Matters of Faith artwork Kate James
Kate James, Imogene, Acrylic on Cardboard, 2020

Set to celebrate 150 years in its iconic redwood chapel in Boulder Creek mid-May, the Boulder Creek United Methodist Church (BCUMC) invites one and all to attend this first in a series of contemporary art exhibitions. “Matters of Faith” was conceived by and for artists whose work explores experiences and expressions of faith of all kinds.

This group show will open Saturday, Feb. 10, with a public reception from 10am-5pm at BCUMC, 12855 Boulder St.

This free community event is open to everyone with an interest in art and includes work by local artists, such as photographer Poppy de Garmo and painter Kate James, alongside works on paper and canvas by a family of artists; Ada Paquet, John Tanner, Joanne Tanner and Julia Tanner.

Sponsored by BCUMC, “Matters of Faith” joins and compliments an established and successful ongoing free community concert series by The Concertino Strings Orchestra, organized by Joanne Tanner. 

Lovers of contemporary art and baroque music, and those who are simply curious, are warmly invited to check out this gorgeous space and group show throughout the month of February every Sunday and during upcoming Concertino Strings concerts on Wednesday, Feb. 14, at 11:30am and on Saturday, Feb. 17, at 3pm. While ample parking is available, these free concerts are popular, so come a bit early if you want a front row seat.

Matters of Faith artwork Ada Paquet
Ada Paquet, A Forest, 2011, Watercolor on Paper

Each of the artists in “Matters of Faith” represents a wonderfully different approach to the question, “How do we express and experience faith?” Artwork on view in the sanctuary includes a series of saturated abstract watercolors by then 100-year-old artist Ada Paquet and graphic, colorful mid-century modernist abstract chalk and charcoal drawings by her son, John Tanner. 

Additional artworks in the sanctuary include pastel prints by Ann Thiermann, photographs by Poppy de Garmo and paintings by Joanne and Julia Tanner, respectively. In the Fellowship Hall, viewers are invited to enjoy a second piece by Thiermann, a Peruvian textile by an unknown artist and a delightful body of paintings on wood and paper by Boulder Creek artist Kate James—including new work.

In “Matters of Faith,” the artists’ approach to their use of materials and means of expression are as varied and fascinating as their respective responses to questions about faith and what we put faith in—or don’t. 

Paquet’s water colors depicting storms and bending trees with richness and depth of color and expression, speak to anyone with ears to hear and eyes to see. Bright, bold, graphic work by her son, John Tanner, are representative of a space and time in which international modernism found new life in America. 

Matters of Faith artwork John Tanner
John Tanner, Untitled, Pastel on Paper

Holding space between their mother and brother, musicians and artists, Joanne and Julia Tanner anchor our gaze with a pair of seascape paintings on paper and canvas. 

Large-scale photographic works in color and black and white by Poppy de Garmo open up space for reflection about the future of our planet and the practices and acts of faith required to sustain it.

While musicians still have the opportunity to perform in sacred historic spaces like this one, with soaring ceilings, redwood walls and massive, jewel-like stained glass windows such as those by Boulder Creek stained glass artist Virginia Fordice, artists creating new and challenging work are often encouraged to go to the “white cube” (commercial and non-profit gallery spaces). Churches, once the home of groundbreaking works of art as well as traditional icons and statuary, are now largely places that contemporary art and artists do not go. 

The artists in “Matters of Faith,” go against the grain; they resist this trend and their work is not entirely devotional, or belonging to this group or that. “Matters of Faith” is equally accessible to an art connoisseur or novice as it is to someone who has a very concrete sense of their own faith (secular or religious) and those who remain circumspect—or skeptical. 

Matters of Faith artwork Joanne Tanner
Joanne Tanner, Atlantic Coast, 2011, Watercolor on Paper

Visitors can also expect transcendent and ecstatic expressions of human experience that includes many of these encounters with faith.

For their part, the leadership and members of BCUMC have turned a deep commitment to human expression and exploration through art into an invitation and challenge. For months, and years, this commitment grew to include free mid-month community dinners, support for young families and ambitious, wide-ranging music programs led by Robert Jackson and Joanne Tanner, respectively.

Weekly, Lead Vocalist/Guitarist/Songwriter for punk band Craig’s Brother Ted Bond, concluded his message in his role as BCUMC Director of Education and Lay Speaker with an invitation for all attending to bring gifts of talent and creativity to the space. 

Bond’s invitation resonated and was amplified by art and music lovers within the church and Boulder Creek community. This is, afterall, a small but mighty cultural hub, with a thriving performing and visual art community complete with its own music festivals, museums, galleries and community-run radio station, KBCZ.

While this exhibition marks a trajectory mapped out by the various community-based cultural programs sponsored by BCUMC, members hope “Matters of Faith” ultimately reads as a response to a radical call to both create and participate—come and see.

Matters of Faith artwork Poppy de Garmo
Poppy de Garmo, Slowcoast Two, 2020, color photograph
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