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Visual Edge: New artists at Matter

Show features several excellent artists

“Almost Joan Again,” mixed media on galvanized metal, by Mark Randall. /Photo courtesy of Matter Gallery

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Among the new artists showing at Matter in Olympia are Mark Randall, Steven Suski, Rachel Juzeler and Lita Kenyon. Suski is certainly not new to Olympia, but he has some new works in Matter that are exciting. They are paintings of rock stars in acrylic on long play vinyl records. Among the musicians pictured are Curt Cobain, Pete Townsend of the Who, and Joey Ramone. They are not precise portraits but rather highly expressive paintings with heavy paint application - a style in keeping with the raw stylings of the musicians. Cobain is playing his guitar while a winged angel stands behind him.

Randall, who has been chosen to do the cover illustration for the Olympia Film Festival, has a large group of pop art paintings, mostly of women including some pop celebrities from the '60s, the heyday of pop art. Interestingly, although the colors and the subject matter and the straight-forward compositions are hallmarks of pop, his paint application is defiantly rough and expressive. Rather than the sleek and machine-like look expected of such imagery, Randall's paintings look like old and worn signs that could have been out in the weather since Bridget Bardot and Twiggy were hot young stars.

Rachel Juzeler, an artist from Alaska, creates kiln-formed and cast glass tools assembled with wood, metal, and fiber details. She says she is inspired by the antiquity and ruins of her surroundings. She is showing a collection of glass and wood hammers, files and hatchets, each displayed on a mesh screen within an old frame. Although recognizable tools that are still commonly in use, they look like antiques. They also remind me quite a bit of the great pop artist Jim Dine, who coincidentally now lives at least part-time in Walla Walla.

Kenyon (whose works are so new to Matter that they have not yet been added to the gallery website) is showing a couple of very sensitive figure studies with lyrically smooth contour lines and delicate shading offset with collage elements such as words glued in as in a cut-and-paste ransom note. These are beautifully executed drawings that, in yet another interesting coincidence, look a lot like some of Jim Dine's drawings.

Representing more than 100 artists, Matter specializes in but is not limited to works with recycled materials. Perhaps Suski best epitomized the Matter philosophy with his statement: "I like to find too. Things on the street, stuff that might be thrown away, or the objects that I collect, I find an artistic use for. The magic of making something from nothing or putting separate parts together to make a unique whole is what fuels my art."

Matter Gallery, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday and Tuesday, closed Monday, 422 Washington St. SE, Olympia, 360.943.1760

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