Mark Woolley Gallery
817 SW 2nd Ave, Portland, Oregon
April 29 – May 31, 2008
4 + 3, 2008
You know how sometimes there’s a word that’s just right for something, and you know you know the word, yet the word does not come to you? In the days since I interviewed William Park for this article, that was the situation I found myself in.
Then the other day, out of nowhere, it came to me. Baryshnikov. That was the word.
I’m not comparing William Park (a painter and printmaker) to Baryshnikov (the dancer and choreographer). I am not in the position to do so. But there are so many qualities about William Park’s work, the person, and even his studio space, that conjure up the image of a dancer and choreographer for me.
For starters, the movements and gracefulness of his lines. In his current exhibit at Mark Woolley Gallery, you see that in the long curves of the geese’s necks, their egg shaped bodies, the trees the Goldfinches inhabit, the pools of water. These qualities are also ever present in his abstracts, his land and water paintings, his images of agile athletes at play.
Although you see these finished paintings in their final state as two dimensional objects, the creation of them involves the creation of a three dimensional space, a world that he describes as surreal, with multiple images on multiple walls, surrounding him as he works. Within this environment, pieces in progress engage each other in a conversation, with the painter as the conductor and choreographer.
Park physically creates this space within a space by using movable walls in his otherwise cavernous studio—a space possibly large enough to stage Swan Lake! In this space, he paints, prints, teaches, photographs and stores his finished work. And created a movie—an animation of an evolving painting (the animation is the artwork, the painting is the medium). He quite literally, in my mind, danced his way through it.
With canvas and camera set up, and a decision made about his next move, he would take the next couple of hours to execute his plan by alternating between painting and photographing each quarter inch stroke. He moved rhythmically and unwavering from his initial take until the plan was completed. Only then would he stop to take another reading, and whatever his gut reaction was at that moment, he followed through with another few hours of this dance. The result is a spectacular 7 minute movie set to original cello music by Gabe Leavitt.
Between his painting, printmaking, his figurative work, and abstracts, he struggled for a while with the need to find a direction. Or in his own words, ‘to grow up.’ Happily, he has since come to his senses and has decided that he will simply do what he wants to do, go wherever the work takes him.
There are just a few more days to see his exhibit this month at Mark Woolley’s. In the fall, during Portland Open Studios, you will have the opportunity to see the full spectrum of his work, to see the printing presses in action, and best of all, to hear him talk about his own work.
Below, several pieces in progress in a corner in William Park’s studio.
And the printing presses that Park shares with experienced printmakers.
Pacific Northwest Sculptors
Featuring sculptural works by Pacific Northwest Sculptors Association members, in glass, stone, metal, clay and other materials, including works by Bonnie Meltzer and Sara Swink
November 1-30, 2007
220 SW Yamhill
Opening Reception: Thursday, November 1, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.
The Pacific Northwest Sculptors juried exhibition at Gottlieb Gallery in downtown Portland will include work by Portland Open Studios artists Bonnie Meltzer and Sara Swink. Each of these sculptors has a unique sculptural vision.
Bonnie Meltzer calls her work 2.5 dimensional because although it is sculptural in its rich surfaces of found objects they are usually added to flat substrates rather than being sculpture in the round. “Recording Memory”, rising seven feet high with its fringed usb cord sleeves is reminiscent of Southwest Native American costume or figures. Originally made for an exhibition with a totem theme, Meltzer’s initial idea was to use floppy disks as quilt blocks, further connecting the textile connection. Pencils, crayons, hard drives and other writing tools embellish the work and are icons of how we store memories and retrieve them.
Sara Swink’s ceramic sculpture called “Imperfect Offering” addresses compassion for oneself. No matter how imperfect one feels there is still something to offer. “I can’t wait until I get perfect to make my offering.” The figure is hand built with slips, oxides, under glazes and glazes for coloring.
