Art Beat: Graphite’s NùD, DeMiero Jazz, MaJe Gallery reception, Sno-King Chorale, Gothard Sisters — and an Evening with Nancy Pearl

A closer look at Graphite’s NùD: Art of the Figure

Judges Tracy Felix and David Varnau (Photo by Jenny Duntz)

David Varnau, the curator and one of the judges for the Nùd exhibit, walked through the process of putting together this collection. “We had so many submissions from artists and had such an overwhelming response from around the country; 19 states are represented,” he said. “There aren’t many opportunities for artists to exhibit their art in exhibits that focus on the human form, particularly nude. Figurative art isn’t focused on as much in this country, compared to Europe, for example” he observed.

Nùd is an important exhibit because it challenges this status quo. “There was interest in expanding the public’s view of art and the notion of what deserves to be seen, displayed and appreciated,” Varnau sai. As a sculptor who exclusively works on the human form, he was very interested in acting as curator. He also understands the frustration artists feel about the lack of exhibition options for figurative art. “I have found over and over again that there aren’t opportunities to exhibit some of my nude sculptures,” he lamented.

Though he has been sculpting for over 25 years, Varnau got his start in prosthetics. “In that training there was a focus on human anatomy and movement,” he recalled. He worked in that field for 40 years and took up sculpting as a hobby when his children became teenagers.

Varnau has been connected with Tracy Felix, the other judge for the Nùd exhibit, for many years. “It’s a tight community,” he says of the local art scene. Varnau said that he and Felix work together well because “she sees things that I don’t see because of her training and interest.”

On the topic of curating and judging, and how he decides between pieces, Varnau lights up. “I guess I approach it like I approach my own artwork,” he said. “I’m interested in what grabs my eye and the expressiveness of the human form in the work. It’s challenging to articulate, but there are poses and gestures that can speak volumes to the viewer. That along with the visual appeal; the lines in the work creates a visceral level of interest. Then there is the frosting on the cake, the colors and the way they’ve been rendered by the artist. Or the particular way the light hits a sculpture.”

Varnau pointed out the award-winning sculpture, “Pensivity” by Judy Bjorling. “This one in particular is quite good,” he said. “There is angst in this piece; you see it right away because of the pose that is embedded in this sculpture. Right away there is a message and a mood. Layered on that there is the visual interest of these lines and the negative space. Light and shadow plays on the sculpture. It is a feast for the eyes, it really is.”

Pensivity by Judy Bjorling

Artist Bjorling shared her process and the materials: “It is high fire stoneware, coated with Thompson’s water sealant and a little bit of oil. I like water-based clay because my tools flow freely through it. Motion is important to me and I like edges. I like some sharp edges and some disappearing edges.” Bjorling also described how she worked with the model for the piece many times, both in sculpture and in paintings. “You didn’t know what she was thinking, maybe she was a little sad,” she said. “When I’d draw or paint her, I’d use blues or greens, never red or anything bright colored. That wasn’t her.”

The exhibit will run through March 18, when Graphite will host an end-of-show party which is also open to the public. The evening will honor sponsors, present the People’s Choice award, and provide a last chance to view the show. Live music will be provided by Jake Bergevin (trumpet/vocals), Danny Kolke (keyboard) and Phil Sparks (bass). The music is co-sponsored by The Jazz Colony and Jazz Clubs NW. Until then, be sure to catch this engaging exhibit. As Varnau shared, “We’re all fascinated by the human body. Who doesn’t go out to a public event and just watch people. And why do we watch people? Because we’re fascinated. And it’s a universal experience.”

Nùd End of Show Party
Saturday, March 18, 7- 8:30 p.m.
Graphite, 202a Main St., Edmonds

~ ~ ~ ~

DeMiero Jazz Festival 2023

Thursday through Saturday, March 2-4

Please join the DeMiero Jazz Festival as it welcomes 45 schools and some terrific performances and Masterclasses from the following musicians: Camila Meza, Resolve, Kim Nazarian, the DJF Band: Randy Porter, Michael Glynn, Charlie Doggett, Edmonds College’s Soundsation and sus4 under the direction of Kirk Marcy.

The DeMiero Jazz Festival activities begin at 8:30 a.m. Thursday, March 2 at the North Sound Center. Friday morning expands into additional venues — Community Christian Fellowship (CCF) and Edmonds Center for the Arts. They even brought Saturday back for additional daytime performances. Go to CCF to see what Saturday is all about!  (See addresses below).

The daytime performances are free and open to the public.

Friday night, catch the evening concert at Edmonds Center for the Arts, 7 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at the ECA box office via this link.

DeMiero Jazz Fest Venues:

ECA = Auditorium Edmonds Center for the Arts – 410 4th Ave. N., Edmonds

CCF = Community Christian Fellowship – 615 Glen St., Edmonds (behind the ECA)

NSC = North Sound Center – 201 4th Ave. N, Edmonds

NS = North Sound Church – 404 Bell St., Edmonds  (diagonal to NSC)

For more details and a map, see the DeMiero Jazz Festival website.

