PAINTINGS, AND IN A CORNER – Janet Laurel, left, and Barbara Silverman Summer have been painting in La Conner for a long time. They came together, now, for Rebecca Strong’s inaugural art exhibit at her new art center, The LUX, at 603 Morris Street. – Photo by MaryRose Denton
The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.” — Pablo Picasso It is a rainy, Sunday afternoon. The sky is the color of metal but there is one place along Morris street that stands out, lit up with its colorful pots of cheerful flowers and its turquoise trimmed porch. It is The LUX, the new arts center at 603 Morris Street. Rebecca Strong, its creative director, is getting ready for a new art opening. She assists the two local artists, Janet Laurel and Barbara Silverman Summers, hang their paintings for their opening this weekend with the year’s last Art Walk. Their exhibit will run from Saturday to Nov. 20. It will be an integral part of Arts Alive, Nov. 9-11. “Arts Alive is our annual ‘art festival’ that celebrates what La Conner has to offer artists and art collectors”, Strong explains as she sits down in her vintage, high back chair. With the natural lighting from the picture window behind her illuminating the room, she continues, “We have incredible artists in various art mediums that are showcased here in La Conner all year around. This is an art celebration that involves the whole town and its art merchants”. Strong chairs the La Conner Arts Commission and coordinates this year’s Arts Alive festival. Her vision is to see the vital art scene of the Skagit Valley soar, extending into Whatcom and Snohomish counties. She begins by showcasing two extraordinarily talented artists, each very well accomplished in their art. Janet Laurel stands examining her large-scale pieces as she explains the Sumi technique she uses. With its sweeping, shaded lines she feels this provides the perfect medium for her intense visions. Perfect it is too, because to look on her paintings in their earthy, softly muted colors, is to witness her visions of the world with an ethereal beauty that certainly washes away the dust from daily life. Her work has been shown in galleries across the country and Europe, with collections in both the Frye and Seattle Art Museums. She says: “The power and beauty of our universe in relationship to myself, gave me a different scale and sense of movement. This relationship of universal images combined with the emotional impact of the subconscious is what I paint and how I live.” Complimenting Laurel’s pieces are the works by Silverman Summers, which are stunningly bold both in design and color. They are “the expression of beauty and joy I find in life,” she says. This sentiment emotes through the canvas, acrylics expressing various moods of nature and landscapes. “Each painting is a journey, it has its own path,” she explains. “I am in constant struggle between spontaneity, quickness of strokes and balancing all that energy with oneness, harmony and minimal statements. I strive to create unique images, that are personal yet universal.” Her work captures that connection of the inner self to the outer world with rich colors and strong imagery. These two collections balance each other as yin and yang, each with its own innate beauty and inner strengths. It is a showcase not to be missed. Strong’s vision, and The LUX as a visual and performance art center, began with one simple question her fiancée, Bob Jacobson asked her, after one month of dating. “What are your dreams for the rest of your life?” Her dream was clear: “To live a creative life. To have a place to exercise multiple art forms, from dance, poetry and acting to visual art”. Strong has begun that dream. She has opened The LUX and is showing a high caliber of artists. During the summer months, starting the Sunday before Memorial Day, Strong runs the non-profit outdoor concert series La Conner Live, furthering her passion and quest for a creative life.