Magicians of Dreams

by kate vanskike

Once in a great while, you meet individuals so gifted, you just want to linger with them. They seem to possess the answer to some great mystery, some rich truth, some other level of being that calls you close. Such individuals are notoriously creative and – at least among the few who come to mind – apparently have no limits to their creative capabilities. Not that a painter would have the energy to paint the same genius works for weeks, months, years on end. But that the creative magician would not be bound to one form of expression. Words. Music. Fabric. Sculpture. Drama. Drawing, lettering, sewing, crafting, or a dozen other forms, all spilling from one person.

Serendipity is when two of those wizards are life partners, sharing the same space, watching one another in their elements, then designing and building cohesive art together.

I saw that couple tonight. They are Ellen Picken and Rajah Bose, although while reflecting during my drive home, I kept thinking “the” Ellen Picken and “the” Rajah Bose because there will never be duplicates of these two.

The occasion on this First Friday Artwalk was the opening of Ellen’s show, “Still Hiding a Blue Fire” at Entropy – an idyllic setting for her exhibition. A round vinyl shop with a spiral staircase leading to the gallery and an open view of music lovers picking through albums, walls lined with narrow wooden panels painted white, it could not be more suited for the weaving of visions accomplished by a series of pieces portraying Ellen’s dreams. (Carl Jung would be impressed.)

I love art, but rarely do I view a piece and think, “I need this in the spaces I inhabit.” But between the oil-on-clayboard creations such as “Between Winter and Spring” and “The tree that brought me to life,” and the wood, stone, string sculptures like “Six Into Nine” and “Cloud to Ground,” I felt home among Ellen’s stories.

Not only are the pathways of lines and colors amazing in and of themselves a spectacle, but this visual artist is every bit as eloquent with words, translating the mysteries of dreams into cogent ideas for onlookers.

And then there’s the accompaniment of Raj, Ellen’s husband. As if his talents as storyteller in photos, videos and written form aren’t enough, he and his electric violin have put the paintings and sculptures to music. He translates the labyrinths of dreamland into ethereal melodies, transporting guests through time and place.

For me, there was no need to meander through downtown streets to other exhibits. Nothing else would match The Ellen Picken and The Rajah Bose together.

original paintings and sculptures on white wooden planks

At right: Rajah playing electric violin, and Ellen watching from above.

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