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Papercuts, pastels and prints

Four featured artists at Childhood's End

“Once I was a baby blue convertible,” linoleum block print by Mimi Williams. Photo courtesy Childhood's End Gallery

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I have been following Sherry Buckner's art, mostly in shows at Childhood's End, for well over 20 years. Her latest serigraphs and pastels might be her best yet. There are two groups of these works in the current show. On the first group of panels as you enter the gallery is a small sampling of landscapes in pastel. These are soft, muted and misty, predominantly light gray, with accents of subdued color here and there - a hint of blue sky peeking out from behind clouds, some rust-red bushes in the foreground. They remind me of seascapes by JMW Turner or of Monet's paintings of the Saint-Lazare train station, but without the drama and turbulence of either. These are quintessential Pacific Northwest landscapes filled with mist and clouds, soft modeling and a minimum of detail.

They are delicate and restful and quite lovely. A typical example is "Mist in the Clearing," in which the mist is so heavy that viewers can barely make out what appears to be a body of water with trees on the far shore and tall bushes or grasses in the foreground. In the water (I believe it is water; it is almost like a desert mirage) there are some hazy white lines that look like reflections of tree trunks or posts on what might be an old pier. It is almost an optical illusion with movement created by reflections in the glass from cars passing by on 4th Avenue outside the gallery - an unexpected accident that adds to the mystery of an already veiled image.

Her other works comprise a set of seven serigraph landscapes. These are not as impressionistic as the mist-shrouded landscapes. They are more like pop art landscapes with broad swathes of land, water and sky in muted but clear colors, mostly flat with very little modeling. Where there is modeling, it looks almost like spray paint.

The other three featured artists are showing work that is more decorative. They could be illustrations for picture books.

Yoshinko Yamamoto and Mimi Williams are each showing wood and linoleum-cut block prints. Yamamoto's prints are landscapes and bunches of fruits and vegetables drawn with heavy black lines and colored in with flat areas of color.

Williams' are similar but drawn in an almost cartoon style. She is showing landscapes and scenes with people and animals. Examples are "Stout Friends," a visual play on words depicting two elderly gentlemen at a bar drinking beer, and "Dance Party," a colorful and delightful scene of a dance with strung lanterns and an accordion player in the foreground. Her most enjoyable pictures are "Heaven is Blue," an almost abstract image of a window on a wall with printed wallpaper looking out onto an expanse of blue, and a picture of two cars on a mountain road with a title taken from a Lucia Perillo poem, "Once I was a baby blue convertible."

The final artist in the show is Aki Sogabe, represented by papercut drawings, some with people or animals in natural environments and some of recognizable PNW scenes. I like her integration of moody black, white and gray with happy colors such as in "Cat Nap 17." This one pictures a Japanese-style house with a rock pathway and a white cat sleeping on the walk. In the sky and on the ground is a sprinkling of tiny pink blossoms.

There are also some terrific raku pots with glazes of wonderfully dark purple and rust colors by Robert Ellert, an Oregon artist.

Sherry Buckner, Aki Sogabe, Mimi Williams and Yoshiko Yamamoto, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday-Saturday; 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday, through April 23, 222 Childhood's End Gallery, Fourth Ave. W., Olympia, 360.943.3724, childhoods-end-gallery.com

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