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