Arts and Entertainment

Art is never static

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Digging up the wonders of the Earth and finding its simplicity are two techniques of the stylistically different artists featured in August at the Blue Whole Gallery, 129 W. Washington St.

Rudy Bauer, a potter, and Mary Franchini, a watercolorist and collagist, both start with selecting the right object or material.

Bauer seeks clay from all over the peninsula and uses unconventional glazes and methods such as heating clay after wrapping it in seaweed, acid washing in aluminum foil and more.

Franchini chooses simple objects such as cups, pears and everyday things.

Right now she calls her work a chair theory - some of the pieces at the gallery are centered on abstract chairs.

"Some are mellow and some are wacky," she said.

"It depends on what happens."

Franchini's ideology

Franchini goes where the painting takes her.

This means a piece might go in unexpected directions but isn't be seen as wrong or ruined.

Barbara Boerigter, president of Blue Whole Gallery, said Franchini is intuitive and well-known for covering up "mistakes" with gold gesso to finalize a piece.

As a teacher of experimental water media, collage and drawing for six years, Franchini encourages a free-flowing mentality in her students.

"I want them to paint like themselves," she said.

"If it goes to realism or abstract, it's fine with me. I still want it to be their work."

Bauer's functionality
Bauer says his work has changed a lot in a year.
He now sees a pot as a dramatic and unique individual piece rather than as a finished product.
"Getting every piece to command attention is both a function of form and surface color," he said.
Bauer worked primarily with functional pottery like lamps and bowls since joining the gallery, but now he is going for a more contemporary design.
In the near future, he'll be increasing his hours as a nurse and take a sabbatical from selling pottery.
His hope is to take the time to radically change his philosophy on why he makes ceramic art and focus on designing contemporary forms.
"By focusing on my love of nursing and working for the finest hospital in my extended career as a nurse I wish to maximize that opportunity to work in a place like OMC," Bauer said.
"In doing that I will change my approach to my ceramic art. I'll continue to make ceramic art but on a whole new level."

Connected to community

Bauer finds value in helping the community through his art.

He spends at least 10 hours a week on art that he donates to the community.

His current bird project at the gallery is a benefit for the Dungeness River Audubon Center.

Bauer chose to make Frances Birds, named after Professor Frances Senska who taught her students to sculpt the design, because he lives near the river and is a lover of the environment.

"Giving back to my community is important to me and using clay to assist makes that more fun for everyone involved," Bauer said.

He also participates in the Empty Bowls Project, which benefits the Sequim Food Bank.

Bauer said he helped raise $2,000 in the past two years.

He'll be selling bowls at the Incredible Edible Festival on Sept. 25 in Sequim.

Art origins

Bauer isn't the first potter in his family.

He followed his wife and son's examples after they became interested.

Bauer tried the potter's wheel one night and couldn't stop.

Franchini started decorative painting in the 1970s - far removed from her current work.

Then she studied watercolor, collage and experimental art for 10 years in Federal Way.

Twelve years ago she moved to Sequim and she said her next step is to keep learning and getting better.

"I want people to enjoy my work as much as I do."

Bauer and Franchini's art is on display from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. seven days a week at Blue Whole Gallery, 129 W. Washington St., Sequim.

See Bauer's work at www.artistsof, Franchini's at and/or

Reach Matthew Nash at

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