Artists create for 'All that Jazz'
By ELIZABETH SHEPHERD
Vashon-Maury Island Beachcomber Arts Editor
September 15, 2009 · Updated 1:01 PM
Vashon Allied Arts is gearing up to present its annual arts auction, a two-night affair that is always one of the biggest events of the year for the Island’s art community.
This year, the gala’s moniker is “Art ... And All That Jazz,” and in keeping with that theme, there will be a roaring ’20s vibe inside the giant tent where both nights of the auction will take place.
Attendees are being urged to dress in vintage style for the gala, and sultry Island performer Arlette Moody will entertain the crowd with torch songs.
Auction-goers will also be offered a special “gin joint” cocktail before checking out the 1920s-inspired menus created by The Hardware Store Restaurant.
But the real lure of the auction, as always, will be the frenzy of competitive spending induced by Islanders eager to take home paintings, sculptures, drawings, photographs, jewelry and other works created by 140 Vashon artists.
Some of the most sought-after pieces of the evenings will be those created by six Island artists who have been commissioned by VAA to create work for the event.
This year’s commissioned artists, chosen through what VAA communications director Janice Randall called “a thoughtful process,” include a fiber artist, a fine furniture maker, a photographer, oil and pastel painters and an artist who combines encaustic and gold leaf.
Randall defined the selection process and the resulting artworks as “one more way VAA honors extraordinary Island artists.”
Oil painter Mary Rothermel is not only an artist, she’s also an avid rower and environmentalist whose piece for VAA’s auction represents a confluence of those three passions.
“Sheltering Sky” is a depiction of the darkening waters and landscape of Vashon’s Jensen Point, caught just after sunset in the filtered yellow and purple glow of the evening sky.
The piece is also a testament to the artists Rothemel claims as influences — Georgia O’Keefe, John Singer Sargent, Edward Hopper and all the Impressionists.
Ric Peterson is an accomplished commercial photographer with a long resumé of work in Minneapolis, Portland and Seattle.
He’s also renowned for his painterly fine art photographs, which are very different from the glamorous shots he has captured for his work in portraiture, fashion and advertising.
“Currently the art I shoot tends to be close up, as in my geological and industrial landscape series,” Petersen explained. “I call them close-up abstracts.”
Using digital tools, Peterson has created a large format photograph for VAA that is called “Forest Wall.” The piece merges images of wall textures in Port Townsend with a landscape of Carbon River near Mount Rainier.
The painterly photographs are a reflection of Peterson’s roots as an artist, when he was focused on painting and drawing. Now, he calls himself “a painter in a hurry.”
Peterson’s work has been seen at the Blue Heron Art Center, Cameraworks Gallery in Portland, Seattle’s Annex Gallery and more.
“I love the balance my career has afforded me — all the work with fashion, glitz, collaboration. Networking and collaboration are very important to me,” Petersen said.
Connecticut native Gay Schy is someone who came late to her career in the arts.
After Schy retired from her career as a therapist, she enrolled in a printmaking class and discovered a latent passion for making art. Returning to school, she earned a masters of fine art at San Jose University and immediately began showing work in venues including Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History, San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art and Santa Clara’s Triton Museum.
Schy moved to Vashon in 2004, where she quickly established herself in the local art scene with exhibits at Silverwood Gallery, the Blue Heron and, later, VALISE.
Schy began to work in encaustic last year, and her commissioned piece, “Breakout,” is an example of her work in this exacting and ancient medium. Using bold swatches of color, Schy created “Breakout” in what she called “a process of discovery.”
“What fascinates me most about encaustic is finding the luminosity underneath and working with a three-dimensional piece,” she said.
Schy currently shows at the San Jose Institute for Contemporary Art and will show a body of work at VALISE in October 2010.
When Kira Bacon retired from a successful career in corporate finance six years ago, she knew she wanted to do something artistic.
For Bacon, the first step in that process was a move to Vashon, where she now spends her time making distinctive hand-hooked rugs and wall hangings.
Her commissioned piece for VAA, “Those pesky circles kept showing up where only squares should be,” is a large, asymmetrical rug in a spectrum of earth colors.
Embellished with buttons, the rug hangs from a steel rod that was specially forged for the piece by David Erue.
Her favorite thing about hooking rugs, she said, is the limitless possibilities with shapes, size and materials.
Bacon, who comes from an artistic family (her brother is actor/musician Kevin Bacon and her cousin is singer Holly Near), has served on the VAA board of trustees for four years.
Curt Minier, a woodworker whose commissioned piece is a sleek coffee table, long ago left a career in aerospace to purse a more creative life, dabbling in architecture and painting before finding his passion — working with wood.
In the heady days after Minier discovered woodworking, he had an apprenticeship at the Bolinas Craftsman’s Guide in California, where he studied the Espenet style, a contemporary California craft movement.
Minier also helped found Northwest Fine Woodworking, a Pioneer Square artists’ cooperative devoted to handcrafted woodwork.
Minier said he doesn’t like doing the same thing twice. “When I get a commission, it’s one of a kind,” he said.
Cynthia Zheutlin, whose pastel painting, “Waiting for Dinner in Venice,” was commissioned for the auction, said that she first heard the call to the artistic life more than 20 years ago when she left her corporate job to study psychology.
In the process, she discovered something she didn’t know about herself.
“The program helped me see I really was a fine artist and that there was a hole in my life that was about art,” Zheutlin said.
Zheutlin has been busy filling that hole for the past two decades.
“Waiting for Dinner in Venice” was inspired by a recent trip to Italy, where she spied a red Venetian doorway and lit stairway at the end of a narrow cobbled walk.
“One of my goals is that when people look at my art they know there’s a story there, perhaps their own,” she said.Contact Vashon-Maury Island Beachcomber Arts Editor Elizabeth Shepherd at email@example.com or 206-463-9195.