Art as a family affair

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by Reneé Mizar, MAC Communications Coordinator, Museum & Arts Center in the Sequim-Dungeness Valley

While their creative outlets may have differed, local fiber artist Sherry Nagel and the late watercolorist Pat Speer shared in a naturally complementary artistry as perhaps only a daughter and mother could.


Their artwork is showcased together for the first time in “Art as a Family Affair,” the January featured art exhibit at the Museum & Arts Center in the Sequim-Dungeness Valley.


The exhibit, which pairs Nagel’s quilts and other fiber arts works with her late mother’s watercolor paintings, opens today, Jan. 2, at the MAC Exhibit Center, 175 W. Cedar St. in Sequim. An artist reception is 5-8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 4, as part of the First Friday Art Walk.

“Hestia: Greek Goddess of the Sacred Fire,” a mixed media basket by Sherry Nagel. Submitted image.

“We have never showed our work in a featured artist context. We only have had one or two pieces together in a Sequim Arts show,” Nagel said. “Mom was very shy about showing her work. She always said that she painted for her own enjoyment and not for others.”


More than 90 percent of the 54 exhibited pieces in “Art as a Family Affair” are available for purchase. In addition, more than 60 pieces of Speer’s unframed artwork are for sale, as are postcards featuring images of Speer’s and Nagel’s work.


Nagel, who said she inherited her mother’s love of color but not her painting abilities, chose fabric as her medium en route to becoming an art quilter. A member of the Sunbonnet Sue Quilt Club, she also is a longtime Sequim Arts member, as was Speer, who died in early 2012.


“Mine are all fabrics and more around color and texture. Hers is more architectural and all watercolor,” Nagel said of their artistic differences. “Watercoloring enabled her to combine her skills as a draftsperson with her love of color and travel. Painting gave her much pleasure right up to the end of her life.”


One of the show’s featured pieces, a wall quilt titled “When a Rose is a Rose,” represents the only collaborative work Nagel and Speer completed. Drawing upon a photograph of a rose Speer had taken and then interpreted in a watercolor, Nagel said she digitally scanned the photograph and painting before printing both on fabric for the quilt.


“I had a thought one summer to take a few pieces of Mom’s watercolor and translate them to fabric. Mom had recently completed her rose watercolor, now lost, and I chose that one to start the process,” said Nagel, who teaches quilting. “I incorporated both pictures into the quilt and created the much larger rosebud out of fabric. The background was a direct translation of the watercolor background in Mom’s painting.”


“Art as a Family Affair” is on display through February at the MAC Exhibit Center, open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday. Visit or call 683-8110 for more information.

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