The standout art show this month is Annette Bellamy’s “Floating” on the fourth floor of the Anchorage Museum. An award-winning potter from Kachemak Bay, Bellamy has been working in clay for decades. However it’s a different medium that grabs your attention when you turn the corner into the show area. On the far wall is a large fish skin patchwork reminiscent of Piet Mondrian’s right angle compositions, titled “Out of Water.”
Two related items occupy the center space. One is a cluster of clay boat forms suspended from the ceiling, the other a cluster of clay plumb bob shapes; the first is titled “Floaters,” the second “Sinkers,” like the things used to pull fishing line and nets under the water. They are graceful and intriguing, but not the most interesting thing in the show. Those would be the oars. Each wood shaft is topped with a clay construction that appears to refer to a person the artist admires, or at least spends time musing about.
Poet and homebody Emily Dickinson’s oar, for instance, features a porcelain white filigree that calls to mind a doily. A neat stack of rock forms bears the name of photographer Andrew Goldsworthy, who often arranges natural material in unnatural poses for his images. New York Times crossword composer Will Shortz is the honoree in a design that suggests a maze and cursive writing. (Wait! Who uses cursive writing in crosswords?) The titles of other oars are more obscure, probably tributes to Bellamy’s friends in Halibut Cove or Homer. But “Potter’s Oar,” with little clay bowls sitting one atop another, may be a kind of self-portrait.
A press release for the show calls the oars “symbolic of how we navigate, not just through the water, but also through relationships and transitions.” They felt more like fun, visual (auto)biographies to me. Their positioning, close to the wall and a corner, made reading the titles difficult in some cases.
The show also has several clay bowls. I kept looking for chips and dip in them but came up empty. I guess it wasn’t that kind of First Friday opening reception.