One of the first things the viewer notices in the Lewiston art exhibit "Scott Schuldt: The Wilderness Within" is a stack of copper-rimmed boxes displaying a blend of odd items - an engraved silver wedding favor and a tennis ball among them.
These are some of the things Seattle artist Scott Schuldt has found on his canoe trips in the urban waters around his city. Tennis balls are common. People throw them for their dogs who may or may not retrieve them. They are not bio-degradable and so become a constant feature of the landscape.
A former mechanical engineer, Schuldt is a self-taught artist who works in an imaginative array of mediums. His work is on display through Oct. 7 at the Lewis-Clark State College Center for Arts & History and it's worth seeing.
After a career at Boeing, Schuldt began beading and his work has been featured in top contemporary U.S. shows. Beaded works on display at the center look like small oil paintings from a distance. In "Untitled (Tibetan Scene)," ($9,500), a man appears to be standing before a painting. Only up close are the intricate patterns of the beads revealed.
"Forecast: Inclement," is a wearable anorack Schuldt created while working with an Arctic sea ice scientist. There are beaded greenhouse molecular diagrams and stock ticker symbols for oil and coal companies.
Much of the exhibit focuses on Schuldt's view from his canoe. A series of hand-painted paddles hang from the gallery's ceilings. The paddles display drawings and precise maps from his journeys. There are also maps of wilderness that Schuldt has surveyed himself. In the back gallery one can watch a short film from one of his treks. He has become known as "the canoe man" because of his portages through town to Lake Washington.
One of my favorite pieces was "Imprecision Instrument," ($5,900) a working compass in a beaded box. On the compass dial are listed the various tribes that Lewis and Clark interacted with on their journey west.
Show Curator Ellen Vieth notes that Schuldt's work falls into the environmental art category. Looking at the environment through the lens of art can "open a dialog in a way science can't," she says.
Admission to the gallery is free but donations are welcome. Hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday at 415 Main St., Lewiston.
If you are interested in getting more involved, the center is looking for volunteers to staff the gallery. More information is available by calling (208) 792-2243.