Artfully Edmonds: An artist guided by love of nature, plus events coming up

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Jennie de Mello e Souza

In 1992, equipped with a bachelor’s degree in art and art history from Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Penn., Edmonds artist Jennie de Mello e Souza (née Grimm) was in a bit of a quandary. She had studied the work of women and minority artists and was fascinated with what she had learned. But she wasn’t entirely confident in her drawing skills — she didn’t know how to say what she wanted to say on the paper or canvas.

This problem was solved in part when she moved to Brazil and was able to study scientific illustration for five years with internationally known illustrator Dulce Nascimento. Two years in Paris resulted in a certificate in Natural Science Illustration from the Museum National d’Histoire Naturelle, which further bolstered her fluency and confidence.

I hear this story again and again. It seems that artists who choose to pursue abstract painting are oppressed by our collective suspicion of it. You only have permission to venture there if you can prove that you’re a “real“ artist. Artists themselves begin to believe this trope. The way they tend to overcome it is by becoming unassailably gifted at representational art, which enables them to finally discard it in favor of what they want to paint. Our collective societal fear of what we don’t understand, or of being fooled somehow, is not unique to art, but it can have a stifling impact on an aspiring artist’s creativity.

Summerscape, 2016, acrylic on canvas, 30″ x 24″

It’s a little analogous to a musician being expected to play technical scales for an audience before launching into a concert performance. Okay, end of rant.

Eventually, de Mello e Souza found her voice. She’s got quite a lot to say, actually. She has several recent series that demonstrate a wide range of interests. She is perhaps best known for her landscapes and seascapes and she’s drawn upon (sorry, couldn’t resist) her technical acumen to produce, among other natural subjects, a striking and whimsical series of rabbits — yes, rabbits.

She has an abiding love of the natural world that’s reflected in her work, work which continues to evolve. “In the last couple of years I’ve begun to paint looser, to explore how paint moves on paper and canvas,” de Mello e Souza explained.

One of her most interesting developments as an artist is the recent series she describes as “Scenes of Devastation and Loss.”

“I feel that art should have meaning, a message to express what we see and experience in the world –- it should convey our thoughts, de Mello e Souza said.” She recalled the intense feeling of helplessness at age 25, when she witnessed every possession she owned go up in flames in an apartment fire. Climate change has long been a concern of hers, and last year she found herself driving through California wildfires and witnessing the awesome power of nature first hand. As thousands lost their homes and the skies filled with smoke, she could imagine the sense of helplessness, the lack of control that those affected must be feeling. It was an enormously powerful experience. Those events — coupled with the terrible impact of losing her mother, with whom she was very close, to glioblastoma — prompted her to try to capture the sense of loss and helplessness that comes from such destruction.

It’s a compelling series of five larger paintings and seven smaller works produced in oil and encaustic. Two galleries, Site: Brooklyn and the Cape Cod Museum of Art, have both recently accepted work from this series. Much of the remaining series, as well as several landscapes, are on display in Edmonds at Seattle Sugar Spa, 128 4th Ave. S. The work will remain on view at their spa through October and for third Thursday Art Walk Edmonds. Drop by and see it if you can.

Haliaeetus leucocephalus, 2004, watercolor on paper, 12″x 10″

I noticed de Mello e Souza won’t be on the Studio Tour this year. After receiving a masters in teaching with a visual arts endorsement from Western Washington University this spring, she’s accepted a position teaching art at the high school level on the Eastside. That should be an interesting challenge for this accomplished artist. I wish her the best in this new endeavor. Hopefully she’ll still have time to allow her artistic voice to be heard.

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News from EPIC Group Writers

It’s been quite a week for the literary community.

Laura Moe has been nominated for a Washington State Book Award in the best young adult novel category for her Breakfast With Neruda.

Paddy Eger just brought home “runner up” (essentially second place in a very large field) in general fiction from the Hollywood Book Festival for her Tasman – An Innocent Convict’s Struggle For Freedom

Gerald Bigelow is the editor and a contributor to the newly published Soundings From The Salish Sea – A Pacific Northwest Poetry Anthology

Still time to vote on your favorite book.

If you haven’t had a chance yet to write the title of your favorite book on the Epic chalkboard, head over to the Edmonds Library where it resides until Sept. 15, and add your “vote!”

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City Concert Series

The Edmonds Art Commission – Summer Concert Series

Tiller’s Folly

Thursday, Aug. 23
5 – 6:30 p.m.

Thursday, Aug. 23
5 – 6:30 p.m.

Tiller’s Folly

Hazel Miller Plaza
5th Avenue South and Maple Street

Tiller’s Folly is the Pacific Northwest’s critically-acclaimed, internationally-traveled acoustic trio, planted at the forefront of a new movement in progressive roots music. A Canadian Celtic group-turned-historians, this award-winning ensemble has shifted to what might be more aptly termed Acoustic Roots Music. “Tiller’s Folly is a national treasure.” – Peter North, Edmonton Journal.

More at www.tillersfolly.com

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Scott Lindenmuth

Sunday, Aug 26
3 – 4 p.m.

Scott Lindenmuth Group

City Park
3rd Avenue South and Pine Street

Edmonds-based Scott Lindenmuth Group wraps up this year’s summer concert series. Lindenmuth is considered a front-runner in contemporary instrumental music, credited for being one of several guitarists shaping the future of electric guitar in technology, musicianship, and composition. The group includes Lindenmuth on guitar, Andy Roben on keyboards, David Pascal on bass and Chris Monroe on drums.

