Many Waters: Artists from Walla Walla
September 13 — October 18, 2014
“Walla Walla” translates as many waters in Sahaptin and illustrates the varied streams of ideas expressed by the artists of Walla Walla. Exhibiting artists include Juventino Aranda, Leslie Cain, Wayne Chabre, Daniel Forbes, Sarrah Lynne Havens, Anne Hysell, Ben Lerchin, Penny Michel, Frank Munns, Candace Rose, Diana Schmidt, Rachel Smith, Cass Spangrude, Ralph Trethewey, and Sara Wyman.
I paint with bright colors and enjoy a range of subjects. Figurative imagery from day to day life is continually fascinating for me. I care a lot about historic preservation and collect folk art from around the world. The Walla Walla palette…“The Blues” of the mountains; lime and jade green fields of wheat, peas, alfalfa and hay; orange red dawns and sunsets, and the yellows, reds and purples of autumn trees that line the streets in old neighborhoods continuously inspire me.
There is a recognizable current that flows through my paintings over the years. I believe it is what I communicate to the viewer…a human connection that is assuring and positive.
I walk. I look. I find.
There’s so much stuff in the world—lost, broken, run over and weathered on the streets and in fields, and given away to thrift stores and the like.
I’m intrigued by the simple beauty of the shape or function of an object, and sometimes am left to wonder about its original use, knowing that someone designed, manufactured and used it before it fell by the wayside.
Recycling / reusing is a part of my incentive to give continued life to these acquired objects; but it’s also simply that I feel compelled by the pieces and their often-mysterious stories, and I find pleasure in joining things together to create a new entity.
Cass Spangrude has been a resident of the Walla Walla Valley since 1980. Since childhood she has been involved in drawing and art in a variety of forms, more recently watercolors, pastels, and a new fascination with Zentangle pen and ink compositions (uber doodling!!).
Being in this show is in line with her fascination of all the forms and beauty inherent in water: mist, cloud, water drops, streams, and ponds. All the things she loves most involve water in form or language: the fluidity of her Arab mare’s prancing, the smell of the garden in morning, the liquid gold of a cat’s eye, a refreshing glass of ice water on a hot Walla Walla summer day, or the touch of spirit in a rushing stream. Water surrounds us, abides in us, physically and spiritually, wither we will or not.
I offer this quote: “Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.” - John Lubbock, The Use Of Life
I have always been drawn to ancient civilizations and cultures. Maybe this is because I was born in Carthage, Tunisia and was surrounded by Roman and Phoenician ruins as a child. My sculptures have all been an homage to the past offering hints and traces from another era. I also try to expand the structural and expressive possibilities of clay as well as incorporate surface design.
J. Frank Munns obtained a BA in classics from the University of Washington (1966). He then transferred to Indiana University in Bloomington where he received both a MAT in Latin (1968) and a MA in Classical Archeology (1973). Later in life he returned to academia, attending the San Francisco Art Institute where he completed an MFA in Painting and Sculpture (1982).
After receiving these degrees, ever-learning, Munns navigated much of the world around him through layers of story, reveling in Greek mythology, Native American tribal tales, Japanese folklore, English romantic poetry, scripture from numerous religious traditions. The narratives that he gathered, however, were not only written but also encompassed a vast visual language as well. From Egyptian Hieroglyphs to the recent works of contemporary artists like Paul McCarthy, he immersed himself in the symbolic syntax of art and culture.
Sifting through these sediments of human expression created the fertile ground from which his fantastical works emerged. His artworks serve as containers for his collected narratives, the themes and images both broadly mythological and abstractly autobiographical."
Daniel Forbes received his BA in Studio Art with an emphasis in sculpture and ceramics from Whitman College (Walla Walla, WA) in 1993 and a MFA in Studio Art with a focus on sculpture from Vermont College (Montpelier, VT) in 2007.
His sculptural works occupy many forms, ranging from ceramic and steel, to textiles and assemblage. While each series of his work varies and he maintains several different artistic styles, an interest in the human body remains an underlying theme.
