Bits ‘n’ Pieces: Trio of North Bank artists partner for show

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Next month North Bank Artists Gallery in downtown Vancouver will highlight the work of three artists, James Torson, Suzy Kitman and Kanaan Kanaan, in a show titled “Recent Work Times Three.” The show runs April 1 to May 1. There will be an opening reception during First Friday Art Walk from 5 to 9 p.m. April 2.

• April was Torson’s scheduled month for a solo show, but the Vancouver resident and longtime North Bank member decided to lighten his work load and share the opportunity for exposure by inviting the co-op’s two newest members to join him.

Torson’s portion of the show is titled “Rethinking Afghanistan,” a mix of pencil drawings and watercolor paintings. Torson, a 64-year-old former Marine, started working on this show about a year and a half ago, at a time when he felt that the war in Iraq overshadowed Afghanistan. He wanted to show what he felt was a “forgotten war” from a solider’s perspective.

The war in Afghanistan has since gained more widespread attention, but Torson hopes his artwork “will get people thinking about it” in new ways, he said.

• Kanaan’s art also touches on politics and social justice. Called “Dialogue,” the 8-feet-by-8-feet installation piece is composed of small squares of rice paper containing even smaller strips upon which Kanaan copied lines of Arabic poetry by the late Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darweesh.

“I called it ‘Dialogue’ because it’s like the little pieces are talking to each other,” said Kanaan of Portland, a 45-year-old adjunct instructor in the art department at Portland State University.

Kanaan is a Palestinian artist born and raised in a refugee camp in Amman, Jordan. With “Dialogue,” he pays tribute to Darweesh. He wrote out Darweesh’s poem “Ahmad al za’tar” on strips of rice paper, then scrambled them and pasted them onto the larger squares of paper that make up the “Dialogue” mural.

“Dialogue” has multimedia components, as well. A moving red light dances across the installation, while the song “Discussion” by Lebanese musician Marcel Khalifé plays.

“This exhibit honors humanity, Darweesh and the continued need for dialogue to better understand one another, to reach out using peaceful means. This is what I want to share,” Kanaan said in a press release.

• For her portion of the show, Portland painter Suzy Kitman uses dolls to explore human relationships. She has a series of oil-on-canvas paintings depicting dolls interacting with each other that she’s been working on for the past 10 years.

Kitman, 50, has a collection of “unusual dolls” that she paints arranged in ways that “say something about relationships or feelings.”

Kitman doesn’t like the tableaus she creates to be too direct or obvious.

“I’d like my audience to be able to look at them and get what they will,” she said.

Bits ’n’ Pieces appears Mondays and Fridays. If you have a story you’d like to share, call Features Editor Elisa Williams, 360-735-4561, or e-mail elisa.williams@columbian.com.<I>