The images from this series are aerial landscape photographs of American river watersheds. My focus is water and the impacts of land use upon it. Since 1990, I've photographed rural watersheds in Washington State, the "meadows" in Las Vegas, the Lowcountry of Savannah, Georgia, and urban watersheds in Seattle, Chicago, Philadelphia and New York. At low altitude from helicopters and airplanes, I create narrative abstractions... documents of point and nonpoint factors that adversely impact our waters. From this perspective one sees a landscape continuously redefined by development and the forces of nature. The subversive formalism of the imagery underscores the deceptive beauty of the land, while the oblique shooting angle adds to the ambiguity of the work. With close inspection, the world below is troubled and complex.
I've been involved in land use and watershed restoration processes in Washington State as an environmentalist, citizen activist and artist for the past 20 years. As an ardent recreational fisherman I have observed the decimation of legendary runs of King Salmon, Coho, Steelhead and Cutthroat Trout in Puget Sound. Sloppy logging practices have increased sedimentation and exacerbated flooding. Pollution from industry, herbicide and pesticide misuse, fertilizers, household hazardous wastes, dairy and equestrian farms, and failing septic systems have fouled the rivers and marine waters of the Sound. Development has increased runoff and destroyed wetlands as we've raced to pave over the countryside.
Ten years ago I was elected to a management board to study and develop a long term plan to restore the rural Stillaguamish River watershed near my home and studio. The idea was to examine the entire watershed in a comprehensive manner and to identify specific problems to mitigate. Local players within the boundaries of the watershed (farmers, foresters, citizens, politicians, environmentalists, governmental agencies and tribal and fisheries experts) developed a long term restoration plan by consensus. Implementation is underway, and while successes come slowly, it's beginning to work. Such a "watershed approach" is the only way to tackle the problem of our nation's polluted waters.
Water quality in some urban watersheds has improved in the past 25 years. On the Hudson River, you can swim or catch 20 pound striped bass (though laced with PCBs). In Seattle's Duwamish River, recreational fishermen catch salmon and steelhead. Chicago River wetlands have been restored, native plant and aquatic life are returning, and water quality has been upgraded. These improvements are due to Federal environmental laws enacted in the early 1970s; to changes in industry and agriculture; to greater public environmental awareness; and to the leadership of conservation and citizen groups that promote environmentalism and a sense of identity of the local citizenry with their rivers. The Friends of the Chicago River have organized armies of volunteers for cleanup. The Puget Sound Keeper Alliance monitors the Duwamish and other regional rivers for industrial polluters and legally pursues violators to compliance. The Hudson River is indelibly etched into the psyche of New Yorkers as a treasure through the work of many such groups and because of the Hudson's long prominence in American history, literature, and the arts.
We obviously have a long way to go to clean up our marine waters and rivers, but in the long term, I'm optimistic that we can do it. Regulations for industrial discharge of pollutants must be tightened and existing laws more strictly enforced. Washington State, frequently portrayed as a national leader for environmental concerns, ranks first in the country for the dumping of carcinogenic chemicals into its waters. Issues such as liability and what is a reasonable level of restoration of brownfields must be resolved. In a recent New York Times poll, 80% of those Americans asked favored "spending whatever it takes to protect our environment." The right to a safe, healthy environment has become a core American value.
Images come into my mind complete. I think and feel in pictures. They are a blending of images from the physical eye, memory, and the heart and mind's eye. Thinking and feeling in pictures seems to have no opinion; it is neither passive or active. It is both symbol and the real experience. I am a self taught painter and value a diverse and common visual vocabulary. I paint in alkyd (oil) on canvas, sometimes incorporating collage.
The dynamics inherent in contradiction and ambiguity fascinates me. It is at the heart of these images, but also fills my approach to painting itself. For example, I am attracted to the tension in combining spontaneous composition with focused technique. I have an image in mind but don't know how it will look to the eye -- the raw canvas is both filled and completely empty. I enjoy bringing together loose flowing passages with points of intense detailed focus, and bringing abstract thinking together with realistic technique. I am interested in the role of dark feelings, thoughts and states of mind in the process of transformation. I am drawn to fire beneath reserve. And, curiosity, I find that the content of a picture is actual, literal depth and dimension in art. It includes not only the pointing finger but where the finger points.
I sometimes approach cultural myths that are 'background music' and have become such unconscious parts of us that they have almost turned into physical parts--unseen and taken for granted. What does it mean to taste the apple? What clothing do we wear on our minds? What is under our psychological clothing? Who look out from our eyes?
I frequently incorporate images of flowers and birds. A flower is both a sensual-every-day-temporal experience, and an emotional-poetic-purely-aesthetic-eternal experience. These images lead me to consider our inner flora and fauna, the 'unconscious' (for want of a better word). Religion, class, gender, race, age, custom, language, culture, and nature bloom and bear fruit in the mind, and so do everyday things like grocery shopping, dinner time, children's jokes, a garden.
I am usually not thinking so much about a finished work, but am inspired, accepting and mystified by the process of creating it.
What inspires me is the outcome of materials at hand and their relationship to each other. Also the willingness to be spontaneous, and the compulsion to make something that expresses my own life's experience as well as reflect to the viewer the dynamics and emotion of their spirit.
I choose materials that in combination create a surface of texture, color, and depth. Aluminum and copper are my canvas. The use of various chemicals, enamels, pastels and anything that makes a mark or adds atmosphere are my primary "tools of the trade."
The rest is trusting my intuition, having faith in the possibilities, and a knowingness of when to quit.
