mirror, choosing to adorn the frame, and those who jump onto - or even into - the mirror's surface.Michele Van Slyke and her daughter, Solia Hermes, represent two of the more polarized visions - Hermes extends the frames of her giant mirrors with welded rod and bright blue textured shapes, while Van Slyke subtly coaxes the metal frame onto the mirror in an image of cat tails, marsh and dragonfly.Artist team Little and Lewis push the notion of frame out of existence, with concrete high relief - images of plant life almost overgrowing the mirror altogether, the sinuous forms belying the obdurate material.Conceptually, several artists choose to address the relationship of women and mirrors. Sally Prangley Rooney makes a clever parody of a pocketbook whose see-through wire mesh reveals a compact-style mirror. Colleen Barry's Who is Fairest is laden with trophies and other rewards.Artist Patty Rogers took one of the more in-depth and prolonged ventures into the mirror with her carved-glass pieces. Rogers, delighted at the chance to create something she had never before made, traveled to a friend's California studio to learn a glass carving technique. Why do it the same old way? Rogers said. I walked into Jude's studio in Laguna Beach and thought, 'this new material, isn't this great?' Glass; it's fragile and sharp, all at the same time. You pay more attention because of that.Curator Rehm makes things but has never thought of being a professional artist - taking that risk, as she puts it. I have been very comfortable being that in-between person, Rehm said, speaking for the artist and to the artist. In the BAC show, Rehm has held a mirror up to 15 artists, saying, in effect:Here, look at yourself. Who are you?* * * * *Mirror Mirror On the Wall opens April 7 at Bainbridge Arts and Crafts. Information: 842-3132. "