New Gallery Openings
Photography: Kendall Nelson
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Crisp, fresh, and unexpected, Green Antelope is located just off the bike path in Bellevue. It’s a perfect setting for potential collectors who, after a pleasant tree-lined stroll in old Bellevue, can wander around the gallery, and sit and enjoy the tranquility of the sculpture garden.
Green Antelope is a new endeavor for Brooke and Helen Bonner—a charming mother/daughter duo. The gallery—which is situated in a gorgeous whitewashed Victorian house—opened in December of last year. “The house was pretty dilapidated,” says Helen. “We had to refinish the original hardwood floor and we ripped layers and layers of paper off the walls.” Their hard work paid off . . . Green Antelope is simply beautiful.
Originally opened so that Helen could have a space to show her work, the gallery is also home to primarily local artists although Green Antelope does show the work of longtime family friend Dinah Cross James, whose work is shown in the Seattle Art Museum and many galleries in the West. Brooke clarifies: “We feel that local artists are underrepresented, so there is a niche here . . . all the time, local people were showing us their work but did not have a venue . . . ” Helen adds,
“We had no idea how talented our locals are.”
Brooke explains how local artists respond to the gallery’s needs: “Ask and ye shall receive,” she laughs. “We wanted big metal sculpture for our garden . . . next day, Mark Sheehan calls out of the blue saying, ‘I do big metal sculpture.’ We couldn’t believe it!”
I ask about the current exhibition. “Sonja Allender has lived in the Valley for 30 years,” says Brooke. “She does mixed media collages . . . incorporating gold and silver leaf . . . I love her sense of color and balance. She layers so much, creating unbelievable depth. It’s subliminal.”
Another artist, Sharon Payne, works in found mixed media. “That is,” says Helen, “she puts ‘found’ items in her work. Her pieces are also multilayered with antique ledgers, diaries, and books from France, keys, and clocks . . . You can sit and look at her work and come up with all kinds of stories.”
Along with the works of sculptress Sarah Long, British-born artist Katie Flood, animator Mary Ellen Mahar, and silversmith Aimee Commons, Green Antelope features Helen’s own distinctive artwork.
“I only paint subject matter that I have an emotional response to,” she tells me. “My work is not detailed realism . . . I try to capture the spirit of the animal or person I’m painting . . . I examine the relationship between the animal and earth or animal and animal.”
Brooke and Helen’s support for each other and their generous pride in their artists’ achievements is infectious. Several days later, I meander down 2nd Street to purchase one of Helen’s exquisite nudes. Surrounded by Green Antelope’s clean whitewashed walls, inviting collection, and tranquil garden—perfect, incidentally, for a party or wedding reception—it’s hard to tear myself away; indeed, much about Green Antelope encourages one to linger. >>>