Numbering over 100 members, Pacific Northwest Sculptors is a volunteer driven 501(c) (3) organization comprised of sculptors and persons in associated fields who live and work in the Northwest. Its purpose is to foster the art of sculpture by increasing public awareness of the issues and techniques that surround sculpture and to facilitate communication between member sculptors. PNS sponsors seminars, studio tours, workshops, lectures and art events that are open to the public.
Above, Recording Memory, by Bonnie Meltzer. Below, Imperfect Offering, by Sara Swink.
For more information about Pacific Northwest Sculptors, Gottlieb Gallery, Bonnie Meltzer, and Sara Swink, see these following links:
The Family Dynamic
A family exhibition featuring large scale paintings by Portland Open Studios artist Lorna Nakell, sculptures by her husband Noah Nakell, oil paintings by Noah’s mother Susan Sumimoto, and photographs by his stepfather Chuck Nakell
Sept 6th – Sept 28th, 2007
Portland Art Center
32 NW 5th Avenue
Portland, Oregon 97209
Opening reception Sept 6th, 6 – 10pm
We asked Lorna to tell us a little bit about her working process, and this is what she says:
More Paint – More Water
by Lorna Nakell
Since starting in my new direction as an abstract painter about two years ago, I have gone from creating 22”x30” watercolor and mixed media paintings on paper to making these new 8’ x 12’ acrylic and mixed media paintings on canvas. The change of size and medium has been a challenge, but a rewarding one. Below is a description of my painting process:
My canvases are custom built. After they have been delivered to my studio, they are laid flat on the floor where they receive one coat of gesso and one coat of Golden’s absorbent ground. When they are fully dried, they are leaned upright against the wall where I begin to sketch out the design with pencil. Then charcoal stick is used to develop the lines and shapes creating the final under-drawing.
When the drawing is completed, canvases are laid back on the floor where they are dampened with water from a spray bottle. I then apply colored inks with a dropper and thinned acrylic paint in carefully placed splatters and drips. I alternate applying ink and paint careful to keep the surface constantly wet until the desired colors and blends are achieved. The wet canvases are then lifted carefully to allow the colors to run together in a slightly controlled fashion. Although some aspects of this background process are controlled, the paint tends to have a mind of its own, pooling together in unexpected ways. I never know exactly what it will look like until the entire surface has dried.
When the canvases have dried, they are leaned back against the wall where they are sealed with a fluid coat of acrylic medium to prevent the charcoal from rubbing off. After the medium has dried, the surfaces are ready for me to add painterly shapes and forms with acrylic paint, sparkly shapes with mica or glitter and other layers with tinted acrylic resin. Because my work is so process oriented, even though I might begin with a plan for each painting, I end up having to spontaneously work with the effects created by each step. This is exciting to me because it leads to surprising results. Only when all the colors and shapes seem to balance out and an overall mood is achieved do I consider a painting done. When finished, each painting receives a protective coat of varnish.
The Hoffman Gallery at Oregon College of Art & Craft presents:
2007 Craft Biennial
Featuring fine handmade work of the Pacific Northwest, including the paper mosaics of Portland Open Studios artists Mary Wells
August 2 – September 27, 2007
Oregon College of Art & Craft
8245 SW Barnes Road
Portland, OR 97225
Please also join Mary and other OCAC alumni at the Century Celebration
Art show & sale, live entertainment, free food & beverage
Oregon College of Art & Craft campus
11am – 4pm, Saturday, September 22, 2007
Mary Wells has been exhibiting widely in the past few years and receiving recognition for her work. She has garnered an impressive list of awards:
2007 Merit Award, 2007 Craft Biennial
Hoffman Gallery, Oregon College of Art & Craft, Portland, Oregon 2007 Popular Opinion Artist’s Award, Oregon Visions
ArtCentric, Corvallis, Oregon 2006 Curator’s Choice Award, Parts and Pieces
ArtCentric, Corvallis, Oregon 2006 First Place Mixed Media, Visual Arts Showcase
Mary works her paper magic in a light filled main floor studio cum gallery space. Although she’s best known for her paper mosaics — which she has been making since she was a late teen — she’s a versatile artist, trained in both painting and book arts from the Oregon College of Art & Craft. Her studio is well organized to accommodate her many talents, and is a reflection of what is apparent in Mary’s work — fine craftsmanship and elegant simplicity.
