This month, a new gallery emerged as a formidable force to be reckoned with in the local art scene.
Flow art gallery and studio (formerly Mineral Gallery) opened May 19 with its inaugural show, “Commencement,” showcasing some of the most talented Sumi-e artists in the region.
Sumi-e is a technique developed by the Chinese around 600 BC and quickly spread to Japan shortly after. The technique incorporates brush strokes to create natural or serene settings. Artists use mostly black ink, but sometimes color is also incorporated.
Gallery owner and local Sumi-e artist Andrea Erickson, whose work is also in the show, learned the craft from her sensei, well-known Sumi-e artist Fumiko Kimura, about seven years ago. They are both members of the Puget Sound Sumi-e Artists group. Erickson said the gallery had a strong first night showing and a lot of community support.
“We did really, really well,” she added.
The gallery’s show includes pieces by Erickson, Kimura, Selinda Sheridan and Kathryn Whitacre. The work sticks fairly close to tradition, inspired mostly by nature.
Kimura’s “Evening Mist” seems to show a tree-covered mountain floating high in the clouds. The stiff brush strokes of the trees complements the softer, washed-out look of the mountain. A river flows through the bottom of the painting, where a pair of blue cranes rest.
The artists also incorporated playful and personal elements.
Erickson’s “Mother, I Weep” is an emotion-fueled ode to her late mother’s passing. The ink swirls look like they are underwater, or perhaps as if teardrops smeared them across the page. One single black teardrop with hints of blue falls from the top of the page. Erickson said a haiku by Japanese artist Issa inspired the piece.
Mother, I weep.
For you as I watch the sea.
Each time, I watch the sea.
Another piece in the collection, “Embracing the small” by Sheridan, incorporated a playful assembly of colored dots which are literally embraced in a “c” shaped swoop of heavy black ink. This piece showcases a more modern, playful take on the ancient artistic expression.
Sumi-e is not for the faint at heart, or for the impatient, for that matter. Artists use rice paper glued to heavier stock paper, which makes the pieces easier for mounting. Brushes, made from sheep, horse, ox, even wolf, can be huge and bushy or small and dainty for detail work. Erickson said the entire Sumi-e process is very Zen-like, from gently scraping the ink to swiping the same brush stroke again and again.
“You could do 50 strokes and only one could turn out,” she said.
Flow (301 A Puyallup Ave.). No formal hours have been set yet, but Erickson said the gallery is usually open during the day throughout the week, or by appointment. For more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.