Ryan Hardesty has a predilection for Eastern Washington’s “austere, simple beauty.”
Yet his paintings are by no means traditional landscape paintings. What Hardesty tries to capture, in his new exhibit at the Lorinda Knight Gallery – part of this month’s First Friday downtown art walk – is the “experience of the landscape, as if walking through a space.”
“There’s a palate of colors I see out in this landscape – somewhat muted, earth-yellows, silvery-greens, grays – as well as the features and formations of the landscapes,” said Hardesty, who is also the Art at Work manager at the Northwest Museum of Art and Culture.
“It provides a jumping-off point for the paintings. But, as they say, what you start with isn’t always what you end up with.”
The dozen or so paintings in his exhibit, titled “Continuous Field,” are also inspired by another aspect of Eastern Washington experience – this year’s gray, foggy winter.
“I couldn’t help it,” Hardesty said, with a laugh. “Yeah, I noticed that a few of these paintings had a really reduced palate, maybe inspired by all of those days.”
His technique is particularly suited to those kinds of images.
“It’s a kind of controlled improvisation,” said Hardesty. “It’s a process that I have of layering the line work or the mark-making, and I apply a thin glaze over those networks.
“It has the effect of pushing those lines or the image back, farther into space. I toggle back and forth between the mark-making and the glazing. It allows it to form, re-form and dissolve again.”
This exhibit will be just one of several openings on First Friday, the monthly art walk event which attracts hundreds of gallery-goers to downtown Spokane.
At the Kolva Sullivan Gallery, you can catch the opening of Spokane watercolorist Sandy Ayars’ first one-person show. You’ll see 37 small watercolors of birds, flowers and landscapes with, in her words, “a little bit of mystery to them.”
“They’re not necessarily realistic,” said Ayars. “They have a little bit of imagination.”
She said she is inspired by the beauty of Spirit Lake and Priest Lake, and especially, the bird life: herons, crows, ravens, hummingbirds and flickers.
Ayars has been a graphic artist and art director in Spokane for 40 years; watercolors are what she does to relax and get in touch with her inner muse.
Meanwhile, over at Saranac Art Projects, a group of five artists – all faculty members at area universities – have joined together for an eclectic exhibit including video, photography and painting.
They have one thing in common: They are all cutting-edge contemporary.
“A lot of artists who live here don’t show their works here,” said Megan Murphy, who organized the exhibit. “These are artists who show all over the country but don’t always have a venue here.”
The show features Scott Kolbo, Meagan Stirling, Lance Sinnema, Jenny Hyde and Greg DuMontheir.
First Friday also features a wide variety of other attractions, including the work of Maria Gonzalez, a master weaver from Guatemala, at Kizuri; historic photographs of the Columbia Gorge at the Brick Wall Gallery; and photographic portraits of Spokane soldiers in Iraq by Jed Conklin at the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture.
The self-guided walk includes a number of receptions, many with music and light refreshments.