Art and Sustainability

"Why should we think upon things that are lovely? Because thinking determines life. It is a common habit to blame life upon the environment. Environment modifies life but does not govern life. The soul is stronger than its surroundings." –William James (1842-1910), American philosopher and psychologist

Photos from Gretchen Van Dyke’s show at Sightline November 17, 2011

Learn more about artist Gretchen Van Dyke and this show here.


The view of Gretchen Van Dyke’s “Figures Observed” show from the hallway

"fan" by Gretchen Van Dyke

“Fan” 21″ x 18″ charcoal on paper by Gretchen Van Dyke


Gretchen Van Dyke’s art hanging in the lobby of the Sightline Institute office in downtown Seattle


Gretchen Van Dyke’s art hanging in the lobby of the Sightline Institute office in downtown Seattle


“Man in Bright Shirt” 10″ x 8″ oil on panel by Gretchen Van Dyke


Gretchen Van Dyke’s art hanging in the lobby of the Sightline Institute office in downtown Seattle


Artist Gretchen Van Dyke


See more of Gretchen’s artwork here.


“Figures Observed” by Gretchen Van Dyke October 3, 2011

"Jump" oil on canvas, 20"x24” by Gretchen Van Dyke

We begin and end the year with art of the figure, just as sustainability problems and solutions essentially begin and end with choices made by the human race. Now on view through the November 30, “Figures Observed” is the fourteenth show in our “Art & Sustainability” series at Sightline Institute. It features 11 oil paintings and 6 charcoal drawings by Issaquah artist Gretchen Van Dyke.

Through observation and memory, Gretchen captures gesture, spirit, and the complexity of human nature in her drawings and paintings. Whether abstract or more representational in nature, her two-dimensional art is imbued with a sense that the subjects are three-dimensional living, breathing individuals. They make you wonder, “What are their hopes, dreams, regrets?” Gretchen says about her work:

My paintings explore time, surface, color, and human introspection. I work from observation, with memory, and abstractly, creating paintings and drawings on canvas, wood panel, and paper. Still life and the human form are my subjects. Whether painting a person or thing, my work is a direct dialogue between self and subject. It is about the act of slowing down, deeply observing, and being in the moment. It asks the question:  How is it that a brush and paint can capture the spirit of a person or thing?

A native of Washington, Gretchen has a degree in Graphic Design from The Art Institute of Seattle, as well as a BFA in Drawing and Painting from the University of Washington. She recently completed Artist Trust‘s EDGE Professional Development Program. Her influences include the figurative painters Frank Auerbach and Lucian Freud, who said, “I paint people, not because of what they are like, not exactly in spite of what they are like, but how they happen to be.”

Gretchen’s work has been in both group and solo shows around the state. Locally, Gretchen is an active member of artEAST, Issaquah’s non-profit arts organization. She and fellow member Ellen Borison (who showed at Sightline at the beginning of the year), have curated figure drawing shows the past five years at artEAST. Gretchen also participated in the organization‘s first 24-Hour Art Marathon last spring, in which she created four oil paintings on-site in a period of 24 hours.

Conscientious about sustainability issues such as food, transportation, consumerism, and land use, Gretchen walks the talk. She lives in downtown Issaquah, where she is close to stores and services, the bus, trails, and the creek. In addition, she is the Assistant Executive Director at Athletes for Kids.

To view Gretchen’s paintings and drawings at Sightline now through the end of November, visit the office between 10am and 3pm on weekdays. Most works are available for purchase. Contact Gretchen directly at gretchenvandyke (at) earthlink (dot) net with sales inquiries.

Sightline Institute
1402 Third Ave,
Fifth Floor, Suite 500
Seattle, WA
206-447-1880 ext. 100

What thoughts about sustainability are inspired by Gretchen’s art (and by art in general)? Share yours in a comment.