To create her award winning mosaics, Mary starts with a well composed image. This can be a photograph, an historic image, or something that she conjures up from her imagination. From there, she prepares her ‘medium’ — searching through discarded paintings, calendars, or magazines (Architectural Digest being a favorite, for the fine quality paper and printing) for the right colors, textures, and imagery for the particular piece.
A long horizontal scroll that hangs in her studio depicts an abstract slice of the American landscape from coast to coast, based on her memories of her many cross country journeys. It was created from Mary’s discarded paintings. The scroll was part of her thesis project that also included painting and artist’s books.
Above, a portion of the scroll, paintings, and artist’s books from Mary’s thesis project.
A small copy of an historic image of Haystack sits on her desk, next to some small brushes, a bottle of glue, and a pair of scissors, all tools of her craft. An old Ansel Adams calendar will soon be cut into pieces about 1/8″ high and 1/3″ wide, and from this confetti, the haystack image will be reconstructed.
Below, Mary’s work table, all set up to work on her new mosaic.
Mary’s work has been impressing jurors and audiences through out Oregon. When you visit, don’t forget to bring your glasses!
For more information about Oregon College of Art & Craft, please go to http://ocac.edu/.
August 3 – 31, 2007
Columbia River Gallery
305 E Columbia R. Highway
First Friday Artwalk August 3, 5-9
Below, Just Around the River Bend, oil on canvas, by Karen E. Lewis.
We asked Karen to talk a little about her work, and here’s what she says:
Gathering landscape material is my first step. I find inspiration on hikes and canoe trips, and painting en plein air in favorite places. I sketch directly on small (12 x 9) canvas, using a limited palette to mix all the colors I see. Painting on location forces me to simplify, distilling the scene into its most important elements, because within two hours, the light will have changed dramatically.
Although I take many photographs, my strongest impressions come from the plein air painting. Being there, my eye sees what the camera cannot. Time after time, I’ve painted a scene, putting in colors and shades that I saw. Bringing home sketch and photographs, I find that the camera faithfully recorded detailed shapes–the angles of a building, the multiple leaves on the trees–but all the colors seem to have averaged out into a mere approximation of the sensations I experienced. Being there, you notice the warms within cool shadows, the cools at the tops of trees, the dancing colors in the water. You notice the color of the sky. As you continue to look, you become aware of atmosphere, of a hint of breeze. You put these into the sky, and it becomes more sky-alive.
In the studio, these on-location paintings expand into larger works. Searching through my photos and sketches, I select and design new compositions, using my imagination to freely change the design. I manipulate the digital photographs on the computer, expanding parts, creating composites, emphasizing certain colors, de-emphasizing others. The palette of the plein-air sketch informs the studio choices. On my palette in the studio, I enrich colors even further, juxtapose contrasting hues to enhance atmosphere and mood.
The new composition goes onto the canvas in brush-painted lines, with sketchy shading for the darks. Then I can evaluate the light and dark pattern one last time before I begin actual painting. Each painting develops in a slightly different way. Sometimes I cover the entire canvas alla prima, incorporating all the color and texture the first time around. Other paintings build in layers, enabling me to separate complements and create rougher textures.
My favorite subjects are rivers, lakes, waterfalls, clouds, any form of water.
Karen’s studio will be open October 20-21 through Portland Open Studios, where you can see more of her work and artistic process.
July 1 – July 20
Portland City Hall
1221 SW 4th Ave, Portland, Oregon
Opening reception First Thursday, July 5 from 5:00 – 7:00pm
Artists gleaned materials from company storerooms to make commissioned artworks. It is a great way for businesses to support artists and it keeps trash out of the landfill. Funding for the project comes from the businesses and from Cracked Pots.