Many of the formal elements of Minimalism apply to my work, although Minimalism stressed the machined precision. I feel the hand of the artist should not be hidden and craftsmanship is very important to me. The combination of sparse composition and little or no manipulation of materials allows me a direct working style which clearly announces the materials being used. Rhythm, repetition, scale and measurement as well as materials all become important in these simple forms. Details, and arrangement of elements are also crucial. In my art I search for a "Universal" appeal which sometimes has a blends of past and present. I feel craftsmanship and attention to construction of my work is essential. I work in an intuitive manner and each piece leads into the next therefore a relationship exists between most of my works. Many of my pieces show a dichotomy of materials such as: strength and fragility, or natural and man-made materials. The combination of opposing materials such as steel and glass, or wood and steel allow me a vocabulary of opposites that meld together in interesting combinations. I feel the mixing of materials allows the viewer to identify with the works, and have a closer relationship with the pieces. The viewer is important and is considered in the scale of my work, many of which are sized to the human body.
I work in an expressionistic manner using what I refer to as transformational images, which have evolved from work done in 1979, when I began drawing figures with masks either being removed or falling off the face. These images, I find, coincide with my having stopped drinking, obviously a cathartic period in my life.
It was also at this period that I began dealing with personal problems and my Viet Nam experience. The effects of these experiences will in some ways probably always have an effect on how I view things. Masks of my own were falling away, which enabled me to begin to see the masks of others and realize for the first time that I was not the only one who had problems; that I no longer had to be afraid. At a time when my peers already had families, I was just learning to look at myself in the mirror and see myself. I was speaking my own name without discomfort. I was beginning to look at others and really see them. The work, though admittedly strange, told many stories that I myself was blind to for quite a few years.
After six years of sobriety, and some major changes in how live and how I perceive the world around me, the work has changed. The change has been a slow evolution. Color took three years to begin to work. The rich inky blackness of graphite began to diminish in proportion to the first subtle colors I applied, until 1983, when a last the light out-shown the darkness and the graphite line delineated only areas of color.
When I returned from Viet Nam, I, like so many others, was a bit twisted. I was a house filled with irrational fears, beliefs, and symbols. Wind-blown paper would send me running; crows became many things; I never remembered dreams and detested the wind; I wore bells on my wrists so I could hear my parts when the moved; I slept in clothes so I'd be ready to go nowhere at all. And I once recall answering when asked my name and where I was from, Nobody. Nowhere. I must have been a wonderful companion.
During this time I found a huge pad of newsprint and began to draw, trying to exorcize the demons that had made me strange to myself. My work has never stopped being therapy. With the help of family, friends, and my work, I have drawn myself straight, though some might argue to the contrary after looking at some of my more outside work.
When working, I usually begin with a subject in mind and will sometimes use images from newspapers or periodicals for models. I work methodically and intuitively. I first lay out the form using boxed and rectangles. Then I apply a light area of pigment, pastel or graphite, and then begin to erase and reapply line and color. From this point, the work becomes much like watercolor painting, in that a certain amount of control is given over to the erasing. Once the major portion of the composition is completed, I begin to work back in with pencil to further define forms, add texture, and heighten the visual tension.
Transitions are a part of my life that I now actively seek, seeing transition as growth. I welcome change now; before, I was afraid of it.
In doing work such as "Wind Catcher" it is my intent to create a piece that possesses an inner life and power that makes it a part of the natural order of things. It is my hope that this piece engenders a sense of mystery and vitality in the viewer - a sense of work done with integrity possessing a content that functions on more than a surface level.
I began to feed the crows in a grocery store parking lot with old bread from the store, the birds very close and very active, and I became fascinated with the incredible complexity of their abilities to move and the exaggerated contortions of their bodies as they interacted. During these feedings I often drew and then photographed, shooting randomly into the masses of birds. From these drawings and photographs I produced a large number of dry points. Of these I chose nine and editions of 30 prints titled Stances I - IX were produced. The first 15 prints of each were collated into suites.
The prints were to be an end in themselves. However, it was difficult to engender the incredibly flexible and plastic nature of the birds' forms that I had perceived at very close quarters. I kept coming back to the loose drawings and photographs, eventually deciding to produce a suite of nine bird forms in three dimensions and attempt to deal with the plastic nature of the crow's movement. I chose clay to work with because of all materials, its nature might best mimic the plasticity I had seen. The approach was very abstract and loose. I produced forms and gestures and the idea of the specific details of the animals became secondary to the process of forming. I looked upon them as moving chunks of clay. I became caught in the process of that forming and the pieces became more fluid and easy to make. As a result of the gestural approach, some were left in states of incompletion, some with gaping rough holes, some ripped apart. Some were opened up revealing hearts and interior visceral exposures. One of the crows I observed during feeding had a number of pin feathers which were devoid of the feather and this animal fascinated me. To deal with what I had seen I used pieces of reindeer antlers as part of the forms. As with the prints, from many I chose nine pieces to cast in bronze. There is nothing symbolic about that number for me. It came to be because that was what I started with.
The forest of western Oregon are among the most beautiful, magnificent and varied in the world. Oregon's rain forests are lush as a result of the large amount of rainfall from the mild, humid Pacific Ocean current flowing along its coastline.
This oil painting depicts an Oregon rain forest, which is largely coniferous, showing Douglas Fir, Western Red Cedar, West Coast Hemlock and Western Yew. In this painting you will find Vine Maple, Rhododendron, Sword Fern, Lupine, Fairy Slippers (also called Lady Slippers) and Beargrass; Beargrass usually grows in open forests and clearings. Its leaves are 1' to 2-1/2' long and very narrow. Indians used the leaves of Beargrass to weave garments and baskets and ate the roasted rootstock.
Oregon forests offer unsurpassed natural beauty; for hiking, climbing, camping, fishing, hunting, skiing, etc.
Oregon forests also offer financial opportunity in its trees - America's renewable resource, offering a host of products made from wood.
This scene also shows loggers of the early 1900s walking out of the woods on an old skidrow. These roads were built in the days of horse and oxen logging, constructed of small logs to ease the drag of the logs being pulled by the animals and to keep the logs from miring down in the mud. The tools being carried by the loggers are: Springboards; usually 2" x 8" -5' to 6' long, rounded at one end where a half-moon sharpened, knife-edged steel blade was attached to bite into solid wood in the notched tree trunk; they also carried crosscut saws, and bottles of kerosene used to free saws of pitch, sledges for driving wedges and a can of kerosene. The packs were used for lunched, extra wedges, miscellaneous tools, undercutters (for the buckers) drinking water, etc.
