Local artist show opens April 1
By Carrol Pantages
Blaine artist Jano Argue has been busy these past few weeks getting ready for her first major show in the area. It begins Friday night with a 6 p.m. artist’s reception at the Lucia Douglas Gallery, 1415 13th Street in Fairhaven.
Argue works out of a studio that she’s created by remodeling the garage behind her small Peace Portal Drive bungalow. She inhabits the full spectrum of the color wheel in her home and in her artwork, seeking to re-create the bright Mediterranean atmosphere of crimson reds, corals and yellows reminiscent of her life changing sojourn at an artists’ retreat in Spain 11 years ago.
The artist’s collection of dark wooden aboriginal figures, bowls, animals, Tibetan cupboards and Chinese trunks pop against the tropical background. Chinoiserie fabrics drape the windows. The effect is stunningly original and inviting.
In her backyard studio she paints a vibrant and fantastic world of landscapes vividly punctuated by the hot pink flesh tones of scantily dressed people involved in a variety of everyday activities.
In The Skaters, several rosy nude figures cavort, twirl and perform acrobatics on a frozen river. The background is predominantly turquoise and aqua with mauve highlights. On a bridge that curves across the canvas from left to right a lone figure fully dressed in a dark suit, hands in pockets, seems to observe passively.
Skater is a provocative portrait of an androgynous figure dressed in a diaphanous white bikini costume, teetering on one foot with arms held rigidly out to the side.
In a narrative style reminiscent of New York heavyweights Eric Fischl and Sue Cole with a dollop of Edward Munch (The Scream), Argue invents a rich dreamlike landscape full of metaphor, subconscious desire and psychological reflection.
Argue has been painting her inner human comedy since the early 1970s when she was a fixture in the Seattle art scene, exhibiting in such avant garde venues as the Penryn Gallery, The Center on Contemporary Art, and later at the Mia Gallery in Pioneer Square.
A well-known figure in the Bellingham arts community, Argue moved to Blaine a little over a year ago. An important part of her new location, she said, is to be able to see and smell the ocean as well as hear the frequent trains that rumble past, a connection with her childhood.
She’s been painting and selling her work since high school. She later traveled extensively, at one point running off with a clown to join the circus. All of this life experience informs and colors her work, and talking with her about it is almost as much fun as doing it yourself.
Argue’s show at the Douglas runs through April 23. Normal hours, after the reception Friday night, are Wednesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Phone 733-5361 for more information.