Six women founded the Women Painters of Washington in 1930 to address a lack of attention paid to female artists.
Over the next 90 years, more than 1,000 professional artists joined their ranks, earning national and international recognition for the organization. Today, about 150 members band together to put on exhibitions around the state.
The Women Painters of Washington 90th anniversary show runs from March 7 through April 12 at Matzke Fine Art Gallery and Sculpture Park on Camano Island. “Present Tense” will feature the works of 38 members and two founders, Elizabeth Warhanik and Dorothy Dolph Jensen.
Judith Heim, juried exhibits director, said the show will emphasize the current styles and themes of today’s artists, while also showcasing how art has changed over the past 90 years.
“There’s going to be a little bit of everything,” she said. “Some artists paint more traditionally and some are more contemporary. There is kind of a Northwest flavor to the art that comes out of this area; the founders were certainly part of that in the earlier years.
“This is sort of a continuation of that, but we’re in a very different world than we were in the 1930s.”
There will be 73 pastel, oil, mixed media and acrylic paintings on display. Many of them depict life in the Puget Sound region, such as ferry crossings and hiking trails in the Cascade Range. Others are portraits, figurative work and whimsical creatures.
Another style showcased, known as non-objective, focuses on color, forms and shapes. Karla Matzke, owner of the gallery, said this abstract form veers away from reality for a more visceral response from viewers.
“Even though they’re abstract, they’re not depicting anything at all,” she said. “It’s supposed to evoke an emotion or feeling.”
All of the paintings will be for sale except for founders Warhanik and Jensen’s works. Both women became established figures in Seattle’s arts scene: Jensen exhibited her vivid portraits in one-woman shows around the nation, while Warhanik became a prominent artist for her striking landscape and still-life paintings.
Jensen’s portrait of Vera Weatherbee will be on display. Made in 1930, the oil painting shows Weatherbee wearing a blue blouse with a collar. Warhanik’s 1938 painting depicts an industrial scene in Ballard.
Matzke, 61, of Camano Island, also featured the Women Painters of Washington at her gallery in 2018. Matzke said she was happy to host them again because of the group’s impact over the years — adding that the show is all the more significant given that it’s the 100th anniversary of women gaining the right to vote.
“Being a woman artist, it’s nice to be able to celebrate a group that has stayed in operation this long,” she said. “They’re really encouraging for women artists.”
Snohomish County artists showing in the exhibit include Everett’s Janet Hamilton, Edmonds’ Mary Anderson and Heim, who lives in Woodway.
Heim, 70, who joined the Women Painters of Washington in 2010, will show three collages made with Japanese rice paper, gel and acrylic paint. All three have whimsical themes loosely inspired by Russian-French artist Marc Chagall, who was known for his avant-garde works.
“I’ve been playing a lot with quirky figures, fun themes and figurative work,” she said. “One of them has chairs that are actually people with heads and feet.”
Evan Thompson: 425-339-3427, firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @ByEvanThompson.
If you go
“Present Tense,” the Women Painters of Washington 90th anniversary show opens March 7 at Matzke Fine Art Gallery and Sculpture Park, 2345 Blanche Way, Camano Island. The gallery is open every Friday, Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., weekdays by appointment. A gala and artists’ reception is set for 4:30 p.m. March 14 at the gallery. Call 360-387-2759 or go to www.matzkefineart.com/current-show for more information.