Rob Schouten Gallery presents ‘Willow, Wax and Wire: New Works by Kathleen Otley’ from June 5 to 29

Posted in Community News, Visual Art

May 27, 2015

A gentleman perusing Kathleen Otley’s work at Rob Schouten Gallery put his nose up next to a piece and said, “I can smell the bees.”

Mixed-media encaustic by Kathleen Otley.

Mixed-media encaustic by Kathleen Otley.

The great-smelling bees wax encaustics of Otley can be found year-round here at the gallery, which will also feature the artist in the upcoming show, “Willow, Wax and Wire: New Works by Kathleen Otley,” from June 5 to 29.  Friday Night Reception is 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, June 5.

With her mixed-media encaustics, Otley uses layer upon layer of the sweet stuff, slathering it generously over a variety of media, which she lays on a block of wood.

Otley’s smaller pieces feature vibrantly painted birds amid ancient scrolls containing sacred Buddhist writings: some stories, some letters. She acquires the monastic scrolls from the Museum of Tokyo.

"Infinity," mixed-media encaustic by Kathleen Otley. / Photo courtesy of the artist.

“Infinity,” mixed-media encaustic by Kathleen Otley. / Photos courtesy of the artist

Otley dresses up some of these small and affordable bird pieces with nests, dyed willow sticks, stones, fabricated eggs and other earthly treasures. The combination gives her work not only a deep-textured quality, but speaks to the artist’s fascination with the past and what she feels is its vital importance to the present.

 For the featured show, Otley has created larger, more abstract pieces that maintain the same earthly and spiritual quality, but “branch out” with larger pieces of willow, while maintaining the artist’s longtime theme of the shield as spiritual protection a theme that is carried through to her mixed-media willow shields. Her willow shields will also be on display, along with these new abstract encaustics that revel in earth-toned colors like those of her bird pieces, and lay the Japanese texts underneath bits of sculpted wire and sheaths of blue copper basket-weaves. All of Otley’s work exudes a soft and deep texture that feels antique, nostalgic and a tribute to nature.

Meet the artist from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, June 5 during Greenbank Farm’s “First Friday at the Farm.” The Pies Café will be open for dinner, while the galleries and shops welcome visitors to enjoy a little wine and cheese, meet the artists, see some beautiful art, all while roaming around beautiful Greenbank Farm. We’d love to see you!

Rob Schouten Gallery, a premier showcase for Whidbey Island and Northwest artists, is located at 765 Wonn Road, #C-103 at the historic Greenbank Farm. Gallery Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.  For further information, call 360.222.3070 or email

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