More at www.darkstreamrecords.com/index.html

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Saturday, Aug. 25
7 p.m.
(Please note: revised performance time)

Phoenix Theatre Presents

Wonder Women

The Annual 24-Hour Theatre Festival
This Year With All-Female Playwrights & Directors

The Phoenix Theatre
9673 Firdale Ave.
(Firdale Village)
Edmonds

Approximately 18 local, well-known actors, six playwrights and six directors will gather at the Phoenix Theatre at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 24. Actors will arrive wearing a costume of their choosing and with one prop. Directors blindly choose the actors, and playwrights are randomly assigned to each group. The writers then leave to create a 10-minute play overnight using their given costumed actors and various props. Actors and directors reconvene early on Saturday, Aug. 25, to rehearse until the performance at 7 p.m.

The public is invited to attend the selection process on Friday evening, then return for Saturday evening’s performance to see the six short plays that have been fully created in only 24 hours.

Tickets to Saturday’s performance (free Friday) here.

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All Our Exes Live in Texas. (Photo courtesy ECA)

Wednesday, Aug 29
7:30 p.m.

ECA Summer Engagement: All Our Exes Live In Texas

Wednesday, Aug 29
7:30 p.m.

ECA Summer Engagement: All Our Exes Live In Texas

Edmonds Center for the Arts
410 4th Ave. N.

All Our Exes Live in Texas is a quartet of Sydney-based singer-songwriters. Accompanying themselves on mandolin, ukulele, accordion, and guitar, this female folk band crafts stories from their lives into intricately harmonized tunes. They sound great, as seen in this YouTube video.

Tickets here.

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Saturday, Aug. 25
10 a.m. – Noon

Artists Connect – Edmonds – August Meeting

ArtWorks

Southeast corner of 2nd and Dayton

Edmonds

Looking to network, compare notes, or just generally fraternize with other artists? There’s a group for that! It’s Artists Connect. Here’s what they say about membership:

To become a member, you must first attend a meeting.

At the meeting complete the printed membership information with our membership volunteer. We will add you to our email list for a monthly reminder of the next meeting topic, and occasional messages of interest to our member artists.

A commitment to their stated mission is a requirement: artists-connect.com/our-mission/

If it sounds like a good fit for you, here’s some information about their next meeting:

New member Melissa Wadsworth will speak on the use of symbolism in art. She invites artists to bring work and she will de-code the messages from use of colors and images.

Learn more at artists-connect.com.

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Yvonne Twining Humber (1907-2004), Demolition, about 1948. Oil on board, Collection of Sharon Archer

Wednesday – Sunday: 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Art Walk Edmonds: Third Thursdays, 5-8 p.m. – Free

Drama & Design: Yvonne Twining Humber & Blanche Morgan Losey

Cascadia Art Museum
190 Sunset
Edmonds

Keeping with their commitment to revive the reputations of our region’s women artists, Cascadia Art Museum presents this important exhibition that brings together the work of two prominent regional artists active in Seattle during the period 1930-1950.

Yvonne Twining Humber (1907-2004) was a Northwest transplant, arriving in Seattle in 1943 after her marriage to local businessman Irving Humber. Originally from New York and Boston, Humber had developed an impressive national reputation for her unique paintings created for the WPA Federal Art Projects during the Depression. Her hard-edged Precisionist style was highly unusual in the Northwest, gaining her additional local and national attention including a solo exhibition at the Seattle Art Museum in 1946.

Blanche Morgan Losey: Tired Harlequin, 1945, tempura on illustration board (private collection)

Blanche Morgan Losey 1912–1981 was born in Los Angeles, California but raised in Olympia and Tacoma. She moved to Seattle in 1937. She studied at the University of Washington where she received a BFA in architecture and interior design.

“Of special interest will be a selection of her original watercolor designs for the stage sets and costumes created for Seattle’s Federal Theater Project as well as the Negro Repertory Company during the Depression”, said museum curator David Martin. “We are very excited that these works will be shown publicly for the first time at Cascadia Art Museum.”

Losey held the position of senior interior designer at Seattle’s Frederick & Nelson department store from 1939 to 1977. Her noted design projects included the Seattle Opera House and the “Higashi Nishi” (East-West) Japanese Garden and Room for the Uniroyal display at Century 21 Exposition, Seattle World’s Fair in 1962.

More information at www.cascadiaartmuseum.org/upcoming-exhibitions.

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Now through Sunday, Sept. 16

Shoreline’s 7th Annual Pop-Up Pianos

Various locations – see link to map below

Shoreline’s popular “Pop Up Pianos” exhibition series returns for a 7th season during the reliably dry weather until September 16th. Altered and decorated by local artists since 2012, please welcome all 8 pianos this year; new commissions will return in 2019. This year’s artists: Joseph Brooks, Heather Carr, Jennifer Carroll, Cynthia Knox, Marhsa Lippert, Kelly Lyles, Megan Reisinger. A printable brochure and map detailing locations can be downloaded at shorelinewa.gov/art

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Call To Artists
40th Annual Arts of the Terrace juried art show

The Mountlake Terrace Art Commissioners and Friends of the Arts are proud to present the 40th annual Arts of the Terrace juried art show. Mountlake Terrace Arts Advisory Commission is seeking paintings, prints, drawings, miniatures, calligraphy, photographs, 3-Dimensional and Artisans’ works for its 40th Annual Juried Art Show.

“Arts of the Terrace” will be held Sept. 22 – Oct. 7, 2018. Deadline for entries is Aug. 30 and over $5,000 in prize money is available this year.

More at www.mltarts.org/artsoftheterrace/

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— By James Spangler

When not actively scheming about ways to promote the arts in Edmonds, James Spangler can be found (highly caffeinated) behind the counter of his bookstore on 4th Avenue.

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