‘UNCLAD’ proves a hit

  • By Mike Murray / Herald Writer
  • Thursday, March 17, 2005 9:00pm
  • LifeGo-See-Do

“Crabbing on Camano” is the title of an impressionist-style oil painting by Medina artist Linda Demetre that’s as lovely as a summer day.

But viewers take note.

The subject in this painting, a woman stooping to reclaim a crab pot along the shore, is naked – except for her hat.

Call her “unclad,” which is the title of a group art show opening this weekend on Camano Island.

“UNCLAD 2005 – The Fine Art of the Figure,” which opens Saturday at the Gallery at Utsalady Bay, is devoted exclusively to the nude figure.

It’s the fourth edition of an annual exhibit that has become one of the hottest art shows of the year. This year’s show, which runs four days over two weekends, features more than 150 works by 75 artists, all depicting the human form in styles that range from representational and anatomically correct to the abstract.

There are paintings, pastels and drawings, sculpture and photographs, fiber art and blown glass. Visitors will find life drawings, bronze sculptures, paper collage, digital photographs and works done in oil, watercolor, acrylic, crayon and chalk. Preview the art at the gallery’s Web site, www.unclad.com.

The artists, who come from throughout the Pacific Northwest and from as far away as Florida, Massachusetts and California, find inspiration in the human figure. And they’ve tapped into the public’s interest to see the art of the nude, a tradition that goes back as far as far as when people began making art.

Last year an estimated 1,500 crowded into the gallery for “UNCLAD’s” four-day run.

“Pretty good for a little gallery on Camano,” said Gayle Picken, who with her husband, artist David Maritz, owns and operates the gallery. “UNCLAD” is not only a popular success, it is the gallery’s best-selling show of the year, she said.

“UNCLAD,” which opened four years ago with 29 artists, caught on fast. Artists love to do nudes, but often find limited opportunities to show the work, Picken said.

As news of “UNCLAD” spread in the art community, “our phone started ringing,” she said.

“The artists seem to dig the subject. It frees them up.”

Hundreds of entries, submitted by slide and digital images, were judged on such factors as style, subject matter, medium and the artist’s creative approach.

There are many familiar names in the show although “half of the artists are new to the show this year,” Picken said.

People come from throughout the Puget Sound region, and from as far north as Vancouver, British Columbia, to see “UNCLAD,” drawn by the subject matter and the quality of the art.

As for those who just don’t care about this sort of thing, “we know that people who are offended won’t come,” Picken said.

The Gallery at Utsalady Bay is part of the flourishing visual arts scene on Camano Island and in Stanwood.

Picken and Maritz took a building with a long history – it’s been a gas station, a fish store and a home – and transformed it into a combination studio, office and art gallery.

There are peek-a-boo views of the bay, and a tiny barbershop tucked into one corner.

Everything has been temporally swept away for “UNCLAD,” and the art is displayed in several rooms and on two levels against white walls.

“Neck Fragment,” Kevin Pettelle’s striking bronze sculpture of a partial torso and head, holds center stage on the main floor. At 4 feet tall and 3 feet wide, it sets the mood for what viewers can expect at “UNCLAD.”

“Edgy,” Picken said. “Art that makes you think.”

“Nude in Hall,” Vincent Brown

“The Interloper,” Jo Anderson

“Red Hot Mama,” Yonnah Ben Levy

“UNCLAD 2005 – The Fine Art of the Figure”

Open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Sunday, March 26 and 27 at Gallery at Utsalady Bay, 3 W. North Camano Drive, Camano Island. Information, www.uncladart.com, 360-387-8681.

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