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'Tangle' is a mental knot worth untying.

click to enlarge Ron and Kathryn Glowen’s “Tangle” (backround) and “Eden Red” (on wall).
  • Ron and Kathryn Glowen’s “Tangle” (backround) and “Eden Red” (on wall).

Ron and Kathryn Glowen’s work goes beyond aesthetics to the place where “aha!” moments are born. In their exhibition, “Tangle,” which is showing at North Idaho College’s Corner Gallery, the couple displays complex, visually arresting assemblages of scavenged and re-purposed objects. One piece is made from several hundred pounds of branches. Another pieces together hundreds of tiny scraps of twisted fabric.

It reminds you of the old adage: “Anything worth having is worth working for.”

One of the show’s most prominent pieces, “Eden Red,” is similar to the “Wonder/Allotment Garden” series of repeated fabric circles that Kathryn exhibited at Spokane’s (now closed) Lorinda Knight Gallery in 2008. The piece includes six big 6-by-5 panels, each filled with hundreds of silk fabric circles stitched into a flattened pillow, called a yo-yo. The yo-yos are made from re-purposed men’s ties. The piece presents an odd juxtaposition: male (ties as symbols of male-dominated corporate culture) versus female (stitch-work, crafts). The Glowens are purposefulness here, emphasizing symbolic importance.

“Eden Red” refers to the garden, of course, but also something forbidden. The ties are men’s, but many of the patterns are decidedly feminine.

Rectangular “silk paintings” look like window views or aerial photographs of flowers in a field. Or even a burst of fall colors, viewed from a moving vehicle.

The more you look — and invest in making connections — the richer the reward here.

Another piece, “Waiting for Rain,” offers a low platform on the floor, upon which a vintage, wood-framed mirror is concealed by scattered color photographs of rain clouds. Above it hangs a six-foot bramble of honeysuckle painted silver with occasional streaks of ultramarine blue. It captures the hovering heaviness of an impending storm, hinting at the prickliness one feels as the pressure drops. Photographs suggest technology and its role in weather prediction — and even altering weather.

There is work to be found in the Glowen’s artwork, to be sure. And it’s worth it for the viewer willing to untangle the puzzle of visual clues, promising a rich and lasting intellectual experience.

“Ron and Kathryn Glowen: Tangle” • On display through March 25 • North Idaho College’s Corner Gallery • Boswell Hall, 1000 W. Garden Ave. • Coeur d’Alene, Idaho • Open Mon-Fri 10 am-4 pm • Free • Artist’s presentation, Thursday March 24, 10:30 am • Closing reception, March 24 from 5-7 pm • nic.edu/events • (877) 404-4536

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