Open Spaces: “Contemporary Women,” More than a Pretty Face
Oct. 30-Nov. 29, 2020, Cole Gallery Exhibit

True art gets you. In the private, pure places. Your personal diary come to life, awakened with a few, intuitive strokes and lively swirls of churning, frothy, buoyant color.

Cole Gallery’s “Contemporary Women” exhibit, Oct. 30-Nov. 29, 2020, showcases eight brilliant contemporary women painters opening up their personal, private, pure spaces, in a world all their own. Through various media and techniques, they cajole, nudge, and birth the visual into art.

Edmonds artist Jonlee Nunn, profiled in the debut fall/winter 2019 issue of Welcome Magazine Snohomish County, loves to depict carefree women, poised on the edge of freedom, full of inner joy. Her woman in “Come Fly With Me” seems to float and dance underwater, swirling in a lazy riptide, echoes of her former life unraveling in a crazy quilt. 

Somehow, through her mixed media, sea-drenched fingers nimbly alighting on blank canvas, Nunn gives off the illusion of movement, of life’s ebb and flow…as if this candy-coated mermaid muse is real, and about to reach through the canvas, to take your hand in hers. “The woman in the dress of many layers is rising above daily concerns into joy and delight, beckoning us to come with her,” observed Nunn, agreeably.

In Layne Cook’s oil painting, “The Feeling’s Mutual,” a more straightforward, linear piece in terra cotta peach, olive-yellow, and royal blue, her woman sits in an upright chair, tenderly holding a black cat attempting to crawl over her shoulders. Even with its back turned, you can feel the cat’s affection, returned.

Two lovers reference Egyptian cuneiform and biblical times, in bold radioactive schemes, as if carved out of a bronze and gold plate. Kimberly Adams captures her lovers’ singular ardor, exquisitely, intimately, as a passing voyeur, in her oil painting, “In The Manor of Klimt ~ The Kiss.”

Jenna von Benedikt’s stacked oil painting, “Tiny Pillars,” portrays humble bees in perfect flight symmetry, headed toward an impenetrable, black-and-blue mountain streaked with what looks like honey. The oil-based abstract/impressionist painting — a heady juxtaposition of hard and soft, dark and light, solid and billowy, inference and probability — invites you to imagine what comes next in a collusion of intention and fantasy between the forces that drive our planet. Will those fat, fuzzy bees save us from ourselves? Can they?

Cheryl Waale’s three elegant women in “Faith, Hope and Charity” stare right back, as if you’ve invaded their space and their thoughts, (but go ahead and watch). Waale cleverly plays with colors to insinuate the slant of sun and blue skies on one woman’s face, a lonely desert landscape just beyond the horizon on another, as the reds and blues bleed dry in a jeweled heap.

In “Three’s Company,” another mixed media message of togetherness, Waale’s women disappear in a kimono gala, their hair done up tall and proud in flowered buns, about to head out for the night. The mix of ethnic vagaries dissipates in the lush confection of colors and musical charts, lines, checkerboards, and maps, which give off a tropical feel, true diversity.

Not all the “Contemporary Women” pieces are literal.

C.A. Pierce’s “Solitude II” in acrylics paints a faint image of an idyllic nature scene, and you are there, sitting in the middle of a misty pale meadow, blue-grey pond opening up on all sides to the warm, grounding earth, a hint of Japanese sweet flag grass here, a shoreline giving way to yellow water lilies there…waiting for sun rise. It is a quiet, peaceful getaway in one gorgeous, dreamy, subliminal shot.

The eight acclaimed contemporary women artists (Kathy Gale, C.A. Pierce, Jenna von Benedikt, Kimberly Adams, Cheryl Waale, Heather Pasqualino, Jonlee Nunn, and Layne Cook) arrive at their destination in myriad ways, but their depictions of other women, pets, animals in the wild, and the wild itself grab you where you live, engaging viscerally and deeply touching the soul.

At Cole Gallery, you can engage fully in the meaningful, by reaching out to view the pieces virtually and up close and personal, maybe make one or two of them your own. Cole Gallery offers the option to keep any painting of your choosing for three days at your home before deciding on a purchase. Just call 425-697-2787, inquire within, and they’ll drop it off at your door.

According to the Cole Gallery website: “Each of these acclaimed artists offer a unique perspective in their work with themes ranging from the female form to birds and animals along with abstracted landscapes. With diverse voices, each painter employs unique and varied techniques from mixed media with buried collage to layers upon layers of luminescent paint and even oil finger painting. This expressive show ranges from bold, bright, and colorful to emotional and quietly sublime.”