The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

Tsuga Gallery hosts 4 generation art show


November 1, 2018

Diana Zimmerman

Art is a family affair for Brian Thoma, Debbie Thoma, and Joan Wren, whose work is being featured at Tsuga Art Gallery until November 18.

Art has been a family affair for Wahkiakum County resident Joan Wren. It's also been a kind of quiet meditation for everyone, in one way or another.

Wren's mother, Helma Rohloff, took up painting in her 60s but she had always been creative. Three of her paintings of Cathlamet hang in the Tsuga Gallery right now, with the work from three more generations of her family.

Wren started making jewelry in her 50s after a granddaughter asked her for a little help making a bracelet.

Technically, it wasn't the bracelet. Wren thought for sure that would be the end of that.

Instead, it was another project her granddaughter had in mind. Earrings.

Those earrings have had Wren beading ever since.

"I started buying beads and going to classes," Wren said. "It's something I enjoy doing. I know I'll never make a lot of money at it but it's soothing to me, it's a way I can go off by myself and relax and forget what's going on."

The four generation art show was her idea. She'd been inspired by the art created by her daughter and grandson and wanted to create some jewelry to pull it all together.

"This really was great for me," Wren said. "My goal was to take the colors from the paintings and make something that would complement them."

Sometimes stepping away from a piece has made all the difference. One necklace wasn't quite right but one day she was looking through her beads and thinking about something else, when she saw the perfect addition to make it pop.

Grandson Brian Thoma practices the art of pour paint.

"I think I like the chaos of it," he said.

He also enjoys the experimentation, the learning, and the quiet relaxation.

Every piece is different, a vivid landscape in swirls of bright colors.

Wren's daughter, Debbie Thoma, is an art instructor.

"I call myself a creativity encourager," she laughed. "Every person has a creative force inside them. It's just a matter of whether you find and use it. Whether you cook or cut hair, or take pictures, or write, or sing. We're not meant to be solitary, sedentary creatures."

Thoma, who enjoys watercolor painting, has taken up Sumi-e, a form of Japanese painting using ink.

"I like the immediacy of the paint on the paper," Thoma said. "One thing that's cool about Sumi-e is you've got one shot to make your stroke. You practice making strokes all the time. Your goal is to get the brush stroke that you want."

"There is a real meditative process," she added. "You actually do breathing, if you are following the practice, before you make your strokes and you have to think about where you want your ink to be and be the ink."

"It's just ink and paper," she said. "It's not anything I have to worry about being perfect. It's just a really cool process."

Thoma has enjoyed her mother's membership in the gallery and is there frequently, volunteering or participating in one way or another.

"I feel like I've been adopted in," she said. "I have had a lot of fun being part of the community."

She's also grateful for what art has done in her primary community, her family. It's given them a lot to talk about and provided a lot of inspiration, if their exhibit at the gallery is anything to go by.

The four generations of art will be on display at Tsuga Gallery until November 18.


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