One of the most delightful spaces in which I have found myself lately is Skybound Gallery at 305 N. Main Street in Toledo, Ore. For their 1st Thursday event, my husband and I discovered a spot filled with beauty and the quiet ambiance of masterful creation. For the evening, a guitarist sat playing quietly and wine and refreshments were served; these provided a welcoming atmosphere. But the aesthetics and variety of the art were a sensory indulgence not often found even in large city galleries. The gallery houses four different artists working in four different media.
Berta Sergeant’s mosaics of recycled tempered glass, stained glass, and millefiori fill a variety of backgrounds from glass to re-purposed surfaces such as the top of an old power line spool. The latter is used to present her brilliant version of Van Gogh’s “Starry, Starry Night” in glass mosaic. Sergeant’s use of reflective light energizes her pieces with an appealing luminosity. She also re-purposes vintage windows, treating the eye to deep, soul-satisfying hues. Sergeant also collaborates with Carroll Grant Loomis, another of the Gallery’s artists, to create mixed media pieces to reveal the harmony of manmade and organic pieces.
Loomis, who has studied traditional basket techniques with Native elder basket weavers, is a master of natural materials including pine needles, grasses, and gourds. Her gourds are given seemingly limitless embellishments with the use of beading and rich-toned colors and often finished with fine weaving. The pieces often reflect a startling combination of Native American sensibility with modern character. Loomis has recently created a whimsical addition to her collection with Sister Violet, Sister Ruby, and Sister Blue. These gourds are extraordinary female representations done in green with their long gourd stems left in tact. They are sweetly girlish and spiritually otherworldly at the same time.
The third member of the artist group is Becky Miller. Miller’s love of nature is evidenced on every canvas she produces. Working in oils, Miller always has a number of paintings going at once. Among her collection, she has included paintings of a variety of farm animals in which she has certainly captured the soul of the animal. The softly rendered beasts, who seem to beg to be petted, are evocative of childhood’s perfect summer day. “Maggie the Dog” seems about to bark. Miller is also adept at marine representations. She has a series of paintings of kelp that reveal the journey of the artist. Early pen and ink canvases use no color. Later canvases begin to show lightly nuanced colors. As she progresses, the canvases become both larger; the use of color is more pronounced; and the lines become more stylized. The sinuous curves of the kelp lead the eye on an ever-expanding journey through muted golds, tan, blues, browns, and hints of green.
Finally, David Silwones, the owner of the gallery, displays his sensory pleasing wooden treasures. Visitors can observe Silwones’ studio where he turns and carves using both electric and traditional hand tools. His bowls reveal the warmth of the chosen woods such as maple burl, black walnut, and black locust, and demand the caress of the eye and the hand. His use of organic shapes with circular and angular repetitive lines produces the impression of ancient artifacts. Before opening the gallery, Silwones traveled around the state to every gallery he could find to study and discover the best ways to display art. He borrowed the best of these, including the walls-on-wheels idea and the hanging lighting systems from Lincoln City’s Freed Gallery, to craft a truly satisfying place for the exhibition of art.
Be sure to make Skybound Gallery part of your trip next time you are heading out to the coast. Open every day and some evenings, one of the artists is always around to answer questions, as this is their working as well as display space. Skybound Gallery is located at 395 N. Main Street in Toledo, Ore. The telephone is (541) 635-0114. Treat yourself to a visit.
Deborah Trusty, an enthusiast of Thoreau’s deliberate life, writes about experiences examined from a position of stillness and reflection. She lives with her photographer husband Robert in Toledo, Oregon. She currently has a fiction and a nonfiction book in progress. She is an exuberant late bloomer. Her blog is Cottage on the Oregon Coast.
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