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Jacci Lynn Butler's "Holy Trinity" at Browsers Book Shop

Untitled painting by Jacci Lynn Butler. Photo credit: Jacci Lynn Butler

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Jacci Lynn Butler's "Holy Trinity and Other Tales in Abstract" at Browsers Book Shop is this artist's first exhibition. When I visited, there were half a dozen small works on a couch waiting to be hung. In the staircase ascending to the upstairs gallery space were five small abstract paintings with flat geometric shapes in bright colors. Four of the five looked like Japanese flags, but in different colors: one in tones of blue, another in tones of green, and so forth. In each, the central circle was slightly off-center.

Upstairs, 16 larger paintings adorned the walls. Each consisted of patterns of geometric shapes. In the show announcement they were described as "conceptual abstract paintings -- universal symbols (circle, square, triangle) and patterns (that) communicate stories of freedom. Freedom from the belief of inherent sin. Freedom to honor the divine feminine in harmony with the masculine. Freedom to move about the physical and psychic realms of autonomy. Freedom of expression."

Only one of the paintings featured clearly recognizable subject matter, iconic human figure shapes superimposed over rectangular and checkerboard patterns, all the figures but one in black and white, the background in tones of blue. The central figure is feminine, red and larger than the others, which are smaller, black and white, and arranged in a pyramidal pattern as if she is the queen and they are her loyal subjects.

There is one other that is architectural, with a central tower in silver and gold, a golden sun at its peak, surrounded by squares that, in this context, look like stained glass windows. Everything else is more purely abstract. Many verge on being op art paintings with repetitive squares and circles and triangles visually advancing and receding in space. The balance in most is symmetrical, and the patterns in many are more complex than they appear at first glance.

An example of Butler's complexity within simplicity is one in which outer and inner squares of many colors recede toward the center, where there are large diamond shapes, and within these are many more smaller and smaller squares receding farther and farther in space.

One of my favorites, which is slightly different from all the rest, is a painting with hundreds of tiny squares in red, blue, black, gray, yellow, forming myriad almost random patterns, with smaller patterns of dots within each square. Everything is asymmetrical,  in contrast to the more symmetrical patterns of the other paintings, except for one perfect square at the center near the bottom with a blue cross balanced on its top right corner.

Part of the fun in carefully studying these paintings is finding the unexpected patterns within patterns.

Ten percent of all sales in this show will be donated to Safeplace, helping victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse.

"HOLY TRINITY AND OTHER TALES IN ABSTRACT," 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday-Saturday; 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday, through July 31, Browsers Book Shop, 107 Capitol Way N., Olympia, 360.357.7462,

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