Oregon State University has one of the leading schools of forestry in the world and students from countries throughout the world are represented here.
Inspired by Northwest settings, these works blend invention with memory to explore reflective and environmental messages. They reveal my many-leveled connection to this region.
Sean Cain works in a classical tradition rendering the figure in statuesque poses depicted in rather stark light that allows for a beautiful chiaroscuro. Using the paint thinly, layering like washes, he paints colors which enhance the atmospheric other-worldliness of his work. Cain combines surrealism, humor, and a high level of craftsmanship to attain a compelling and heroic narrative.
The Wind River Prints:
These prints represent a visual narrative or storytale about our relationship to the river environment and our responsibility to protect it while we use and enjoy it. They symbolically present practical and philosophical experience of how we might act when we recreate in the native home of wild fish. Originally commissioned as part of a federal wild river pilot project for the Wind River Ranger District in Washington State, these images were intended to help streamside visitors appreciate the life cycle of the fish by being good stewards of the river.
I consider three issues to be important in the development of my artwork. The first is my awareness as a child that I wanted to be an artist. Everything that I have done in the past forty years stems from that optimistic vision of my place in the world. I continue to hold that childhood desire: it nourishes me every day I work. The second is that I believe in the value and the power of art to move us towards a better existence. I want my work to be meaningful to other people. This has guided me for nearly two decades to visually describe the character of who we are and the place that we live. The third is that I have an abundant need to create with my hands. My curiosity about process, craft, and the appearance of materials has led me to explore a variety of disciplines, each suggesting new possibilities for the others. My future plan is to continue to work on all three of these issues in order to further my development as an artist.
I am an African American female artist.
I make sculpture.
I taught myself how to make fences out of fabric (Fences out of wood and metal are heavy and take up too much space.)
I have made many variations of these fences.
Cages and fences were built to hold Africans captured for slavery.
They represent the institution of slavery.
Ruby Wind is part of a series of paintings which focused on weather and the land. I painted clouds, dust, smoke, storms and clearings in enormous expanses of sky over flat land and water. Using weather imagery allowed me to explore a wide range of conflicting emotions and meanings to describe worlds of impending dangers, harsh beauty and safe havens.
I was not interested in describing a particular placer or time but rather in creating a world where fiction can portray truth. I searched for the heart of my paintings through forming and reforming images, accepting the accidents of painting that can happen along the way much as weather can disrupt and change the land and sky. I used imagery drawn from art history, the newspaper, weather books, my surrounding and my memories.
The ground battle, WWII 1945, Numberg, loosened all the building stones of the church. Thus the church was unsafe for use. All the building stones were taken down, numbered and put back by the numbers with fresh mortar. This visual document of the restoration process, made from drawings and photographs by the artist while on active duty in Germany, were used to create the imagery of the aquatint.
Waterless Lithographs made to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Senefelder's invention of lithography. "Waterless" lithography is a late 20th Century development in printing from grained stones or metal plate plates.
I think errors are often unrecognized Acts of God, and should be used as opportunities for self transcendence.
Harmony: A sometimes aesthetically desirable state typically achieved by a recourse to entropy at the expense of energy. Making visual energy is often a function of edges. Edges permit interface of seemingly disparate visual systems; each with its own internal logic. The greater the local differences of systems the greater the energy produced.
Absent fashion and a parochial view of reality, ultimately everything goes with everything.
Abstract/Realism: A dichotomy which is an anachronism useful mainly to some historians as a classification device. In realism pictorial sub-systems always represent themselves first as formal elements (shapes, colors, etc.) In a visual matrix, and second, as likeness or memories of other systems or events.
What something is, is always more interesting than what something is about. Favor a direct experience of reality over a symbolic one.
My best ideas occur when in a state of flow and are a function of the unconscious mind taking over the role of the conscious mind. I used to do whatever I wanted; now I do whatever I'm told, working beyond "ideas" into an automatic stream of action.
Trust in the fruits of chance is necessary for the transcendence of self (intellect) in one's work.
For me, the process of painting does not become authentic until the drawing/plan has been violated by acquiescence to unconscience automatic decision making, and the positive embrace of error.
This process of change and development thru the acceptance of chance and error is loosely analogous to biological evolution, and with respect to my pattern of change, especially the "punctuated equilibrium" model put forth by Harvard palaeontologist Stephen Jay Gould.
These paintings all form from images and objects that attract me. Once that spark has been made, the painting flows and culminates into its own world. Very few paintings are pre-planned compositions and are therefore complicated for me to explain in detail. The painting is finished when it forms itself through transitions in color, mood and texture. I want to say it is finished when the painting matches the images in my head, but I believe it is more of a feeling I get from the piece than a replica of a preconceived composition. When it is complete, it is an environment that I would love to see in real life. The objects which sparked the inspiration are often together in a space where it seems quirky or odd. I don't dispute that, and see it upon completion much like you do. As a result, the paintings seem to form their own dialogue and history to validate why such a scene is taking place. I love this part and I form my own explanations for these odd scenes. Because viewers have their own story for each painting, it begins to seem that I did not create it, but took a picture of something I saw and was merely a witness to the scene.
I have always painted.
What I paint is taken from the life I live.
I am affected by the environment that surrounds me.
And over time, as my environments have changed, my paintings have changed.
What I paint has to stand on its own.
I don't choose to run up against it by describing it.
I am very attached to each painting.
I am not prethoughtful but paint out of need.
These pieces are contemporary renditions in the classic tradition of botanical illustration, which communicates, in an artful manner, as much information as possible about a given plant. They celebrate overlooked, undervalued, or threatened Northwest native wildflower species in the hope of increasing awareness and appreciation. Each of the plants portrayed has a special link with the human history of the region.
