Poetry and art collide in the Chase Gallery for a collaborative themed show called “Telling the American Story: History, Memory, Place, Story, Picture, Space.”
“It’s a huge prompt, basically everything in the world,” poet Mark Anderson said.
Mark Anderson collaborated with artist Tiffany Patterson and Jesse Fountain, a teacher of the Salish language. The result is a large painting installation inspired by Salish legends. Tiffany Patterson wrote Anderson’s poem into the composition, and she depicts elements from the poem in the painting.
“Its really funny,” Anderson said, “the theme is the American story, but I edited out the parts that were obviously American.”
Anderson is right, the American story is a gigantic concept, and his poem goes with the theme splendidly, despite the fact that he references Siberia and France. Tiffany Patterson’s installation calls out poem’s imagery and displays paintings of ice, eagle feathers, deer, buffalo, wolves and trees for a composition that lovingly depicts the oldest natives of America.
But let’s not ignore the rest of the gallery space. Starting on the left side of the gallery, there is a piece relating to the 30 minute movie shown on First Friday, which tells the story of soldiers on the battle field, and the letters they write home. This installation includes the movie poster, and barbed wire with two letters trapped inside, which were shown in the last moments of the film. Joe Comine (Eleventh Hour Productions), Rosie Comine, Scott Eubanks, James Comine, and Simon Miller worked on this film together.
Next, an installation of paintings on sculpture create the feeling of a train station. Lisa Conger, Darrell Sullens and Stephanie Turner created this installation, called the “Depot,” which is about the relationship between a community and this hub of transportation which brings people in and takes people away. Two travelers are created from flat styrofoam board, painted expertly to look like a woman and a soldier. A particularly interesting part of this installation is the stack of luggage, with one box laid open to display maps, old photos and mementos. The luggage really sums up the American experience both at home and travel.
The next wall displays the works of the trio from Whitworth. Gordon Wilson, Laurie Lamon and John Kuhn chose to focus on the things we throw away. Wilson, an art professor, inspired Lamon, an English professor, to write a poem about the time Wilson threw out unwanted paintings from the art building. The drawings contributed by Wilson include landscapes, references to homelessness and a portrait of Budget Bunny, a stuffed bunny which Karen Mobley brings to the city council budget meetings. Kuhn is an artist and recent alumnus who contributed paintings that were made with discarded metal sheets. This part of the show is filled with symbolism, and if you ask one of the artists, they can tell you all about it.
Moving on to the next installation by Bernadette Vielbig, Tom Davis, and Ben Read. This black and white, typography heavy piece incorporates an intergenerational portrait.Overall, this installation evokes a love for words and literature. Hands reach out from the gallery wall, holding strings of letters and fragments of book pages. It is one of the first things that catches the eye once you step into the gallery.
Lastly, the interactive installation titled “Dreaming Becomes Reality,” by Norvel Trosst and Zan Agzigian, incorporates photography and poetry. Allusions to the American story are found in the black and white photos of power lines and within the words of the poems. The power lines, running along highways, evoke feelings of road trips and Westward expansion. This is one of the funnest parts of the show because the poems are written on window blinds, which viewers are allowed flip over to reveal poetry on the the other side.
Altogether, this American Story themed show provides a wonderful mix of ideas, words and imagery. Some parts are more abstract, other parts are quite easy to understand, so as a whole this show brings the right balance of concept and visual appeal.
If you missed the opening reception, don’t worry because the show will be open to the public until April 29. The Chase Gallery is easy to locate inside City Hall, just enter through the East side of the building and go down the stairs.