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Flotsam Framed 

by CARRIE SCOZZARO & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & A & lt;/span & rtist Kim Kopp traces the origins of her "calendar project" to 1995, shortly after she had earned an MFA from the University of Chicago and had moved to Port Townsend. As she explains in an artist's statement that accompanies the project, she became interested while looking out over the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the San Juan Islands "in recording the changes in color, light and mood of the two very different bodies of water contrasted by the sky, and punctuated by pieces of land."





Inspired by these scenes and the notion of "beauty in limitations" -- and working in a small attic studio -- Kopp created one drawing per day using what she describes as a "limited vocabulary of forms" (e.g., boats, charts and seed pods).





With "the calendar project" (at the Chase Gallery from July 10-Aug. 31), Kopp abstracts content with a series that combines graphite, pigment, ink, acrylic paint, metallic leaf, highlighter tape and wax. "My imagery reflects things man-made -- architecture, boats, diagrams, calendars and maps -- contrasted with things I collect from nature: seeds and pods, leaves, insects, bones, things from the sea," she writes.





From her home in Port Townsend, Kopp also allows her experiences among the docks and foraging along the shoreline to inform her artmaking process. Although her work includes images of boats, which she learned to build while attending the Northwest School of Wooden Boat Building, it's not a literal expression of maritime elements.





In june, for example, a pod-like shape is repeated in numerous shapes, sizes and permutations of brown, black, and gold over the majority of 9-inch-by-6-inch panels organized -- there are 30 of them -- in calendar-like columns and rows. Surfaces are layered with grids, ghost shapes and directional lines, as if tracking the swirl of flotsam washing onshore.





Each "day" of the calendar functions like a page independently and as part of a sequence, combining to offer a visually intriguing juxtaposition of shape, line and color. In some "months," panels relate more directly to each other. In february, for example, the leaf/boat/seed shape repeats in large and small circles of varying colors across multiple "weeks," suggesting a unifying and recurring thought or event. Some panels are painted in more solid color, creating a visual and symbolic pause -- a day to be blanked out, hidden, perhaps forgotten. "Calendars," writes Kopp, "are a man-made device to order our human lives, and these paintings serve as a metaphor for this very human need for order."





Order abounds in Kopp's work: a limited palette and compositional constructs combine with a visual lexicon that's readily apparent if cryptic. As with much abstract art, this makes comprehension a challenge. Yet it doesn't diminish from the visual intrigue and formal appeal of Kopp's work. Several earlier paintings (and the artist's statement) provide helpful narrative and context clues. In mark.point.pass, half the canvas is graphite dark, with boat shapes of various sizes in hard-edges and ghostlike outlines, some overlapping but most not.





Overall there is the sense that her art parallels the water itself; what is on the surface and what lies beneath are separate but connected, contrasting yet balanced. In Kim Kopp's work, connections are almost (but not quite) made. The natural and man-made objects gathered in "the calendar project" are, in effect, ships are passing in the night.





Kim Kopp, "the calendar project," at Spokane City Hall's Chase Gallery, 808 W. Spokane Falls Blvd., from July 10-Aug. 31. Artist reception: Friday, Aug. 3, from 5-8 pm. Visit www.spokanearts.org/chasegallery.asp or call 625-6079.??

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