The organizers of this program used the 2006 Tour Guide to select half of the artists. Mar Goman, Susan Levine, and Dawn McConnell were in last year’s tour. Trina Hesson and Bonnie Meltzer are 2007 Portland Open Studios artists and were also in the 2006 tour.
Below, the 4 sides of a sculpture by Bonnie Meltzer created from the castoffs supplied by Pavelcomm.
We asked artist Bonnie Meltzer to talk about her experience of creating this particular piece for the exhibit, and she generously contributes not only her own story but also that of Trina Hesson’s:
Trina Hesson, a sculptor who makes colorful wooden and found object portraits, took cutoff ends of 2 x 4’s and 2 x 6’s at Hampton Lumber. The pieces are the result of cutting boards to the size needed. There are always leftovers. She decided to make a wall piece made up of wooden wafers to be used like mosaics. She sliced the ends of the lumber like you would slice salami and then glued the “salami” on to a board. By using the ends of the wood rather than the sides she could make use of the more heavily patterned grain. She further intensified the patterning by rubbing thin paint into some of the slices. Others she painted with opaque paint. The wafers fit together to make a bigger than life expressive portrait.
Above, detail of Trina Hesson’s sculpture at the exhibit.
About her own piece, Bonnie adds:
Talks with other artists in the program revealed that artists were having some of the same problems and joys that I was having about making art with an unusual array of materials. It is always good for artists to be thrown off their comfort zones. Unless, of course, it is the artist it is happening to or more specifically me. Well frankly, it is uncomfortable. Until the magic happens. This is a short story about how the uncomfortable became Ok and even good. I am used to working with computer parts and a variety of found objects. I usually chose them for either symbolism or because they are just beautiful. The object of this project was to mainly use what each company had. When I walked into the warehouse at Pavelcomm, a phone and networking company, there was a mountain of cartons in the middle of the floor. These were things ready for the scrap heap — old models no longer sold, broken parts, or parts with no place to fit. As I pawed through the boxes and boxes of phones the first dilemma was what to take. What things would give me ideas. What do I have too much of already and shouldn’t take. I did not need one more circuit board. The curly cords looked interesting, and so did other cords with plastic connectors that I thought could be incorporated into a crocheted wire wall piece with dangling phone fringe. I drove away with a car full of things, mostly phone receivers,cords, and designs in my head..
In the studio I emptied the boxes on the floor…what to do, what to do? Nothing was particularly gorgeous, but I had a lot of each thing. To complicate matters, I dropped by the company to measure a wall and the owner asked if I could do a free standing sculpture…SURE, I said. So I emptied my head and filled it with 3d visions. I spent a day playing with phones fitting them together like children’s blocks. There is hardly a flat surface on a phone so two phones could be glued together. I guess that is because our heads aren’t flat. New idea! Great, I thought. I can crochet around the cords and make the piece self supporting so it could stand up. Bonnie Pavell generously offered to have a sculpture stand made if I needed one. Without belaboring my trials, tribulation and frustration the piece was just not working. Yikess, 2 weeks wasted. Back to the drawing board and the phone pile. (some other artists i talked to had the same experience of abandoning their first attempt).
Break Through…Two sculpture stands that have been in my way for quite a while because the base wasn’t big enough to accomodate my sculpture became the structure for a shrine to the phone. it is an obelisk with operators taking your call on its sides. I collaged yellow and white page; took phones apart for the goodies inside; glued, screwed and crocheted parts together. Painted phones; and went back to one of the earlier phone structures and figured out how to get it together for the top. I am happy that I abandoned my first idea for this later better one. I have found my equilibrium and am comfortable again, until the next challenge. Got to go, the phone is ringing.
May 31-June 26
2939 NE Alberta, Portland, OR 97211
Below, Poisson, 2007, clay, 21″ x 19″ x 6″
In 2006, Sara Swink established Clay Circle Studio in West Linn where she creates her ceramic sculptures and teaches studio classes in clay as well as creative process workshops. Her exhibit at Guardino is stunning and has been very well received; there is still time to see the show if you have not done so. She will be participating in the Portland Open Studios Tour for the second time in October, 2007.
