written by Diane Colvin and Vicki Saunders
“The Night Sky” exhibit at Bainbridge Arts and Crafts January 2-February 3
BPAA member David Warman’s astrophotographs are now gracing the windows of Bainbridge Arts and Crafts on Winslow Way. Well-placed and displayed, the photographs in turn display the skill and experience of the photographer. The images include six Messier objects: the Lagoon Nebula (M8), the Wild Duck Cluster (M11), the Swan Nebula (M17), the Dumbbell Nebula (M27), the Whirlpool Galaxy (M51), and the Ring Nebula (M57), as well as a spectacular moon image, “Snow Moon.”
These images are part of BAC’s exhibit “The Night Sky.” BAC encouraged the artists to “to reveal the mystery and beauty of the night sky.” To the eyes of amateur astronomers, David Warman’s photographs do that, but the other works in the exhibit? Not so much. There is a gulf between amateur astronomy’s information-driven ideas of the sky and these artistic allusions and re-creations.
Only one work in the exhibit recreates a night sky recognizable to an amateur astronomer. “Seattle Galactic,” a photograph by Ken Brookner, is a 54″ long panorama of the Seattle skyline at night. The title likens the city to a galaxy. The element, we are sad to say, that attracts the amateur astronomer’s eye is the vivid sky glow above the cityscape: quite lovely in the photograph, but grim reminder of the light pollution that blocks our view of actual galaxies.
The works are not about astronomy, any more than a floral-patterned wallpaper is about botany. Astronomers may find some of the off-hand references to the sky off-putting. There are starry skies here that look more like spatter-painting than actual skies and works that refer to astronomical ideas and instruments but lack the precision, beauty, and craft of the source material, and sometimes misunderstand it.
However, that is not to say there is nothing to interest astronomers. “Night Writer,” by Gennielyn Martin, spins on the story-telling, moody, and creative aspects of the night. In “Nomad,” by Jeff Bruce, words and spiral forms surround a human figure. Words imbedded in the work describe “within the turbulence a spontaneous self emergent.” The shapes and words connect the birth of self to the formation of planets, stars, and galaxies.
Many pieces in the show evoke the complexity, age, and depth of the human relationship with the night sky, a relationship that lies at the heart of astronomy, and astronomers.
You can see these works in paint, collage, digital media, mixed media, and photography until February 2 at 151 Winslow Way E. (206) 842-3132 Mon-Sat 10:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. Sun 11a.m.-5 p.m. www.bacart.org.