Often using humor as a mechanism for creating dialogues about serious societal issues, Forbes work explores the complicated territories of gender, identity, psychology, ritual, fetishism, and the "extraordinary body."
His art has been displayed in the northwest in numerous solo and group shows in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Nevada, and California."
My surroundings are the subjects of my paintings.
The images have evolved over time due to my never-ending search to see and express the landscape’s vitality and spirit. I absorb the shapes, color, rhythm and changing light of the land, sky and water by the simple act of looking and sensing. And I attempt to capture this presence through a combination of reality and abstraction in painting.
Oils and pastels are my chosen media and each lends itself to my way of working which includes the layering of colors. Often the subject itself dictates the medium to use for that particular painting.
Nature changes…my interpretation changes…and consequently the finished painting you see may be hiding another interpretation underneath.
Vegetarian Antlers: I became fascinated with the pointed pods and pale yellow blossoms of okra in my garden. Some went to seed and took on a tine-like shape, resembling points on deer antlers. Inspiration sparked. Molds were made of the okra which were then cast in polymer and spliced together forming the first pair of “Gumbo Antlers.” Why not?
Other vegetables and fruits have similar possibilities. Carrots for example, a total of 14 for this recipe, yield a ten-point “14 Carrot Whitetail.” A bunch of bananas became an “Eight Point Banana Buck.” It would be fun to try asparagus, parsnips, cucumbers, crook-neck squash and zucchinis.
My hat hangs on a banana buck and my wife has a “14 Carrot Whitetail” in the kitchen. Something tells me these belong in the barn next to the pitchfork or in a hunter’s den between the wart-hog and the antelope head. Be a deer’s hero this hunting season with a trophy that makes a statement for vegetarianism and gives sportsmen license to make up a story of their own.
Vegetarian antlers are a whimsical diversion from Trethewey’s many representational sculptures.
The sculptor was born in Walla Walla, WA in 1947, and grew up on a wheat and cattle ranch forty miles north of town. Following graduation from Gonzaga University with a B.A. in art, he serves in the Peace Corps in Lesotho, Africa, as a graphic artist for the Agricultural Information Service.
Upon his return to the U.S. he set up a sculpture studio in Estacada, Oregon, creating mainly wall-mounted pieces in copper, brass and steel; a significant early commission was a large mural for First Savings Bank in Walla Walla.
In 1975 he returned to the Walla Walla area, with his wife, Jeanne McMenemy, also an artist. They have collaborated on many projects, and have one son, Ara.
I have always been interested in how the outward appearances of people, animals, and living things in general which I see every day, suggest or reflect the hidden world of their interior being.
One way in which I explore this interest is in the making of portraits to celebrate human uniqueness and diversity of character, experience, and interpersonal relationships—"the human condition."
Often I paint objects within the portrait which have special significance for the subject—a special iconography of the individual.
When I have the opportunity to paint multiple portrait subjects or a portrait with a beloved pet, I see this as a way to show relationships: the love between partners; the closeness between a mother and child; the complex feelings between siblings; the joy between a person and their animal companion(s)!
Ben is a digital media artist and web developer working out of Walla Walla, WA. His artistic practice oscillates between expressly formal and socially engaged, endeavoring to uncover the physics of perception while crafting social spaces which support meaningful creative labor.
Drawing from photographic, environmental and technologic histories, he repurposes physical and virtual artifacts of the tech industry as a means of producing digital photographs. By blurring the lines between process and product, he encourages viewers to reflect on their own interpretive processes. Through collaborative efforts, formal experimentation and the sharing of digital tools, he seeks to empower visual thinkers to create in the face of nearly insurmountable economic odds.
Ben has spent time working with creative communities in Glasgow, New York City, Walla Walla and Tieton, Washington. A curated portfolio may be found at his website, benlerchin.com.
Leslie Williams Cain
Roadside cut-banks, waterways in the bottoms winding through clumps of trees onto open ground where the wind meets you from the southwest….These elements have shaped my visual reference system as surely as the winds and water have shaped the Walla Walla valley, depositing ideas/shapes here and eroding others there. I find I have to keep moving here because it is a place of so much movement: flowing on the asphalt lines of roadways by the neighboring farms, down streams and ditches that irrigate the crops, along wind currents that bring the next county’s top-soil our way.