Sara graciously gave a private studio tour this morning to talk about her creative process.
At first glance, her work appears whimsical and light hearted. Her use of animal imagery and human figures creates combinations that are sometimes unexpected and sometimes as familiar as a mermaid. But as she says about Poisson, her fish-headed woman, “don’t be fooled.” Keep looking, and you will see mouths, gaping, exposing well formed teeth; eyes, closed, half open, downcast, or hidden behind swim goggles; surfaces, encrusted with inner thoughts, or poisonous octopus suckers, and you will know that it’s an open invitation to explore Sara’s psyche, as well as your own.
Perched between working and playing, she improvises and she creates collages, doodles, writing and sketching that she has been forming into books for many years. Through this half play, half work, she delves deeply into her conscious and unconscious self. From this beginning of images and texts on paper, through the touch of hands on wet clay, to the transformation by pigments and intense heat, a personal narrative emerges from her kiln.
She returns to these books again and again to seek meaning, understanding, and inspiration. These books are not only a treasure trove of ideas and a personal document, they are artistic objects in their own right. Like the sculptures that are the end results of this process, these books are also symbols of the connection between her (and our) inner and outer realities.
Above, a few of Sara’s working notebooks. Below, the back half of her spacious studio.
Visiting an artist’s studio is always a privilege, and Sara is a generous host who is happy to share her working methods through Portland Open Studios tours and through her creative process workshops.
In the Garden
11 acrylic paintings with collage by Marcy Baker
June 5 – June 30th, 2007
Mary Lou Zeek Gallery
335 State Street, Salem, Oregon
Above, Late Winter, acrylic and collage by Marcy Baker
We asked Marcy to talk a little bit about her work, and to give us a ‘mini tour’ of her monotype printing process, and here’s what she says:
Inspiration is found in the rhythms of my neighborhood and in graceful relationships between natural and man-made structures.
Relief printing blocks are hand cut in Victorian-era textile designs and traditional Celtic motifs. Stencils are inspired by seventeenth century chintz fabrics, as well as my own botanical drawings. Using these and other tools – anything that will create interesting marks and texture – I apply acrylic paint or oil based printing ink in overlapping patterns, an influence from my background in fabric design. Many layers are built up in this way, with each layer informing the next, and much of what is painted is eventually covered up – but its presence is integral to the final piece. Collage elements – added in between and on top of the layers – include architectural and botanical line drawings from my backyard, and relief prints using the same blocks that have been stamped into the paint. I also draw into the surface with charcoal and graphite – I like the juxtaposition of random, intuitive mark making with orderly repeat patterns.
When engaged in my neighborhood I feel an intriguing play of comfort and anticipation. This balance is what I seek in my work.
And on making monotypes, she adds:
I pulled my first monotype fifteen years ago and was hooked – spontaneous, colorful, immediate – creating monotypes is great fun.
To prepare for a new series of prints, stencils are designed using botanical drawings from my neighborhood and backyard garden, and with inspiration from seventeenth century chintz fabrics and Victorian-era textile designs. I also carve printing blocks in similar motifs, and create relief plates by drawing on foam sheets. I use these tools to build many thin layers of oil based ink on a Plexiglas plate before making one transfer to paper with an etching press. Interesting marks and texture appear when a printing block is lifted off the Plexiglas plate. Mysterious things happen when ink is inadvertently transferred to the plate from the back of a stencil.
After a print is pulled there is a ghost of that image left on the plate’s surface that I incorporate into the composition of the following piece. This can create lovely contrasts as the plate is reworked with some areas left untouched, revealing fragments of history from the previous image.
For my most recent monotype series I began by first making quick line drawings on the plate with litho crayon, then building layers of ink on top of the drawings. I also add collage elements to the print once it is pulled and dried – mostly these are line drawings inspired by my colorful and lively backyard. I like the juxtaposition of intuitive mark making against the repeat patterns created by stencils and printing blocks.