Molly Magai’s “Oregon Roadside” an oil on canvas painting in “Tree,” catches a fleeting glimpse of a Northwest landscape seen from a moving vehicle. An artist’s statement says her work is concerned with speed, perception, transportation infrastructure, the unexpectedness of reality, and the slow Armageddon of climate change (Courtesy Photo).

Molly Magai’s “Oregon Roadside” an oil on canvas painting in “Tree,” catches a fleeting glimpse of a Northwest landscape seen from a moving vehicle. An artist’s statement says her work is concerned with speed, perception, transportation infrastructure, the unexpectedness of reality, and the slow Armageddon of climate change (Courtesy Photo).

Recommendation: ‘Tree,’ at Vashon Center for the Arts

Artist Dawna Holloway is curating the works of 20 well-known artists in the Pacific Northwest.

Island art lovers shouldn’t miss “Tree,” a major exhibition timed to coincide with Vashon Center for the Arts’ (VCA) annual Garden Tour.

“Tree” is curated by Dawna Holloway, a rising star in the art scene in Seattle and beyond. She is the co-founder, along with her partner Brian Beck, of the studio e gallery (which uses lower-case letters to spell its name) in Georgetown, Seattle.

The exhibition has been in the works for a year, dating back to a time when VCA was in a leadership transition. It was initiated by then-VCA board member Ann Nicklason, who approached Holloway and asked her if she would consider curating a show at the arts center.

Holloway said that when she first visited Vashon to look at the new arts center, on the first sunny day of March 2018, she was struck by the beauty of VCA’s Koch Gallery and atrium.

“I felt that I could use this space to its potential,” she said.

And indeed, “Tree” transforms a place which in recent months has been filled with a profusion of art by local artists and students, sometimes so much that it is hard to focus on specific works. Holloway has cleaned and culled the space, removing all distractions, to emphasize an elegant exhibition by 20 of her favorite artists, most of whom are well known in the Pacific Northwest. None are from Vashon, which at first feels wrong. But at second glance, it’s instructive for the viewer to see a different ecosystem of artists at play, and refreshing to see the clean lines of the expansive space through Holloway’s lens.

All of the works in the show, which include new abstract expressionism, color-field painting, conceptual work, videos and design, relate to the interplay between art and nature, offering revelations about the quiet contemplation that can be found both by gazing at art and walking in the woods.

A standout in the show is Sarah Norsworthy’s “Backyard on Evanston (Summer)” an oil painting that is 7 feet tall and 13 feet wide. The painting, distinguished by its masterly brush strokes from an earthy palette, is pieced together from eight separate panels, reminding the viewer that lush outdoor landscapes, as well as an arts community, are created piece by piece, over time.

The exhibit has served to cross-pollinate the Seattle and Vashon art scenes, said gallery manager Lynann Politte, who reported that many visitors to the show have thus far come from Seattle, raising awareness of the arts center.

“Visibility of this Vashon gallery to other artists and curators will, in turn, elevate Vashon’s artists,” she said.

Free gallery walks through “Tree,” with art writer Jim Demetre will take place at noon and 1 p.m. on Saturday, June 22.

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