Iris tenax. Tough-threaded Iris, Purple Iris, or Flag.
This showy little wild iris, occurring in many shades of purple, is common in neglected fields and roadsides in the Willamette Valley in early spring. It was introduced into the formal world of botany by that intrepid Scot, David Douglas, the exploring naturalist whose name id commemorated in the Douglas-fir.
Douglas made the harrowing voyage to northwest America in 1824 under protection of the Hudson's Bay Company, to collect specimens for the Horticultural Society of London. He found this iris "a common plant in North California, and along the coast of New Georgia, in dry soils or open parts of woods, flowering in April and May." From Material sent by Douglas, John Lindley, Professor of Botany in the University of London, wrote the original description in 1829:
"A plant forming close tufts of rigid, erect, linear-ensiform, evergreen, tough leaves, which in wild specimens are rather shorter than the flowers. Stem erect, a foot or rather more high, angular, leafy, clothed at the base with remains of the leaves, as in Allium Victorialis. Ovarium on a long stalk, not enclosed within the floral leaves, somewhat 3-cornered. Flowers about the size of Iris virginica, sessile on the ovarium, dark purple, veiny; the outer petals obovate, acuminate, spreading, beardless; the inner obovate, rounded, erect, shorter than the others. Stigmas 2-lobed, short."
Iris, the Greek word for rainbow, was applied to this genus for its variety of color. The Latin species name tenax (tenacious) derives from these observations made by Douglas on uses of the plant:
"The native tribes about Aguilar (Umpqua) river...find this plant very serviceable for many purposes: from the veins of the leaves fine cord is made, which is converted into fishing nets; and from its buoyancy, great strength, and durability, it suits this purpose admirable. It is also made into snares for deer and bears; and a good idea may be formed of its strength, when a snare, not thicker than a 16-thread line, is sufficient to strangle Cervus Alces, the Great Stag of California, one of the most powerful animals of its tribe. The cordage is also manufactured into bags and other articles."
Quotations are taken from Edward's Botanical Register of 1829.
Eschsholtzia californica. California Poppy
Here is perhaps the most celebrated West Coast wildflower. Called Copa de Oro by the earliest Hispanic inhabitants, this golden poppy once emblazoned such vast fields that its brilliant color was visible from sailing ships miles offshore -- a plausible basis for the early name La Tierra del Fuego, land of fire. Discouraged by grazing, agriculture, and development, it now blooms in lesser abundance, May-September, from Southern California north to the Columbia River, and elsewhere escaped from garden plantings.
This marvelous perennial arises from a deep taproot and generally reaches two feet in height. The flowers are two to three inches across and vary from pale to deep yellow and orange. They are remarkably responsive to sunlight, closing at nightfall or in overcast weather. Sepals are united in a conical structure that is thrust off by the opening petals, much like doffing a little hat. The seed capsule is linear and tipped by the withering styles. The foliage is grayish-green and finely divided.
E. Californica owes its introduction to the botanical world to three explorer naturalists and a coincident Russian. Archibald Menzies, Scottish botanist and surgeon with Captain George Vancouver, was first to collect specimens for transport to foreign shores, in Monterey in December if 1792. But his classification was incorrect, his collection suffered badly on shipboard, and the plants delivered to Kew Gardens soon died. Next was Adelbert van Chamisso, French naturalist with the Russian Romanoff expedition, spending October of 1816 at San Francisco. Here he collected, described, classified, and named Eschscholtzia californica after the ship's noble young surgeon, Johann Friedrich Escholtz. Finally, it came to David Douglas, Scottish botanist and practical gardener, to convey this vibrant poppy to the world. Collecting along the Multnomah (Willamette) River in 1825, he first encountered E. colifornica and sent back to the Horticultural Society of London the seeds that thrived in English gardens and beyond.
Camassia Leichtlinii. Large Camas.
The Indian name quamash or camass persists in this 1-2' tall perennial arising from deep-seated bulb. Flowers vary anywhere from white to deep blue or violet. Camassia Leichlinii, the larger of our two common species, is distinguished by the withering petals twisting together above the seed capsule rather than falling separately. It ranges west of the Cascades from southern British Columbia to southern Oregon and into Sierran California.
The starchy bulb of the camas was a prized staple for the native tribes in the Northwest. Care was required to avoid poisonous bulbs of another lily, the so-called death camas. Gathering camas root was the incentive for annual festivities, migrations to harvest ground where women dug and prepared bulbs (while the men engaged in sport and games). Handles of their digging sticks, fashioned from bone or antler, can be seen in museum collections. The sticks themselves, made of fire-hardened wood crooked and fattened at the end, have not survived so well.
To prepare the root it was first cooked, either roasted elaborately in covered pits lined with hot stones, or boiled. It was then crushed in mortars and the gummy mass pressed into slabs for keeping. Hungry fur trapper Alexander Henry, in the Willamette Valley in 1814, tells in is diary of trading blue beads with the Kalapuyans for slabs of the nutritious food. As if to remind us of more meager times, each April and May the stately camas colors moist meadows and prairies, roadside ditches, or the vacant lot behind a supermarket, with handsome blue-violet blossoms.
Trillium ovatum. Western Trillium or Wake-robin.
While other vegetation is still winter-bare, this elegant blossom unfurls in its whorl of large sessile leaves to punctuate moist shay woods from British Columbia south to Central California, from lowlands to well up in the mountains. Indeed, one of its common names, Wake-robin, implies that it precedes the earliest of birds. The Latin generic name Trillium, meaning triple, is appropriate to describe the parts of three in petals, sepals, and leaves - all supported by a sturdy bare stem as much as 12 inches tall. This species is distinguished from another common woodlawn trillium in having a thin stem or pedicel that bears each solitary flower above its three broad net-veined leaves. The fragrant white flowers of T. ovatum turn purplish with age.