~ ~ ~ ~

Optimism In The Face of Hardship: Maggie Ramirez Burns reception at MaJe Gallery

All the Colors by Maggie Ramirez Burns

Sunday, March 5, from 1-3 p.m.
MaJe Gallery
409 Main St., Edmonds

Meet Northwest artist Maggie Ramirez Burns at MaJe Gallery in downtown Edmonds, where her 2D and 3D works are currently exhibited. Burns’ works are about reawakening the senses and the need to preserve natural beauty. This self-taught artist’s paintings and 3D shadow box pieces are a study of what continues to compel us into a state of optimism in the face of hardship and adversity.

As a child, Burns grew up in southern California and on the coast of Baja, Mexico. Her work is a union of her life experiences, inspirations and the untimely death of her mother, which affected her deeply. Experiencing loss at an early age naturally changed the way she viewed the world. Not taking anything for granted, her tendency to make small observations – colors in the sky and sea, the structure of a petal, the crosscurrent of a tide, a breeze moving through a tree – are what influence her choices in creating her colorful depictions of flora and fauna. The choosing of materials is deliberate in her paintings and 3D collages, too. Paper that has been reused or recycled into new forms, through creating handmade versions or reusing art from her archive are intentional in her practice, a metaphor for rebirth and renewal.

~ ~ ~ ~

Sno-King Community Chorale presents ‘The Open Road’

Saturday, March 11, 7 p.m.
Trinity Lutheran Church
6215 196th St. S.W., Lynnwood

This concert could have easily been titled Americana, or Shenandoah. Wide-open spaces make for wide-open hearts. SKCC’s performance will be centered around the natural beauty of our country and the natural beauty of exploration. Living in the Pacific Northwest, we are immersed in this concept, but too often we forget to soak in this nation’s beauty. Join with SKCC’s singers as they transport themselves and the audience to the great outdoors by traveling The Open Road! Tickets here.

~ ~ ~ ~

‘The Spitfire Grill’ opens soon at Driftwood; tickets now on sale

March 17-April 8, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. – Sundays at 2 p.m.
Wade James Theatre
950 Main St., Edmonds

Inspired by the hit 1996 film, The Spitfire Grill is a heartwarming and inspirational musical tale of redemption, perseverance, and family. A feisty parolee follows her dreams, based on a page from an old travel book, to a small town in Wisconsin and finds a place for herself working at Hannah’s Spitfire Grill. The Grill is for sale, but there are no takers for the only eatery in the depressed town, so newcomer Percy convinces Hannah to raffle it off. Entry fees are $100 and the best essay on why you want the Grill wins. Soon, mail arrives by the wheelbarrow and things really start cookin’ at the Spitfire Grill.

Directed by Diane Johnston and featuring the double-casted acting talents of Sarah Hooper and Rachel Ruby Squires (Percy Talbott), Vicki Wicks and Gina Wilhelm (Hannah Ferguson), Annelise Harlan and Rachel Mills (Shelby Thorpe), Jaret Miller and Michael McFadden (Caleb Thorpe), Justin Tran and Dov Matthews (Sheriff Joe Sutter), Natasha Thompson and Emi Faltinson (Effy Krayneck), David “DC” Dugdale and Bill Kusler (The Visitor).

The creative team includes Celeste Larson (vocal director), Joe Hinchy (band leader), Rhys Strohmeyer (scenic designer), Gwyn Skone (lighting designer), Arian Smit (sound designer), Nancy Johnson (properties designer), Rex Goulding (assistant properties designer), Faye Mattingley (costume designer), Matthew Ircink (stage manager), Claudine Pruitt (assistant producer), Brian Fletcher (production supervisor), and Katie Soulé (production manager/managing director).

Visit the website for tickets.

~ ~ ~ ~

The Gothard Sisters St. Patrick’s Day Celebration

Saturday, March 18, 7 p.m
410 4th Ave. N., Edmonds

Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with Celtic music, Irish ballads and step-dancing, fiddle tunes, stories and more with Edmonds’ own award-winning Celtic folk group, the Gothard Sisters. Get tickets here.

~ ~ ~ ~

An Evening with Nancy Pearl

Tuesday, April 4, 7 p.m.
Edmonds Center for the Arts
410 4th Ave. N., Edmonds

Join your friends and fellow readers for a great time celebrating books and reading with best-selling author, literary critic and superhero librarian Nancy Pearl. Raise a toast to the 20th anniversary of the bestseller — Book Lust — her first book of seven, which includes The Writer’s Library: The Authors You Love on the Books That Changed Their Lives. A book enthusiast, Pearl will talk about her favorite books, both old and new, focusing on under-the-radar gems. Books will be for sale and signing. Ticket includes fabulous desserts and wines and a discount on books sold that evening. All proceeds benefit Edmonds Center for the Arts. Get tickets here.

Fun facts: Nancy is the librarian who pioneered the “If All Seattle Read The Same Book” project, encouraging everyone in the city to read the same book at the same time. She is also an action figure!

— By Elizabeth Murray

Photo by Brittany Gross

Elizabeth Murray is a freelance writer thankful to call Edmonds home. When she’s not busy wrangling her two kids (and husband), you can find her playing ukulele and singing with The Band LeLe.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Real first and last names — as well as city of residence — are required for all commenters.
This is so we can verify your identity before approving your comment.