The Koch Gallery in August will definitely put you in that summertime feeling. Leslie Wu and John Smither both create work imbued with peaceful feelings evoked by visits to natural places.
The force that moves Vashon artist Leslie Wu to paint is water. She has developed a process that distils the essence of this affinity and expresses her deep connection between spirit and place in her luminous oil paintings.
The large-scale pieces created for the show, some 5x6 feet, are inspired by the photos taken from her kayak as she paddles around Quartermaster and Tramp Harbors. "I am really interested in that feeling of serenity and peace when I am one with nature. The boat puts me in rhythm with the universe. It is a spiritual connection that I am feeling," says Wu.
In order to develop the scene, she makes many charcoal sketches before she gets to the canvas. This frees her to look at form and light and get back to feeling. Sometimes, she incorporates imagines from her dad's photos taken in the '50s and '60s. "I grew up in the Adirondacks, and I remember the feeling of freedom I felt when camping with my family," says Wu. "Whenever I begin a painting, I go back to my childhood memories, recalling that feeling of freedom."
Seattle artist John Smither also captures the feeling and memories of time and place in his installation, which combines printmaking, painting, and video. Each references a particular location he visits, like the Hoh Oxbow Campground on the Olympic Peninsula. Once there, he sets up his video camera and lets it run. "The videos serve as a first layer of memory or mind's eye, while the paintings and woodcuts become further abstracted recollections," says Smither. "I overlay stencils of the painting and woodcut imagery back over the video to tie all the work into a single unit with its sources."
The videos have sound, and Smither encourages everyone to put on the headphones. "The audio will bring you even more into the place," he says.
Leslie Wu and John Smither
First Friday, August 4
Artist Talk: 5:30 pm - 6 pm
Opening Reception: 6-9 pm