Taking a look at ‘Living With Doom’

How the Artist Trust can take a bit of the ‘doom’ out of living

How the Artist Trust can take a bit of the ‘doom’ out of living

as an artist.

BREMERTON —Imagine, for a minute, the myriad images conjured by that phrase “living with doom.”

An enormous black-and-white, wood-block print of an artichoke?

A deep-red-hued, five-pointed, starfish-like flower?

A big, colorful amalgamation of jovial flowery designs etched in watercolor and gauche?

Probably not the first few things that come to mind when conjuring the images of living with doom. Probably also three of the most seemingly out-of-place pieces in the art exhibit titled “Living With Doom,” up through the end of the month in the basement showroom of Collective Visions Gallery in downtown Bremerton.

But that’s only on the surface.

Looking a bit deeper: when an artichoke blooms its beautiful purple spikes, it’s already rotting on the inside. When the starfish-like flower, an African Stapelia, blooms, it unleashes a rotten smell from its center, akin to dead animal matter.

And for the big colorful amalgamation — it is titled “La Flor Perdita:” “la flor” Spanish for the flower of, and “Perdita,” a Latin word meaning “lost,” also the heroine in Shakespeare’s “The Winter’s Tale” and the moniker for a large genus of American native bees. Currently, record percentages of the world’s bee colonies are dying out due to a mysterious phenomenon, while, in the beginning of Shakespeare’s “Winter’s Tale,” the character Perdita is left for dead as a baby by a wrongly vengeful father.

How’s that for a creative take on “Living With Doom?” Such a brightly colored rendering of such grim situations from Port Townsend painter Martha Worthley.

It seems, in a way, musing on a life spent amidst impending doom is almost written into the job description of an artist. Professional artists don’t have guaranteed income, or company health insurance, or job security. Still they endeavor for purpose.

Kent Wiggins, another artist in the “Living With Doom” show, summed it up in a poem: “In the face of fear / the artist does the work / their heart calls them to do / and waits for the sunrise / that never fails to arrive.”

You can find Wiggins’ words — along with a host of other written musings on the topic from all the artists in the show — in a black binder on a podium along one of the showroom walls.

Ironically enough, the exhibit “Living With Doom” was derived from a workshop provided by a nonprofit organization that aims to take a bit of “doom” out of Washington state artists’ everyday lives — the Artist Trust.

Founded in 1987 by a group of artists who sought a way to remedy the lack of support for individual artists of all disciplines, the organization, still run by artists, annually awards $500-$1500 project grants and $5,000-$7,500 fellowships to individual artists. What’s novel about this organization is that it gives grants directly to individual artists — “supporting art at its source,” as they say.

Check them out at www.artisttrust.org.

They’re very artist friendly, all the artist has to do is send in a brief application and samples of their work for consideration.

In addition, the organization also provides a bevy of resources for artists, including intensive professional development workshops which aim to educate artists about the marketing side of being a professional. They call it the EDGE Program.

It was at one of those 50-hour workshops, a year ago in Port Townsend that a Collective Visions artist Susan Sweetwater, met up and bonded with the group of artists that now comprise this exhibit of “Art from the EDGE” — “Living With Doom.”

“Living With Doom,” a group art show featuring artists who connected through the Artist Trust, will hang through the end of September at Collective Visions, 331 Pacific Ave. in downtown Bremerton. Info: www.collectivevisions.com or call (360) 377-8327.

For more on the Artist Trust — and its user-friendly grants, fellowships and artist resources — go to www.artisttrust.org.