Harold Balazs, Timothy C. Ely and Robert Grimes --"Illuminating the Subconscious"


Balazs Ely Grimes postcard image w

February 18, 2011 - April 2, 2011

Please join us for a show featuring three of the most creative minds in the region-- Harold Balazs, Timothy C. Ely and Robert Grimes—“Illuminating the Subconscious.” The opening reception is Friday, February 18 from 5- 8:00. Come meet the artists and enjoy a fine evening in downtown Coeur d’Alene.  Everyone is welcome.

Robert Grimes will give an informal presentation in the gallery on Saturday, February 19 from 1-3.

This show is sponsored by Hotel Ruby, a boutique and value alternative conveniently located in the center of Spokane’s performing arts venues.




Harold Balazs

Harold Balazs of Mead, Wash., is best known for his public works of art in communities throughout the Pacific Northwest. Balazs crafts and sculpts in multimedia. His range of materials includes wood, metal, concrete, enamel and wrought iron. His largest public work, a collaborative project in Spokane’s Riverfront Park, is an interactive fountain of stainless steel and basalt, 30 feet in diameter and 16 feet tall.

Balazs was born in 1928 in Westlake, Ohio. He earned his bachelor’s of arts degree in 1951 from Washington State University. He has worked as a self-employed artist since. He served three terms on the Washington State Arts Commission.

Balazs is an artistic pioneer who juxtaposes disparate ideas in an endless variety of forms. He merges nebulous shapes with geometric, often on scrap materials such as old washing machine lids.

The architectural community embraced his work, which led Balazs to create abstract altars, cement and brick planters and carved wooden doors. The American Institute of Architects awarded Balazs a gold medal in architectural crafts in 1967. He received a Washington state Governor’s Award in the Arts in 1988 and a lifetime achievement award from the Enamellist Society. In 2001, Balazs was profiled in the Living Treasures Project, a video series that documents the Northwest’s important and influential craftsmen and artists that ran on public television.

Balazs is known for his vibrant enamel work. He created a 30-foot enamel mural of rhododendrons for Seattle’s Kingdome stadium. The mural was moved to the King County Administration building after the Kingdome was demolished.

Balazs describes his life’s work with these words: “I make stuff because it’s better than not making stuff.”


Timothy C. Ely

Timothy Ely began making books in the 1950’s with one surviving example from that time: a small cookbook covered in stars. After high school and experiments with rock and roll bands he decided to follow his first impulse which was to pursue the graphic arts. The scale of the book and its partners in the drawing and painting worlds formed the amalgam from which his later books would spring. Drawing from extensive childhood readings of cold war mythology, Ely’s lexicon would project visions of strange botanicals and maps of unknowable cosmologies, all surrounded in what appears to be a peculiar and unreadable script. 

He began to formally make books in tandem with paintings and prints in the mid-70’s following an MFA from the University of Washington. A grant from the National Endowment for the Arts took him further afield to Japan, Italy, and England where his studies of book binding with some of the world’s most well-known practitioners would nearly cement into a cohesive whole, his ideas for his visual stories and the book format. 

Ely has taught bookbinding, drawing, and creativity workshops in many places in the world from Scandinavia to Central America. His books and other works can be found in museums and libraries, most extensively in the United States and Europe. 

His books intently defy description beyond the obvious library craft aspects. A love of secrets and ciphers, ineffable language and diagram feed an equal affection for the material aspect of the art. On occasion Ely has made props for films and this neo-sci-fi -beguiling veil that is this work lends itself to projections of mystery.

The Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture in Spokane is currently showing: Timothy C. Ely, Line of Site from December 4 – April 16, 2011.


Robert Grimes

Robert is known throughout the Northwest for his intricate, three- dimensional “paintings on carved wood” that are designed to hang on the wall and take on the aesthetic qualities of both oil painting and sculpture.

Born and raised in Colorado, Robert Grimes graduated from Indiana University in 1967 with an MFA in sculpture. Since then he has worked as an instructor, a designer, a jeweler, and an illustrator, and always as an active fine artist.

The attention to detail he cultivated as a jeweler serves him well as a sculptor. Grimes alternates between rounded shapes painstakingly carved out of solid wood and cross-hatched areas of angular activity reminiscent of Marcel Duchamp’s “Nude Descending a Staircase.” He paints his freshly- hewn surfaces in oils and further modifies them with chiseled lines and areas of bas-relief. His pieces often take months to complete; the artist works on several projects simultaneously employing both subtractive and additive processes.

His compositions seem to exist on several different time planes simultaneously. As a lifelong student of the arts, Grimes displays in his work a vital appreciation for both the history and philosophies of art, as well as for old, powerful objects themselves. 

“I always thought if I hadn’t become an artist I would have been an archaeologist,” Grimes explains. “But since I don’t have the time or resources to find these old things, I create them myself. A lot of what you see here comes from the archaeophile in me.” 

Ancient patterns borrowed from everyone from the Greeks to the Haida emerge in his recent pieces and the fact that they spring forth from once- living wood adds another dimension, suggesting that the object is at once primitive and yet elaborate. 

While there is a sense of storytelling taking place, the characters are only vaguely familiar and even the artist himself isn’t sure while carving where the piece is going or how it might end up. He’s comfortable with both his intuitive process and the ambiguity of knowing nothing for certain: “At times being ‘lost’ can be more exciting than having a complete understanding of something. Working my way through chaos has its merits. A kind of “game” if you will, providing delight in the discovery of new structures and experiences out of the disorder.”