Spirited away: Brackenwood exhibit reflects on booze

There is only a little to see and much to experience in Brackenwood Fine Arts Gallery’s new exhibit, “Spirits,” launching today through February.

This series of oil paintings of drinks by Jason Waskey will be featured in Brackenwood Fine Arts Gallery’s new exhibit

There is only a little to see and much to experience in Brackenwood Fine Arts Gallery’s new exhibit, “Spirits,” launching today through February.

The paintings themselves are sparse: A single high curved glass of wine, a rocks glass with three fingers of whiskey, or a crystal-clear martini, olives properly speared. Maybe there is a glass and a partly empty bottle. For most of the 22 paintings that will be shown, that’s it.

“It’s the celebration of libations,” said gallery co-owner and artist Jason Waskey.

“My interest is in the soul and the spirit of the drink itself,” he added.

Then there’s the star of the show. “The Old Dog” by Ryan Grossman shows the partly rusted metal sign of the Dog House Tavern, which is mere steps away from the gallery’s door on First Street in Langley. Hung prominently in direct eyesight from the door, the oil painting doesn’t feature a single drop of booze, though its subject certainly saw uncounted gallons move through its taps and spouts.

Anyone wanting to make a bid on the $1,200 painting is out of luck. It sold before the gallery even opened its exhibit after an unidentified woman saw it from the sidewalk, walked in while the gallery was technically closed and made an offer to buy it.

“Literally, the person who bought it would not be denied,” Waskey said.

All of the works, though simple in their visual offering, are evocative. The Dog House Tavern is iconic, and is a symbol of the spirit of Langley and a time gone by now that the old watering hole has been closed for years. Waskey’s paintings of single glasses, most of which are on a black-field background, pull viewers into wondering and considering the person who ordered the vodka martini with two olives — not three — or who poured themselves a few fingers of scotch and sat by the windowsill that is the backdrop of the piece.


“They are little, tiny portraits of what we’ve all come to think of,” Waskey said.

Waskey, Grossman, Sandy Byers and Cary Jurriaans are the artists whose works are on display in the featured exhibit this coming month. Jurriaans created a pair of Waskey’s favorite pieces in the exhibit, one featuring several corks, and another of a glass of whiskey next to a bottle of Clinton-based Cadée Distillery’s finest. Waskey praised the story, colors and composition.

But just like the woman who was drawn to “The Old Dog,” so too was Waskey. It was his favorite piece in the exhibit because of how it departed from the theme in a clever and relevant way, telling a story with a simple image, looking up at the overhanging metal sign that welcomed thousands of thirsty patrons.

The perspective of the painting makes sense for Grossman. His mother, Kären Grossman, once owned the tavern before it was sold in 1985 to Pete Jacobs. At the time, Kären Grossman said her son was about 5 years old. The Dog House stuck with him into adulthood.

“The first thing he did after he turned 21 was go inside and buy a beer,” she laughed.

“Ryan captured the spirit of the place he grew up that is so iconic,” she added.

The opening coincides with the city’s biggest opening at Museo, just a block away, and its exhibit theme of Mardi Gras, the Carnival celebration leading up to Ash Wednesday. The holiday was made famous in the United States by the riotous celebrations in New Orleans.

Hosting a celebration of libation, as Waskey said, was a way to have an opening “worthy” of Museo. The schedule also made sense because it came on the heels of the holiday season, a popular time for spirits both liquid and ethereal.

“It seems like a good time, before Lent hits — it’s the last days of the dark,” Waskey said.

“Winters on South Whidbey can be a little wet, a little gray, a little dreary,” he added.

The “Spirits” opening will be accompanied by a departure from Brackenwood’s normal fare. Instead of offerings from Whidbey’s wineries, the gallery will feature tastings by Brownrigg Hard Cider out of West Seattle and Cadée Distillery.

 

More in Life

Audubon society to award monies to seniors

Whidbey Audubon Society is awarding scholarships to graduating Whidbey Island High School… Continue reading

Greenbank man has big cats on view

Greenbank resident John Lussmyer’s fridge is stocked with pounds upon pounds of… Continue reading

Susan Jensen drew creatures big and small and other sea world scenes for her book on global warming.
Kids’ books with big people issues

Susan Jensen draws the thaw of global warming

Longtime Greenbank resident turning 100

Greenbank resident Ruth “Frankie” Johnston is celebrating her 100th birthday on Jan.… Continue reading

South Whidbey remembers Martin Luther King Jr.

For St. Augustine’s parishioner Dick Hall, the words of Martin Luther King… Continue reading

Langley councilman receives key to the city, recognition

Langley City Councilman Thomas Gill’s service to the city over the past… Continue reading

Binoculars, birds and keeping tabs on Whidbey’s habitat

Whidbey’s Audubon annual count adds up for conservation

Campbell wins ‘Very Merry Giveaway’ contest, $1,000 prize

Debra Campbell won the 2017 Very Merry Giveaway and a $1,000 prize… Continue reading

Half dozen businesses win prizes in contest

Six Langley businesses were winners of $500 prizes in the Langley Main… Continue reading

Marine detachment delivers toys, bikes to Holiday House

Members of Col. Richard “Buck” Francisco Marine Corps League Detachment 1451 made… Continue reading

South Whidbey artists go from competing pool players to contemporaries

In an area with so many artists and creative types, it’s not… Continue reading

‘Tis the season for Whidbey wreaths to go round

Holly farms and loving hands create bountiful decor