Artist Profile: Kathryn Wiley

Portrait photo credit Photo: Elizebeth Schueneman

Ideas float. They expand. And contract. They take on the appearances of reality and then float away as you try to capture and clearly define them. They compose subtly repeated motifs and color harmonies that keep your eye moving among the dominating shapes. Other observations of recognizable or inferred objects take hold and you get a fuller grasp of the implicit ideas that suggest that “something is wrong.”

Kathy Wiley has “found a new sense of depth” in her latest collages and acrylic paintings. Despite the classical balance, there can be a “brutalism that borders on despair” in some of her works.

But there is also a sense of wonder. In works such as “Objects in Space,” you drift in and out, always discovering more. In “Cross Cultural Bite,” your questions become the subject matter.  The answers elude and beg for more questions. “I’ll See You in Hell,” appears to be pleasant and profoundly warm, until the title changes the mood.

For Kathy Wiley, painting is purely experimental—intuitive.  She is always trying something new. “Every work is its own piece,” She says. She doesn’t begin with an initial idea. She collects paper and other materials—lots and lots of material, which she separates by color. Then she sorts through it all to see what fits together. The idea comes, and eventually the title.

Cross Cultural Bite, 12”x18”, collage.

Her three disciplines, painting abstract compositions, making paper collages and assembling sculpture from found objects are interlaced with experimentation. She often mixes colors on the canvas and creates layered compositions. The process is similar with sculptures. She spreads out the old things she finds, from natural to manmade, to see what fits together.

Kathy does not have a BFA—making a living was a high priority—but she was always making art. She has visited museums and galleries throughout the world and has looked and loved it all. She particularly likes Richard Diebenkorn for the strength of his compositions and his paint quality.

Kathryn Wiley believes her task is to learn to see. Deeply.

Her work can be seen this month at the Foundry Gallery. (See, At the Galleries)

I’ll See You in Hell. 24”x36”, acrylic on canvas. Photo: Kathryn Wiley

Jim Magner’s Thoughts on Art
Is it possible for a work of art to stand alone? To be on its own? Maybe. Or, is it always a step in a given direction? Is it the latest exclamation in the journey toward the ultimate self-awareness? Is an artist just driving down the same highway—pursuing the end of the road—creating on a given path until the creating is over?

That was perhaps true for most of the celebrated masters in history. They stuck with something—a style, a technique—and perfected it. Yes, some had their beginnings—the experimenting period—but that searching led to a personal direction that became more and more intimate as time passed and visual networks set in.

The art market has also been a huge factor. Still is. Like any business, you make what sells.  The artist wants to be known for a certain style, or collection of statements. It is about what the buyer wants, unless art is something you do on the side—an internal search.

What about thought? Does it have an ultimate purpose? Does it follow a path to a final conclusion, or does it simply meander through time and stop when all thought stops.

Those cursed by an inability to block the distraction of competing ideas may find thoughts and opinions cutting across neural pathways to get tangled in strange expressions and novel insights—verbal or visual. Sure, the ideas may be ordinary, but an astute one could occasionally slip through: the idea that rocks the world.

The same is true of personal expression through art. The brain can suddenly rebel at seeing the same color in that first stroke, or the repeated circles, or the same motifs. It says, “Hey, you only live once, get crazy…or…get inside the canvas or sculpture and look out at the world.”

Kathryn Wiley, (see, Artist Profile) believes her task, her pathway, is seeing—to look—to understand deeply…and occasionally get crazy. 

At the Galleries
Hill Center
At the Old Naval Hospital
–March 31

The new virtual show at the Hill Center Galleries is the Capitol Hill Art League (CHAL) Juried Exhibition which includes 94 works by nearly 50 artists. It will be restricted to online viewing only. It was juried by Hill Center Galleries Director Nicky Cymrot and artist Alan Braley. As usual, these works feature a wide variety of mediums and viewpoints and are very, very good.

The award winners are: 1st: Ann Pickett for “Stella, Coffee Queen.” 2nd: Karen Zens for “Construct V.” 3rd: Jason Jaffery for “The Snow Leopard.” Artists receiving Honorable Mentions: Karen Cohen, Jane Mann, Meera Rao, Judy Searles, Ellen J. Yahuda and Rosa Ines Vera.

“Winter Salon”
Foundry Gallery
2118 8th St. NW
Feb. 5-28

This all-gallery group show welcomes new Foundry member John Koebert. It features 30 works by 19 artists, including Kathryn Wiley (see: Artist Profile). There are other “adventurous stylistic departures” by Courtney Applequist, Patsy Fleming, Hester Ohbi and the whole Foundry crew. The gallery will be open, and you can see the whole exhibit at: