Leftovers transformed into art for show at University House

November 8, 2011

By Tom Corrigan

Seattle artist Kelly Lyles is one of 22 local artists who took part in ‘Unfinished Business,’ an art exhibit set for Issaquah’s University House. Contributed

June Sekiguchi, a founding member of public art center artEAST, said every artist has unfinished pieces or unused bits of this or that sitting around their studios.

Mulling over that fact led her to the unusual idea for “Unfinished Business,” an original art display done in conjunction with artEAST and to be displayed at Issaquah’s University House retirement community beginning Nov. 12.

Essentially, artists were handed raw materials or uncompleted projects donated by other artists. Each artist was then asked to complete a finished piece with the provided materials.

The unused items covered a wide range of territory. One was a 5-foot-tall welded steel frame for a sculpture. Another contribution consisted of bits of broken glass.

“Some people got some very raw materials,” Sekiguchi said.

Seattle artist Kelly Lyles, a painter, ended up donating a bag of cocktail sticks with tops that resembled donkeys, apparently at the request of Sekiguchi. Lyles was excited to see what someone made of the items.

For her part, Lyles turned a partly finished canvas with a blue background into a whimsical painting of a hamster resting atop a can of Spam. The title: “Spamster,” of course.

Other Lyles works have names such as “Lays Potato Chipmunks.” A few of her other creations will be on display during “Unfinished Business” as Sekiguchi invited each artist to submit the specially made projects along with some of their other works.

“Artists involved in this project faced few limits,” Sekiguchi said. “They sliced, diced, burned, buried layers and in the end added incredibly thought-provoking ideas to many, many works.”

If you go

‘Unfinished Business’ art exhibit

  • Begins Nov. 12
  • University House, 22975 S.E. Black Nugget Road
  • Free, reservations are needed for the opening reception, from 2-4 p.m. Nov. 12.
  • Call 557-4200

Artist Catherine Thompson turned those broken pieces of blue glass into a water-themed mosaic dubbed “Aqueous.” She said the work was a challenge as she usually creates larger 3-D works of art. For “Unfinished Business,” Thompson said she sorted the small bits and pieces given to her several times.

“I started to see what they wanted to be,” she said.

Issaquah’s University House is part of Era Living, a private, Seattle-based company of eight retirement communities. Sekiguchi serves as Era’s art curator. She said the items chosen for use in the coming show were handed out largely at random. Sekiguchi said she acted only to ensure painters did not end up with sculpting materials or vice-versa.

Both Thompson and Lyles liked the idea behind “Unfinished Business.”

“It was unusual and it was hard … but it was a great idea for a show,” Thompson said.

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