Arts and Entertainment

Blue Whole Gallery showcases two very different artists of the month

Art is an interpretive and personal experience.

Every person who looks at a piece of artwork reacts differently inwardly and outwardly. The two artists of the month at the Blue Whole Gallery have unique styles that predictably evoke different emotions in their viewers.

Larry Barnes, a photographer, captures images that translate a moment in time into a permanent visual record. Terry Grasteit, an abstract expressionist who paints primarily in acrylic,

creates a visual expression and invites viewers to participate in the creative process using the elements of the painting. The two men, united by their passion for art, will meet and greet guests during the gallery's First Friday event from 5-7:30 p.m. Friday, July 2, at 129 W. Washington St., Sequim.

Pursuing a lifelong passion for photography

Since he was a young boy and first picked up his mother's Brownie - an inexpensive point-and-shoot style cardboard box camera - Barnes was hooked on photography. He wanted to make a career out of the interest but decided against it.

"I always wanted to paint but I'm not good at painting or drawing so I found a different way to interpret what I was seeing," he explained.

"I just didn't feel comfortable quitting my day job and I didn't have the time to pursue a second career (before)."

Now that he's retired from engineering, Barnes is following his dreams.

"I'm just trying to present an image people can appreciate and walk away from feeling good," he said. "It's not even about the money necessarily. I try to be very personable in presentation so I strike a note with everybody who sees the image."

Barnes moved to Sequim from the San Diego, Calif., area four years ago. He lives on a small ranch in the Dungeness area with his wife, Sunny, one dog who "thinks she's a princess," three cats, two rabbits, seven chickens and two miniature donkeys. He focuses on nature and fine art images that "speak from the heart."

"After 40-some years of being an amateur (photographer), I'm excited to have a venue to share my images," Barnes said.

Understanding abstract impressions

"People do funny things when they look at a painting," Grasteit said, a friendly smile on his lips.

"They get really close and study the brush strokes intently. But you can't stand on top of an abstract and see what's there, you have to take more time, get back away from the painting and take in the imagery," he said, comparing a painting to a mountain.

"If you stand on a mountain, you can't see the whole mountain but you can see the surrounding houses, trees, wildlife and beauty."

In his blue Eddie Bauer polo shirt, blue jeans and hiking books Grasteit looks more like an avid hiker than an artist. But the moment he starts talking about art, his face lights up and he immediately starts explaining the process and rewards of abstract painting.

"Abstract art," he argued, "is actually more personal than representational art because it requires that people participate in the experience."

Going through his personal collection, Grasteit reads each painting like a book, telling a story. He continues his quest to help people truly understand abstracts.

"I think people enjoy a quick fix where they can say, 'Oh, that's Ruby Beach,' and abstract can be too difficult," he said.

"Don't shortchange yourself on the experience. Abstract art is an emotional experience and sometimes it won't mean anything to you but that's OK because that's your experience."

Lists of upcoming events and members are available at www.bluewhole, or at the gallery, 129 W. Washington St.,

Sequim, or by calling 681-6033.

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