30th Anniversary Exhibition
30th Anniversary Exhibition
This year, the Art Gym is celebrating 30 years of exhibitions, publications, and conversations about contemporary art in the Pacific Northwest. We are also celebrating and paying tribute to artists who create the cultural riches we enjoy in the state of Oregon.
Founded in 1980 by Marylhurst University, the gallery’s mission from its inception has been to increase public understanding of contemporary art in the region. Northwest art deserves thoughtful presentation, examination, and documentation, and over the last three decades, the Art Gym has had the privilege and pleasure of organizing hundreds of carefully curated exhibitions, publishing more than 60 exhibition catalogs (which are now available online), and hosting numerous public conversations with artists in the gallery.
Album—Artist Portraits of Artists includes photographs, paintings, drawings, and prints by 28 artists. More than 180 Oregon artists are depicted in the portraits. This is a small cross-section of the thousands of artists working among us. Some of the Album artists, like photographer Robert Miller, did the work early in their careers, as a way to understand the profession they were entering through the lives of more experienced practitioners.
In contrast, both Jack McLarty and George Johanson looked back over careers spanning more than six decades. Jack McLarty made 20 woodcuts of Oregon artists he considered significant during his lifetime. George Johanson had painted his artist friends off and on, but in 1999, as the 20th century turned into the 21st, he began inviting Oregon artists to his studio, one after the other, in order to draw them. Two years later, he had completed 80 portraits for a series he titled Equivalents.
Artists in the exhibition have created a picture of their communities, whether intentionally or inadvertently. Judith Wyss, for example, spent several years painting all 25 fellow members of Blackfish Gallery. Craig Hickman made photographs of his friends in the 1960s and 1970s; those images turned out to be a record of the founders of Blue Sky Gallery. Thirty years later, it was not Blake Andrews’s conscious intent to take pictures of photographers linked in one way or another to Blue Sky, but he did.
Stephen Leflars‘ drawings and monotypes depict artists who gathered on Monday nights to draw and model for one another at Inkling Studio. While a thesis student at the Pacific Northwest College of Art, Samuel Rowlett painted people important to him, including his teacher Nan Curtis. Jake Shivery took lots of pictures of people in North Portland and St. Johns, many of them artists.
Some artists captured moments with friends or family. Cherie Hiser got a shot of Stu Levy taking photographs at the coast, Terry Toedtemeier snapped a picture of a sleeping Christopher Rauschenberg, and Michael Bowley caught Paul Sutinen with his ever-present cup of coffee.
Dennis Cunningham often went fishing with other artists and made a large linocut of the group following a particularly memorable outing. Henk Pander painted his artist sons Jacob and Arnold, as well as many of his friends and peers in the theater and art worlds. Husband and wife Gregory Grenon and Mary Josephson painted artist friends, family, and each other.
Each artist in the exhibition has explored means of conveying the identity of the subject. Some, like painters Stephen Hayes, Laura Ross-Paul, and Sherrie Wolf, painted from life, focusing on the face. Terry Bostwick first took photographs, then made detailed drawings, most of the full figure. Trude Parkinson also photographed her subjects before making her watercolors and drawings, but chose to show them from the back and rely on body language to reveal identity. Others tapped the potential of setting and costume: Stu Levy’s grid portraits show multiple views of an artist at home, in the studio, or on location.
Ann Ploeger photographed her subjects at home, focusing equally on the artists and their domestic environments. Melody Owen went to parks, the riverfront, and college campuses, working with artists both homegrown and transplanted to choose a tree and a particular setting that suited them. Marne Lucas staged her subjects everywhere from burned forests to hockey rinks, dressing (an opera gown, ice-fishing garb) or undressing (swim trunks, a bathrobe) them to achieve her mix of theater and portraiture.
Several photographers shot in the artists’ workspaces. Brian Foulkes used the soft focus of a toy camera to capture introspective Lee Kelly and Stephen Hayes in their homes and studios. Aaron Johanson and Motoya Nakamura let the subjects’ art vie with, and sometimes dwarf, its makers.
The portraits in Album are about artists and their work, about community, friendship, and even love. Taken together, the images in this exhibition begin to coalesce into a composite portrait that hints at the scale and complexity of the rich social and cultural fabric that artists create for themselves, for each other, and for all of us. Over the past 30 years, my work has given me the opportunity to think about, explore, and learn things that were beyond the scope of my training or imagination.
I have benefited from artists’ years of investigation, experimentation, expertise, and craft; and because I am a curator, I have been driven to share artists’ work and discoveries with the public—what I often call “advanced show and tell.” During this 30th anniversary year of the Art Gym at Marylhurst University, it is fitting to recognize and celebrate all the artists in our midst: their work makes my work possible. More importantly, their art invites us to expand our vision and understanding of what is worth thinking about.
Curated by: Terri Hopkins
On View: September 14 – October 27, 2010