Leo Adams’ house, perhaps the most famous creation by Yakima’s preeminent visual artist, is worth a visit under any circumstances.
It’s the subject of a 2012 book and has been the annual highlight of the Larson Gallery’s Tour of Artists’ Homes and Studios. It’s a striking place, built by Adams himself out of largely repurposed materials and filled with art made by him and many others.
On Saturday and Sunday it will be the site of a special pop-up gallery exhibit featuring new work by Adams and several other top Yakima Valley artists. Because the Larson wasn’t able to host its annual tour last year, this will be the first time since the COVID pandemic began last March that the public has had a chance to visit. It’s something Adams and the other participating artists have missed.
“We just got together as friends and said, ‘Let’s do it on our own,’” Adams said.
That is in keeping with Adams’ persona. He’s always been known for figuring out how to make things work; the house is just the most prominent example. Another is his ability to create beauty from throwaway items, such as the small collages he’s made out of coffee filters for this show.
“That’s kind of the way things are at the moment,” he said with a chuckle.
Adams’ pieces in this show are relatively modest by his standards, both in physical size and in price — they start at 1-foot square and $250 — but they don’t lack for imagination. As his biography on the Museum of Northwest Art website says, Adams “is able to take the most common of materials — plywood, dried vegetation, rusty metal, and any type of ‘found’ object — assemble them in unusual ways, and create interior spaces that cannot be easily described in words.”
Other standout artists participating in the show include Michelle Wyles, whose distinctive ceramic sculpture tends toward a combination of brash and whimsical, and Jane Gutting, whose fascination with rabbits has manifested itself in a series of anthropomorphic bunny sculptures.
The variety of the work is a big part of the show’s appeal, Adams said. Gutting concurred. It’s also a chance for art lovers to come together for one of the first major local art events of the past 15 months. It’s fine, she emphasized, if people just want to come and hang out and look; they don’t need to be there to buy.
“It’s always a fun time to walk through Leo’s house and spend time as friends,” she said. “We all just decided we needed to get together and put on a show. It’s been so long.”