Mayor's Art Show
Once again, a vast and interesting array of media and genres is represented at this year's Mayor's Art Show at the Jacobs Gallery. The show runs through Oct. 21.
PAINTINGS, DRAWINGS AND PRINTS
Among portraits, D. Brent Burkett's Wendell's King and Tone stands out. Despite non-traditional media (acrylic, oil-crayon and gold leaf), in terms of style and content, Burkett's large painting harks back to earlier times. Impressionistically conveyed through energetic strokes, the details are vivid, the characters — a farmer and his two horses — alive. Yet subtly subverting the vibrant realism is the golden light that bathes the entire picture and betrays the nostalgic glow through which this bucolic world is viewed.
Hoa-Lan Tran's watercolor Sisters #2 displays the artist's usual sense of composition, which relies in part on the interplay of areas of single color contrasting with areas of decorative organic motifs (flowers, leaves, butterflies). The scene is viewed from an unusual aerial perspective and the flat plane of the canvas is emphasized. These are all elements that modern painters such as Matisse learned to use to great effect from studying Oriental art. Tran, who was born in Vietnam to a father famous for his painting, studied both in her native country and at the UO, and is in a unique position to unite Eastern and Western modes.
Somewhat reminiscent of Gauguin's approach, Barry Geller's acrylic Third Times a Charm benefits from its appealing simplicity of composition and color scheme (earth tones, red and blue). Geller's female nude sits in a relaxed un-posed position with elbow on knee and chin in hand.
Landscapes abound. I was particularly drawn to Peggy Spiess' untitled acrylic for its energy and fantasy. Elevated to the status of tall trees, red chards sway against a bright, tumultuous, white-and-blue sky. The close-up composition adds to the monumentality of the chards as we must imaginatively expand them beyond the painting's frame, yet a wonderful sense of rhythm, movement and lightness is preserved. With delightful humor and gentle irony, Spiess presents us with an unusual vantage point from which to view our world.
Lee Fischer's Sunday Morning Oaks outlines leafless branches against a sky whose early sunlight still retains a moon-at-night quality. More traditional in inspiration are three acrylics: Lynn Ihsen Peterson's Road to the Coast, suggestively rendered, with a poetry of movement and color; Craig Erickson's finely detailed, photographically realistic Heceta Head; and Robin Hostick's fine, slightly impressionistic rendering of Spencer Butte.
Still-life and interiors are also well-represented with, for instance, Joy Descoteaux's oil Antique Crocks #3, whose reflected light has a lovely quality. Walt Stevens' large oil, Still Life on Drafting Table, provides a photo-realistic view of the artist's studio. In Home for the Holiday, Virginia Mae Sands plays with self-referentiality by including, within her Prismacolor-pencil rendition of a room, a fragment of the drawing which earned her the Best-of-Show award in last year's Mayor's Art Show.
A number of works in naïve style are included, such as Sara Glater's whimsical bas-relief of cast-and-embedded paper with metal found-objects, Oh to Smell the Roses, which humorously represents a cowboy lassoing a giant flower.
Kenneth Tripp's oil Divided We Fall is the sole politically engaged work. Stylistically, as well as in its reliance on text and its use of three canvas panels to create a large landscape-format, the work borrows from murals, graffiti and contemporary comic-strip's aesthetics to deliver its caustic message on such topics as war and the TV media.
Non-representational works are a minority this year. Kathleen Caprario's oil Gates of the Shades is characteristically flawless in composition but uncommonly somber for the artist, who is known for her striking rendering of light in her chiaroscuro drawings. Here blacks are relieved only by grey and red accents and light is absent. The square format and safety glass accentuate the dark mood and the sense of being shut in. This is a powerful piece.
Quite different in mood is the explosive spiral of colors in LiDoña Wagner's acrylic Rebirth I, which shows the seeds of order in the hopeful chaos of rebirth. Margaret Coe's oil Primativo (Juror's Choice) and Sally Jo Schwader's tiny acrylic Our Trip to John Day transform studies in composition into abstract landscapes.
In terms of prints, the tiny wood-engraving
Incentive displays Susan Lowdermilk's technical mastery and
wit, next to Jeff Seltzer's surrealistic Inspiration.
