Content and photos by Jennifer Furber published on May 14, 2017
The San Juan Islands Museum of Art is a short walk from the Harrison House Suites. It’s just a half mile up Spring Street on the right. The Museum of Art hosts a variety of exhibits. The most recent, “Dialogues from the Forest, Part 1”, celebrates wood as an abundant, northwest landscape resource available for artistic expression.
Artist Background: Suze Woolf
Nature artist and environmentalist Suze Woolf’s Charred Totems celebrate the standing “corpses” of trees, or as wildfire fighters refer to them as “totems,” that remain carbonized and standing tall after a forest fire. In 2003, Suze celebrated an awareness of forest fires. She created her pieces in the North Cascades. It’s a region where she saw twelve fires in ten years. The char’s iridescence that lingers for up to a decade is what originally drew her in. She was also drawn to the way it reflects light and color. Suze Woolf uses foam core and layered paper to reconstruct the trunks. Woolf then paints the burned, wood pattern in watercolor because of its quick color mixing ability, portability and low toxicity. She believes the gradual tones produced in drying are unique to this paint medium. Standing within her hanging forest is a powerful experience.
Artist Background: Morse Clary
Retired visual arts teacher Morse Clary’s Celebrations collection explores the concept of a book and the variety of meaning a reader brings to each piece. By using wood, Clary is able to play with his lifelong fascination of form, growth and mutation in nature. He always considered himself an avid reader and lifelong explorer. Morse Clary wanted to write text that was read visually and where a manuscript could be typed, per say, in mosaic or pebbles or moss. Within his work, he seeks texture, not sentence structure. How each viewer or “reader” creates meaning interests him. He hopes it is through touching the work since wood is warm to the touch.
By working in wood, he is able to utilize a variety of color while using various tree species. Clary believes the annual rings of life that show their pattern when a tree is cut or falls down tell a story of life, each year evident in a line. Celebrations allows you to view readable language in a different light. It is where the simple word “book” is a metaphor for the landscape that surrounds us all.
Artist Background: Aaron Haba
Artist Aaron Haba’s installation creates a vessel for the viewer to look up to see in. His piece is the giant wooden bowl-like structure seen from Spring Street. A large mirror is strategically placed above the piece to reveal pattern and form and repetitious order within the wooden vessel. Vessel absorbs and from inside the piece it looks like a zoetrope that reveals a mesmerizing pattern of peripheral animation. This brings greater meaning to the viewer. The beauty of what’s inside something is not often apparent until we look deeper or, perhaps, from a different angle.
Haba says in an accompanying video interview that the intended, ideal location for Vessel is the middle of the Moab Desert atop the rock flats where it’s grand enormity would rise above the horizon. When dismantled, Vessel fits into one average sized U-Haul and takes up to three hours to both unload and setup.
Spend a Few Days Exploring Art in Friday Harbor
The exhibits at San Juan Islands Museum of Art’s are worth the uphill walk up Spring Street. They celebrate a variety of different aspects of life and art. When you stay on San Juan Island at the Harrison House Suites, you will find there are many ways to appreciate art. The Museum of Art is just one of those ways!