Seventy new paintings. Seventy! That's what you'll find at First Street Gallery in this April show packed with watercolors, oils and acrylics by two of Humboldt's most accomplished painters, Jim McVicker and Steve Porter.
The two artists' work is interspersed in the front galleries, creating a challenging but fun sport of guessing whose is whose. Most of the paintings were done en plein air along the coast of Trinidad. The two have painted together for years and their shared love of their craft and subject matter is infectious.
Artists are communicators who often seek to refresh our awareness of familiar settings or show us something that they have found to be truthful, essential and/or beautiful in our world. Porter and McVicker, obviously masters of their media, carefully study the land and seascapes before them, not just to render objects, but with the clear intention of uncovering what will resonate and heighten our experience of this unique coast. It's my suspicion that both artists would give a tip of their hats to Winslow Homer. It is also my hunch that many of these first-rate works will find good homes.
The other half of First Street Gallery is devoted to the HSU Printmakers Exhibition. Art Professor Sarah Whorf is showing her works along with those of selected students and alumni of her classes. The show also gives students enrolled in the Art Department's Museum and Gallery Practices Program a real workout as they gain practical hands-on experience designing and curating these exhibits.
Marilyn Andrews and Lori Goodman have a duo show at Piante Gallery. (I'm tempted to use all caps for this announcement, but I've been told that would be shouting.) This is not a collaboration as such, but separate presentations with each artist expressing her concise vision while being keenly aware of the other.
Marilyn has a story to tell, or rather to illuminate. She starts with an incident that occurred in 1980 in Pakistan on a high-altitude climb on Nanga Parbat, the ninth highest mountain on Earth. Drawing on the great tradition of illustrated stories (Riou Hildibrand's drawings for Jules Verne's Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea or Gustave Doré's etchings for Dante's Divine Comedy come to mind), Marilyn brings significant objects out of her story and gives them added impact by casting them in bronze.
"I decided to leave many of the pieces naked, without a patina," said Andrews. Newly cast bronze radiates with spent heat, flintier than gold. "These objects, because of the story they carry, connect two worlds, and at the moment of their rediscovery are more precious than gold," she explained. I won't spoil it for you; you'll be able to read the very short story at the gallery.
Lori Goodman, by contrast, asks us to confront pink. "It's not my color; I can't wear it. I never gave it much thought," said Goodman. "Despite all this, on a trip to China about five years ago, I impulsively purchased a skein of silk thread of the most beautiful pink. I've had it in my studio ever since and I've looked at it almost every day." The color is very subtle, diffuse, almost overpowered by the luster of silk.
"I wanted to do something with the thread. I was messing around with it and made these hanging pieces, but you could hardly tell they were pink; I guess I was sort of easing my way into pink. Then all of a sudden," she said, laughing, "I found myself making these six-foot by nine-foot pink walls for a shelter. And that's what I'm putting in the show."
Goodman's medium in this instance is handmade paper. She made the pulp and labored to get just the right color. "As I made my shelter I begin to realize that the original calming effect of pink had changed with prolonged exposure and the increase in scale of my panels to something more agitated."
Lori Goodman and Marilyn Andrews want you to take their experiential journeys with them exploring the dichotomy of whimsy and weighty. Both artists embrace process in their work and delight in voyaging out to the world and into introspection. They know that their forms of expression may not be effortlessly entered but they have great faith in anyone's ability to do so. Marilyn says it well: "I don't think of an artist as being a certain kind of person as much as I feel that every person is a certain kind of artist." This not-to-be-missed show is up until April 30.
Plaza Design holds its second Arts Alive! in its new Eureka location at 211 G St. (the former Art Center shop). Kelly Martin's masterful remodeling has given PD just the right image; monoprints by Patricia Sennott are on view throughout April.
Redwood Arts Association (RAA) is awarding sculptor Jack Sewell with its highest honor: Life Member. (His sculpture Pas de Deux is currently on display at C Street Market Square.) Jack is only the second person to receive this award since RAA's founding in 1956 (Floyd Bettiga was the first). The award presentation happens during an Arts Alive! reception at the Morris Graves Museum on Saturday, at 5:30 p.m. That will also include awarding of prizes to winners of RAA's 53rd Spring Juried Exhibition (see you there!), on view at the Graves until April 24.
Mary Marin Harper's monotypes are well displayed (and lit) at Old Town Antique Lighting (203 F St.). You can also be assured that they will have live classical music during Arts Alive! this month, harp music by Kathe Lyth.
The joy of writing this column comes from talking to artists, craftsmen, gallery and store owners and seeing the enormous amount of work and collaboration that goes into the shows they mount. We should be very proud of our little ritual of monthly renewal and affirmation of the value of art in our community, and make sure those values reach our youth and their education.
Go to: northcoastjournal.com to continue our conversation and keep Arts Alive!