News Archive
December 2017 Exhibit

Hook, Pulp and Weave
An Exploration of Fiber as Medium
Celebrate the holidays with Imogen as we host a rich and diverse invitational exhibition exploring fiber. Functional and non-functional work will be included in this unique exhibition of textile based arts. Color, texture and composition form the backbone of this diverse collection including a new selection of hand hooked rugs by Roxy Applegate, artist-made paper sculpture by Lâm Quãng and Kestrel Gates of HiiH Lights, wall hung mixed fiber art pieces by Susan Circone, nuno felted scarves and wraps by Julie Kern Smith, hand bound book art by Christine Trexel, and paper sculpture by Kathy Karbo are just a few of the exquisite examples of fiber in art to be presented for the exhibition. The exhibition will open for Astoria’s Second Saturday Artwalk, December 9th with a reception for the artists, 5 – 8 pm.  All are invited to attend and enjoy good company and cheer. Food and drink will be provided by the Astoria Coffeehouse and Bistro. 
Fiber based art has a long running history, with weaving techniques dating back to Neolithic times some 12,000 years ago. It is respected as one of the oldest surviving craft forms in the world that evolved from multiple cultures, including the Incans who utilized textiles as currency, which held a more prominent role then gold for trade.   Native Americans, for centuries have created elaborate basketry for all uses, including vessels that were water tight, made from regionally known plant materials. Middle Eastern nomadic tribes, have been respected for intricate hand knotted rugs made of wool and silk, dating back over 4000 years, and the rich illustrative tapestries of the 14th and 15th centuries of European cultures, all helped to forge what we appreciate as textile based art today. The term “fiber arts” came to be applied much later; post World War II with the insurgence of the craft movement. With this came the recognition of craft as fine art and the diminished idea of utilitarian needs. 
Hook, Pulp and Weave is a collection of just a few examples of what textile or fiber arts has evolved into. With the lessening of the importance of function, and the consideration of pure artistic concept being delivered through the fiber medium, artists have found a new voice to explore ancient arts, utilizing texture, color and form. While much of the work included to this exhibition is functional, several pieces are based strictly on principle of art form, utilizing fiber to create compelling and complex pieces. 
New to this year’s exhibition will be the wall hung fiber art pieces by Susan Circone. Circone brings intricate abstract compositions focusing on brilliant use of texture, pattern and nuance of color. Coming from a former career in geological sciences, her compositions are inspired by nature. About her work she states:  Paying homage to the curvilinear nature of organic forms, especially at the microscopic scale, is the main focus of my work. Repetition of these cell shapes and filaments creates the visual vocabulary that interests me. These abstracted motifs reference the simplest single-celled organisms. I am drawn to the prevalence, perseverance, and resilience of microorganisms, the first forms of life on Earth. They reproduce quickly and readily adapt to changing conditions, often despite the best efforts of mankind to control and defeat them. Our existence is intimately entwined with their presence in our microbiome, and they will continue to thrive long after our species has disappeared from the Earth. Working primarily on a foundation of cotton or silk fabric that she has hand-dyed, discharged and printed, Circone cultivates visual depth with translucent layers of silk organza and thread. Cheesecloth is often used to provide a distorted organic grid that is further manipulated to define the composition. These layers are bound to the foundation with embroidery floss and hand stitched. Finished pieces are then mounted on felt and framed in acrylic cases.
Christine Trexel of Astoria includes her intricate hand-made books and boxes utilizing handmade paper, some holding remnants of stories told with the inclusion of printed material and found objects further enhancing a contained theme. Roxy Applegate formerly of Astoria, now residing in Portland, has for years focused on the creation of hooked rugs, dying her own materials and creating her own vibrant designs, she loves color!  Her finished pieces are meant for the floor, but they look equally grand on the wall, presented as strictly an art form. This year she brings two large scale rugs incorporating more relief to her designs by use of varying materials. Julie Kern Smith of Portland, shares her rich and sophisticated wraps made of nuno felted wool and repurposed silk, from vintage scarves and kimonos. Her choice of materials are exquisitely brought together through fusion of fiber, creating rich and tactile wearable art forms.
Husband and wife team Lâm Quãng and Kestrel Gates of HiiH Lights, bring a new series of lighting and sculpture, a whimsical fusion of purposeful and sculptural. Created from their own handmade paper is a new collection of lamps inspired by fungi in many forms.  Kathy Karbo also returns with simple and metaphorical boat forms. Her handcrafted, painted (and sometimes stitched) vessels bring dimension and reference to the areas nautical history.   Hook, Pulp and Weave is an eclectic, tactile and exciting blend of fiber forms that all will enjoy. 

