Monthly Archives: February 2010

CVG Show: Roy Peratrovich Jr.

Roy Peratrovich Jr. with his "Flight of the Raven" scuplture in Anchorage.

Peratrovich explains the lost wax method of casting while holding a cast of his father, Roy Peratrovich Sr.

Tools used for sculpting clay in Peratrovich's Bainbridge studio.

Plans for the base of a sculpture in Anchorage.

Roy Peratrovich Jr, with bronze busts of his mother and father.
Ken Griffey Jr.
A bronze sculpture of Mariners' fielder Ken Griffey Jr.

Roy Peratrovich Jr.

An artist who sculpts large pieces of public art can encounter obstacles. Finding the proper base material to support a heavy bronze sculpture, then welding dissimilar metals so that the piece doesn’t collapse over time are just a couple of the design problems a sculptor must solve. At times, it can seem more like the task of a bridge engineer than an artist.

It’s a good thing Bainbridge Island sculptor Roy Peratrovich Jr. is a retired bridge engineer. Peratrovich, an Alaska native, was a structural engineer for more than 40 years, working in both Washington and Alaska.

“Not too many people can do what I do, because I’m an engineer and an artist,” he said, explaining the complexities involved in hoisting the huge bronze raven he sculpted onto a 10-foot metal base.

This piece called, “Flight of the Raven,” was installed in Peratrovich Park in downtown Anchorage in 2008.

Yes, you read that right: Roy Peratrovich’s sculpture is in Peratrovich Park. The park is named after his parents, Elizabeth and Roy Peratrovich, who, as members of the Tlinget Indian tribe, fought discrimination against the native Alaskans that was common at the time.

Roy’s mother pushed through the first piece of anti-discrimination legislation in the country in 1945, long before Alaska officially became a state and before the U.S. civil rights movement began.

That’s something to be proud of. Peratrovich’s pride in his parents’ accomplishments is the focus of much of his work. Busts of Elizabeth and Roy Sr. grace the entrance of Peratrovich’s Bainbridge home, and a bronze of Elizabeth also sits in Alaska’s state capitol in Juneau; busts of both parents are in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.

Peratrovich reached back one more generation for the inspiration behind his piece “Whale Riders,” which won second place this month at the CVG Show for three-dimensional art.

“Whale Riders” was inspired by a story his grandfather told about a trip he took as a child on a war canoe to settle a dispute with a rival clan. His grandfather rode on the boat’s rocking bow for hundreds of miles in the rough waters off Alaska. The oral history might have ended there, but Roy cast it in bronze. He imagined what kind of dream state the rocking boat might put his grandfather into. He then began thinking about the boat being carried up and down across the sea on the back of a whale.

He had to research the kind of boat his grandfather would have taken that trip in. “The research is good because it gives my brain something to do,” he said.

Pertrovich has been retired since 1999, and the sculpting does keep his brain active. First he had to teach himself how to perfect working with the clay and learn the lost wax process of casting. He is self-taught in all that.

Then he had to figure out something that perplexes many 3-D artists — how to make the piece look interesting from every angle. “I put it off-kilter, making it look like it’s about to fall,” he said. “That gives it energy and excites you.”

As for the more than 40 years of civil engineering that morphed into a second career as a sculptor, Peratrovich says, “…the creative part is the most difficult. The right brain has a little trap door, which opens the creative process. You can get it open, then suddenly it closes on you.”

You can see more of Roy Peratrovich Jr.’s work at his Web site at

This is the last Artful Blogger post on artists whose work appears in the Collective Visions Gallery Show in Bremerton.

CVG Show: Eric Carson

Eric Carson at his Bremerton home.

Eric Carson has a great day job. He’s a gallery attendant, or “service representative” manager, at the Henry Art Gallery in Seattle.

It’s a job that involves a few hours of commuting from his downtown Bremerton house to the University of Washington’s art gallery. Carson wishes he had more time and space for painting large, but his hours on the ferry are productive. “I turn the ferry into my studio for two hours each day,” he said.

Instead of hauling around paint, canvas and easel, Carson works small on the boat. Small is descriptive of the size of the paper he inks. He has the ability to pack a universe onto a 10- by 6-inch piece of paper. He draws mandalas — those beautiful geometric circles of color that Buddhists and Hindus use as spiritual teaching tools.

“You look at my work and it’s very confusing and dense. But the more you look at it, the more you look at it,” he said.  That’s true. You can spend a lot of time pondering what he’s doing with religious symbolism. He uses Catholicism, Taoism, Celtic and American Indian icons, and says he’s, “…playing with the dichotomy.”

Carson acknowledges that his art expresses a personal spirituality, and he’s not out to hit anyone over the head with it. “I do it for myself, to work out my own problems,” he said.

Carson was raised Catholic in Seattle. He became interested in Eastern religions while he was at Central Washington University studying painting. “If I’m interested in something, I go at it.”

He claims his wife, Kristin Shiplet, keeps him grounded. “My wife is the best criticism I’ve got. She helps me walk the line between shoving art down your throat, and just stepping back.”

“I can’t tell you that I’m enlightened,” he said. But Carson’s art is enlightening. You can see more of it on Eric Carson’s Web site.

