You may remember artist Andy Behrle from his TEDxYakima talk, “Illuminating Connections,” or from his one-night installation, “Love Letter to Yakima,” where he projected six video compositions onto downtown buildings for one night on Jan. 3, 2014. His work was shown at the Boxx Galllery, Sarah Spurgeon Gallery, Yakima Maker Space, The Seasons and in Windows Alive!
I first met Andy when his work was juried into the 57th annual Central Washington Artists’ Exhibition at Larson Gallery in 2012. His work in the exhibit, “For Nikola,” contained a beaker of water with its own moving whirlpool. The light projected through the water cast a spinning image on the corner walls of gallery.
His friendly demeanor and excitement about working with water, sound, movement and light made him an energizing addition to the Yakima art community. I told him about the Yakima Light Project, a group of community members interested in having more light-based public art in Yakima, and asked if he would create a one night installation for “Light Night,” the winter fundraising event for Larson Gallery.
During his time as a resident of the Yakima Valley, his work was not only shown all over the Northwest but also internationally, in places like Tunisia and Germany. I especially remember his exhibit “fluidity” at the Sarah Spurgeon gallery at Central Washington University, where images of flowing water moved across weather balloons, creating the feeling of small planets.
I had not heard from Andy for a while, then saw that he was creating an installation on the island of Maui on the evening of Aug. 2. As a coincidence I was going to be on the island at the same time. I thought I would surprise him and make an appearance at the event.
That evening I headed over to the small town of Wailuku, only to find out on the way that the event had been cancelled. Hurricanes Erick and Flossie had been threatening to make a visit to Hawaii, but luckily missed their appearance. Erick caused enough of a rainstorm in the morning that organizers called the event off.
So much for the surprise. So I messaged Andy directly and he was excited that we were there. We made a date to meet later that week for an evening on the beach.
Andy had moved to Maui last December with his wife, Dr. Victoria Fox-Behrle (an internal medicine and pediatrics physician with Kaiser), and their 5-year-old son after a brief stay on Hawaii Island.
While he was on the island of Hawaii, he noticed a call for artists for “Small Town • Big Art”. Small Town • Big Art is a 2018-2020 creative placemaking pilot project to help position Wailuku as a public arts district that is focused on its distinctive sense of place, history and culture. This project is one of 60 grant awardees selected throughout the United States by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).
His proposal for the installation was to incorporate the importance of water to the area and highlight the historic places of worship. Behrle would recreate the stained glass window from St. Anthony’s Roman Catholic Church, which burned down in 1977 in Wailuku. Since the church was no longer there, he reached out to the community for pictures of the outside and interior of the church.
The image of the stained glass window would incorporate the flowing water from the nearby Wailuku river. After six months of work, the resulting artwork, “Lost and Found,” would be projected onto the historic Iao Theater’s side wall in Wailuku for one night during First Friday.
Although I would not be there for final showing on Sept. 6, it was fun to spend the evening with Andy and his family and enjoy a fruit shave ice with them from the Gus Bus (a converted VW bus, now food truck).
• David Lynx is director of the Larson Gallery at Yakima Valley College. Learn more at www.larsongallery.org.