Pastel Dust In Seattle


I am in Seattle for a few days to hang the NWPS Members Show at Kirsten Gallery, go to a board meeting and attend the Opening Reception for the show…and to enjoy some time in the city.

The Northwest Pastel Society holds three shows a year of pastel work…a member show, an open international exhibition and a signature member show.  For an organization without walls, getting venues to host shows is sometimes a challenge, but also a project that happens a year in advance of the planning and procuring venues and jurors for the work.

This year’s member show is being held at the Kirsten Gallery on Roosevelt Way in the University of Washington district of Seattle.  I first approached and met with Rick Kirsten a year ago to get the show on his gallery schedule.  The board of directors for the NWPS felt very lucky to get  show time in a gallery such as the Kirsten.  Thursday, 4 of us gathered at the gallery to hang the show.   57 pieces accepted into the show. 

There is a certain art to a show being staged well.  A while ago, I worked on a gallery committee of 3 and 4 people who was one of the best teams.  Dianna, M’Lisse had great skill in hanging and we could put together a show in a few hours. We hung a different show nearly monthly throughout the year; some were solo shows, some groups.  It was a fun process to make the show “work”, so that it flowed well and invited the viewer to keep moving through the exhibit.  I ended up leaving the group due to other work, but always treasured our time working together. 

Kirsten Gallery has subtle room dividers that break up the flow – which is great because a juried show typically has a broad variety of work styles, color, subject matter,  etc.  My goal was to establish a strong entry that would invite the viewer to come further into the gallery to see more work.  The quality of work was no barrier.  There was not one piece that shouldn’t have been in the show.. . All strong, gorgeous pieces.  So in the entry we placed several strong landscapes that played off of each other’s values.  The next area has the least wall space, but we placed stong pieces of varying subject matter throughout that area with invitation to keep moving through the gallery space.  There were some little nooks that lended well to some unique, small works that desevered their own space.  

So initially we did a layout of the work; all the painting were placed  leaning on the walls where we thought they would work best.  Because of the broad variety of size, framing, subject, etc.; our goal was to make the work “flow” and not to compete with each other…In the middle rooms there is more contiguous wall space and that allowed for more paintings to hang together…but with space built between to give the sense of some boundaries to show smaller groups of painting well.  So to create that, we would cluster  maybe three winter paintings closer together, then leave a bit larger space and hang another grouping. 

Once the entry and the first rooms were hanging we moved deeper into the gallery with the goal to make certain that we had strong work in each area and that no one room over powered another.  The last room has three good walls of space and we were able to make some great choices of the placement of work for that room. 

Ideally, if space were no object, it would be great to hang museum style with the paintings all at the same level, not one hanging above or below another or grouped, etc.  But in the real world, galleries don’t always have that option for space, so it required a gallery committee or hangers to be creative how the show gets to be displayed.  We approach that seriously and mindful that everyone who has a piece of work in the show is being honored as selected by the juror.   We were able accomplish installing the show in about 3 hours which was my unspoken goal!

So the opening happens on April 10 from 2-4 pm.  The juror has since gone through the gallery and given 10 or so awards and we wait, now, wondering which paintings will be given awards…

Perhaps in another blog I will talk about the Kirsten Gallery more.  They have this wonderful spot in a busy part of town and their gardens are wonderful.  I have some photos and perhaps with Rick Kirsten’s blessings I will write about the gallery.

So for now…happy painting and gallery visiting!

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About bonnie griffith

I am a landscape artist who works in pastels, oils and acrylics. My work focuses on representational studies of the western US. I am basically self taught with lots of workshops and studies with several landscape artists such as Bruce Haughey and Clark Elster. I live in southwestern Idaho, am a native Montanan with a strong connection to the land. I spend as much time as I can in MT painting as well other parts of the northwest. I appreciate getting out in the field and working plein air because there is nothing like completing a painting in the true light of day and visually not being compromised by the use of a photo. In my work, my goal is to produce a piece of work that draws the viewer into the painting and challenges them to explore the scene; get a sense of the time of day, the temperature, the light or lack of. If I have gotten that viewer to step out of their reality and into that painting and enjoy it, then my work was accomplished as I wished. View all posts by bonnie griffith

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