By Diane Urbani de la Paz
Peninsula Daily News
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A new exhibition of black-and-white images, “Seeking the Authentic Self,” opens this Friday with a reception at the LARC gallery, 425 E. Washington St., during Sequim's Art Walk from
5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Admission is free to the opening event and to the gallery, which is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays.
In this show, artist Shannon Goose tells her story of trauma, change and self-awareness through mask-making and dream work. It's a subject Mercer believes is spot-on for women.
“We have such a capacity to care for others,” she said, “that we easily lose ourselves. 'Seeking the Authentic Self' is an encouragement to find or reclaim our own identity.”
Mercer, who opened the LARC in February 2012 and moved it to its current location last fall, has particular hopes for the space.
It's a gallery representing some two dozen local artists but also a venue for classes such as the “Seeking the Authentic Self” course Goose will teach May 13, 20 and 27. In the sessions from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., Goose will help participants work on art projects and explore symbols found in their dreams.
The fee for the three-week class is $75, and registration will be available at the LARC this Friday evening. Potential participants can also phone the center at 360-775-9816.
The LARC also hosts poetry readings, classes on marketing for artists and, for the general public, Sunday Scrabble games. It's about being a resource center, a place “to hang out,” said Mercer.
“We are a bit different,” she said of the LARC and its exhibiting artists. “And we don't mind. There's room for diversity in Sequim, in Clallam County.
“It's important to me that everyone feels welcome; everyone feels equal.”
Diane Urbani de la Paz,
Peninsula Daily News
“I wore a lot of makeup. My hair was perfect,” she recalls. There was, of course, much more beneath her surfaces. Goose was, in her words, “all persona.”
Today, Goose is an artist and Sequim resident, a woman who has traveled a long way in her 59 years.
She's also a survivor of a traumatic childhood in the little town of Williams, Calif., a place where the sun shone, and Goose pushed unspeakable events down, deep into the darkness.
Goose suffered abuse while she was just a girl. As she grew up, she tried coping, through denial and through alcohol and other drugs.
They “got me nowhere,” she says now.
But there was one thing that whispered to her, seeming to lead her to a door, a portal to her subconscious. This thing was art. Watercolors, pastels, clay sculpture and mask-making would place her feet on a path toward healing.
First, though, she had to leave Williams. In her late 20s, she went to work at a bank in Folsom, Calif., and one day, a man named David Goose came to her window.
David and Shannon Goose were married 30 years ago and have since moved around the West, from California to Washington and the North Olympic Peninsula.
Their marriage brought Shannon David's two children, Jennifer and Jason, then 13 and 11.
As it happened, she became a stepparent at the same time she began seven years of therapy. It was to be a transition process that included Shannon's discovery of herself as a woman, an artist and, best of all, a person coming into her power.
The journey is depicted in a new photography exhibit, created by Goose and her friend Linda Stone, opening at the LARC Gallery in Sequim this week. “Seeking the Authentic Self” is nine photos and a number of masks from Goose's collection, to stay on display at the gallery through May (see box).
To meet Goose today is to see a woman who radiates enthusiasm for art and life. Of course, she has done a lot of work to arrive here.
In anticipation of her show's opening, Goose took time out to remember some mileposts on her path. That first year as a wife and instant mom was rough.
But David was supportive, and the kids rose to the challenges of this new family. Goose smiles at the memory, expressing gratitude that her family was there to witness her transition.
Goose went on to attend the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology — now Sofia University — in Palo Alto, Calif., a place where students explore Jungian therapy, shamanism, sufism and the symbols embedded in dreams.
Transpersonal psychology, Goose explains, is “a bigger psychology. It's scientific and also mystical,” in the way it focuses on aspects of human experience that could be called spiritual or transcendent.
Goose learned to heal that girl who had been hurt so deeply.
The only time she had felt any sense of power, she recalled, was when she was on a horse. She'd grown up with quarter horses — and years later, she bought her own Arabian and named him Espejo, Spanish for mirror.
Goose grew more interested in dream work: the interpretation of those nighttime sojourns into the subconscious. While living in Port Hadlock, she participated in a dream group with Stone, and the two women embarked on an art project.
They brought Goose's handmade masks and props to Fort Worden State Park and shot scores of photos. This being the early 1990s, they used film, and took the pictures to a processor in Port Townsend.
“These are fantastic,” she remembers the developer saying.
That first photo show went on display in January 1996 at the Russell Jacqua Gallery, a Port Townsend venue that has since closed.
The exhibit, Goose says, was a kind of coming-out. “It was me, not afraid to say, 'This is who I am.'”
It was a success, garnering good coverage in the local newspaper, she adds. Goose felt that Port Townsend's art community welcomed her work.
But then she moved away, as David continued to work as a high-voltage electrician in California and Hawaii. Goose herself became an estate manager and put her art aside for a time.
Then, about two years ago, the couple returned to the Peninsula, to rent a house in the country near the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge. They both retired and got to work adjusting to a new chapter in their lives. Goose set up her art studio in the garage.
She also met Shirley Mercer, owner of the LARC gallery, and began showing her paintings and sculptures there. The women hit it off, and when Goose told Mercer about her photo project, the gallery owner wanted to know more.
The LARC gallery, open since February 2012 in a Bell Street storefront, moved in September to a larger space at 425 E. Washington St., and “I love the space,” says Goose.
Mercer, for her part, was impressed right away.
Goose is “an amazing artist — unique pastels, beautiful gourd art, masks, poetry,” she says. Her passion for self-discovery is “just foremost. And she's a very positive person, I really relate to that.”
The “Seeking” exhibition, Goose says, is about teaching and sharing. She wants to show how each of us can grow toward greater self-awareness.
All this discovery can feel scary, she acknowledges, but “it doesn't have to be. It's the fear of the unknown,” but if one can get past that, the reward is a sense of peace.
“Authenticity,” Goose says, “is so relaxing.”
You don't have to spend so much energy pushing past hurts into some hidden place.
And instead of a persona presented to the world — a two-dimensional facade, in Goose's words — the authentic self is a four-dimensional being, in full flower.
Features Editor Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5062, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.