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mountain sunrise photography landscape wessels galbreath

Photography in Action — By Gary Wessels-Galbreath

mountain sunrise photography landscape wessels galbreath

Rich colors in the clouds portend a magical day in the landscape photograph, Mountain Sunrise by Gary Wessels-Galbreath

A simple gift does more than tell the recipient that you care about them. Many times, that Christmas or birthday present sparks a response in the receiver that lasts far beyond the holiday.

This is what happened to Gary Wessels-Galbreath, who received a 110 Kodak Camera for Christmas when he was a teenager. The Olympia photographer and graduate of Dayton High School went on to complete his Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree, with an emphasis on photography, from Evergreen State College in Washington in 1985. He has been snapping, and shooting, and experimenting with both film and digital photography, as well as printmaking, ever since.

moss trees photograph light shadow wessels galbreath

Light, shadow, texture, silhouette — all work together in Moss on Limb, photography by Gary Wessels-Galbreath

“I enjoy ‘bending’ the rules that I am presented with and taking things a step further,” Wessels-Galbreath says, explaining that he works out of both his home studio and at community and university photo labs to produce his work. One of his experimental forays is cyanotype printing, high contrast images on paper, canvas, and metal, through solar printing in his front yard.

“I focus on landscape images for the most part,” Wessels-Galbreath says. “I attempt to allow viewer to see things they walk by every day without noticing the intricate details of the natural world.

“My hope is that they slow down, stop for more than a moment, and really see the beauty of nature.”

Slowing Down and Seeing the World

Slowing down, Wessels-Galbreath feels, is integral to seeing and understanding the world around us. That world is varied and changing, colorful and unusual. One thing it necessarily isn’t, however, is perfect, a message he tries to get across in the many photography workshops that he leads in the Olympia area.

highway 12 photography landscape farm dayton washington wessels galbreath

A graduate of Dayton High School in Dayton, WA, Wessels-Galbreath photographs his childhood town.

“Last year I worked with a group of 12 high school students collaborating on my American Crow series,” Wessels-Galbreath recalls.

“Each student was given a high contrast crow image and invited to create whatever inspired them.

“Of course I heard, ‘But I’m not an artist — what if I ruin it?’ I reminded them that we all have the ability and magic to create, and that in itself is art.

“All the images created in that workshop were beautiful. There are many more workshops that I have presented, but I really enjoyed that one.”

In addition to conducting workshops, Wessels-Galbreath also regularly participates in collaborative artistic gathering with photographers throughout the world. Through both these collaborations as well as sales, his photography has found collectors in Hawaii, New Mexico, California, Washington, New Zealand, and Canada. In 2018, his work was accepted into the International Juried Exhibition, Natural Studies of Wonder, at the Spectol Art Space in Bridgewater, VA.

Teaching Life, and Photography, by Example

american crow photograph silhouette wessels galbreath

Fascinated by crows, Wessels-Galbreath experiments with their shape and from in his photography.

That same year, Wessels-Galbreath received the “Teaching by Example” award from the Longhouse Educational and Cultural Center at the Evergreen State College. The award honors artists who have made significant contributions to their community.

With a day job as bulk foods buyer at the Olympia Food Co-op, Wessels-Galbreath volunteers three days each week at Evergreen, working with photography students. He wants to inspire them with the same sense of wonder he received upon opening that 110 Kodak Camera. That great big world out there, he believes, is worth exploring, seeing, celebrating, and capturing as artwork.

In that way, he believes, we share the wonder with those around us.

“I start by taking a long walk, and begin listening with my eyes.”

Wenaha GalleryGary Wessels-Galbreath is the featured Art Event at Wenaha Gallery from July 14 through August 7, 2020.

Contact the gallery, located at 219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA, by phone at 509.382.2124 or e-mail art@wenaha.com. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

 

 

Felted wool vessels and table runners by Sally Reichlin of Olympia

Fiber Finesse — The Felted Wool Art of Sally Reichlin

Felted wool vessels and table runners by fiber artist Sally Reichlin of Olympia

Felted wool vessels and table runners by fiber artist Sally Reichlin

When Sally Reichlin was a girl of four enrolled in her first art class, she had no idea that someday, she would have incredibly strong, well-shaped arm muscles — because of art.