The botanical history of this plant is tied to the history of the pacific Northwest via Lewis and Clark Expedition. On their return trip east in 1806, Captain Meriwether Lewis collected it "on the rapids of Columbia river", one of the 150 novel specimens he conveyed to botanist Fredrick Pursh. It was from the Lewis collection that Trillium ovatum was first described and named by Pursh in his Flora Americae Septenrionalis of 1814, the first account of North American plants to include the Pacific Northwest.
The familiar admonition not to pick trilliums is well founded. Removing the flower stem robs the rhizome of the food supply necessary to produce next year's plant, and some years may be required for recovery. Trilliums do not transplant well, but may grow from seed with patience. As many as seven years may pass before a white blossom is produced to crown the three stem-leaves. Ants are a natural aid in dispersal, attracted by sweet tissue on the seeds.
Lupinus sulphureus kincaidii.
Our native lupines are a confusing lot, with nearly 600 distinct kinds described in the US. Within a given population bewildering variations occur, and rather free interbreeding compounds the confusion. One iridescent blue butterfly is not confused however. Known to prefer Kincaid's lupine as a larval food plant, the Fender's Blue butterfly, Icaricia icariodes fenderi, was last seen in 1931 and presumed extinct. But careful scrutiny of populations of Kincaid's lupine led to recent rediscovery of the rare insect. Now efforts are underway to protect both the butterfly and its host lupine.
This variation of the sulphur lupines is confined to remnant bits of native prairie grasslands in western Oregon and Washington, primarily in the Willamette Valley. Lupines are broadly recognized by radiating leaflets and blossoms that resemble those of other members of the pea family. Kincaid's lupine may be distinguished by three characteristics: relatively low-growing basal leaves dominated by upbranched stems bearing uncrowded whorls of smallish flowers, blossoms a varied assortment of colors from yellow to blue to purple, and banner petals with a distinctly ruffled border.
The name of Trevor Kincaid, as this lupine, has been ascribed to much of the flora and fauna of the Pacific Northwest. My first encounter was in the subject of my Master's thesis, a tiny aquatic fly that bears his name as original taxonomist (Maruina lanceolata Kincaid). Born in 1872, Kincaid grew up an avid student of nature, making prodigious collections of plant and animal specimens even before entering the fledgling University of Washington in 1894. Within seven years he was head of the Department of Zoology there and continued as inspired teacher, entomologist, and international science adviser until his death at 97, having shaped the early development of zoology at the university.
Most of Hiratsuka's work is done by the intaglio printmaking process. This involves etching, drypoint, aquatint, softground and roulette on the copper plate. He uses a four-color printing process on Japanese paper. As in the French use of the technique of Chine Colle, Hiratsuka applies glue to the back of the completed work and passes it through the press with heavier rag paper beneath.
Boldly simplified and exaggerated, Yuji Hiratsuka's figures are ambiguous and often whimsical, evoking the viewer's imagination. The prints are an expression of his native Japanese culture combined with his more recent life in America.
The prints explore the complex relationship of paper, ink and etched plates to describe his thoughts as well as the relationship that occurs between figure and space to express human experiences.
My paintings celebrate the power and beauty of domestic spaces and objects. I paint directly from life, in natural light, still life objects which communicate through a window with a landscape, urban or natural. The objects, culled from daily life and painted larger than life, take on a monumental quality as viewed against the landscape, challenging established hierarchies between traditionally male and female spaces.
Light is the force which brings to life my otherwise still objects. The same light that describes the form simultaneously destroys it, turning the still life objects into abstract shapes of color and pattern. Gestural brushwork and rich surfaces record the urgency of trying to capture a brief moment in time dictated by the short life span of the flowers and the ephemeral quality of the light.
A "sense of place" is a unifying theme of my work painted in situ in locations as diverse as New York City, Rome, and Maine. Most recently the particular space and diffused Northwest light which illuminates my studio and informs my paintings have begun to assert themselves on my work. The still life objects are now juxtaposed against forested land, shipyards on the Willamette River and the distant vista of the Cascade Mountains. The broader skies and simpler compositions have altered the balance, scale and palette in my paintings making my otherwise universal images, specific to the Northwest.
"Sweet Delicata", named for the yellow and green striped squash in the painting, was included in the 1997 "Oregon Biennial", curated by Katherine Kanjo, curator of contemporary art at the Portland Art Museum. The exhibition traveled from Portland Art Museum to the Schneider Museum of Art in Ashland, Oregon, University of Oregon Museum of Art in Eugene, Oregon, and the Willamette University Art Museum in Salem, Oregon. This painting was also chosen for inclusion in both the "Pacific Northwest Annual" at the Bellevue Art Museum in Bellevue, Washington and "True Art; Northwest Biennial" at the Tacoma Art Museum in Tacoma, Washington.
From the beginning I wanted to capture in my paintings more than a likeness of the individual. I wanted the painting to tell about the character or spirit of the person depicted. These painting tell the stories of people caught up in the heroics of everyday life, the common place events which color our lives and shape our days.
I feel humans are GODLIKE, possessing Olympian qualities. We each have our myths, the tales of our lives. These stories are the subject of my work.
The people in my paintings inspire me and fill me with hope. They are strong and capable, often visually monumental, reflecting their inner stature. I see them as fragile, yet profoundly resilient, vessels immersed in life and surrounded by the people and things that have most deeply affected them. Their tales are woven together by family, friends, animals, birds, fruits, flowers and labor. They comprise a visual mythology grounded in a world filled with color.
Good humor pervades these images, along with a faith in the ability of an individual to rise above adversity. As time passes, I have come to recognize that I will never lack for subject matter: life provides a myriad of stories. I need only record them in paint.
Several years ago, while mixing together pigments, I came across three separate blends of colors. They turned out to be very versatile when used with a painting technique that involved building layer upon layer of acrylic paint and acrylic medium.
