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The Arts Scene: The art of wine

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The snow last week didn’t keep people from attending the opening of “Uncorked” at the Moses Lake Museum & Art Center. My itinerary only included the drive from Yakima to Moses Lake, but others drove over the pass, including artist Kelly Haejung Paik, who came over from Seattle.

Paik was one of 33 artists chosen to be featured as part of the exhibition. The call to artists asked to “Interpret the subject of wine through your own imaginative understanding.” The exhibit “will not only celebrate wine but present and captivate art and wine lovers with a fresh perspective.” The museum received about 70 submissions from artists in Washington, Oregon and California.

I was delighted to see so many people at the opening. I spoke with curator Ann Schepp, who was also pleased with the turnout. Visitors mingled, drank wine (of course) and enjoyed appetizers as they walked among the artworks.

The exhibit itself is displayed on walls that meander through permanent exhibits on local history. Instead of being installed in a separate room, that evening you could encounter sections of the exhibit as you wandered among artifacts, museum visitors and musicians.

To one side, as you entered the exhibit entrance, guests were painting wine glasses. This program was part of a series called “Adult Swim” that provides adults a time and space for themselves. The museum has this activity during select gallery receptions.

As you enter the exhibit, its title, “Uncorked: A Wine Themed Art Exhibit,” is written on the top of a white wall above a pedestal where an art doll created by Yakima artist Yusuf Incetas is displayed. The wine-colored doll with a beaded face sits in handcuffs and ankle bracelets. Below the handcuffs, the letters “I C E” dangle from the chain.

“Art to me has a purpose,“ said Incetas. You see the beauty of the doll, but you need to look at it carefully to understand what the message is. “My art has subliminal messages that you can’t really see unless you pay attention to the details,” he says about the subtlety of the doll. It is “a nod to the current political acts of the state to undermine human labor and dignity.”

Incetas was the only artist selected from Yakima.

As I enjoyed the many interpretations of the wine theme, I came across a style of work I had not seen before. Paik created two pieces that were accepted. I talked to her about her piece “Wine Glass” that is painted on folded paper. She told me she paints the paper after she folds it. “There is quite a complicated process in folding,” she says. I concur with her that the acrylic paint would flake off if it was painted before. What is interesting is that the folding also creates shadows and dimension.

After we discussed her work, I thought it would be fun to introduce her to Incetas. I was pleased to see how they spent time discussing their work and found other things in common. With the addition of artist Emily Atkinson to the group, they found common ground and shared their thoughts about their work and the exhibit.

I found my own commonality with museum coordinator Erika Kovalenko, who arranged the exhibit. Originally from the west side of the state, like myself, she is delighted to be able to express her talent in a venue like this.

The exhibit “Uncorked” will be on display at the Moses Lake Museum & Art Center, 401 S. Balsam St. in Moses Lake, through Feb. 27. Admission is free.

• David Lynx is executive director of the Larson Gallery at Yakima Valley College. Learn more at www.larsongallery.org.

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