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Inside Creativity, Floral Refraction, Old World Charm and Birds Ahead

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Well, better late than never as they say. As all readers know First Friday was a whopping two weeks ago already yet this is the first time I have had to sit down and write about the wonderful and unique exhibits I had the privilege of visiting on the evening.

First off for me was to stop by at the Wenatchee Valley College’s MAC Gallery to take a long and multi angled view of the current installation by WVC Art Instructor Bryan Miller Bryan has a unique take on the use of space and has created a room sized 3D multi disciplined mixed media piece that puts the viewer right smack dab in the mix of the media. I found myself at times crouching in corners looking up and into the space to get the fullest feel of the space that I could and at others raising my camera high over my head again to get the best and fullest outlook on the work that cannot be taken in fully from any one angle, position or viewpoint.

Bryan sat down with me at length to explain how he works on a project like this. He first draws up plans in advance (he says he endeavors to draw something every day) takes a series of such drawings/maps/ industrial like plans and then strings them together (literally in this case) to form the basis for a structure/sculpture/installation that then is carried out through layers and stages of piecing together bits, pieces and sometimes leftovers of other projects with found objects and repurposed materials that he makes of habit of finding and collecting for the sole purpose of creating his brand of art.

In this particular case, he explained, he really wanted the viewer/participant to be in the piece and to an extent be in his head and see/experience visually the very process of what goes on in his head in the process of creating. Hence the drawings on the wall connected by strings to the central object and the continuation of the string component of the piece to encapsulate or at least tie together the entire room like following the neural pathways inside his head and even connecting to other works that live inside that head from past works and perhaps future ones as well.

All in all it was a real treat to spend time with Bryan and get his undivided attention to help me more fully get into this work and appreciate what is a complex and intriguing instalation.

My next stop on that evening was over to the Tumbleweed Bead Co., where I was told they had an interesting photo exhibit. There I met Rae Helsel a young photographer who spent a year or so in Florence Italy where she took a series of black and white photos using a film camera with which she captured some classic views of the city and its inhabitants from at times some unique perspectives.

I appreciated her ability to get an old world character in many of her images that one doesn’t often see in modern photos of Europe. With her charm and charisma she was able to get permission from individuals as varied as an Eastern Orthodox priest, an elderly Gypsy woman (yes there are still Gypsy’s and Gypsy communities in Europe) and a young male bon vie von French Tourist to allow her to take their pictures. Kudos to Rae and to the Tumbleweed Bead Co. for exhibiting her work there.

Next on my First Friday travels was over to Two Rivers Gallery, where I was eager to see the new Floral works of Jan Cook Mack as they were set up by Russ Hepler in the main salons of the gallery. Jan’s new work is colorful yet gentile and not overwhelming. Her genius at capturing the subtle differences in light and dark of for instance the shadow cast upon a lace table cloth or the bending of light as the view of objects are refracted through the lens of a glass flower vase is phenomenal.

I have taken many photos over the years to create abstract images using reflection and fraction and have a great appreciation for how this wonder of science works to bend light and reshape images. I have also seen many a painter attempt to portray the magic of bended light as seen through such day to day objects like these vases but few, outside of the old masters, have so well mastered the skill of putting this kind of refraction into their art.

Overall her new works are a delightful new direction for her that, she shared, began simply because a friend brought over the last of their flower cuttings for the season last fall. And from that these beautiful and delicate new works emerged… such is the power of serendipity in the creative process and inspiration.

I hope all who read this and who have not as yet seen these works will make the time to get to these venues in order to appreciate them first hand while they are still on display at their respective venues.

Well, enough for now as it is time to get back to finishing the drawings/plans for my own large instalation and to prepare for the next great local art event… that being the opening of the ‘Birds and Their Habitat’ show which will be at the Icicle Arts Gallery and various other venues around Leavenworth – all of which is part of the Bird Fest week in the Bavarian Village. See you there.

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