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Painting: Passion and Process

Odyssey Nov 3rd, 2010

by Donald Farmer

Odyssey is a unique exhibition, of two emerging Northwest artists: Mayumi Terao and Alison Farmer. The show, running through November at the Windows Art Gallery in Wallingford, is alive with reflections of journeys by sea and spirit, by two very different artists, but close, artists.

Terao’s paintings reflect a literal journey – by sail through the vast blue waters of the South Pacific. Says Mayumi, “I thought I knew about the South Pacific, reading books, people telling stories, watching documentaries. But when I went there it was so unexpected, so new for me. The experience was very unique. In painting I just want to capture and remember that fresh feeling. ”

To capture this experience was not easy, despite Terao’s maturing familiarity with paint, and studies at Seattle’s Gage Academy. “I tried very different techniques and styles - charcoal, oil painting, pastels, Japanese black ink - to capture the transparency of air and water.”

There were also encounters of the small sailing boat with great whales, which made a deep impression on Mayumi.  She remembers, “They are such amazing animals I felt their presence. I wanted to capture that feeling, it does come back to me when I'm painting.”

One way in which that exhilaration inspires Terao’s technique is her habit of working on many canvases at once: “I have maybe 30 paintings in this show and I work on them here and there, not just one at a time.” The technique directly recalls the encounters with South Pacific whales. “First you see the blow, the massive back and fin comes up. In the ocean you never see the whole thing. Sometimes a smile comes to my face and I remember the excitement when I’m painting.”

Alison Farmer’s work has a quite different journey as its inspiration. "My paintings invoke my journey of personal growth, both physically and spiritually,” she says. “With each new work comes a further understanding of myself, the world and my relationship to it."

Alison’s current show is dominated by “Homage to Hecate” a 6-foot by 9-foot canvas teeming with details and symbols of nature related to goddess of magic, the moon and restoring balance. The work is inspired by research in western mythology which also followed while studying Art, Psychology and the Imagination at Antioch University. Yet her intent is simple: “To restore the beauty of Hecate.” She tells how the cult of this goddess was persecuted, and Hecate herself portrayed as a crone, even dog-headed, or three-faced. With both a skillfully realistic technique and rich, often playful, symbolism, Alison’s work is a joyous celebration of the goddess of the triple moon – waxing, full, and waning.

The other work by Farmer in this exhibition explores more specific aspects of the cult of Hecate from its fiery persecution, to the darkness of the moon cult. In all of these works, Alison holds to one of her central ideas, that “Art is my passion, my fuel, my medicine, my voice, my perspective.”

Odyssey runs through November at Windows Art Gallery, 4131 Woodland Park Ave N, Seattle WA 98103. There will be an artists’ reception on Wednesday, November 3rd from 5pm-9pm.  Please join us!

me and hecate

 Images from Opening                                                             Nine Paintings in Hecate series