“Even Song” | VIVA Member Show 2021 (Peter Hapman).

“Even Song” | VIVA Member Show 2021 (Peter Hapman).

Small Island, Big Art: VIVA Member Show Opens Friday

Opening at Vashon Center for the Arts, this is the biggest membership show ever.

  • Thursday, June 3, 2021 6:32pm
  • Arts

By Christine Beck

For Vashon Island Visual Artists

Vashon Island Visual Arts (VIVA) will open its annual member show at Vashon Center for the Arts (VCA) on Friday, June 4, with a reception starting at 4 p.m. The show will run side by side with the Biennial Student Show opening the same day with an artist reception from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

VIVA artists in the show number 115 — the biggest membership show ever, with works ranging from two-dimensional painting and photography in virtually all mediums to three-dimensional jewelry, woodworking, ceramics, collage and more.

And the headline “Small Island, Big Art” — graciously on loan from Lynann Politte who coined it as the tagline for the VCA Gallery — really says it all.

“Orange Garden Flower Hat” | VIVA Member Show 2021 (Brian Brenno Artwork).

“Orange Garden Flower Hat” | VIVA Member Show 2021 (Brian Brenno Artwork).

The VIVA show is not only one of the biggest exhibits of the year in terms of participating artists, but it will allow the most visitors in the gallery in more than a year.

The VIVA artists are ready, having spent the COVID year immersing themselves in work, new directions and new designs.

“All through the pandemic, I’ve witnessed artists continue to make great art, expressing a spectrum of emotions and experiences of the year-long shutdown,” said Politte. “The art in the VIVA show reflects this diversity in expression and medium. And, amazingly, all of these artists live here with us on this small island.”

Each member artist was encouraged to submit one or more pieces within certain guidelines to the show.

According to VIVA President Brian Fisher, the result is an exhibit with great breadth and depth.

“As an artist and appreciator of the interpreted visual, I am amazed by the scope and nuance reflected in this show,” Fisher said. “I am also motivated to wonder — ‘how?’ I think, ‘how was that texture created before it was shaped into that mug? Was the photographer moving or the subject in this photo? What kind of a brush or was it a tool that makes such a scalloped mark?’ We each are hardwired to think and make in a unique way and this show proves the fact.”

“Red Onion on Gold” | VIVA Member Show 2021 (Gretchen Hancock Artwork).

“Red Onion on Gold” | VIVA Member Show 2021 (Gretchen Hancock Artwork).

The exhibit was juried and curated by Annette Messitt and Lin Holley.

Drafted to do the heavy lifting that such a large show embodies, these two organizers have viewed every piece of art submitted and essentially loved them all — whether room on the walls was sufficient or not. They were forced to make hard decisions in many cases, especially 2D works, to select only one out of two or three equally amazing images due to space constraints.

“The VIVA Members Show illustrates that while many things have been on hold during the pandemic, creativity was alive and well among Vashon visual artists,” said Messitt. “Visitors will recognize works from their favorite on-island artists and enjoy seeing both 2D and 3D work from new members that are equally as exciting. The show is a perfect way to usher in a post-pandemic era that we believe will be defined by hope and creativity.”

For a full list of exhibiting artists, selected photographs, show hours and other details, visit vivartists.com.

So what do these comments tell you? Probably what you have known and experienced year after year on Vashon but it may have taken a pandemic to remind us — we live in a rich, artistically diverse community that is, statistically, chock full of exceptional artists. And this show gives you the opportunity to see a huge number of them in one place, at one time and, for some of them, the first time.

“Among the Lily Pads” | VIVA Member Show 2021 (Annette Messit Artwork).

“Among the Lily Pads” | VIVA Member Show 2021 (Annette Messit Artwork).

VIVA is particularly happy to be sharing the walls with the Biennial Student show as VIVA is dedicated to providing scholarships and guidance to emerging high school artists by funding $2000 or more in scholarships each year.

On Friday, June 4 and throughout the show, VCA will maintain COVID protocols which include the elongated “Meet the Artist” reception — spread out over four hours with artists’ arrivals evenly spaced out during that period, social distancing, signing in, readily available hand sanitizers and mandatory masks.

The Biennial Student Show will maintain the same safeguards during its 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. reception. Both exhibits run through June 27.

This is indeed a small island with big art.


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