The Land of Chief Joseph inspirational original oil painting by Wenaha Gallery artist Steve Henderson

The Art of Appreciating Art

The Land of Chief Joseph inspirational original oil painting by Wenaha Gallery artist Steve Henderson

Regional artists of the Pacific Northwest capture the area in which they live. The Land of Chief Joseph by Wenaha Gallery Artist Steve Henderson.

Most of us understand and empathize with our fellow humans who are afraid of mice, spiders, snakes, small spaces or vampire movies starring Christopher Lee. We all have our fears and foibles, and they vary depending upon the person.

Many people, however, are frightened — in a different way — of something that is designed to bring joy and dimension to their lives: fine art, as in paintings and sculpture, jewelry and prints, woodwork and photography. Whether it is years of the discipline being overrun and overruled by the extreme abstract movement, resulting in viewers being condescendingly ushered from the room when they asked, “Why is this piece worth $25,000? It really looks like something an eight-year-old could do,” or not, too many individuals are missing out on an element of life that should be part of all our lives.

Kokopeli Dancer birdhouse by Papa Jon's Fly Inns of Wenaha Gallery

Sculpture comes in all shapes and forms, and Papa Jon’s Fly Inns creates birdhouses that are functional and decorative. Kokopeli Dancer, by Wenaha artists Jon and Marilu Bryan of Wenaha Gallery.

So, let’s change this, and aggressively make art  part of our lives.

Appreciating fine art, like most skills, is easy yet difficult, but it doesn’t start at all until we begin. While it sounds simplistic, initiating the process involves nothing more than looking at art — in books, online, or in person — and doing just that: looking at it. The more we expose ourselves to different styles, different media, different subject matter, the more experience we gain in art, and of art, and soon find ourselves developing a sense of confidence in our judgment.

“I don’t know much about art, but I know what I like,” is a common phrase of the common man, and like most such phrases, it imbues a factor of commonsense as well. Art, which is both subjective and objective, appeals to different people for different reasons, and in the same way that some people love goat cheese and others don’t, or some people prefer a red Malbec over a white Pinot Grigio, or a black Nilgiri tea over a South African honeybush tisane, some viewers gravitate toward bold brushstrokes and vibrant color, while others prefer subdued colors and a smooth, blended surface.

Great Blue Heron Wildlife painting by Hiroko Cannon of Wenaha Gallery

Original watercolors and prints are available by wildlife and Wenaha artist Hiroko Cannon. Shown is Great Blue Heron.

Most fortunate of all are those whose experience is so wide and diverse that they see merits in various styles — they like herbal infusions as well as white tea, bitter dark chocolate and the sweeter milk kind, representational art and abstract.  And, because they’ve looked at a lot of art, and asked questions about what they’ve seen, and pondered the various answers they were given, they are free as well to say, “This is good, and this is not,” because art — while it is very, very subjective — possesses objective elements as well, although, within certain areas of the art world, this is a well kept secret.

Because art, in various forms, is literally everywhere, the ability to see it, and learn from it, is open to anyone with access to books, images on a computer, or — and this very much an option for people in Southeast Washington — brick and mortar galleries that house and showcase art. Known for being an art community, Walla Walla — and the area around it — is fortunate to possess private and community establishments that show art, sell art, and encourage people to visit and physically view art.

Pierced wood bowl by wenaha gallelry artists pat and peggy bookey

Pat and Peggy Bookey of Alaska join forces to create hand pierced wooden vessels that are both functional and decorative.

Any fears that aspiring aficionados have about walking into a gallery and feeling like an idiot should be immediately put to rest, because anyplace that prompts a reaction of insecurity in its patrons is not a place where they will learn about art. And it’s not a place that viewers will find in this area, which enjoys a number of ways to view original art.

In Walla Walla, WA, Kingfisher Gallery and Custom Framing at 11 South Spokane Street features original art from Walla Walla based artists including Carol Cole, Bob Baker, Ed Stone and Mark VanDonge, and new works are added on a changing basis through the year.

Darrah’s Framing and Decorator (39 East Main) focuses on artists of the Walla Walla Valley, spotlighting the work of one artist for special two-month-long shows.

Todd Telander Gallery at 34 South Colville features landscapes, still life, and wildlife work of the artist.

A  short drive away, Wenaha Gallery (219 East Main) in Dayton showcases Pacific Northwest artists in its Art Events, every two weeks bringing in the two-  or  three-dimensional work of regional painters and sculptors. The gallery also houses the original work of some 30 artists from Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and Alaska.

On the John Day inspirational original oil painting by Wenaha Gallery Artist Judy Robertus

Dayton artist Judy Robertus paints the Pacific Northwest in which she lives, and which she loves. On the John Day by Wenaha Gallery artist Judy Robertus.

Dayton artists with studios include Monica Stobie (610 North Touchet Road)  and Steve Henderson (by appointment: 509.382.9775); and the Delaney building, next to the public library (111 South Third Street) hosts a monthly rotating display of artwork by the Blue Mountain Artists Guild.

Further afield, but still within an afternoon’s drive, are the Valley Art Center in Clarkston, WA (842 6th Street); the Pendleton Center for the Arts (214 North Main Street,  Pendleton, OR); and the Allied Arts Gallery (89 Lee Boulevard, Richland, WA). All three of these community art organizations operate a rotating monthly calendar of juried competitions, regional exhibitions, and individual and group artist shows. A short hop from Clarkston (16 miles northeast in Uniontown, WA), the Dahmen Barn carries the work of 120 artists, some of whom maintain studios in the building and are more than happy to talk with visitors.

