Friday, July 15, 2011

‘Sultan’s Library’ is a treasure trove

Friesen Gallery show is a museum of work

Express Staff Writer

“Occularium Mysterim” by Dennis Evans. Mixed media on encaustic panel at Friesen Gallery.

When two Seattle artists, husband and wife Dennis Evans and Nancy Mee, were brainstorming about their next show for the Friesen Gallery in Ketchum, they decided upon the idea of a library. The library they had in mind was not one filled with books, but a library of treasures a sultan might collect.

"The Sultan's Library" was created, in part, from Mee's inspirational journey to Istanbul, where she saw a sultan's library. She said she came back home and wanted to make glass shapes in the shapes of the rooms she had visited in the sultan's library.

Mee and Evans live and work together at their home studio in Seattle. Mee, a glass sculptor, and Evans, an alchemist painter and sculptor, have incorporated a variety of materials in "The Sultan's Library" collection. It includes glass, forged steel, stone and photography.

"We thought what if the sultan had all of his emissaries and ambassadors bring back to his library all the wondrous treasures of the world," said Evans. "We started to build pieces and dreaming up stories."

Evans is a story teller and he said he wanted the pieces to be based in reality—historically perfect and real places— but also to weave a tale about the people and functionality of the library pieces the couple created.

"The whole concept bit people," he said. "We brought them a museum show."

The artists went to the extreme of creating shipping crates and seals, which are all on exhibition at the Friesen Gallery. The library has 23 pieces, which took 18 months to create.

Mees said the people in Sun Valley are very sophisticated and have been captured by the show.

"We may continue with the idea," she said. "The Libraries of Babylon is an idea, and perhaps we start with one wing of that library."

Sabina Dana Plasse:

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