Playing Koi

JERRY McBRIDE/Durango Herald

Michael Thunder, owner of the White Dragon Tea Room, shares a glass a tea with Elizabeth Kinahan on Wednesday after they finished hanging her “Playing Koi” series for today’s opening.

By Ted Holteen
Herald Staff Writer

It was chance that brought Elizabeth Kinahan’s artwork to the walls of the tiny White Dragon Tea Room, and it’s hard to call it anything other than good luck.

Tea Room owner Michael Thunder was visiting Studio &, where Kinahan paints, when he saw one of her paintings of koi fish.

“I was caught and moved by the images and wanted them here,” Thunder said.

That painting and nine more are on display at White Dragon, and they just look like they’re supposed to be there. In Thunder’s opinion, they are. ’ For the next month, Kinahan’s paintings will replace the Japanese prints that have hung since the White Dragon opened almost two years ago in a small space behind There’s No Place Like Home on Main Avenue.

“When the brave koi goes up the waterfall, it becomes a white dragon,” Thunder said, simultaneously demonstrating with a bold dragon tattoo that covers his left forearm.

Kinahan has not followed through on the transformation, artistically speaking anyway, but she is fascinated enough by the koi in their present state. For thousands of years, the fish have an almost sacred presence in Asian culture. As good luck charms, they invite wealth and prosperity. But Kinahan feels a less tangible yet no less valuable effect from her fish.

“Two golden fish swimming together is symbolic of unity, equality and longevity in marriage. I love that,” she said.

Thunder will host a reception for Kinahan today. At it, guests will witness an authentic Japanese tea ceremony. “Playing Koi” will remain on display through the month, including the Fall Gallery Walk to be held Sept. 28.

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