Wordless Stories

Big and Small Works By Artists From Around Here


Twelve renowned and accomplished Vashon artists whose contemporary paintings and sculptures are deeply rooted in the Pacific Northwest will show their work at Vashon Center for the Arts Koch Gallery through the month of November.  Gallery visitors will have the chance to view works by Victoria Adams, John Anderson, Mark Bennion, Cris Burch, Jack Chevalier, Jean Emmons, Scott Fife, David Kroll, Eric Nelson, Hans Nelson, John Overton and Julie Spiedel.

Island artist Mark Bennion curated the show that opens on Thursday, Nov. 1, with an artists’ reception and on Friday, Nov. 2, for the First Friday Gallery Cruise.
A closing party entitled Fantastic Ekphrasis, Poetry Inspired by the art of Wordless Stories, slated for Thursday, Nov. 28, will include readings by local poets and curated by Vashon poets Cal Kinnear and Susan Lynch.

The Genesis of Wordless Stories
The exhibit is the brainchild of longtime Vashon artist, Mark Bennion.  He chose artists whose art give voice to various interpretations of modern and ancient cultural influences and/or the ongoing dialogue between the natural world and humankind. Says Bennion, “The title comes from a line in an essay written for a show I did at the Museum of Northwest Art. I always liked the line because paintings and sculptures are wordless stories.”

Bennion, who first moved to Vashon in 1968, also wanted to display the work of local artists whose focused dedication over many years allowed their talent to mature and eventually become celebrated both locally and globally.

“The artists all hung in there,” Bennion said. “It took a lot of hard work, but they kept at it. You have to have thick skin, be tenacious, and get your work out there. It means taking a risk.”

That risk, he added, comes hand-in-hand with numerous rejections before acceptances begin to roll in. Bennion smiles when recalling his own stack of 50 early rejections slips and then turns somber when recounting 20 years of building boats in Seattle by day and painting in his studio by night. His diligence and determination eventually led to successful shows throughout the United States and Europe.

“I just didn’t give up,” he said. “And, I want to encourage other island artists to stay with it, to keep developing their work and putting it out there, whether it’s accepted or not.”

During the month-long show, Vashon poets are invited to compose verses in response to the work, a process referred to as “Ekphrasis,” from a Greek term meaning the description of a work of art produced as a rhetorical exercise, most often as a dramatic, verbal description of a visual work of art.

Says Cal Kinnear, former Vashon Poet Laureate, “Ekphrastic poems are fantastic because they bounce the light off the art in perceptive, nuanced language, adding another layer of depth and emotion. This show, by its very title—Wordless Stories Big and Small… is a natural fit for this style of writing. It gives island poets a chance to interact with island painters, adding words to wordless stories. VCA is serving the community in fine fashion with ideas like these.”

Poetry Submission guidelines:
Poems should not exceed one page and must be submitted in PDF form (so your fonts don’t go wonky) by midnight, Sunday November 19th.
Attach your PDF(s) to an email addressed to both susan.lynch@goddard.edu and calkinnear@gmail.com with EKPHRASTIC in the subject line.
Be sure to note on your PDF which artwork inspired the piece.