NW Fine Arts Competition is live; featuring Jurors’ Choice Winner Martha Thomas

NW Fine Arts Competition is live; featuring Jurors’ Choice Winner Martha Thomas
By ana-maria

“Weeping Willow” by Martha Thomas, Jurors’ Choice winner
Toned BW silver gelatin print; 10″ x 10“, $150

Enjoy eclectic art from 20 Pacific Northwest artists!

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Phinney Center Gallery main page


Congratulations to the Jurors’ Choice winner, Martha Thomas!


Winner of Northwest Fine Arts Competition blends high- and low-tech for stunning images

by Connie McDougall
Even though Martha Thomas is a manager in Information technology at UW Medicine, she is decidedly old school when it comes to much of her art, often preferring a five-pound, 35-year-old Hasselblad film camera. “If I had to choose between film and digital photography, I’d say film is more expressive. But digital has an immediacy that’s good for action,” she says.

The fast clip of digital is perfect for her portraits of dogs, taken at the annual Seattle Kennel Dog Show, as well as a variety of birds in flight.

Her current subject matter includes the study of trees, a good match for the Hasselblad. “It only has 12 shots on a roll so I have to pay attention and think about what I’m doing. That’s part of the magic of it.”

The other part is found in her darkroom, where she creates subtle tones of black and white as well as gold and sepia. “I love working with the enlarger, the chemicals, bright or dark tones, working with different kinds of paper.”

Martha entered three of her tree photographs in the Phinney Center Gallery’s 2020 Northwest Fine Arts Competition. “I want people to feel emotion when looking at them,” she explains.
Clearly, people did feel it, as Martha captured the Jurors’ Choice for her work. “I was surprised,” she says, “but so happy with the recognition.”

One of the selected photographs was taken in Lithuania, a country she has visited more than half a dozen times. “My mother is from Lithuania, an orphan from World War II. Her sister, my aunt, still lives there.”

So enamored is she with her lineage, Martha is learning to speak Lithuanian. “ I’m trying,” she laughs.

Meanwhile, with the recent lockdown due to coronavirus, she’s taken up a new pursuit—gardening. “I put in my first vegetable garden,” Martha says. “Lettuce, tomatoes, squash, beans. We’ll see how it turns out.”

For more of her photographs, visit Martha’s website at marthamthomas.com.

Meet the Jury

Laura Brodax – Laura Brodax is a ceramic artist. She combines local history and surroundings to customize her story on tile murals and porcelain wares. Inspired by traditional ceramic transferware, early photographic techniques and nature, she uses photographic imagery and the printed line to bring ideas forward through screen printing glaze on porcelain. Laura lives and works in Shoreline, Washington, where she recently opened the storefront studio Modern Glaze. Laura is a graduate of the University of Washington with a fine arts degree in Ceramic Art.

Jessie Brugger – I grew up in Auburn Washington and started my undergraduate degree for painting and drawing at Western Washington University before I transferred to Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec. I completed my graduate degree at the New York Academy of Art, In New York City. When I graduated from there I was honored a residency in Giverny, France, where I started doing stop motion animation. My first animation was awarded Best Animation in the New York International Film Festival. I was awarded a studio in Manhattan at the Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts Studio Program. I am currently living in Tacoma, Washington and teach at Green River College. Some of the classes I teach are Drawing, Animation, Art and Feminism and Beginning Design.

David Francis– David Francis is the Public Art Coordinator and Curator with the City of Shoreline, Washington. After degrees in poetry and critical theory (MFA, PhD, from UW), he taught in Poland and Hungary as a Fulbright Lecturer before returning to Seattle to teach at Cornish College of the Arts and Pratt Fine Arts Center. Since 2005, he has created about 25 exhibitions as an independent curator, most recently at Carkeek Park, Center on Contemporary Art (CoCA), and Museum of Northwest Art. His wide-ranging practice also includes poetry (Otherwise This Stone, CoCA, 2012), travel narratives (Field Notes from the Chimalapa Wilderness, Mexico, CoCA, 2013) and experiments in visual art.