Opening night: Northwest Masters: Jay Steensma & Ree Brown

The late artist Jay Steensma was considered part of the second generation of the “Northwest School”, a Seattle art movement that peaked in the 1930s and 40s. Steensma was best known for his stark, expressionistic landscapes and portraits into which he often incorporated mystical references like chalices and snakes. He worked with mixed media including house paint and mixing oils, acrylics, crayons and pencil on scraps of paper bags the size of a postage stamp to large canvasses.

Ree Brown is another Seattle artist, a highly regarded “naive” or outsider artist without formal training whose works are often “charmingly awkward”. Like his friend Steesma, Brown has worked with a variety of media besides the traditional, creating art on such canvasses as scraps of paper, cardboard, bits of matting and brown paper bags.

Local art gallery and wine bar Vermillion is currently hanging a retrospective of the works of both these artists, opening tonight with a reception that includes music by the Toy Boats and including Ree Brown in attendance. If you’re unable to attend tonight, do make a point of stopping by at some point during the show which runs through April 25.

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