I’m a farmer’s daughter, my connection to the land goes deep. When I need to remember who I am, I find myself walking the ridges or standing ankle deep in the streams, easing back into that place of connection. My first love has always been drawing, my primary medium pastel (colored dust, go figure). My approach and execution is that of a painter building the image with line, working the pastel into the surface with rags, erasing out detail, working and re-working until we ‘fall into’ the place.
My farm background definitely influences what I’m drawn to in the landscape. Farmers, in their way, are always imposing an abstract idea over natural forms, creating a synergy—nature respected, directed and guided. The harmonious agreements between man and nature, the abstract manipulations of natural forms—that balancing act that is good farming is also good painting.
I paint the land because I am of the land. I ‘ground’ in the dirt, I move with the wind and light and water that make this place, or pausing, let them move over me. My pastels are doorways to those places of connection where, stepping through, we can remember who we are, why we’re here.
I am at the intersection of Mexican and American. Not Hispanic not Latino and definitely not Spanish, even though every day I live with the consequences of their conquest. It is these struggles for self-identity that has greatly influenced my process. I am interested in the past and present social, political, and economic struggles of Chicanos as well as an interest in pre Columbian Mexico.
The perseverance of Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta’s grassroots movements to organize farm workers in the 1960s has greatly influenced me as both an organizer of street demonstrations and my evolvement into an artist. I find my work to be highly influenced from post-minimal artists like Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Doris Salcedo, and Gabriel Orozco. It is the conceptually inviting ideas in their work that I admire as well as their attention to detail. Guillermo Gómez-Peña and Roberto Sifuentes have also offered me a whole new context of street demonstration as performance art with their street theatre of the 1990s.
From the street to the gallery I see myself as archeologist, historian and architect to a future Chicano community whose culture is constantly changing and evolving. I create work that pertains to immigration, Catholicism and self-identity with an underlining recurring theme to the American dream.
My collage and installation work contrast with our modern ideas and aesthetics of what nostalgia is by using imagery relating to feminine domesticity. The installation and collage materials include handwritten and typewritten recipe cards, imagery concerning domestic objects and worn materials revealing their age and passage of time. My work comments on the common association of nostalgia to a 1950s motif of feminine domesticity. By using imagery and objects directly from, or referencing, the specific time period I am able to work mimetically to reveal the complexity behind the simplistic compositions. The surface quality and preexisting histories of the materials I decide to use in my collages are indicative to the success of the feelings and concepts that I wish to establish for the audience. The materials I use in my work are primarily found paper ephemera that have obvious textual handwritten traces and wear from usage and time. Many of my collages are made on pages from books that have personal handwritten names, dates, and notes of affection. Others are scraps of paper or notes that reference even more personal information such as addresses and phone numbers. By using materials and objects that have obvious previous ownership as the foundation for my collages and installations before I rework them is important in conveying nostalgic memories. Focusing the viewer’s attention on the fact that the objects used may not be directly linked to them or me as the artists, but still are read as personal or sentimental allow for an understanding to be conveyed surrounding a more universal collective history linking the collages and installations to those interacting with it on a more emotional and personal level in order to display the dual nature of private and collective histories.
Sarrah Lynne Havens
I graduated from Whitman College in 2000 with a degree in Studio Art. In 2001, my thesis from Whitman (a 14ft. rice paper cocoon) was received in an international juried art competition: "Holy Art by Human Hands." For most of the last decade, I lived in Portland, Oregon with my best friend, whom I married, and our babies. I had the honor of doing a mural for the city of Portland in 2008 and have shown in various venues, including the Heidi McBride Gallery in The Pearl District.
Recently, my painting entitled "Tree Song" was selected by Hewlett Packard for an international commercial. These opportunities to share my work are all lovely and honoring, and I'm grateful. I currently live in the Inland Northwest with my family, where we tend our organic farm and love being alive.