The previous image is partially covered, by successive layers of paint forming an image. The discovery of the three colors allowed a simplification of process, which enabled a more free state of mind for the evolution of the subject matter, or image of the painting, through experimentation.
All of the paintings are acrylic on paper or ragboard. Framing, matting and inlayed word tags were done as a compliment and extension of the painted image. The words are not titles but simply a presentation of another language for expression of an idea.
This current body of work is a personal exploration into fear and desire. I have been encouraged to make this work available for public view with the understanding that there will be certain people that can connect with the images. In turn, this may allow them personal processing and healing.
He enjoys the challenge of pencil because there are no shortcuts to assure a satisfying picture. Pencil reduces the subject to shape and light which color often masks. He hopes the lack of color helps the viewers to dwell on the inherent forms in each picture.
This unique sculpture is fabricated out of fused and slumped glass and incorporates forged and cut metals.
Deep in the desert lies the borderland between the real and the surreal, a place where all is possible and nothing certain.
While it's apparent that I've employed the kind of banal imagery that defines the pedestrian notion of Western culture, it is, I hope, also evident that the work is saturated with whimsey and parody. It is aggressively frontal. The paper thin bronze shell appears to be cut or torn from a larger form. The gestural lines and geometric shapes that have been added emphasize the lack of volume and mass.
This sculpture is a facade; a formal tribute to superficiality. And yet, sometime during the process of making this piece it asserted itself. It grew beyond the idea that engendered it. It has a presence that exceeds my intent.
Often, when confronting a black canvas, the artist engages in a long and silent conversation. The idea inspires the artist; the artist creates the idea. The challenge is to make visual that which has never existed, except in the mind.
Perhaps it is fortunate that total satisfaction is never reached in a single canvas, for each one spawns another and the search goes on.
My recent works on paper are inspired by alchemical manuscripts. The alchemists documented their labors in enigmatic texts in which chemical procedures, cosmology and myths are woven together into fantastic allegories. Similarly in my paintings I use imagery of birds, beasts, plants and minerals as symbols of the process of transformation.
As an artist I view alchemy as a metaphor for the creative process in which there is progressive transformation and refinement of materials, imagery and ultimately consciousness. The alchemy and art alike the creative imagination is the vital agent of change. The alchemists described their labors as an "art". Like the alchemist I attempt to use physical processes as a mirror of inner experience. The materials become "transmuted" from their initially inert state through creative and chaotic struggle into a new synthesis. In my painting I use physical processes of dissolution, evaporation, heat and gravity which remind me of the alchemist's use of the elements of water, air, fire and earth.
Humor is an important element of my work. Likewise humor and paradox were not unknown to the alchemist. The texts abound with cryptic riddles meant to befuddle the literal-minded and catalyze intuitive insight. Hermes, the greek god of wisdom, was the patron of alchemists and also the trickster who could lead his followers on a search to find "fools gold". Anyone who embarks on a potentially quixotic search to find the elixir of immortality should have plenty of humor and humility to sustain themselves!
The homunculus, a human-like creature nurtured in a glass vessel was reputed to have been created in the alchemical laboratory. In the novel "Frankenstein" the renegade doctor studies the writings of Paracelsus, the swiss alchemist, before creating his monster. I see the homunculus as a metaphor for modern technology with all its wonders and potential horrors. The series of "Homunculus" sculptures which utilize remnants of household appliances and found objects explores this theme in a whimsical fashion.
The alchemist searched for the "gold of the philosophers" - philosophical wisdom. In their pursuit of nature's secrets they combined scientific experimentation with a mystical quest for illumination. Their holistic view of the universe viewed matter and consciousness as a continuum, anticipating recent developments in physics. Alchemy is the ancestor of modern science, perhaps there is something that can be learned from its legacy? I am inspired artistically by the beauty of the texts and their insights into the mysteries of creation. Hopefully my own fanciful creations convey something of the spirit of the tradition.
During the summer of 1984, Walt Padgett bicycled and camped Japan's Tokaido, documenting the famous "53 Stations of the Tokaido" prints of Ando Hiroshige and Junichiro Sekino. Since that time Mr. Padgett has been producing his own series of woodblock prints from his travels on this historic highway. The Tokaido, literally the "eastern sea route" stretching 320 miles, has provided the main link between the cities of Kyoto and Edo (Tokyo) for a thousand years. Although many Japanese artists have produced work drawn from the Tokaido, its landscape, its people, its history, still provide a rich source of subject matter, especially to the foreign eye of an American. Mr. Padgett utilizes authentic Japanese handmade chisels, brushes, and paper, in the manufacture of his prints; the blocks are hand-carved, the prints hand-burnished by the artist, in the sosaku hanga tradition.
Buried in the trees that cloak the Suzuka mountains, and ancient shrine near Sakanoshita protects a still existent remnant of the the original Tokaido trail. Sakanoshita is the 49th station of the Tokaido.
For centuries many rivers were crossed on foot, by horseback, or by boat. The Tenryu River had to be crossed by ferryboat. Mitsuke (now Iwatacity) is exactly midway between Tokyo and Kyoto. Misuke is the 29th station of the Tokaido.
Ejiri lies across Shimizu Bay from Okitsu, home of the Japanese inn made famous by Oliver Statler's novel. The legendary pines of Miho now witness freighters entering and leaving the bay. Ejiri is the 19th station of the Tokaido.
This painting's title comes from a musical term which describes a musical piece intended for an instrument, usually to show off technique. It comes from Toccare, to touch in Italian, as opposed to Cantore, to sing. Of course paintings are made by touching the brush or knife to the surface, which is evident in this painting. Here are two similar shapes, one curling up at the end and tilted in space and the other, just off a true vertical, which is slightly dimensional looking. They echo each other and are surrounded by a painterly swimming background like the accompaniment for two themes. The leaf shape implies a backdrop of forest or maybe watery green pools, although basically this is an abstract painting with harmonic overtones of nature.
