When you enter the home and studio of Gail Rieke you enter a space that evokes a sense of far-off places. Rieke, a collage and assemblage installation artist, teacher, and world traveler, has amassed a collection of oddities that in many cases would not be out of place in a natural history museum. They include cactus spines, bamboo paper clips, a stingray tail, shells, decorative gourds, and weathered stones. There are found papers, handmade papers, Black Cat firecrackers, fragments of mirrored glass, woven baskets, antique suitcases filled with travel journals, and other objects too numerous to list. One look at the collages, assemblages, and photographs in Ephemerist, an exhibit of Rieke’s work on view at Patina Gallery, transports the viewer to a world of delicate and fleeting beauty. Ephemerist is the first of three in a series of exhibitions at Patina called Drawn to the Wall. Rieke’s show is followed in July by Shape Shifter, an exhibit of abstract paintings by David Solomon, and in October by Measure of Days, paintings by Daniel Kosharek. What the three local artists have in common is that none have current gallery representation, though all are established artists. Rieke, who with her husband, painter Zachariah Rieke, transformed their home studio into a site-specific installation, prefers it this way. “I’m not a production artist,” she told Pasatiempo. “With teaching and traveling and the work developing over a long period of time, I really like the luxury of having the work appear when it’s ready to appear. Zach and I showed for many years at various galleries. Most significantly here, we showed with Linda Durham for 13 years.”
Every summer on the first weekend in August, the Riekes host a three-day open studio. “It allows a lot of people to come that haven’t seen the work in a while. It’s a long time, so we can really talk to people. This time it’s Zach’s turn. We alternate years. He gets to take over the whole house. We’ve been showing in this environment for 21 years now. A lot of artists are not at all interested in interacting with people. They just want to go into the studio and be left alone. But a lot of what I do has so much involvement with whole groups of people that I encounter. The work is very much about these interactions, both with place and with people.”
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