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The Arts Scene: Wooden wonders

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A few years ago while attending a dinner event at Heritage University, I met Marilyn Bergevin. She was showing me photos of wood furniture that she had crafted. Realizing that I now know many wood artists, I thought it would be fun to bring them together for an exhibit, an ideal summer show for the new Larson Gallery.

It had become apparent, with the addition of the tasting room for Yakima Valley Vintners, the Yakima Valley College Vineyard and Winery Technology Program, that the Larson Gallery needed to be open throughout the summer. The original schedule closed the gallery in August.

Then, of course, the pandemic came along. Still hoping to have the wood exhibit in the new gallery, I thought it would open right when we start to come out of quarantine. So, driving through Yakima, I was thinking of a name for the show and “Out of the Woods” came to mind. Not only will the show have art made of wood, we will be out of the woods from the scare of the pandemic.

I keep in regular contact with an artist from Seattle, David Johansson, who grew up in the Yakima Valley. He had been creating a series of paintings involving trees and crosscuts of tree trunks. These paintings would the perfect backdrop for the wood sculptures.

So, in addition to Johansson, I contacted artists I knew who worked in wood: John Barany, Randal Leek, Jerry Johnson, Norman Brown, Cathy and Dawson Lapsley, Pat and Karen Miller, and Marilyn Bergevin. Most recently, art from William Nelson, a painter from the Lower Valley, was added.

Due to COVID restrictions, the gallery cannot have regular opening receptions, and appointments are encouraged online. But on the first day of the exhibition, a steady stream of visitors came to see the work.

Johansson, Leek, Barany and Cathy Lapsley spoke with visitors, and the Yakima Valley Vintners, which opened formally this month, was open. The wine tasting room will be open Fridays and Saturdays from noon to 5 p.m. and the Larson Gallery has changed its Saturday hours to match.

This past Sunday, I volunteered for the Rotary Playground at the Greenway and worked with other volunteers constructing and painting a fruit tree element that would be included in the project. Johansson came and helped also, providing the final touches of leaves and wood grain to the tree.

As pieces are sold during this exhibition, the wood artists have also provided new pieces so they can be changed out regularly, so each time you see the show it may be slightly different.

Visit “Out of the Woods” on Tuesdays through Fridays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays from noon to 5 p.m. The new Larson Gallery is at 1606 W. Nob Hill Blvd. in Yakima.

• David Lynx is executive director of the Larson Gallery at Yakima Valley College. He writes this weekly column for SCENE. Learn more at www.larsongallery.org.