A privately owned, beautifully detailed woodcut from Barbados simply titled "Fishes" is a wonderful demonstration of wooden texture. Photos by Ralph Stewart

Art from nature in patterns and texture

By Tamar Russell - October 26, 2006

The current show at Featherstone Center for the Arts in Oak Bluffs contains works ranging from wood sculpture to watercolor, from tapestry to papermaking. The title of the exhibit, "Patterns and Textures with Functions in Wood," leaves the ken of this show rather wide. The broad variety in the gallery appears to be in no specific order, so viewers would be well-advised to find their own specific focus.

The show deals primarily with texture and pattern in the organic world, utilizing the artistic and the utilitarian. One can find, in the midst of the quantity, some outstanding pieces of art.

Linda Ziegler's large peaceful monoprint "Frozen Pond" is simple and filled with the texture of nature in leaves and twigs.

Large Temenos #9
"Large Temenos #9" by Edward Hewett is an acrylic piece using metallic pigments, skillful in its use of color and texture.

Robert Schellhammer's "Ferns" is an intensely green photo showing gorgeous pattern and texture, as is Bob Rosenbaum's uplifting textural "Anemone." Tom Osborn's wooden creation "The Keeper" would suit any fisherman or wood lover.

Finally, the privately owned, deep primitive woodcut by Naido called "Fishes" from Barbados stole the wooden aspect of the show.

And then, as you come full circle through the gallery, Edward Hewett's three grand pieces inspire ideas well away from useful and yet still simple. These are the espresso to the meatiness of this show. They are acrylic with metallic pigments, full of texture and speak volumes in the opposite direction of organic.

A rich variety

Back to the organic textures are the first few pieces upon entry to the gallery - Ed Russell's silky wooden faces, mouths, eyes, and bodies. Their comparison would be the everyday objects further in - his tops, cheese boards, salt and pepper shakers, and Deirdre DeCarion's walking staffs in elm, cedar, maple, pine, and cedar. In the same world are Larry Hepler's smooth chairs and chess table, and Harold Hill's kitschy coffee tables, as well as Lynn and Bill Thorp's very useful rustic lamps and baskets, and a most bizarre corner cabinet by Richard Lee.

Textures can be both visual and tactile. On the tactile side of organic texture are Robert Gilkes's oak sculptures of found local wood. There are also tapestries, woodcuts, and Lynn Thorp's handmade paper, also containing found items - seeds, grasses, and dried flowers.

The tapestries shown are the well-established Julia Mitchell with her older "Chart 1: Age of Discovery," Jenik Munafo's "Orchids" and lastly Jeanne Hewett's untitled framed gypsy creation.

Moving from tactile to visual, with a hint at the inorganic, are a host of photographs and watercolors. Malcom Campbell's "Balance" is a photograph showing textures and patterns in the inorganic world of local rocks, as is Robert Schellhammer's "Lucy Vincent" with a similar theme. Joyce Dresser, shows both inorganic patterns and texture in her photo taken on the schooner Alabama called "Sheets and Stays." Jeanne Campbell produces pattern in her photo entitled "Stripes," and a lovely luminescent vision of texture and pattern in a second photo, "Silver Dollars."

The one out-of-towner is an Israeli born-New York sculptural installation artist, Haim Steinbach. His untitled piece came with four pages of hanging instruction. It is a clean piece that would love a big wall. It is simple, organized, and refreshing.

Viewing these 25 well-known artists, gives the viewer a good sense of the range of art that the Vineyard and Featherstone offers.

Featherstone Center for the Arts, Barnes Road, Oak Bluffs. Hours: daily, 12 noon to 4 pm. The show continues through Nov. 15. Call 508-693-1850 for more information.