Telling a story through driftwood

Carmen Jaramillo
cjaramillo@ptleader.com
Posted 6/25/20

As more and more of us are finding solace in walking Jefferson County’s beaches to get out of the house, Northwind Arts Center decided to harness the energy and feeling of the beach with its …

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Telling a story through driftwood

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As more and more of us are finding solace in walking Jefferson County’s beaches to get out of the house, Northwind Arts Center decided to harness the energy and feeling of the beach with its first-ever virtual juried art show.

The exhibition, which is available to view online, features photographs of assemblage art pieces constructed from beach materials.

The idea for the show’s theme came from board member Patti Barrett, when she was out on the beach and became inspired by the scenery, said Northwind Arts Center executive director Michael D’Alessandro.

The exhibition was juried by Pacific Northwest artist Sue Eller, who was chosen specifically for her body of work on assemblage pieces, D’Alessandro said.

In her work Eller often takes items from the beach and forest and juxtaposes them to man-made materials. Her work integrates masculine and feminine objects — like rusty tools with vintage collectables — to create the shape of a swan or a crane.

Eller selected a piece by Jeffery Krida, titled “Beach Bison,” for the Jurors’ Award. It features a piece of driftwood adorned with sea moss and stones to take the shape of a bison. Krida had two other pieces selected for the exhibit which mirror the same artistic vision of creating animal profiles from driftwood.

“Jeff’s pieces are very consistent,” D’Alessandro said. “They are humorous in a way and a true study of the form. I was not surprised Sue chose his piece because her work is very similar.”

The other pieces selected often feature found or assembled rock formations against the horizon, or are abstract close-ups.

D’Alessandro said the gallery received close to 50 or
60 submissions in all. The nature of the digital submission process also lent room to artists who may not normally submit their work to a traditional gallery show, since they did not have to transport their works, or print, mat and frame their photographs. As a result, the submissions were a healthy mix of amateur artworks from the community and fine-art pieces.

The online exhibit format, with the ability to purchase artwork over the internet, was a first for the gallery, D’Alessandro said. Work to solicit submissions and plan the exhibition has been underway since March, when COVID-19 restrictions first closed the gallery’s doors.

The organization of the online show proved to be slightly challenging since traditionally its website had been used purely for communication and donations, D’Alessandro said. When they decided to use the site as a platform for the artwork, they discovered it was not ideal for all the things they were hoping it could do.

This type of focused theme exhibit is not new to the gallery, however. In the past it has had other earth-related or specific thematic gallery shows that have sparked a wide range of submissions.

The full exhibit can be viewed at northwindarts.org/beach-art-virtual-exhibit.

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