During February, The Artful Blogger will talk with some of the artists whose work is showing in the Collective Visions Gallery’s annual show. The show runs from Feb. 2 to Feb. 27. That doesn’t give enough time to highlight all the artists involved, but I will do my best to reach as many as possible. If you have any suggestions for The Artful Blogger, you can reach me at

Winners Announced

This list of winners of this year’s Collective Visions Gallery Show has been announced and posted on the CVG Web site. Kitsap Sun Arts & Entertainment writer, Michael Moore has the list of the award winners on his blog, too.

Kingston artist Priscilla Preus, whom I recently highlighted right here on The Artful Blogger, won the 2010 Purchase Award from the Kitsap County Art Board for her painting “Little Boston Welcome,” which was inspired by the S’Klallam canoe journey’s arrival in Little Boston.

Congratulations, Priscilla!

CVG Show: Priscilla Preus

Pricilla Preus at her Hood Canal home.

Along my journey to visit Kitsap’s most creative, I stopped at a home on the Hood Canal not far from Little Boston. With a view of the Hood Canal Bridge to the south, Port Ludlow to the north, and Olympic Mountains spanning south to north, the home sits in a sleeping garden near a tree with an osprey nest.

It’s the kind of paradise that a lot of artists might paint from their imagination; Priscilla Preus lives it. She tends the garden, watches the sunset over the mountains and observes the osprey next door. “This is a place that has not only a great view, but it still has animals — lots of them,” she says.

She spent years as an abstract painter, but lately those animals and the garden make up the lion’s share of Preus’ work as an artist. “I was always a gardener. I started painting my garden, florals and different kinds of plants,” she said. “We would walk on the beach and see foxes almost every day.”

Those walks on the beach show up in many of her paintings, as does the sun setting over the Olympics. The American Indian culture in nearby Little Boston also appears. Preus’ piece in this year’s CVG Show was inspired by the yearly S’Klallam tribal canoe journey.

Like the plants, animals and people of western Washington she chooses to paint, Preus is a native. The Silverdale house she grew up in was built in 1887. It didn’t have electricity or indoor plumbing. Her father later added those conveniences. Silverdale looks a lot different today, but that home still exists and remains in the family.

She graduated from Central Kitsap High School and went on to study art at Olympic College, then went to the University of Washington to get a BFA, a BA in psychology and an MA in counseling. She worked as a school counselor at Poulsbo Middle School, and Vinland and Breidablik elementary schools before retiring in 2005.

Preus continued painting during her career as a counselor, and in the 1990 she started a series she calls her “camp” paintings, depicting young eyes peering out from tangles of blackberry bushes. She said she was once asked in a class to draw her “safe place,” which inspired that series.

The camp series seems to be a crossroads where the artist meets the school counselor.

Like seasonal gardening, painting for Preus has natural cycles. “I first started painting abstract. In the 1980s, I started doing more representational work. Now I’m interested in painting abstract again.”

You can see more of Priscilla Preus’ work on her Web site:

During February, The Artful Blogger will talk with some of the artists whose work is showing in the Collective Visions Gallery’s annual show. The show runs from Feb. 2 to Feb. 27. That doesn’t give enough time to highlight all the artists involved, but I will do my best to reach as many as possible. If you have any suggestions for The Artful Blogger, you can reach me at

CVG Show: Caroline Cooley Browne

Caroline Cooley Browne in her Bainbridge Island studio.

An art professor I knew used to say that red is not a color, it’s an emotion.

No doubt, red is emotional. Put it next to its complement green, and red becomes so red that it can jump out of a chair. Caroline Cooley Browne knows how to make red jump out of a chair. Her pastels on paper are so full of emotion that she could easily paint the couch in Sigmund Freud’s Vienna office. Instead she choses to paint chairs from her Bainbridge Island studio.

The rich hues of oil pastels and the simple geometric shapes of her tables and chairs become an entire family of feelings and emotions. Spend some time talking with Cooley Browne, and you’ll soon realize how important community and family are to her. Whether she’s using pastels or weaving yak twine to make vessels, she’s busy building a community of similar objects where no two are exactly alike. A family. “I’ve always loved repeated units — it’s a theme of mine,” she said.

Part of the emotion in Cooley Browne’s work comes from grief. In 1982 when Browne’s brother died in an auto accident, she used a set of oil pastels that her sister gave her to work through her sorrow. The result was a series she calls The Hallway. “In some ways, something that’s real tragic can spur you into doing something with great depth,” she said. “My art became more internal, conceptual and meaningful,” she said. “Chairs became a metaphor for me, people, how we live together and interact.”

Later that sister gave her a small-frame loom. She began rag weaving rugs and pillows. But a couple of years ago, she started weaving three-dimensional baskets out of yak twine her husband brought home from Bhutan. Once again, she began to repeat the forms she was creating. Referring to her woven piece she calls The Hive, which you can see at tonight’s CVG Show opening, she said, “…after I started making a few, I thought I’d make a community.”

Cooley Browne also had a piece in the 2008 CVG Show and has shown her work at Bainbridge Arts and Crafts, the Bainbridge Library and other galleries both on Bainbridge and in Seattle. You can visit her Web site at

During February, The Artful Blogger will talk with some of the artists whose work is showing in the Collective Visions Gallery’s annual show. The show runs from Feb. 2 to Feb. 27. That doesn’t give enough time to highlight all the artists involved, but I will do my best to reach as many as possible. If you have any suggestions for The Artful Blogger, you can reach me at