Artists turn poetry into art for WCC exhibit

“Palette’s Passion” by Lucy Tyrell from Bayfield won Juror’s Choice for the Poetry-Inspired Art Exhibit currently on display at the Washburn Cultural Center until Sept. 29.

WASHBURN – Saturday, Steve Cotherman, director for the Washburn Cultural Center, completed his mission: hanging 17 pieces of poetry-inspired art by 10 different local artists for an exhibit currently on display at WCC through Sept. 29.

A few months ago, a call was put out to artists in the community to participate in a unique multiple creative arts project merging poetry and visual arts. They were given three poems to respond to: two by Karla Huston, Poet Laureate of Wisconsin 2017-2018, who’ll be giving workshops and readings in the area from Sept. 29-30; and one by Howard Paap, Bayfield Poet Laureate 2017-2018.

An artists’ reception will take place from 6 to 9 p.m. on Sept. 29 at WCC coupled with a poetry reading by Huston and Paap at 7 p.m. The center is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesdays-Saturdays.

The three poems artists responded to were: “Somewhere Everything Old Is Dying” and “Theory of Lipstick” by Huston, and “Tough Like the Tansy” by Paap. Submitted works included a variety of mediums: pastel, clay, fabric, ink, watercolor and mixed media.

After the juror for the show, Jan Chronister, a poet from Maple and president of the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets, received photo files of the artists’ work (minus their names), she selected a Juror’s Choice and two Juror’s Honorable Mentions.

Juror’s Choice went to Lucy Tyrell from Bayfield for her applique, “Palette’s Passion,” which was a response to “Theory of Lipstick.” Using fiber and shotgun casings, she created an artists’ palette with bright pink fabrics dotted with lipstick kisses and casings she’s converted into lipstick holders. As with Huston’s poem that opens with, “oh, kiss me now, oh, double agents of beauty,” Tyrell gently pokes fun at the ways in which women modify their lips for expectant romance. Her piece explodes with energy, Valentine’s Day and Doomsday rolled into one.

One Juror’s Honorable Mention went to Jane Herrick from Herbster who responded to “Somewhere Everything Old Is Dying” with a mixed media painting called “Letting Go.” Red, black, gold and white colors dominate; she blends paint with twine, straw, paper and who knows what else as she takes death and dying to new realms.

The largest piece in the show, this arresting painting depicts several mummified figures hovering behind an empty crimson shirt at the heart of the painting. What looks like a crow made of straw is placed at the feet of this headless, armless shirt. An abstract interpretation of old things dying, Herrick has truly captured bardo – that space between living and dying when one foot still walks the earth while the other steps into the unknown, into the world of “Letting Go.”

The second Juror’s Honorable Mention went to Ann Christensen for her response to Paap’s “Tough Like Tansy.” A pastel on paper called “Tough Like Democracy,” this diminutive piece packs a punch with her image of the Statue of Liberty growing amid a field of tansies. Interpretation is up for grabs, but clearly she must be responding to Paap’s words alluding to the similarity between tansies and our immigrant population, “Invasive they say, a stranger to our shore. Eager to spread, so tough at the core.”

Check out this Poetry-Inspired Art Exhibit before Sept. 29. Also drop by for the Huston/Paap reception from 6 to 9 p.m. and reading at 7 p.m. on Sept. 29 at WCC, 1 E. Bayfield Street in Washburn. And don’t miss a free poetry workshop led by Huston at 10 a.m. on Sept. 30 at the Bayfield Carnegie Library (BCL).

Sponsors for all of these events include BCL, WCC, Bayfield School District, Apostle Islands Booksellers, What Goes 'Round/Bayfield Books, and Coco-Artisan Bakery & Good Eats.

To learn more about Huston’s visit and read the poems that inspired Poetry- Inspired Art go to: http://bayfieldlibrary.org/.

(Copyright © 2021 APG Media)

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