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A Year in Preview 

Tinman's 2010 retrospective is more about looking forward than back.

click to enlarge aNeMonE's "Large Pewter Dahlia"
  • aNeMonE's "Large Pewter Dahlia"

December is a standard time for reflection, a time to seek color on epic gray days, to make lists, to buy stuff. The Tinman Gallery’s “Best of 2010” exhibit provides an outlet for all these things. This month, gallery owner Sue Bradley brings together new work from the year’s noteworthy artists — and each piece, she assures us, will look great under your Christmas tree.

You’ll find enough Harold Balazs, George Flett, and Ric Gendron to satisfy the fans. You’ll wonder over the painstaking hours that go into Rhea Giffin’s miniature papier-m√Ęché cats, marvel at Melissa Cole’s flock of birds and contemplate Mel McCuddin’s “Palette Study” — a series of small images painted directly onto used paint pallets.

But perhaps the best of what “the best” has to offer is a sense of forward movement. With its emphasis on new work, the “Best of 2010” reminds us not to linger too long in reflection: there are plenty of good reasons to look forward to another year. 

RENEWAL

In February, when melting snow reveals a mess of last year’s remains, pastel artist Sheila Evans is in her element. “I’m drawn to dead things,” she says, and then laughs at the way she knows it sounds. “It’s the way plants twist and become translucent … they’re so much more interesting to me than their perfect, alive counterparts. Those all look the same.”

Over the course of a few days, Evans shoots 400 photos of dead leaves and plant material, then spends the rest of the year transforming them, first through Photoshop, then through pastels. The result, evidenced in her “Silver Stars” and “Aviary Studies” series, is a reincarnation: vibrant, nuanced close-ups of leafy plant life, fully dimensional, alive on paper. “She’s really starting to make a name for herself,” Bradley says. Indeed: shyly, Evans reveals that she was recently invited to participate in an international pastel salon in France.

SECOND CHANCES 

In the era of Louis XV, we had elaborate iconography and blinged-out cathedrals. In an era of economic recession — and not a little embarrassment over our own excesses — we have “found art.”

Some local artists have truly found themselves within the form. Wendy Zupan Bailey’s new mixed-media sculptures combine doll heads, watch parts, chess pieces and other oddities. Kay O’Rourke’s assemblage of bold primary colors, “Cardinal With Cherries,” is a whimsical treatment of everyday things.

THOSE WHO WAIT

Gordon Wilson, a Whitworth University art professor, just ended his November Tinman exhibit. But the paintings still on display explain why Wilson has staying power. He is talented with a brush. And he is a very patient man.

“For these paintings,” he says, grinning before three oils of Southern France and German landscape, “I sat for hours beneath a tarp in thunderstorms. ... I liked the way the light shifted.” The resulting paintings exude brightness — charming villas and contemplative sculptures beneath roiling honeyed skies. In other words, worth the wait.

SPRING FLOWERS

Mary and Nathan Eberle, owners of Anemone handmade paper flowers in River Park Square (and soon at 309 W. Second Ave.), have crafted a bevy of high-end holiday blooms for the occasion. Look for the pewter dahlia, the signature Tinman flower created specifically for the gallery. Maybe art is the antidote to slushy sidewalks, numb fingertips, and general winter malaise. If nothing else, unlike your poinsettia, these flowers will bloom till spring.

Best of 2010 • Dec. 3–31 Tinman Gallery • 811 W Garland Ave. • Mon–Sat, 10 am-6 pm • Free • 325-1500.

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