My pictures are made from direct observation at sites within a few miles of my home in Portland; many require finish work in my studio as well. They are pictures of large, deep spaces seen under particular kinds of light. Some of the spaces have been emptied out by bodies of water. Others have been marked off into grids by people, as in plowed fields or orchards. A few of the spaces seem collapsed up to the picture plane by the peculiarity of the light.
Deep space is one of nature's most spectacular objects of contemplation (and another vanishing natural resource). I am most grateful for the hours of quiet celebration of nature that the making of these pictures affords me.
My pictures are made with oil crayons, an oddly uncooperative medium. The crayons tend to make a crude, grainy mark, and they are only available in a spotty and idiosyncratic palette. Trying to get them under my control is an ongoing adventure.
I always wanted to be an artist, I painted and took children's classes at the De Young Museum in San Francisco. When I graduated from high school I attended the University of California at Santa Barbara and finally the Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland, Oregon where I graduated with a B.F.A. Since then I have been painting, showing and teaching professionally.
The images in my work come from a mixture of forms that I see and forms that I imagine. I incorporate textures and patterns that give new meanings or emphasis into these forms. The images I create are about fantasy and the release that fantasy gives.
The Flower Studies
I began doing the Flower Studies seven years ago when I wanted an appropriate subject for platinum printing. Georgia O'Keefe, who had always been one of my heroes, was famous for her flower studies. Both stationary and beautiful, flowers were the obvious choice. Their static quality allowed me to make a proper negative. Their sensual curves and tonality enchanted me.
Within the last year the flower studies have developed into a regional project. I have been photographing a private garden in Sherwood, Oregon. It had long been my intention to do a photographic study of native leaves and flowers from that place. Using medium and large format cameras has allowed for richer detail. Printing onto platinum paper has emphasized the timeless quality of the native forms. Compositionally the Oregon Garden images have a sensual and classic feel, much like the Flower Studies before them.
Initially I approached the subject of phobias wanting to make images that were haunting and at the same time investigate the psychological aspects of fear. What I discovered through the process of researching and making pictures is there exists well documented cases of many different and quite specific types of fears ranging from allumiphobia, fear of garlic, to zephyraphobia, fear of bridges. I was intrigued by the nature of these fears, how something like Homophobia can be so widespread and accepted but Limonophobia, fear of string, could be seen a unacceptable even thought the psychology behind each of these fears is the same. What I attempted to do with the series was to illustrated that all fears are identical in their nature and simply differ based on individual experience.
Textiles have always fascinated me. Vintage cloth, torn, tattered and threadbare, quilts, old cloths, coverlets; these cloths each tell their own story. They suggest dreams: dreams of their maker and of their wearer. These cloths are personal, provocative. I approach the making of a tapestry in the same way. My tapestries are personal, narrative and symbolic. Modern Antiquities of a sort.
Crease is the second tapestry in a large series called "Seams & Fissures". Each tapestry personifies an aspect of our humanness. Crease is about the hands; about the hand-made vs. the machine-made. In essence, it is about being a tapestry maker at the end of the 20th century.
My paintings, although abstract in form, are based on direct observations from nature.
"Marquesian Memory" was painted after a sailing expedition in the South Pacific. During the exploration of the Marquesian Islands, I discovered the grave of artist Paul Gauguin on the island of Hiva Oa. This painting is my homage to Gauguin's art and his commitment to nature.
A friend of mine once said that the only people who really possess a place are travelers, that the others who live there are all possessed by the place.
I think this has something to do with the fact that experiencing the same thing repetitively tends to dull the senses and put one in something of a trance state. For me going to new places breaks that spell. I love to travel in the U.S. and overseas. As an artist choosing to do landscapes it therefore comes naturally to create art as kind of journal of the places I have been. It is also a process of remembering images and feelings while on the move and then processing them in the studio into what you see there.
North America has vast and wild landscapes which I love, but my home country of England fascinates me because not only is the landscape varied within very small distances but the addition of man-made artifacts provides an additional counterpoint to the landscape. Hedgerows and rock walls laid out hundreds of years ago delineate the contours of the hills. Artfully placed farmhouses or cottages that seem to have grown there rather than being placed there speak to the fact that man can co-operate with nature and improve rather than impose and distort by his presence.
I suppose growing up in England has influenced my idea of what a landscape is and I am certainly drawn to pastoral places here in the Northwest such as Sauvies Island which is very much reminiscent of the English landscape. I love trees especially the deciduous types that take on different shapes and colors throughout the year. They seem to express in form the interaction between the force within to grow and the force outside, the elements, that modify that force. This makes them very poetic. I find there is a language in the natural worlds that I attempt to decipher, and so I am always looking out for certain combinations and groupings in the landscape, certain phrases of images that say something to me.
In this regard there is a long history to draw upon and I take a traditional approach to rendering what it is I see. I apply myself to the task of using techniques already laid down by artists of the past. I am not trying to break any new ground and feel it is an illusion to believe that every artist has to do so. Basic "craft" rather than "self expression" is what I am attempting to follow. Hopefully I can be of service and provide a reminder to the viewer, not just to myself of the beauty that surrounds us.
I experiment with various media but I currently enjoy the medium of pastel for it's direct "hands on" quality. It allows me to blend and sculpt the pigment using my fingers and hands rather than the intermediary of a brush. I mix the colors right on the board or paper by blending, glazing and overlaying colors. This has taught me a lot about how color works. There is a pleasure when the picture looks the way one intended it to, when one has gained sufficient mastery of the tools, skills and materials, that the image emerges as intended. However, at the same time there is a parallel joy in allowing accidents to emerge, making use of serendipity and the life that a picture takes on by itself.
Work begins by making a unique kozo paper textured and loaded with bits of colored paper and gold leaf. This creates a rich, illusionistic foundation. The painting process combines stencils, transfer drawing and direct brushwork. My processes and tools are uncomplicated and direct and carry on a connection with the past.
