Larson and Valentine said they decided to do something completely different from their usual work and created the entire show from pieces that are only eight by eight inches. Collaborating within that unifying parameter, working in multiple mediums, each artist created seven 8-piece series for the show.

A rather unusual duo exhibit opened at the Siskiyou Arts Museum in Dunsmuir on Saturday, Nov. 9. Two Mount Shasta area artists, Eloise Larson and Cathy Valentine, collaborated on “Small Conversations,” featuring 112 all new pieces (56 pieces each). Both artists were on hand during Saturday’s well-attended opening night to meet with guests, and to answer questions, and talk about their work.

Larson and Valentine said they decided to do something completely different from their usual work and created the entire show from pieces that are only eight by eight inches. Collaborating within that unifying parameter, working in multiple mediums, each artist created seven 8-piece series for the show.

Not only is Small Conversations a remarkably cohesive, and balanced, collaborative art event, it’s also an interactive event. In addition to conventionally-displayed art, 40 of the 112 pieces invite gallery guests to engage in a more interactive way.

For example, 32 of the pieces were displayed enclosed in boxes on tabletops. Viewers had to open each box in order to see the art inside. Larson said she’d always wanted to do an art show with this as a feature.

Another active-viewing/interactive aspect of the show was an 8-part series of acrylic transfers on caulk, by Larson. Magnifying glasses were hung on the wall under the artwork for guests to examine and explore the various small transfer images on caulk.

Larson explained that sometimes people don’t really look at art, so the magnifying glass idea was to encourage more active involvement.

SAM guests were able to view the artists’ work in multiple different mediums, including the acrylic transfers on caulk, and cyanotype, acrylic paint, and graphite, and also an acrylic series called “Leftovers” by Eloise Larson, as well as acrylics, encaustic, oil and cold wax and more by Valentine.

Valentine said she loves working in layers. Whether creating art in layered acrylics, encaustics, or oil and cold wax, she is always seeing, thinking, and working in layers. Valentine said that this particular show really stretched her as an artist, and that she did a lot of things that are different from her usual work. One example: the 18 oil and cold wax pieces Valentine created for the show, which incorporated rich layers of color evocative of old world Venetian plaster work. Valentine said she typically does not work in color.

However, there is a common thread that can be seen running through all of Valentine’s work ... literally. Her early art career began as a textiles artist who worked in weavings. As a nod to her early fiber arts work, Valentine created an 8-piece series of encaustic wax art, entitled “Textiles Revisited,” which incorporates bits of thread and fabric into the encaustic pieces. To this day, whether working in acrylics, hot wax encaustic, or oil and cold wax, Valentine said she is continually drawn to creating similar organic forms reminiscent of the three dimensional weaving art which was a big part of her earlier artistic expression. Another remnant of her fiber arts background are the recurring, meandering, fine lines of thread – whether actual, etched, or drawn.

The Small Conversations exhibit at SAM will continue through Saturday, Dec. 28.