Three Whidbey artists delve into the past

Paul McClintock’s oil on frescoe panel entitled “Still the Water Sang” will be one of the pieces on display at the Front Room Gallery Oct. 24 through 29.

Think of the number three.

Think of the circles it represents.

Mind/body/spirit. Past/present/future. Art/science/religion.

It is understandable that three was considered a sacred number in ancient Celtic mythology and religion.

The triskel, a figure composed of three spirals, signifies the three-layered nature of a human soul, and is itself a central figure in ancient Celtic symbolism.

It is decidedly apt then that a “triskel” of local artists, all of British descent, bare their Celtic-inspired souls through art in “Celtic Mysteries / in-between states: The merging of the spiritual, physical and imaginative planes” in the Front Room Gallery at the Bayview Cash Store Oct. 24 to 29.

In celebration of “Shamhuinn,” the Celtic new year, artists Susanne Newbold, Paul A. McClintock and Sandra Whiting spiral their collective spirits and visions together to present a show featuring hand-pulled monotypes, gourd vessel art, mixed-media and oil paintings.

McClintock has been dreaming of such a show for awhile and has been working hard for the past year to see it come to fruition.

“My inspiration for this show came about after a recent trip to Scotland and a strong interest in my Scottish heritage,” he said.

“The Celts were a mysterious people and even referred to by the Greeks as ‘keltoi’ or ‘the hidden people.’”

McClintock said they chose the fall season for the show not only to celebrate Shamhuinn, which honors the end of summer and shows a gratefulness for the harvest, but it also represents what the Celts saw as a halfway state or a passage from one world to the next.

McClintock said because this theme of the connection between the physical and spiritual worlds is so important to Celtic mythology, he wanted to examine individual ideas and interpretations of how these spiritual and physical planes meld.

One of his oil paintings is tellingly entitled “Wisdom of Our Ancestors.” McClintock, perhaps subconsciously nudged by the sacredness of the number three, asked fellow artists Whiting and Newbold to join him on his quest.

Whiting is of Scottish and English heritage and feels a strong connection to the same impetus of spirituality that the ancient Celtic people had when she creates something.

“Much of my art deals with ancient civilizations and the spiritual union with nature that many ancient cultures contemplated and/or worshipped,” she said.

She is fascinated by the idea of an “in-between” state or the passage from one world to the next.

“Two years ago, I did a series of landscapes, all from my imagination,” she said.

The landscapes repeatedly included standing stones, monoliths, abstract skylines and tall, stick-like shapes; landscapes that bare a striking resemblance to the scenery of Britain, she said.

“No photos were used for any references. Also, I have never been to the British Isles,” she added.

While McClintock was showing her photographs he took while in Scotland, one photo jumped out at her.

“It was the exact image that I had painted numerous times in that series,” Whiting said.

“I am overwhelmed by them,” Whiting said of the stones in her paintings.

“Participating in this show gives me the opportunity to explore the many aspects of this ancient culture, perhaps discover it’s unique meaning for me in a visual manner.”

Newbold, whose ethnicity is Irish and English, creates gourd-vessel art which, if you had to describe its origin without knowing, you might say it was Celtic. It was the Irish who first hollowed out gourds and turnips to create jack-o-lanterns on All Hallow’s Eve.

Newbold sees the gourd as the perfect canvas for Celtic symbols, knots and animal imagery often found in the cultural canon of the Celts.

“Some of the symbols on my gourds represent a sign of balance, the equinoxes, the three powers of the maiden, mother and crone; power through transition and growth. The sacred animals portrayed also carry spiritual meaning,” Newbold said.

She said she is intrigued by the enigmatic nature of the Celtic people, which inspires her to transform the literal symbols and create her own mysteries by adding new twists and turns to the Celtic knots, introducing new colors to the sacred animals and embellishing the gourds with natural and found objects.

It is the intent of these three artists to present a window into a mysterious and gorgeously-cultured civilization that continues to shape the dreams and ideas of life today.

The show starts at 10 a.m. Friday, Oct. 24 with an opening night reception from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. The show continues from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Wednesday, Oct. 29.

For more info Click here or call 579-2870.