Silent night, snowy day: Jordan and Govedare show new work at Greenbank Farm

  • Sat Dec 13th, 2008 12:08am
  • Life

“Temple Pot

Pete Jordan and Joan Govedare are married but go their separate ways when it comes to media.

But although his oil and watercolor paintings have nothing to do with her raku-fired pots, there is a common quality of silent serenity in both their bodies of work. Both artists are featured in a show at the Rob Schouten Gallery at Greenbank Farm through Feb. 4.

Not silent about her enthusiasm for these artists is gallery manager Victory Schouten.

“We are really thrilled to be able to show this outstanding new work by two of the Northwest’s most highly regarded artists,” Schouten said.

The Rob Schouten Gallery has been a champion of the work of guest artists since opening earlier this year.

The gallery is just a baby compared to the institutions on the Whidbey art scene that Govedare and Jordan have become; the couple has lived and created art here since the late 1970s.

Whidbey Island has been somewhat of a muse for the painter, whose body of work reveals his affinity for painting its year-round quiet beauty.

Silence works its way into Jordan’s work perhaps because he allows no noise in the compositions.

A self-taught master painter, Jordan once said that he prefers his paintings to remain silent, seeing the subject as the concrete idea on which a painting can be “hung.”

“This thing, the subject, is a tiny part of a painting, like content. I have no interest in using painting as a didactic tool. Some people think you should have something to say, but to me a painting is always silent,” he said.

Jordan’s new landscapes, whether in oil paint or watercolor, have a quiet drama with a compelling and familiar accessibility, such as the quiet resplendence of a snowy island road. He looks for and portrays subjects that are at once uncomplicated and at the same time accurate in their detail, Jordan said, and the viewer can feel the mood of each place.

Schouten agreed.

“Pete’s work quietly enters your bones and evokes a deep appreciation for the splendor of nature,” Schouten said.

Translating that splendor onto canvas is the tricky part.

“The lighting in my paintings is what people most often comment on,” Jordan said.

“I’m not drawn to the obvious scene, choosing instead that which is often overlooked: morning light on a road, shadows on a field, snow alongside a path.”

Jordan said he bases his work on a feeling that may turn into a person, a landscape or a jug. Objects are used as part of the formal consideration of a work.

But, with Jordan, what strikes the viewer first is his expertise with a brush. The execution of the craft makes every painting, no matter what its subject, compelling.

Equally compelling are the constellations that Govedare brushes onto her pots evoking the silvery silence of the night sky.

Govedare’s father, an astronomer, engendered in her an interest in the stars which remains a large influence in her work today. Govedare said that most of her pots, feature accurate constellations.

“I’ve always thought of spinning on a potter’s wheel as an apt metaphor for life,” Govedare said.

“Things go so much better if you start out properly centered. I try to create art that fosters the same peace of mind and sense of well-being I find when gazing at the starry night sky.”

She uses a fine-grained local white clay into which she carves designs after a piece is shaped and trimmed. Pine needles gathered in the nearby mountains fuel the raku firings and infuse the clay with a smoked, natural look. The final surface is hand painted and sealed.

Among the new pieces for the current show is one series of nine vases that explore an identical shape and design in ever-decreasing sizes.

She also shows her popular zodiac pots in the show, which feature the constellations that correspond with each of the twelve birth signs. Lidded vessels are readily available in this newest collection, as well as tiny star platters for those collectors on a budget.

The Rob Schouten Gallery is open in the winter from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays.

For more information, call the gallery at 222-3070 or Click here.