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Thursday, November 12, 1992 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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`Betty Bowen Legacy': She'd Love This Show Of Award Winners

"The Betty Bowen Legacy: Fourteen Years of Award-Winning Art" Opening 5 to 8 o'clock tonight (to Jan. 24). Security Pacific Gallery, 1100 Second Ave. at Seneca St. 585-3200. 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, until 8 p.m. Thursday, and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.

Anyone who wants to feel good about the depth of rich artistic talent in the Northwest could do no better than to see the show that opens tonight at the Security Pacific Gallery. It contains work by 30 artists: 14 annual winners of The Betty Bowen Award, plus 16 artists singled out over the years for "special recognition" - a sort of runner-up prize.

Bowen, who died in 1977, was a patron and friend to many Seattle artists. After her death, friends established a memorial fund in her name to continue the financial encouragement to emerging artists that she practiced all her life. Winners get an unrestricted award of $6,000.

With 100 artworks in the show, the Security Pacific Gallery couldn't have shoehorned in one more painting. Curator Chase Rynd chose one work by each special recognition winner and three or more by each award winner. He attempts to show how the Betty Bowen Award influenced them by showing one piece done early in the artist's career, one from the year of the award, and a new creation. Some are very new indeed. The paint was still wet on Joan Blaedel's "Water Scroll III" when it went on the gallery wall.

This year's winner is Amanda Fin. Her sculptures, made with industrial materials, are strong and simple. A trio of towering black steel stalks topped with black bulbs are terse, sinewy expressions of form.

Luke Blackstone, who won a special-recognition award this year, is represented by a giant Rube Goldberg contraption that whirs and churns to trigger a computer that jiggles an arm that ever so slowly pushes a piece of paper from a stack until it drops to a position where it will be sucked up a tube to be chewed up by a fan blade and spit out the top, to litter the floor. Blackstone titles it "Tumult," and makes no claims for political analogy. But he could.

With so many gifted artists in the show, it's impossible to do more than hit the highlights in the space allotted here. Charles Stokes, the first award winner in 1979, makes a a rare and welcome appearance. His arcane circuitry of line is looking more subtle and refined than ever. Joseph Goldberg, 1980 winner, is represented with a group of dazzling encaustics.

Probably no award would have been more satisfying to Bowen than the special-recognition awarded in 1980 to Leo Kenney, an artist she long admired and befriended. One of Kenney's vibrant mandalas is in the show.

Jeffrey Bishop, 1982 winner who hasn't exhibited his work for the past couple of years, brings "Tristope," fresh from his studio, as painterly testimony to the benefits of freedom from the pressure to finish work to a deadline. George Chacona, 1987 winner, added a giant new lacquer portrait of Lee Harvey Oswald to his 1979 series of 10 small Oswald photoetchings on metal.

Copyright (c) 1992 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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