Unexpected Watercolors

portrait

portrait

portrait

portrait

ARTISTS: Tori Ellison, Michael Knutson, Kim McCarty, Laura Ross Paul and Jeffrey Simmons
MEDIUM: Watercolor
RUN OF SHOW: November 2nd 2007 – January 12th 2008
VENUE: Hedreen Gallery, Lee Center for the Arts

Seattle - With its unrivaled rainfall, myriad lakes and rivers, and its proximity to the ocean, the Pacific Northwest's natural environment seems a perfect place to foster explorations in watercolor. From Mark Tobey to Morris Graves, there is a long tradition of work within this medium. Today that tradition continues, as artists explore the translucent and graceful properties of watercolor. Exhibiting significant, rich, and provocative compositions, Unexpected Watercolors brings together a range of work that shows how artists in our region are pushing the medium in new ways.

Tori Ellison, Michael Knutson and Jeffrey Simmons control their paint, resisting the loose, soft physical nature of watercolors. In Simmons' glowing geometric compositions, countless layers of transparent color come together to create broad tonal ranges that generate an illusion of internal light. Knutson's crisp-edged layers of color reveal a propensity for geometry. A system of intersecting lines in Knutson’s work creates exciting rhythms and variations that play with our eyes. Ellison's panels of stretched paper let light through, which means that forms seem to float in space with a kind of structural autonomy.

Kim McCarty and Laura Ross-Paul, on the other hand, emphasize the inherent qualities of the medium and let paint bleed across their compositions. Using watercolor to explore images of adolescent vulnerability, McCarty delicately balances her images between abstraction and realism. Young bodies emerge from washes of paint and vulnerable subjects stand stoically in puddles of color. Ross-Paul also seems to slowly unveil a private reality in her compositions in which images form out of accumulated soaked marks and figures almost pull themselves out of paint.

Together, these five artists reveal watercolor paintings as diverse, dynamic and thriving in the Pacific Northwest.