Arts and Entertainment

Six artists create sumptuous new works for an auction

When the curtain goes up on Vashon Allied Arts’ annual auction, Islanders will have a chance to call out bids on more than a dozen extravagant experiences and raise their paddles for a chance to take home work by 100 local artists.

There will also be entertainment, food and drink, and a chance to hobnob with leading members of the Island art scene, but amidst all the hoopla and gala festivities, a special spotlight will shine brightly on six local artists.

These artists — Donna Botten, John Lucas, Charlotte Masi, Kristen Reitz-Green, Rick Wallace and Cory Winn — have been handpicked for a special honor and place of prominence at the event.

The group was commissioned earlier this year to create works especially for the auction, and since receiving the honor, they have been hard at work crafting brand new paintings, sculptures, gourd art, tile work and photographs.

It’s a tradition that dates back to 1991, when Vashon Allied Arts decided to honor a select group of artists at its auction each year.

A committee, led by Blue Heron gallery director Janice Mallman, chose this year’s commissioned artists.

“We’ve been doing it for so many years that we have lists, and we have to go back and make sure we’re not asking someone who has already done it,” said Mallman. “That actually takes out quite a few.”

Mallman explained that the focus is on finding a cross-section of artists, working in different media, who have donated to the auction in past years. Commissioned pieces are bought outright by Vashon Allied Arts, and then offered up for auction.

This year’s group of artists, and the work they have produced for the auction, have Mallman especially excited.

Oil painter Kristen Reitz-Green has created a large and luscious oil painting of a banana split, complete with whipped cream and a cherry on top.

“It’s like you could just dive in and lick up that ice cream,” said Mallman.

The piece is in keeping with others Reitz-Green has done since she fell in love with oil painting after taking a class at Vashon Allied Arts with Island artist Pam Ingalls. Since then, she has filled canvasses with what she calls “naughty foods” — gummy bears, Swedish fish, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and Fruit Loops.

Another commissioned artist, Rick Wallace, has used his global business travels as a springboard for his passion for photography.

Wallace’s commissioned work for VAA is a triptych that contains three striking photos as well as a message about the need for clean, safe water in the African nations of Chad and Cameroon, where the shots were taken.

“The photographs are just heartwarming; they just get you,” said Mallman.

Mallman is also enthused about a vase created by tile artist Cory Winn. The vase, inspired by an early Celtic one, incorporates 31 different glazes.

“I keep telling her this vase belongs in a museum,” said Mallman. “It’s stunning.”

Another commissioned piece, “Dowser,” by sculptor John Lucas, is part of a series created by the artist that depicts curious clay figures — men, women and children — involved in simple situations or holding a meditative stance.

“It makes you ask questions and wonder,” said Mallman.

Two other commissioned artists found inspiration in nature to create their work.

Lifelong Islander Donna Botten, a well-known member of the Northwest Watercolor Society and Barnworks, painted a new floral watercolor, “Into the Sun,” for the VAA auction, and Charlotte Masi, who creates art from gourds, has created an unusual and striking vase for the event.

All of the work created by the six commissioned artists is currently on view at Blue Heron Gallery, and Mallman urged Islanders to stop by and take a look at the pieces.

“They really stepped up to the plate,” she said.

VAA’s “Cruise into the Arts” auction will take place Friday and Saturday, Sept. 24 and 25, in a giant tent in the Blue Heron parking lot. Tickets are $45 on Friday and $120 on Saturday and can be purchased by calling 463-5131 or online at

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