- At Bainbridge Artisans Resource Network Gallery (BARN)
- In the Building’s Commons, Lower Floor (there are stairs and an elevator)
- 8890 Three Tree Lane NE
- Bainbridge Island, WA
- Bainbridge BARN / 206-842-4475
Not far off the beaten path on our island is the Bainbridge Artisans Resource Network, or BARN, just off New Brooklyn Road. The central gathering area of all the creative studios in the building is the C. Keith Birkenfeld Commons and gallery area. The Gallery mounts several exhibitions each year. This month the exhibition is “Threads of Connection” featuring the works of two weavers, Jason Devinney and Caroline Cooley Browne.
Devinney exhibits numerous scarves and several tapestries. The long scarves are beautifully displayed in and over open wood frames. It seems fitting really, as they are most certainly artworks, but artwork that can be worn, shown on the wall perhaps, and seen as kinetic art around town. While he is not fond of the terms “scarf” and “shawl,” he sees them both as just wearables that can be worn in many creative ways.
The incredible color combinations, he says, are simple for him, they are intuitive. He makes both tapestry and loom forms. The former relies on a “cartoon” (aka drawing) to follow, and the latter are a sequence of numbers that follow a specific pattern. Both can take a long time to set up, let alone complete. If the artwork is a commission, he especially enjoys making the connection with the person receiving the work.
“Along with the sensual excitement of color, texture and pattern, I embrace the act of weaving as a physical meditation,” he explains.
Devinney found his way to weaving after leaving the Navy as young twenty-something. While working his way into the food industry via busing and then waiting tables in Long Beach, California, he also used the offer of the GI Bill to take classes. Beginning with the basket weaving format, he passed a room filled with looms, took a look, started taking weaving classes…and never looked back.
He found his way to the Northwest, still working in the food industry, catering now, and to Bainbridge Island in 1991. Devinney is best known for his highly regarded Metro Market Café and Catering with his husband Robert Freitag. They sold Metro Market in late 2019, its last six years located at the Coppertop Park. It is sorely missed!
All the while he was working in the food business, he took occasional classes and wove at home. Now free from the business of the food industry, Devinney has become a well-regarded weaver, a foundational member of the BARN Fiber Arts Studio which opened in 2017. While he has taught some classes at BARN, with Cooley Browne, he is more comfortable acting as a mentor. And while he weaves at home, he enjoys the space and visitors who come by to chat about his work, or theirs. He has a large inventory of threads and yarns he has collected over the years, and his goal is to try to use them up. To do so he is beginning to double the size of his recent works, which should be a challenge and a joy.
In the BARN Gallery, you also will discover Caroline Cooley Browne’s exhibit of work from her long-term series of sculptural textiles forms. These take a book form and a vessel form. Both tell a story of connection, of family and community, and transitions. Some are exhibited as singular sculptural forms. “Her Early Years” is about her artist mother. In book form, it works as a figurative expression as a book of chapters of her life to be sensed and savored.
Cooley Browne is a well-known artist having not only exhibited and taught locally at BARN, Bainbridge Arts and Crafts and in several Bainbridge Island Museum of Art exhibitions (and in their permanent collection) but nationally. A painter as well as a fiber artist, each medium feeds the other, allowing her works to better express herself.
Some vessels are individual forms, and are intriguing, such as the red wrapped wire vessel “Nested Red Vessel: Untitled.” These sculptures all have an informality to them, a relaxed to frazzled to simply calm in demeanor as if they reflect how people are, how life is. It is also good to be able see the grouping of vessels on exhibit. “A Growing Community” seems like it could be a manifestation of the BARN Community itself, many individual stories coming together. It could at least be the seed that Cooley Browne, and Devinney, along with Deb Sweet and Amy Weber, all textile artists, have been central in helping shape the BARN Fiber Arts Studio, inviting in the curious community wanting to learn, share and teach the many forms under the large umbrella of “textile art.”
CLICK HERE TO READ OTHER FIRST FRIDAY FOCUS & EBB and FLOW ARTICLES BY BILL
Ebb & Flow: Tracy Lang
ABOUT BILL BARAN-MICKLE: 2020 Island Treasure Awardee. Recently, Bill has enjoyed exhibiting in several international art biennial exhibitions. Of the three in which he has participated, he won Third Place for Sculpture from the European Confederation of Art Critics in the Chianciamo Biennale, at the Chianciano Art Museum in Italy in 2011, and First Place in Applied Arts in the London Biennale of 2013. In 2013 alone, he will have participated in eight exhibitions: from London to a two-person exhibition near home. In addition, Bill was asked to be a representative for CCAC’s exhibition celebrating 100 years of the Metals Department, and a mix of group shows in New York City, Miami, Seattle and Las Vegas. Bill is the designer of the 10 foot Equitorial Bowstring Sundial located at the Richie Observatory in Battle Point Park on Bainbridge Island, WA and completed in 2015.