Until October 27, the Bellevue Arts Museum is hosting a 50-year retrospective of the work of Northwest ceramic artist Patti Warashina. Aptly entitled Wit and Wisdom, the show traces the many twists and turns of Warashina's art; a variety of themes that the exhibit brochure nicely sums up: "the human condition, feminism, car-culture, the environment, political and social topics, as well as the perception and impact of such issues within the art world." But within all this variety, two things remain constant: Warashina's originality and her sly humor.
Early on, Warashina rebelled against the prevailing Abstract Expressionism of the time, as well as what she has referred to as the "machismo and muscular sculptures" being created by her male colleagues. And in that period, the majority were male. Her work stood out be being both figurative and feminist.
Perhaps the most ambitious example of her figurative work remains on display at the Seattle Convention Center but is referenced in the Bellevue show. A Procession presents 72 recognizable small figures of Seattle artists. Since that piece, her figures have become larger, some even larger than life size. Some of the most recent feature female nudes adorned with geometric shapes of color that recall both harlequins and Mondrian.
Warashina's wit and wisdom reside even in her titles: Gossipmongers, Real Politique, Air Apparent, The Drunken Power Series.
The exhibit is accompanied by a brochure with an interview with Warashina, plus audio commentary for visitors with cell phones. For information on museum hours and driving directions, click here http://www.bellevuearts.org/