resonance

Tomorrow I’ll cross the bay to Whidbey Island for the third time in a week.  Day one, I went to La Conner to deliver paintings to the Museum of Northwest Art.  Two days later, I delivered my husband to a fishing boat in Anacortes that will take him to Alaska for weeks.  They asked me if he’s a good cook.  He is.  Tomorrow I put on boots, shark ring and lip gloss and return to MoNA for the pretty part.  The opening of this show:

 installation view of work by Charles Stokes and Counsel Langley

installation view of work by Charles Stokes and Counsel Langley

RESONANCES: CONTEMPORARY ECHOES MODERN

March 13, 2010 – June 13, 2010
Curators’ Panel:  Saturday, March 13, 1-2pm
Opening Reception: Saturday, March 13, 2-5pm

From a MoNA brochure:  “Four Northwest curators compare the work of older and newer regional artists, in pairs that resonate.  The specific pairings combine artists from different generations and areas, using various mediums.  Resonances features these small two-person exhibitions sharing formal qualities or subject matter including architecture, color, landscape and abstraction.”

The concept–echoes over time, space, generation being picked up though some sort of regional osmosis–intrigues me deeply.

Participating curators: Sarah Clark-Langager, Director, Western Gallery, Western Washington University, Bellingham; Kathleen Moles, Curator, Museum of Northwest Art, La Conner; John Olbrantz, The Maribeth Collins Director, Hallie Ford Museum of Art, Willamette University, Salem, Oregon; and Jake Seniuk, Director, Port Angeles Fine Art Center, Port Angeles, Washington.

Sarah Clark-Langager chose Jacob Lawrence and Whiting Tennis for their renderings of construction and buildings.

Kathleen Moles paired Guy Anderson and Jan Hoy, with their shared affinity for iconic forms and strong pallette.

John Olbrantz selected Darius Kinsey and Michael Brophy for their sweeping portrayals of the Northwest landscape, timbered and logged.

Jake Seniuk selected Charles Stokes* and myself for the “highly abstract, structured and organic compositions” we have in common.

 One Langley in the middle of two by Charles Stokes

One Langley in the middle of two by Charles Stokes

Excerpt from Jake Seniuk's exhibition text:

“Stokes’ virtuosic gouache and aquarelle cosmos, sometime glibly characterized as Tobeyesque ‘white writing with added drop shadows,’ is an arena where modern physics and more primal metaphysical impulses vie for the viewer’s rapt attention. Repeatedly crisscrossing the border between the referential and the purely abstract, his paintings give visual basis to both scientific explanations and to more spiritual notions of the movements that comprise the dance between matter and energy.

In Stokes’s more casual works, biomorphic forms drift on soft washes that ooze like the pregnant fluids of a primal soup, awaiting the spark of life. In his more labored masterpieces, complex crystals of linear geometry rise and fall like prehistoric ghost cities or surge like nature’s formative forces, tattooing their routes through an elemental landscape.

The pathways of perception stay a little closer to the grid in Counsel Langley’s highly engineered ink, acrylic and mixed media paintings. Drawing on her formative metalsmithing internship, she creates precise architectonic designs of scribed lines and systemically arranged discs that might be of use as game boards, circuit diagrams, subway maps or any number of genres of codified information.  When layered with organic bleeds and washes that ebb around the edges, these rational structures are a picture of intellect rising from the unconscious mind. Here she’s wandered into the same territory as the heretofore unknown master before her, but has begun to draw her own maps.”

* As Seniuk puts it “A deep trawling of Google offers little more on the man or his paintings than his 2008 obituary. An impressive and surprising feat in the cyber age for anyone living ordead, but not wholly unexpected of this reclusive savant by those who knew him.”

 Charles Stokes. I, for one, would have very much liked to have met this man.

Charles Stokes. I, for one, would have very much liked to have met this man.

In thinking about the implications of this show, It occurred to me to look up the definition of the word resonance.  At times the nuanced specifics of a word’s meaning can help to clarify it use.  Turns out resonance is owned by its scientific meanings.  Which, to my mind, is sexy, but went only a short distance to unwrap the reasons why this exhibition works.  These science-based definitions helped on some level; this is why I picked out the quote at the top of this post.  I can get into comparing the artists to particles, or thinking of them as part of a linear system through time, picking up specific vibrations and putting them into their work.  (By the way, I included the Galileo discovering resonance bit just because the guy is awesome.)  Wanting a little more I went to the word resonate.

According to Miriam-Webster the third meaning of resonate is:  

3 : to relate harmoniously : strike a chord.

“Strike a chord.”  That is really all there is too it.  These artists have been paired to draw out a common chord they have struck in their work.  With each pairing the chord is different; more or less subtle; more or less felt on an intuitive level.  The moment of richest resonance occurs in the viewer.   Here the same chord responds/resonates/vibrates.  It is very much like that magical thing that happens with pianos, guitars and other musical instruments; when more than one of these instruments are in the same space and a string is plucked or struck on one the corresponding string of another will vibrate.

 The Stokes piece in the center (above) is titled  Ultra Very .  Oh, yes yes!  I resonate.

The Stokes piece in the center (above) is titled Ultra Very.  Oh, yes yes!  I resonate.