Suzanne St.Cyr-Ponsioen uses a solar-plate relief technique for her
quirky portrait-of-a-woman-with-wardrobe. Germaine Bennett's
etching-and-aquatints Nora Ascending, printed from four different
Diane Etzwiler's No Way Out juxtaposes three Polaroid-emulsion lifts, repeating the same image of a Hawaiian burned forest to create a striking landscape in sepias, browns and blues. The verticals of tree trunks are perfectly balanced by the horizontal format of the overall composition, while the wrinkles and tears in the thin emulsions contribute a tactile element and enhance the vivid mood of the scene. Robert Schofield's underwater scene in The Yearning for Truth is endowed with dreamily erotic quality.
My husband Eric Pederson's popular larger-than-life close-up of an African Bull Elephant's head displays the rough texture of the animal's crackled skin and its sad ancient gaze. The black-and-white silver gelatin print was sepia-toned and subtly hand-colored with photographic oil paint to create warm tones and "enrich the emotional quality of the textures."
Another popular elephant portrait, which hangs at the Salon des Refusés at DIVA, would have made a splendid counterpart with Pederson's at the Jacobs Gallery. Do Mi Stauber's exquisitely detailed The Landscape of Patience uses fine-pointed colored pencils to faithfully render the creviced skin and wise gaze of this intelligent animal. Stauber's layering of colored stipples (up to fifteen layers) provides a deep and smooth complexity of tones and shows what excellence this underappreciated medium can achieve.
Ken Herrin is a navigator with a travel case for journeying through his dreams. Atlas of My Dreams: Folio II (Best of Show award) is meticulously assembled from timeless materials – hand-made paper, silk ribbon, India ink, brass pegs and fittings, wood… These are his tools for creating dream-world maps of dreamscapes. For Herrin is not interpreting his dreams but carefully charting them. His cartography connects elements by means of pegs and thread located in the doors of the case. In the main compartment, a stark and exaggerated perspective leads to the distant black doorway to the beyond.
Beverly Soasey's lovely shadow box, Know What You Prefer, in which text fragments play a crucial role, reminds us of what's at stake when injunctions on proper womanly behavior are followed blindly.
John (Teach) Girard's unorthodox Metamorphicycle, created entirely out of wood (over 750 pieces) possesses humor and panache, while Dan Chen's bronze Rooster II stands with utter realism on a wooden fence-post entwined with vine. Unsurprisingly, Stephen White's light sculpture Drifting III is exquisite. Delicate, organic forms flare up like fluid inflorescences on a driftwood vine.
As with Ingres' famous Grande Odalisque, a long torso doesn't detract from Karen Washburn's lovely ceramic reclining nude with its subtle shino glaze. Meanwhile, the elegant classicism of Rebecca Urlacher's porcelain Sun Vase achieves sculptural quality.
Bradley Reinman and Thomas Dalton's Tabl V.2.0 belongs to "a series of interactive design projects that explore form and function." The presence of a keyboard appears neither functionally nor aesthetically motivated and the overall project is only minimally interactive, but the combination of circuit boards, light rods and hardware creates an intricate miniature world. It evokes the aerial view of a modern city grid, with its complex, hard-edged industrial beauty.
Glass is represented in fused-and-slumped form by Chris Paulson's iridescent Herringbone Platter and as cast sculpture by Olga Volchkova's Living Orchestra.
Blurring the distinction between arts and crafts are James Carpenter's handsome hurdy-gurdy and, among fiber works, Janet Hiller's clever Rhythm and Hues with its vibrant op-art quality.
Video art is included this time, with Jaylene Arnold's short black-and-white Ophelia piece.
David Campbell and Margaret Coe's respective oils, Look! and Primitivo, and Sharon Dursi's mixed-media sculpture Pandora's Piñata, earned Juror's Choice awards. The Mayor's Choice went to Carolyn Rubenstein for her untitled watercolor of children climbing a fence. The jurors were retired UO ceramics-art professor and ceramicist George Kokis, Salem artist Nancy Lindbergh and Eugene painter and retired art teacher Mike Van.
The Mayor's Art Show essential companion, The Salon des Refusés (DIVA), will be reviewed next week, as will The Mayor's Show of Teen Art (Maude Kerns Art Center).