A Source of Joy: Bandon Library Art Gallery
Art lovers are invited to visit “A Silver Lining,” a digital slideshow of mosaic art presented by the Bandon Library Art Gallery.
The collection highlights more than 90 works by an international roster of artists, with an introductory essay by curator Tracy Hodson, along with tips for navigating the online show.
A Source of Joy
With roughly 20 feet of hallway and two display cases, the library entrance provides a vibrant addition to Bandon’s public art spaces.
Tracy Hodson has curated art shows at the library gallery since 2015. It’s a role that lets her tap her art history training and share her creative process.
“It’s a source of joy,” said Hodson.
The gallery is operated by the Bandon Public Library. Exhibits and events are funded by the Bandon Library Friends and Foundation. Hodson joined the BLFF in 2014 and curated her first library installation the following spring. In addition to serving as the gallery curator, she presently serves as treasurer for the BLFF.
With support from the Friends, Hodson has built on the work started by the art committee. Gallery improvements in recent years include fresh paint on the walls, new lighting and a new hanging system. Hodson also increased promotion and expanded the gallery network of local and regional artists. Enticing professional artists to exhibit work in a community space was a challenge initially. But these days, juried shows are booked a year or more in advance, and work is often displayed in the library as well.
“People started coming to the library just to see the art, which is good for everybody,” said Hodson.
Hodson’s art training covered coursework in art history and the opportunity to develop a critical aesthetic eye. (She worked in the filmmaking industry in the San Francisco area for 15 years.) Now, she uses her knowledge and eye to select the best work she can find for Bandon audiences.
Exhibits feature a range of styles and subject matter, from contemporary black and white photography and abstract painting, to classically inspired mosaics. Two annually recurring shows are eagerly anticipated by audiences: the Bandon High School spring show and the summer mosaic show. This year, both annual events were cancelled as part of community efforts to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.
A Silver Lining
The Bandon Public Library has been closed since March, along with countless other arts, culture and education venues. While library staff members explore innovative ways to keep library materials available through curbside pickup and mail delivery, the library art gallery is closed for the foreseeable future.
The sixth annual mosaic show is rescheduled for 2021. In its place, Hodson curated “A Silver Lining,” an online mosaic exhibition. The gallery show was scheduled for June, but Hodson released the online exhibit mid May, and the digital show has visitors from around the world.
“This is the first, and hopefully only, online show,” said Hodson.
Hodson is passionate about the art form, the history and the artists it attracts. She describes the mosaic community as generous and cooperative, eager to share knowledge and participate in community art projects. It was individual artists, as much as the art form, that drew Hodson to the medium.
Her excitement energizes audiences, making the annual mosaic show one of the most popular events at the library gallery. As a curator, Hodson encourages emerging artists and enjoys watching the progress of established professionals. As an artist, she embraces creative discoveries while acknowledging her internal critic.
“It’s a very challenging medium,” said Hodson. “These are lifelong artists.”
For “A Silver Lining,” Hodson reached out to the show’s scheduled artists and posted a call to artists on several mosaic social media sites. The response exceeded her expectation.
One virtue of a digital show is that there are no shipping charges involved, Hodson noted in her slideshow introduction.
“Another (virtue) is the ability to dismiss concerns about space, so this show has nearly 100 mosaics in it, which means I’m able to present to the gallery patrons, as well as all of you, a range of mosaic art that just can’t be accommodated in a physical show. I hope you will find this work as inspiring as I do. It’s our silver lining in the current, very dark, cloud.”
Nature is a dominant theme in mosaic art. Hodson observes that the natural world is often a source of inspiration for mosaic artists responding to the concrete quality of materials made from earth.
“A Silver Lining” includes representational and abstract compositions. Both styles require skill and practice. Hodson’s “Incarnadine” is an abstract depiction of her experience of physical illness. She designed the piece using marble, smalti, mosaic gold, amethyst, celestite, mica, freshwater pearls, and ammonite fossil, with various beads and rock specimens. For Hodson, the piece represents a turning point in her development as a mosaic artist– it’s the first abstract work she feels communicates the emotions she intended within a strong composition.
While many library exhibits showcase one or two artists at a time, mosaic shows routinely feature many artists. “A Silver Lining” highlights work by returning Oregon artists Kory Dollar and Vera Melnyk. Hodson was pleased to receive submissions from new contributors, such as English artist Tony Welch. Works by Hodson’s early mosaic mentor, Jacqueline Iskander of Oklahoma, are also featured. Iskander’s “In the Garden, Quietly” is part of Hodson’s personal collection. She says it’s the piece that made her say, “I want to do that!”
The exhibit is an excellent introduction to the ever-growing world of fine art mosaics. Many of the materials, such as stone, ceramic, glass and metal, have glossy or semi-reflective surfaces. That light-catching quality allows viewers to appreciate the dimensional detail in each piece, even in a photograph.
Works are grouped by the predominant materials used for each composition.
Section 1: Dressed or raw stone set in mortar
Section 2: Grouted tile, stained or specialty glass
Section 3: Found objects such as broken pottery, tiles, shells
Supporting Future Shows
Several works in “A Silver Lining” are for sale, and many of the artists accept commission requests. Audiences may use the information icon, (at the top right of the browsing window), to view details about each piece, including artists’ names and email addresses. Those interested in a purchase or a commission may contact artists directly.
The library does not charge commissions on art sales. The commission-free policy provides appealing flexibility for library shows, according to Hodson, since artists are not required to sell their work. Many artists choose to make contributions to the BLFF in support of the gallery. Voluntary commissions from “A Silver Lining” will be used for a shipping scholarship fund.
Artists and arts and craft groups interested in exhibiting work are invited to contact Hodson. The library display cases are available for community projects. The cases are ideal for small to medium-sized pieces, including sculpture, textiles, functional art, art d’objects and ephemera.
Mosaic images from top: “Multnomah in May” (detail) by Peggy Jackson, “If I were a Tree” by Jacqueline Iskander, “Crazy Horse” by Tony Welch, “Nexus” by Kath Jones, “Activate the Midline” by Lynn Adamo