Leo Kenney’s “Seed Crystal” in gouche from 1966 is on display at the Edmonds museum through Jan. 10.

Leo Kenney’s “Seed Crystal” in gouche from 1966 is on display at the Edmonds museum through Jan. 10.

Cascadia reopens with works by 3 Northwest master artists

Cascadia Art Museum in Edmonds is celebrating its fifth anniversary with several new exhibitions.

EDMONDS — Cascadia Art Museum will reopen in Phase 2 with the governor’s OK with not one, but three new exhibitions.

“Dreaming Forms: The Art of Leo Kenney,” featuring one of the most celebrated regional artists of the mid-20th century, “Stolen Moments: The Photography of Shedrich Williames,” the first solo exhibition of one of the Northwest’s most accomplished photographers, and “Gifts and Promised Gifts to the Museum’s Permanent Collections,” in celebration of the museum’s fifth anniversary, all open on Sept. 17.

“Dreaming Forms: The Art of Leo Kenney” is showing through Jan. 10.

Kenney (1925-2001) was an abstract painter from the second generation of the Northwest School. Among his mentors were Mark Tobey, Morris Graves and Guy Anderson. He worked primarily in oil and water-based mediums such as gouache and tempera.

You may recognize Kenney from Cascadia’s “The Lavender Palette” exhibition, which introduced his work a year ago.

“He’s a perfect example for an interesting retrospective because he starts off as a very young man and becomes pretty well-known locally,” said David Martin, curator for the museum.

Kenney’s masterpiece “The Inception of Magic” was added to the Seattle Art Museum’s permanent collection in 1945. The artist was just 20 years old.

His style evolved over his 50-year career, from surrealism influenced by Salvador Dali and Giorgio de Chirico, to geometric shapes inspired by Eastern religions and philosophies. An experiment with the psychedelic drug mescaline further transformed his artistic vision.

“They’re extraordinary — these geometric abstractions based on mandalas or chakras,” Martin said. “The technique is so fine that he must have spent months and months on just a small painting. In fact, he didn’t produce a huge body of work because he put so much time into these gouache paintings.”

Most notably, Kenney exhibited at Seattle’s Scott Gallery, New York’s Willard Gallery and the Seattle Art Museum. He also was included in the “Northwest Visionaries: Mark Tobey, Kenneth Callahan, Morris Graves, Leo Kenney” exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston.

Also showing through Jan. 10 is “Stolen Moments: The Photography of Shedrich Williames.”

Shedrich Willames became a photographer at 9. Back then, he would take photos with a Brownie Hawkeye camera and have small photographs developed and printed at a local drugstore.

Now 86, Willames studied photography with Wynn Bullock, Ansel Adams, Ruth Bernhard and Jerry Uelsmann, who also was born in 1934.

This untitled Shedrich Williames photograph from 1973 is on display at Cascadia through Jan. 10.

This untitled Shedrich Williames photograph from 1973 is on display at Cascadia through Jan. 10.

The subject matter of his black-and-white photographs includes nudes, still life and landscapes. Some of the images are comparable to the Pictorialist movement of the 19th and early 20th century. Antique dolls and glass floats reappear in his work.

In a career that spans more than 60 years, Williames’ work has been included in more than 400 exhibitions. His photography is in the permanent collections of museums all over the U.S., including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Portland Art Museum, Tacoma Art Museum and Edythe Broad Art Museum in Michigan.

“We are really thrilled to reintroduce his work in the Northwest,” Martin said. “He is a remarkable photographer and a master printer. The quality of the printing he did — there’s such a range of deep black to stark white — that they’re impeccable.”

Williames owned Shado Gallery, a photography gallery in Portland, Oregon. He also was the founder of the Phoenix Photographic Workshop, through which he taught photography for decades, and Portland’s Innerlight Photographic Society, to promote the medium within the region.

The “Gifts and Promised Gifts to the Museum’s Permanent Collections” exhibit will be up through May 23.

The museum’s permanent collection, which started in earnest about a year ago, includes or will include 30 works by 21 regional artists from the late 19th to the early 20th century.

This untitled Guy Anderson oil painting circa 1970-80 is in Cascadia Art Museum’s permanent collection.

This untitled Guy Anderson oil painting circa 1970-80 is in Cascadia Art Museum’s permanent collection.

Featured are 10 works by Edmonds native Guy Anderson (1906-1998), comprised of prime examples from the various stages of his career.

The exhibit also includes work by Evert Sodergren (1920-2013), such as Sodergen’s iconic “Sculptured Chair” from 1953 — a rare object of Northwest design. Martin said he is pleased that Cascadia is the only art institution in Washington state to own one of his chairs.

The museum also owns John Matsudaira (1922-2007) artwork, including Matsudaira’s masterpiece “Quiet Motion and Blue,” newly restored, which was one of the featured paintings at the Seattle World’s Fair in 1962.

In addition to these three exhibitions, the showing of “John Carl Ely,” the first solo exhibition of Ely’s work since 1930, has been extended to Nov. 8. See some of his sculptures and a few rare paintings from the family collection.

John Carl Ely (1897-1929) had a short-lived but promising national career. The sculptor was celebrated for incorporating a sophisticated blending of folk carving with modernist techniques. Tragically, he died at age 32 by accidental drowning at Cape Cod.

If you’re not a member, you’ll have to wait until Sept. 19 to get your tickets — Cascadia is open to members only Sept. 17 and 18. Lauren Carroll-Bolger, development and marketing manager, said the museum is welcoming its supporters back by offering them exclusive two-day access to the new exhibitions.

“Normally we do a big opening event for members, but we’re not doing that because of COVID,” she said.

Sara Bruestle: 425-339-3046; sbruestle@heraldnet.com; @sarabruestle.

If you go

Cascadia Art Museum, at 190 Sunset Ave. S., Edmonds, is showing three new exhibitions from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday through Sunday: “Dreaming Forms: The Art of Leo Kenney,” “Stolen Moments: The Photography of Shedrich Williames” and “Gifts and Promised Gifts to the Museum’s Permanent Collections.”Admission for members and students is free, adults $10, military and seniors $7, and families (two adults and up to three children) $25. Call 425-336-4809 or go to www.cascadiaartmuseum.org for more information.

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