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Not your average artist whirls through town

Artist Dorotha Woods moves through her Kitsap Lake home like a tiny tornado of good humor and limitless ideas.

Like any whirlwind, she occasionally ejects interesting debris. In this case, comments about how bacteria can be beautiful under the microscope, how clusters of mushrooms can resemble clusters of breasts, the advantages of “biodegradable” art made of old leaves, and how her body has trouble keeping up with her mind — even though the diminutive artist, in her mid-forties, moves so fast you have to hang onto your hat as she goes by.

Woods’ art, which gives new meaning to the word “eclectic,” will be shown at Metropolis The Gallery in February. Woods was so free-associative and non-linear in explaining her life and art, it’s easier to quote snippets of the interview than a straight narrative:

l She called one small painting of clustered mushrooms “Bosom Buddies,” and remarked how odd it was each seemed to have a kind-of nipple.

l She pointed to a painting of a tree with fruit inspired by microscopic slides of bacteria. “I was in the library looking at these slides ... and noticed they were so beautiful,” said Woods, adding that the librarian gave her an odd look when she asked to borrow the slides.

l She takes pride in being enough of a carpenter to create her own picture frames — though admits they’re made of “junk,” and perhaps poorly made at that.

l “You know, I could have done 300 pieces for this show if my body could keep up with my mind,” she said. “I’d have to be an octopus.”

l She gestured to an old door that had obviously been out in the weather since Bremerton was settled. “I’d been seeing this door in someone’s junk pile for some time,” she said, “I finally got up the nerve to ask if I could have it.” They gave it to her, of course. It’s now festooned with fragments of mirrors and called “The Voyeur’s Eye.” She described it — with barely a straight face — as a “very reflective piece.”

l She pointed to one dark canvas with a pasty-white, vampish-looking woman, which she calls “Night Preyers.”

l One canvas showed a little doll in a red dress being burned at the stake.

In a serious moment, Woods hinted at a troubled childhood and family estrangement. She compares art — real, self-revelatory, open-a-vein-and-let-the-blood-flow art — as being like “Getting naked in front of the universe.”

What little personal history she revealed includes being strongly influenced by Elbert Hubbard, an arts and crafts philosopher, and being born and raised in Springfield, Ill. She attended community college for a while in Oregon. She has never had much luck with teachers, or employers. She’s mostly waited tables or cleaned houses for a living. She was once a pastry chef. She’s been married and divorced, has no children, and once suffered from a serious illness — but has since recovered. As an artist, she proudly proclaims herself an autodidact.

The inscription on the back of the promotional post card for the exhibit is the longest and most clearly stated narrative of her philosophy, which happily combines the silly with the serious:

“Warning: This is Expressionistic ART (her capitals) which stresses psychological and emotional content while raising subjective feelings revealing dark and sinister aspects of the human psyche. This is an honest look into the artist’s evolution and cleansing process. This show promises to be doubly rewarding because of its unusual and humorous application of junk.”

Woods will be at the show’s reception, 5 p.m., First Friday Art Walk, Feb. 1, and she will no doubt be dressed exotically, as she often is at events of great moment.

It will become obvious to those who attend that the most important work of art at the reception is, of course, Dorotha Woods — a work in progress.

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