Arts and Entertainment

Artist’s show looks back at 50 years of creativity

Carol Schwennesen, a founding member of VALISE, will exhibit “Hunting in the Bends of Time,” a 50-year retrospective of her artwork, at the artists’ cooperative gallery this month.

The show will examine how Schwennesen moved from early figure study to land-based imagery, and eventually, into the brightly colored abstract work she now makes.

Schwennesen, 67, has lived a life filled with art and art-making. Over the years, she exhibited her work widely and received numerous honors, awards and residencies. With a masters degree in painting, she’s also been a sought-after teacher and guest lecturer at numerous colleges and universities. On Vashon, she’s lent her talents to Vashon Allied Arts’ Artists in the School’s program, helping young people unlock their own potential as artists.

In an artists’ statement for the show, Schwennesen noted that the process of putting together a retrospective has been eye-opening for her.

“As I look back into my past artwork, I see the roots from which I came,” she wrote. “I’m caught in a web of amazement that while I was creating my artwork, it was creating me.”

Schwennesen, a native Californian, moved to Vashon 22 years ago, but the idea of living on the island came to her long before that.

During a telephone interview, Schwennesen revealed that she had come across a spread in a 1973 Redbook Magazine, all about life on a place called Vashon Island. She purchased and kept the magazine for many years, always dreaming about the possibility of moving here.

In 1991, after years of working to make ends meet as an art teacher and a single mother to three daughters, she did just that, bringing the youngest of her daughters, who was still living at home, with her.

Amazingly, the first work of art she sold on the island after moving here was purchased by Sue Wiley, whose family and lifestyle had been featured in the Redbook article. Wiley and Schwennesen had never met.

“If somebody had told me what was going to happen years ago, I would still be laughing on the floor,” Schwennesen said, still marveling at the incident.

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