Artists thrive on opportunities

Back in the 1920s, women painters had a difficult time finding places to show their work. Exhibition venues weren’t always open to women, no matter how talented they might be.

So today, though the group may seem a bit anachronistic, Women Painters of Washington continues to thrive as a place mark in history, a reminder that women struggled to gain opportunities in the field of art.

“It’s the history of it that makes it exist today and the camaraderie of the group that keeps it going,” said artist Janet Hamilton, of Everett.

Hamilton is among the members of the Women Painters of Washington and one of the local artists selected to be in “Celebration,” the organization’s current traveling exhibit.

“Celebration” not only showcases the contribution these women painters have made to the field of art but also features work in various mediums, from watercolors to oils to gouaches.

Barbara Matilsky, curator of the Whatcom Museum, has selected 70 members of the Women Painters of Washington to be in the exhibit.

Schack Art Center is the first of five venues for this traveling exhibit. “Celebration” is the featured exhibit at Schack through Dec. 27 as part of the art center’s annual holiday show.

The exhibit then travels to Seattle, Olympia, Port Townsend and Ellensburg before closing in July.

Hamilton’s piece “The Triple Door” shows gradations of light on the water as seen from a window from the Seattle restaurant of the same name.

Hamilton said regardless of whether women painters need a separate organization these days, the group is a legacy for women who have done for so long without opportunities.

“We now have and make opportunities where there weren’t any, so now is a chance to honor the women who went before us,” Hamilton said.

The Women Painters of Washington today have their own gallery in the Columbia Center Building in Seattle.

For Edmonds watercolor artist Alice Owen, who has been painting for 45 years, the Women Painters group provides her with a place to grow as an artist.

“It’s not so much anymore men vs women, that just never comes up as a subject,” Owen said. “The group makes me stretch myself.”

Owen’s colorful painting of an old cannery building on the Columbia River will be on display in the exhibit.

Owen, who has collaborated as an illustrator on several cookbooks with her husband, author John Owen, including “The Intermediate Eater’s Seattle Cookbook,” said she has spent the last year or so “trying to find herself.”

At 82, Alice Owen is attempting to get more abstract in her work.

“It’s taken little by little to make this change,” Owen said. “I’d like to take a giant leap but it doesn’t work that way. It’s incremental — one step at a time.”

Theresa Goffredo: 425-339-3424; goffredo@heraldnet.com.

Holiday Art Show

“Celebration” is the featured exhibit at Schack’s annual Holiday Art Show with works by the Women Painters of Washington. The Holiday Art Show will also include glass and pottery by several local artists. The exhibit and show runs through Dec. 27 in the main gallery, 2921 Hoyt Ave. Everett. For more information go to www.schack.org or call 425-259-5050

At Seattle Art Museum

“Elles: Women Artists from the Centre Pompidou, Paris”: Talk about a women’s movement. Or should we say “movements.” When you visit this groundbreaking exhibit at Seattle Art Museum, you will see women artists representing all the major movements in modern art and samples of works from some of the most famous female artists of our time: Frida Kahlo, Diane Arbus, Atsuko Tanaka, Cindy Sherman, Sophie Calle, Nan Goldin, Hannah Wilke and Tania Bruguera.

The artwork spans from 1907 to 2007 and includes more than 130 pieces made by 75 artists.

Marisa C. Sánchez, associate curator of modern and contemporary art, called the exhibit an “unforgettable visual experience.”

The works cover the areas of sculpture, photography, painting, drawing and video.

“Elles: Women Artists from the Centre Pompidou, Paris” is on view from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday and Friday through Jan. 13 at SAM, 1300 First Ave., Seattle. Admission is $23 for adults; $20 for seniors and military; and $12 for students. Call 206-654-3100 or go to www.seattleartmuseum.org.

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