Ahead of her time: Rediscover watercolor artist Z. Vanessa Helder at Tacoma …

Dam construction and watercolor painting probably don’t immediately gel in your mind. But for Z. Vanessa Helder, they were a pairing that spurred on an artistic career 70 years ago – and then a rediscovery this summer at Tacoma Art Museum.

The Grand Coulee Dam isn’t the only thing in “Austere Beauty: The Art of Z. Vanessa Helder,” but it’s a big part of TAM’s survey of this new-found mid-century Seattle artist. Yet the show, beautiful though it is, leaves quite a few questions unanswered.

Of course, the big question is “Who is Z. Vanessa Helder?” and the TAM show and catalogue go a long way to answering this. Born 1904 in Lynden, with a Bellingham childhood and Seattle-New York education, Helder was trained in oils and lithographs but ended up choosing watercolors, a counterintuitive decision for a woman who

Article source: http://www.thenewstribune.com/2013/08/09/2721855/ahead-of-her-time-peer-through.html

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