It must be something in the air or the water – the Puget Sound region sports a lot of passionate sumi-e painters. At the forefront is the Puget Sound Sumi Artists association, which has shown regularly at the Tacoma Public Library’s Handforth Gallery and is now celebrating its 25th anniversary with another large show there, as well as at the University of Washington Tacoma’s reference library and Mavi Contemporary gallery.
As always, the PSSA showcase a wide variety of sumi-e interpretations, from traditional Japanese and Zen to Chinese landscape and Western watercolor. Stretching around the back corridors of the Handforth, the show takes in old and newly made work, some better than others but all worth a look for that uniquely calming quality embodied by sumi-e painting.
Highlights are Wini Trippel’s “Purple Lady,” an interesting layer of black ink, color and roughened paper forming a geisha-like lady melting into gray rain. Mary Ann Velth’s “October Cornstalks,” also in the front of the gallery, is perhaps the most stunning (and worthy of its official award) – thick, wide brushstrokes of ink-mixed yellows and greens creating the rippling, flowing stalks. Michi Osaka does a similar mix of color but with flowing, blended strokes to create greeny-gold undergrowth seen blurred from a spiders’-eye view, the silver-white web delicately exact.
Around the side is Selinda Sheridan’s “Winter Fruit,” a whimsical still life of apples bouncing in a cute row over a single broad brush stroke. Faye Clerget puts her dexterously swirling fish on an eye-catching marbled background, patterned like fabric, and her egrets, staring intensely, are captured in just three or four master strokes. Trish Rogers’ “Spring Birds” is another example of fine stroke work, as deliciously minimal as an ikebana arrangement of cherry twigs.
Interestingly, the show’s abstract works largely tend toward the harshly geometric – a stark contrast to the soft figurative pieces.
The “25th anniversary Puget Sound Sumi Artists show” is at three locations this fall: