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Wednesday, January 27, 1993 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Dual Exhibit Showcases Women Sculptors, Winners

"Washington Voices in Contemporary Sculpture" and Women's Caucus for Art 1993 Award Winners, on view through March 21 at the Bellevue Art Museum, 301 Bellevue Square, Bellevue. 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. 454-6021.

Two new shows at the Bellevue Art Museum are timed to coincide with the 1993 meeting of the Women's Caucus for Art, Feb. 2 through 5 at the Stouffer Madison Hotel. Associate curator Susan Sagawa brought together work by 11 women sculptors, to run concurrently with a small exhibit of art by six women the WCA named as 1993 National Award winners for distinguished achievement in visual arts professions.

Award-winning artists are: Seattle painter and printmaker Gwen Knight; San Francisco sculptor Ruth Asawa; New York sculptor and printmaker Nancy Graves; New Mexican weaver Dona Agueda Martinez; Dr. Shifra Goldman, Los Angeles art historian; and Oregon beadworker Emily Waheneka.

A sense of exploring nostalgia and looking inward permeates the sculpture show. Several of these artists say straightforwardly that the purpose of their art is to heal. As a group, they are less interested in making bravado statements than in objects as symbols.

Kathy Glowen stuffs her assemblages with map-covered eggs and miniature versions of the Venus de Milo. Both material and substance carry symbolic weight in Pamela Gazale's smooth spheres and hand tools, carved from colored salt blocks.

An air of reverence seems inherent in pieces such as Mary Van Cline's giant photo of a white-robed man meditating in front of a rock, and Barbara Slavik's "Offerings" - 30 plaster casts of hands, each holding an object symbolic of its model, emerging from the subject's baby picture overlaid with a giant fingerprint.

Patterns and light play strong roles in Kay Larson Watts' suspended silk panels and Jean Mandeberg's blocks and bowls covered with hammered and printed metal squares. The metal patterns are reminiscent of quilts.

Archaeology is on the minds of Norie Sato and Jill Reynolds. Sato mines the past, pairing videos of abandoned ruins with superimposed projections of human images. The overlaid images mesh with a soundtrack of wind and dropping stones. Reynolds evokes the sense of 20th-century objects unearthed from a bog a few centuries hence, with "mummified" versions of bicycles and other everyday items, made from cardboard, crushed and covered in dark wax.

Gloria Bornstein draws sharp contrast between direct experience and keeping one's self at a distance from it in her installation "Gauging." Viewers circle a long pane of glass onto which images of landscape passing outside a rain-streaked train window are projected - much the way an armored psyche might experience the world. The glass is surrounded by battered tin containers that hold chalk and chunks of an unidentifiable burnt substance, which invite touching and sniffing.

Sherry Markovitz, noted for her bead-encrusted animal heads, has moved on to more abstract shapes. She is represented here with sinuous, twisted gourds covered with beads inlaid with pigmented wax and grout. The forms snake out from the wall like plump plant tendrils.

The most cryptic piece in the show is Amanda Fin's "Lure." The 16-foot-long welded steel shape hangs from the ceiling like a plumb bob, nearly grazing the floor, with four hooklike arms curled straight up. Approach it and you break a light beam that triggers a motor, causing the piece to sway. It is dark and heavy enough that one's instinct is to give it a wide berth.

For information on the 1993 Women's Caucus for Art National Conference, call Ann Rosenthal at 783-3531.

Copyright (c) 1993 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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