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GOING THE DISTANCE by Nola Ahola is a solo exhibition of watercolors, collage, and ink drawings from her illustrious career. Her unique and luminous-figure-in watercolor style with a feminist context will enthrall you. This exhibit is representative of the artist’s lifetime of exceptional artistic achievement.


Seattle artist Ahola gained recognition for her figurative art, working with live models and capturing movement and postures with swift brush strokes in ink. In her watercolors, she combines areas of color and pattern with expressive line. Her signature body of collage work includes both figurative and abstract compositions on a larger scale. The artist delights in the surprises that come with remaining “open to spontaneity” throughout the creative process.

For more than six decades, Ahola has been prolific in producing drawings, watercolors, and collages that have gained an enthusiastic following. Her first art classes were at Willamette University in the 1950s, during an era when being a wife and mother was regarded as the most fulfilling role for a woman. Although "caught in the fog of the pervasive sexism of that time," Ahola gradually gained confidence in her self-sufficiency and talent. She continued her art education at the University of Washington and began to focus her artwork on the human figure. After earning her MFA, she started to teach art, and in the 1970's she developed a series of figure drawing and watercolor workshops with a feminist context. Her reputation as an inspiring teacher grew with her many classes sponsored by the U of W Continuing Education Program. She also participated in art programs offered by the city, county, and state, such as the Seattle Art Commission's Artist in Residency program at Stevens Elementary School.

During this period she completed over a hundred large-scale brush drawings of dancers, a collection of which was showcased by Nordstrom Inc. The artist's first solo exhibition was held at the Otto Seligman Gallery in 1967, followed by shows at Francine Seders Gallery and the University Unitarian Gallery. She exhibited at the Linda Farris Gallery for a decade and has shown her work independently since 1980. Most of the exhibits have been in King County, but during the years she resided on Lopez Island (1992-1999), solo exhibits of her work took place on San Juan, Orcas, and Lopez Islands. Ahola's art is in many private collections, as well as in those of organizations such as Safeco Corporation, Virginia Mason Hospital, the Seattle Mariners, American Contemporary Dance Company, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and the City of Seattle.

In addition to the expert and flowing lines of her brush drawings and watercolors, the appeal of Ahola's work lies in the richness of patterns to be found in her other main area of concentration: the figurative and abstract collages. Intrigued by patterned textiles for much of her life, she has developed a unique way of making collages with handmade papers on which she has painted undulating lines often suggestive of landscapes and rippling water. Applying these papers to canvas on a larger scale than her other works, Ahola creates compositions that are carefully constructed, yet incorporate the spontaneity of brushwork that is the hallmark of her style–which she sums up as "playing fast and loose."

Sponsored by The Honeywell Charitable Trust, Lamar Efaw Interiors, Elan Video and Framesmith.

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