Friday, September 01, 2023

Leanne Hickman at Moses Lake Museum & Art Center

Sometimes, often more common than we realize, randomness introduces interesting paths in Einstein's many multiverses.

The path in this universe started by me coming to visit my daughter Elise and her family in Gig Harbor, Washington... and spend some time with her and her husband and my gorgeous grandkids.

For this visit we decided to go exploring the other side of Washington state and ended up with three days in Moses Lake, about four hours east of the green side of Washington and crossing the mountain pass into what then becomes the desert side of the state, where the mighty Columbia River rolls on.

As most of you know by now, I went to art school at the University of Washington, on the other side of the state, and in a city (Seattle) galaxies away from Moses Lake.

And in Moses Lake we explored around, and ended up in the rather elegant Moses Lake Museum and Art Center, where the show on display was "Leanne Hickman and John Hickman: Feathers vs. Charcoal" showing through September 1, 2023.

Leanne Hickman and John Hickman - Feathers vs. Charcoal

As I entered the spaces, a very friendly and smiley receptionist welcomed us - already a positive change from the usual.

I entered the ground floor gallery... and saw this:

Paintings on feathers... mmm. Immediately my antennas went up in snobbish art alarm. Art criticism brings a lot of subjectivity to it, and art critics who claim to be objective are rotten liars.

And thus, initially I was prepared to sigh and dislike this exhibition... but then two things happened: first I recalled my experience decades ago with the Quilts of Gee's Bend; and second, I recalled my anger when the Hirshhorn Museum director told me - also decades ago that the "Hirshhorn did not collect glass."

In the first, prejudice against the art substrate (quilt) and in the second, the lesson learned that it is the art that matters, not the substrate (glass... or feathers). 

Remember that I even gave this issue a name: The Quilts of Gee's Bend Syndrome.

And when I walked in to see the exhibition, my eyes and mind re-tuned by those memories, I was superbly impressed by the gorgeous paintings by Leanne Hickman... on feathers.

Feather painting by Leanne Hickman at Moses Lake Museum
Feather painting by Leanne Hickman at Moses Lake Museum

Each one of these intimate works delivers a well-packed punch of color, composition, and well-developed painting skills - they are small worlds depicting limitless, open scenes - most of them with a western theme, but all really nicely composed and delivered.

From a little online research we discover that:

She is a local resident of Moses Lake and “true farm girl” raising horses and peacocks. These beautiful species come together in her inspired acrylic works where she physically paints on peacock feathers. "Inspiration, perseverance and a strong sense of God's directions, are my mainstay and motivation as I pursue my dreams."

The works were a steal: matted and framed and under a hundred dollars! They were all framed like this:


My one constructive criticism to Ms. Hickman would be for her to frame all the works in white conservation mats, so as to have the intelligent use of color not be influenced by a colored mat.

In summary, this was a wonderful, elegant and superbly well-curated show which not only impressed this big city art critic, but also re-taught him a lesson about art, good art.