From the Arts: Nourishing Colour and Wit

Arts Underground hosts The Colour Show, a bright and entertaining exhibition by five artists working in five different mediums. It’s an excellent antidote for this stark, dark and darkening time of year.

The gallery overflows with Lynne Sofiak‘s ceramics, Jeanine Baker‘s glass, Daphne Mennell‘s oil paintings, Lise Merchant‘s hooked wall hangings, and Mary Beattie’s feltings.

Lise Merchant has transferred her mastery of design and craft, gained as a stained glass artist, to her new medium of hooked wool. In this show, we find her using geometric, floral and raven motifs.

She uses sequences of wood strips of to make straight or curved lines which animate her compositions.

In Raven Raven Tell Me What You Know she sets her raven on a snag against a yellow ochre sky. Subtle swirls and bird shapes modulate the sky, as if the raven were silently telling a story.

The bird’s black shape contains green, teal, purple and grey, modelling the bird’s form and defining its feathers.

Lynne Sofiak’s brightly coloured bowls sport clear, gestural black marks, reminiscent of writing. A yellow bowl holds purple inside, a green bowl fills with yellow.

On the purples, browns and corals, the clear top glaze has gone a little cloudy, giving an almost iridescent effect.

I was fascinated by the new crystalline glazes she’s using on other pieces. On the Gold Blue Vase, needles of blue crystal radiate out from centre points like flowers or snowflakes. The crystals have formed a shape like a dragonfly on one side.

The bowls with crystalline glazes carry these kinds of marks on their wide lips. Then crystalline glass pools in the bottom in brown or blue.

Mary Beattie felts in both two and three dimensions. To me, her playful vision takes fullest form in her sculptures.

Various shades of blue swirl in the Blue Bird of Love’s uplifted wings, tail and long neck. Beattie has found weathered wood to make natural and expressive long legs and a beaked face.

I laughed out loud to see the Hairy Woodpecker poking its head out of a knothole in a worn piece of board.

Jeanine Baker offers a wide range of bowls and playful panels. In her larger works, one format strings fused glass elements as well as lamp-worked and other glass beads into an overall sculptural composition.

Life uses sun and leaf imagery as well as more abstract elements. As I looked at it closely, I got the sense that the piece was about the way all the parts were connected.

Baker uses copper wire, fishing line and black cord to join things in various different ways, rather than using one method, which would make the connections disappear.

At the end of the central, lowest strand of elements, I realized I was looking not at a bead but at a little human face, fused into glass – very simple, just eyes, nose and mouth.

This could be the artist’s self-portrait, or a statement of where humans stand in the vast interconnections of life. Or maybe both.

Daphne Mennell’s lush, bright and brushy oils round out the group. In Around the Bend, Top of the World Highway, clouds roll above and below the hills, and the landscape vibrates with reds, orange and yellows.

In Tors in the Tombstones grey stone pushes out into her orange and yellow palette, reaching up into the brushy clouds.

The Colour Show continues until December 8. It’s Arts Underground’s last curated show before the pre-Christmas exhibition, which will include a show exploring the theme of winter as well as a collection of 4-inch by 4-inch miniatures by Arts Underground members.

Nicole Bauberger is a writer and painter living in Whitehorse. 

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