“I’ve had instruction in drawing, painting, ceramics, sculpture, and printmaking,” the Olympia-based artist says, but it is her present focus, fiber arts, that doubles as a fitness workout.

Felted wool vessel by fiber artist Sally Reichlin of Olympia, WA

Felted wool vessel by fiber artist Sally Reichlin

Reichlin creates wall art, table runners, and three-dimensional vessels with roving, carded wool with short fibers that she overlaps by hand, in layers — three layers for flat pieces, six for vessels. With the flat pieces, she creates finished fabric by rolling and rotating the thoroughly soaked layers with a cylindrical tool.

Back and forth. Back and forth, for two to three hours. Two, or three . . . hours.

“Felting is an art that requires patience, and it can also be physically demanding,” Reichlin observes.

To create her three-dimensional vessels, Reichlin puts away the cylindrical tool and picks up an inflatable ball. After layering the roving in alternating directions over the ball, Reichlin covers the mass with tulle and nylon netting to keep the layers intact, then immerses it all in a hot bath of water and olive oil soap, where the ball is rubbed and rotated for . . . two hours, until the fibers mesh into fabric.

“Once the layers of netting and tulle are removed, the ball is deflated, and the piece now resembles the shell of the ball,” Reichlin explains.

“It has no defined shape at this point, and it basically looks like a flat, wet sock.”

Framed felted wool art piece by fiber artist Sally Reichlin

Framed, felted wool art piece by fiber artist Sally Reichlin

But not for long: Reichlin alternately stretches the newly formed fabric by hand, kneads it, and tosses it back into the hot water bath until she likes the shape. By this time, another two hours later, the piece has shrunk by 40 to 50 percent from where it started. Once the piece is dry, Reichlin embellishes it by sewing on, by hand, glass, stone, and/or semi-precious beads, a process which takes anywhere from one to five hours.

It is good that she is, as she describes herself, “slow and determined.” She is also experimental, valuing the process as much as the finished product, which is a major reason why she knows how to create such unique art pieces in the first place: she taught herself, through hours of poring through books, watching online videos, and just doing it.

“I look for ways to be challenged, to experiment and learn from my mistakes,” Reichlin says. “If I am not getting enjoyment from the process, I stop working on that particular piece and come back to it later.

“This gives me time to think about the direction I want to take and changes I might make.”

Felted wool vessel by Olympia fiber artist Sally Reichlin

Felted wool vessel by fiber artist Sally Reichlin

Selling her creations in galleries, gift shops, and at Olympia Arts Walk, Reichlin has clients throughout the Pacific Northwest, on the East Coast, and in Denmark. For the past 15 years, she has offered private and group instruction, and her home studio, a converted one-car garage, is a model of organization with six rows of 18″ x 18″ x 18″ cubicles spanning one wall. When she isn’t working on a felt piece (with larger works, directly on the floor), she is standing at the easel, painting on canvas. Throughout the day, she is moving, standing, lifting, rolling, and going above and beyond whatever minimum amount of time is recommended for a person to exercise.

It’s all a process: learning, discovering, doing, re-doing, observing, trying, questioning, and finessing, but for Reichlin, the process is as intricately linked to the finished art piece as the wool roving is meshed and merged together. One does not get the final work of art without all the hard work — physical, yes, but mental and creative as well.

“The one thing I feel most passionately about is the importance of process,” Reichlin reiterates.

“I place more value on the process than the finished product, because it has always been my greatest teacher.”

Wenaha GallerySally Reichlin is the featured Pacific Northwest Art Event artist from Monday, December 5, through Saturday, December 30.

Contact the gallery, located at 219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA, by phone at 509.382.2124 or e-mail art@wenaha.com. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

Wenaha Gallery is your destination location for Greenwich Workshop Fine Art Prints, professional customized 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 the gallery today!

This article was written by Carolyn Henderson.