Junior League of Yakima hosted a reception for the Women Painter’s of Washington as Larson Gallery celebrated both the women and a vibrant, compelling show, Visual Voices, on Saturday, February 21. Gallery visitors connected with the artists who traveled from Seattle, Olympia, Kirkland, Bainbridge Island and other points around the state to discuss a show that was technically intriguing as well as extremely varied.
Marilyn Farrell Webberley of Kirkland had two paintings in the show: My Red Bow featured a young Chinese girl, but Webberley took the First Place Award with her oil on canvas entitled “Namaste”, featuring women of Mahrasta, India gathering under the shade of a thatched hut. The women are wearing traditional Marathi saris in pastel colors and leaning into the canvas in greeting. A third term YVCC student at the reception, Akshay Thapar, said “Namaste” was his personal favorite, but it also surprised him that the subject matter was of India. Thapar who comes from northern India is studying art under Martin Nyarko. It was Thapar’s third visit to the gallery for this particular art show and he had to steal an hour to join the celebration before heading back to his job.
Second place honors went to a popular oil painting by Beverly Shaw Starkovich from Edmonds entitled “Waiting for Dashiell Hammett”. A woman wearing a red Fedora pulled down to her brow and clutching her red overcoat closely in front reminded viewers of characters created by Dashiell Hammett. The woman in red could have been meeting Sam Spade straight out of The Maltese Falcon or lunching with Nick and Nora Charles made famous in Hammett’s book, The Thin Man. Sarah Morgan, Junior League Sustainer, and her husband Matt were both attracted to this painting. Matt found the simple pieces with lots of depth the most compelling. He was taken particularly with “ Precious” a charcoal on paper piece by Koren Richter of Seatlle. Matt said, “The sheer simplicity of this drawing, the way the woman looked down at her hands,” pulls the viewer from her eyes to her hands. Simplicity. Yet it’s all the viewer needs to know.”
“Looking Up” by Rita Gesinger of Issaquah took Third Place honors for her depiction of native women wrapped in colorful shawls turned toward a sky filled with celebration. The painting reflects the strength of women and is rendered in oil bar that creates bold textures. Gesinger also created “My Inner Voice is Joy!” illustrating a beautician standing in a hair salon, wearing a hot pink apron, and joyfully wielding brush and hair dryer against a background of bold reds and chartreuse.
One of the few landscape pieces was one called “Transitions: Thornton Creek Series” in oil pastel by Marsha Lippert from Seattle. Lippert captures the changes in the life of a creek that flows near 8th Ave. N.E. and N.E. 105th Street in Seattle. She says that the evolution of the creek reminds her of her own “personal growth in life and art”.
Some themes resonated with what one might expect of women. Junior League member, Sonja Dodge, said she was “particularly drawn to the Women Painters’ show because many spoke boldly to women.” One favorite was “Listening Palace” by Carole Barrer of Seattle that showed an egg framed by a white box on a muted background. The artist called the piece a “place of gestation” that recognized “one’s potential”. Dodge’s other favorite echoed one that Noel Moxley was particularly drawn to as well called “My Mother Never Owned a Dryer!” by Woodway artist, Judith Heim. Dodge and Moxley both spoke about how the world has changed and how most people no longer hang laundry out to dry. Moxley laughed saying that she had just hung some outside before coming to the gallery. Perhaps future generations will embrace the art of hanging clothes outside to dry.
In addition to “Listening Palace” there were several depictions of eggs reminding viewers of motherhood. Two paintings, by Kristin Morris of Woodinville, spoke metaphorically of motherhood. “Cherish the One” and “Full of Promise”--both acrylic on canvas--speak to the “different cycles” of being a mother.