“My Life is a Carousel,” the latest art exhibition at Gig Harbor’s Morso Wine Bar, is the first show of its kind Mary McInnis has ever had – a display of her development as a painter, and the spirit with which she creates her works.
Morso owner Steve Lynn helps curate the exhbitions at his gallery, in a large room off the bar. Morso has had over 20 artists show in the space, in themed shows that Lynn and the artist collaborate to select works for. McInnis’ theme was spun off of one of her paintings, “Carousel #2,” depicting a carousel horse in a swirl of color. (watch McInnis and Lynn discuss "Carousel #2" below)
The “carousel” theme is reflected through the range of McInnis’ work depicted in the show, which opened Jan. 18 and runs until Feb. 28. An artist’s reception will be held Saturday, from 5 to 7 p.m.
Selected paintings cover McInnis’ work from 1994 until the present, presented in an order that depicts the changes her style has gone through.
“It shows my progression,” said McInnis, who paints at her home south of Port Orchard. “It really shows how I evolved into who I am now.”
She doesn’t remember a time when she wasn’t drawing and painting.
“It isn’t something I decided to do. It’s just a part of who I am,” McInnis said. She grew up in Seattle with a paper route, and an artist on her route inspired her to pursue her passion in school. McInnis graduated the University of Washington with a degree in art, and continued to paint as she raised her children, who are now grown.
McInnis said she couldn’t articulate what exactly has made her a lifelong painter, but that hasn’t stopped her from consistently thinking about and creating new works.
“I don’t know what drives me,” she said. “Someone with a gorgeous voice has to sing. If you have that talent, it’s something that you have to do,”
She started with oil paints but put that on hiatus with her children in the house, taking up pastels instead. Now, she splits her time between both. “My Life in a Carousel” showcases this transition, with one piece, “Little Cloud” from 2007, serving as the transition point. The scribbly lines and layers of different colors seen in some of McInnis’ earlier work move into chunkier strokes, as she began to use the wider side of the pastel. Some of her later works combine this thicker stroke with finer lines.
“I look at how light plays into each scene,” McInnis said of her paintings, which often depict natural scenes and are mostly captured from photographs she’s taken. Her Morso show exhibits paintings of some of her most common subjects, from tree-lined hills to old barns.
McInnis said she’s been honored and excited by the exhibition at Morso. She currently has work in galleries in Bainbridge, Bremerton and Cannon Beach, Ore., as well as Kimball Espresso Gallery in Gig Harbor, but has never had to opportunity to showcase a retrospective of her work, or at an environment like Morso’s.
“It’s a really different audience than you usually get at galleries or art walks,” she said. “And while some of these paintings are old to me, they’re new pieces for anyone who hasn’t seen them.”