This is, indeed, an area rich in the visual arts, and the opportunity to make art a part of our daily lives — viewing it, appreciating it, and owning it — is big and bold and beautiful. Let’s make 2015 the year to embrace art.


Todd Telander —

Kingfisher Galleries and Custom Framing — Kingfisher Walla Walla (Facebook)

Darrah’s Framing and Decorating —

Wenaha Gallery —

Monica Stobie —

Jill Ingram —

Steve Henderson —

Allied Arts Gallery —

Pendleton Center for the Arts —

The Dahmen Barn —

Wenaha GalleryWenaha Gallery is your destination location for Greenwich Workshop Fine Art Prints, professional framing, and original fine art paintings and sculpture by notable Pacific Northwest artists.   Books, gifts, note cards, jigsaw puzzles, and more are also available. Visit at 219 East Main, Dayton; phone 509.382.2124; e-mail; website 

This article was written by Carolyn Henderson.



Hiroko Cannon drawing of Great Blue Heron in Brown Grass at Wenaha Gallery

Life Outside the City Really Is for the Birds — the Wildlife Art of Hiroko Cannon

Hiroko Cannon drawing of Great Blue Heron in Brown Grass at Wenaha Gallery

Great Blue Heron in Brown Grass by Hiroko Cannon at Wenaha Gallery

The world of birds is thoughtful, peaceful, meditative, a far cry — or chirp — from the hustle and noise of Osaka and Tokyo, Japan, two metropolises known for their economic and commercial activity.

Fine artist Hiroko Cannon, who now calls Pendleton, OR home, was for many years a commercial and graphic designer in Japan’s two largest cities, creating illustrations for department stores during the day, and studying under her dream teacher, noted fashion and figurative illustrator Setsu Nagasawa, at night — that is, when she wasn’t still completing drawings for work:

“It was very hectic — projects came in the morning for the next morning’s newspaper,” Cannon remembers. “I would finish the drawings in the afternoon and wait for the first proof prints to come out for me to check. After the second and final checks I was free, to catch a taxi to go home in the middle of the night.”

And the next day, it started all over again.

Swainson's Hawk by Hiroko Cannon at the Wenaha Gallery

Swainson’s Hawk by Hiroko Cannon at the Wenaha Gallery

The quantity of work required, at the speed it demanded, was an art school all its own, and this in conjunction with studying human figure drawing and watercolor painting at the prestigious Setsu Nagasawa Seminar pushed Cannon to finesse her skills, and accuracy, in drawing.

“How to quickly catch the human movement on paper was one of Nagasawa’s curriculum, which I enjoyed a lot,” Cannon remembers.

In 1985 Cannon immigrated to the United States, and while she continued to produce illustrations and write articles on a freelance basis for women’s magazines in Japan, life changed from hectic to busy, simply because Pendleton, at its most frenetic, is not Tokyo. In the midst of raising two children, Cannon took a break from art, exchanging painting  for chauffeuring:

“Both children were heavily involved in music and required lots of shuttling to and from practice sessions, performances, and other activities,” she explained. But life goes on and children grow up, and when Cannon’s youngest child hit high school and began driving, Cannon knew that it was time to pick up painting again.

It was sheer happenstance that Cannon turned her skill, background, passion, and expertise to birds, sparked by a donation request from Lynn Tompkins of Blue Mountain Wildlife Rescue, who asked if Cannon would create a painting for the organization’s annual auction. Always a bird lover, as well as a strong supporter of the area’s non-profit organizations, Cannon agreed.

Redtailed Hawk by Hiroko Cannon at the Wenaha Gallery

Redtailed Hawk by Hiroko Cannon at the Wenaha Gallery

The public’s enthusiastic reaction to that first painting took its creator by surprise. Quickly sold for a good price, the painting sparked comments from others at the auction, who wanted to know where they could purchase more of her work. Cannon painted more originals which she reproduced as fine art prints, selling them briskly at the Pendleton Center for the Arts. Twice, Cannon walked away with the coveted People’s Choice Award at the center’s Open Regional Exhibit, and the demand for her work continued to increase. She then added greeting cards to her offerings.

Now working out of her house, which she uses as her work and storage place, Cannon explores the intricate detail and coloration of nature around her, concentrating on the big world of small things: birds, in their habitat; insects; spiders; flora; and the occasional snake. Her style is delicate, yet firm; accurate in detail; capturing the personality of her subject matter through its pose, or the expression upon its face. There is a sense of peacefulness far removed from sights and sounds and demands of a huge city.

“Looking back on my life in Tokyo, it was not for me anymore,” Cannon muses.  “Now, with my paintbrush, I am gently and slowly observing nature, including my life.”

Wenaha GalleryHiroko Cannon is the Art Event: Pacific Northwest Artist at Wenaha Gallery from November 17 through December 15, 2014. She joins Vancouver, WA, wood artist Craig Hardin at an artist’s reception Friday, November 28, 2014, at Wenaha Gallery during Dayton’s annual Christmas Kick-off.

Meet Cannon at the evening reception, from 4-7 p.m., and enjoy good company, fine art, and free refreshments at Wenaha Gallery’s historic downtown location, 219 East Main.

Contact the gallery by phone at 800.755.2124 or e-mail Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at

Wenaha Gallery,  located in historic downtown Dayton, Washington,  is your destination location for Greenwich Workshop Fine Art Prints, professional framing, and original fine art paintings and sculpture by notable Pacific Northwest artists.   Books, gifts, note cards, jigsaw puzzles, and more are also available. Visit at 219 East Main, Dayton; phone 509.382.2124; e-mail

This article was written by Carolyn Henderson.