Kate Rivers- VARIATIONS, June 14-27- Matthews Gallery

Kate Rivers with guests at the Variations opening

*Click here to read our first blog about Variations*

Our opening for Kate Rivers’ “Variations” show was about to start, and Linda was giving everything a final look before the guests arrived. She wiped down the glass on “Cleopatra” one last time, but nothing could have prepared us for the long procession of noses that would soon hover inches from the art. When you look at Kate’s intricate mixed media works, you tend to lean in closer and closer…

Kate Rivers- Western Union (detail) - Matthews Gallery

Kate Rivers, Western Union (detail)

Kate and her daughter Katie arrived to a round of applause from all of us, and Katie started browsing almost immediately. I sidled up next to her as she pored over “Western Union”, a collage with everything from telegrams to . Kate incorporates letters, tickets, maps, books and other materials that she collects from her own life, estate sales, thrift stores and anywhere else.

“Does she ever use things from your life?” I asked Katie.

“Sometimes, but it looks like she pulled from other places for this one,” she said. “I thought she might have used some of my old stuff when I saw the children’s drawings.”

Kate Rivers- We Are Gods (detail) - Matthews Gallery

Kate Rivers, We Are Gods (detail)

Two rooms over, I greeted our artist Jamie Chase and we worked our way through “We Are Gods”, an abstracted landscape made from book covers, book pages and old handwritten notes. We discovered a little to-do list smack in the center of the composition. The last item read “1 qt. very old scotch”.

“It’s written with a different pencil,” Jamie said. “Maybe they added that at the end of a tough day.”

Kate Rivers- Glory (Homage to O'Keeffe) - Matthews Gallery

Kate Rivers, Glory (Homage to O’Keeffe)

On another wall, two visitors were searching for books that they’d read in “Glory (Homage to O’Keeffe)”.

“Oh! That’s one of my favorite books!” said the lady, pointing to John Grisham’s “The Client”. “I read that when we were here last year.”

“Do you think you could ever do that to your books?” I asked.

“Absolutely not!” the gentleman said, which sparked a conversation on the book as a sacred object. Why do we keep so many books on our shelves if we hardly read them any more? Are we losing something precious by living our lives in the digital world? Those are two of the artist’s central questions.

Kate Rivers- Reflections (detail) - Matthews Gallery

Kate Rivers, Reflections (detail)

As the evening wound down, I returned to the front room and found a visitor standing transfixed before “Reflections”.

“I was just passing by, but these things pulled me in,” she said. “They’re so detailed. How does she do it?” We looked over at Kate who was chatting and laughing with some guests nearby.

“I don’t know, it’s magic!” I said.

Come see “Variations” now through June 27, and when you’re viewing the works, don’t be afraid to smudge the glass!

Click here to see more art by Kate Rivers, and connect with us on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest for updates on her latest work.