My intent is to synthesize diverse elements into one visual idea. The graffiti-like gestures set against figures and stencil patterns juxtapose recklessness with order and care. I intended through the layering and complexity for my work to have an immediate as well as continued appeal, inviting further exploration.
As I work, information is deleted or changed, and replaced by other layers of material. Areas may be reworked several times with veiled remnants of earlier images appearing. The painting is a balance of intuitive and spontaneous reactions to events that occur during its creation. I am striving for a richness of surface and a quality of depth and feeling which happens as the work develops. It is through this building up of texture, pattern and color that I intend to give the figure it's life.
I am searching for a timeless, universal image which illustrates the integrity and dignity of the human spirit. It is an effort to make visible life's essence and make it speak to other as well as to me.
Good Ol' Boys was my take on the ATF Picnic story.
Simply Ravenous was a reaction to a rather bizarre wedding reception I attended.
I work from personal photographs and images from popular culture. My paintings are autobiographical and have a strong narrative thread. In a sense they are mid-chapter stories with an elusive beginning and no predictable end.
I find it difficult to write about specific work. If I were to give parameters to paintings in the Valley Library Art Collection, they would fall somewhere between Gary Larson, Subaran, Carl Hiassen and Alice Munro.
I work using very wet oil paint on fairly smooth canvas, which lends a certain excitement to the process. (Sort of like riding a headstrong horse - sometimes you get where you're going and sometimes you fall off, but it's always an adventure.)
Waldo Lake is the second largest natural lake in Oregon and lies at an elevation of 5,414 ft. in the Cascade Mountain Range. The lake's water is amongst the clearest in the world.
Waldo Lake Reflected - Seldom does the wind remain calm for long on Waldo Lake, but in September of 1996 it remained quiet for several consecutive days, allowing me to select mirror like reflections along this beautiful shoreline. The early morning sun highlighting the fall color in this cove, one of many also Waldo's shoreline, makes for a tranquil, soothing moment in time. (Bronica ETR 6x4.5, 40mm, f22 @ 1/15 sec)
Waldo Lake Sunset - A brilliant sunset can add such a special moment to any day of the year, but when it occurs at Waldo Lake it can be indeed spectacular, and one not soon forgotten when witnessed in all of its crimson glory. (Bronica ETR 6x4.5, 40mm, f22 @ 125 sec)
Missing Espresso Roma is about missing my favorite coffee shop. When you live in East London, the nearest good coffee is three hours away by train, in Paris.
Pupetta is a straight portrait of Pupetta Maresca, a modern day Medici princess, the head of the Mafia in Naples.
Be Careful What You Wish For is self explanatory.
I am primarily an oil painter, though I produce and show a lot of prints and drawings. The three etchings in this collection were done at Artichoke Printmaking Workshop in London, where I spent a year as a Fulbright fellow in fine arts. Oddly enough, when these etchings were purchased from my dealer by the OSU Selection Committee, I was working construction on the new Valley Library. My brother Luke says that there are deeper meanings in this, but he won't tell me what they are.
Warpinski's images reflect her reverence for the Western Landscape and her interest in the traces of human connection with this landscape. Warpinski invests her images with a strong belief in the environmental movement: "Art, literature and Theater can gather people around an issue in an uplifting way. It's not being irresponsible or ignoring the seriousness of things. Neither is it preaching to the converted. In my experience art can reach the spirit of people in a deeper way than a purely analytical approach..." Warpinski's projects include a series on aboriginal rock art in Australia, works inspired by her field notebooks, hand-colored black and white photographs, and large-format collages which include the Fragments series images that are now a part of this collection.
This piece is based on a wilderness study area in the areas of Steens Mountain southeastern Oregon. The particular site of this photograph depicts the remnants of a homestead from the heyday of dryland farming. All that remains is evidence of the root cellar and some trees that are not native to the geographic region of this site. Many of the named plants have disappeared from this location and others like where at one time they were abundant.
Most of the work in the Fragments Series pertains to the passage of time - time evidenced in one form or another. The photographs that comprise this piece (six in all) were made over the period of 20 minutes when the full moon was setting and the sun was rising. From the elevation provided by Zabriskie Point one is given the chance to experience the protraction of the brief series of moments when the moon is just ready to drop behind the western horizon while at the same time the sun is peaking above the eastern. The shadows created by one seem to intersect with those being created by the other. It is only an instant played out against geologic stage set that also reveals the passage of time.
Photographs abstract time and manipulate space. The monocular view through the camera lens collapses deep space onto a 2 dimensional picture plane. Often this collapse renders a powerful physical experience of place quite impotent when translated to the photographic surface. Maps are also an abstraction of space, as well as a code or language that describes the place to those that know the language. These two abstracted views are combined to give multiple readings of the same place - an edge overlooking Big Indian Gorge seen through a curtain of Mountain mahogany.
Diamond Craters is among those places that call to me because the land forms openly reveal their origins - their history is clearly written upon the surfaces before me. "Constant Movement" is a phrase drawn from old geology text and in this place is meant to speak not only about the geomorphology of the region, but also about the human experience of the moment in this place as the wind whips the mullein plants into motion.
Looking back at my development I feel I have come full circle with my initial interest in images of still life to create my own form of artistic creation. I have consistently searched for a psychological edge or emotional meaning in these images. I find enormous force from familiar objects that trigger personal reminiscence on a conscious and unconscious level. My arrangements of objects are extremely contrived in a desire for aesthetic quality and emotional charge, which can be heightened by the association of seemingly disconnected objects juxtaposed. A quote from Gaston Bachelard states my sentiments well, "Representation becomes nothing but a body of expression with which to communicate our own images to others. Ultimately they are best comprehended as artifacts of a personal reminiscence and like a Proustian sweet, each has the potential to open a door onto another person's reflections and half forgotten memories."
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