October 2017 Exhibit

Hope In Another
The Paintings of Bethany Rowland
The arts have the power to connect humanity through the profound ability to recognize love, beauty, sorrow and compassion. For artist Bethany Rowland of Portland, Oregon these emotive qualities have always been the backbone of her work. Now more than ever, in a world seeped in what seems unending anguish, she brings a new series of acrylic paintings, Hope In Another. She portrays through definitive gesture and mark making a shared sense of place; the visible and the invisible, the remembered and the forgotten, the imagined and the numinous. Practicing an intuitive process she depicts the power and sometimes quiet beauty of both landscape and its wildlife; her foremost source of inspiration and utilized as metaphor to provide quiet reflective space for hope.  Hope In Another opens for Astoria’s Second Saturday Artwalk, October 14th with an opening reception from 5 – 8 pm. Bethany Rowland will be available to answer questions about the collection and her painting techniques. The exhibition will remain on display through November 7th.

As Rowland began preparing for her third solo exhibition at Imogen she found herself considering the natural world, a place she returns to like a migratory bird returning to its place of origin. Here she seeks refuge and space to heal, offering a sense of renewal and inspiration. Her paintings become metaphorical windows reflecting those moments of peace which in turn bring comfort and guidance. Direct imagery acts as profound offerings of solace and strength. Her goal is to offer through the vehicle of visual art a path to move forward with grace, kindness and compassion from places of grief, despair and uncertainty. Within her own need to make sense out of senseless acts she began to ask herself “Where does hope reside? How do we make the unbearable become bearable? How do proximity and attention help us to care and act? What does it mean to really see another? How do we become the hope for those who cannot survive without our protection?” This series is a glimpse into her own intuitive process of answering those very questions.

Rowland who has been painting for well over 20 years handles her medium, style and subject matter with unabashed confidence, carefully cultivating imagery that is a beautiful and evocative marriage of representation and abstraction. Combining quiet corners of complex layers of sheer color with definitive mark and gesture, she conveys emotion; a hint of melancholy, comfort and acceptance within each composition. She states, “I am drawn to the mysterious and unbidden ways that creating or viewing a work of art can transform us, much in the way regarding another being with an open heart transforms us. It involves listening. Seeing. Feeling and imagining the heart and soul of another with compassion and curiosity. The vulnerable pose of a young horse in an uncertain landscape stirs in me our universal need for sanctuary. It’s about love and it gives us hope. Hope in Another.”
Rowland readily sights such artists as Phil Sylvester of The Drawing Studio in Portland, OR as well as others including Andrea Schwartz-Feit, William Park and the late Royal Nebeker for giving her the courage to trust her own intuition in her practice. She understands form and allows herself freedom to explore the nuance of posture through the discipline of painting the human figure.  Her figurative work has been juried into Clatsop Community College’s annual Au Naturel:  The Nude In The 21st Century, 2009, 2013 and 2014, exhibitions. Her work is regularly included to the annual Sitka Art Invitational as well as the juried annual Cascade Aids Project art auction.

September 2017 Exhibit

Ryan Dobrowski
Leaves for The Forest

Many artists can spend a lifetime trying to master one art form, Ryan Dobrowski happens to be one of those rare individuals who seems to cultivate a balance between two very different artistic expressions, music and painting.  The Astoria based artist brings to Imogen a new collection of paintings and drawings inspired by the forests and the desert. The exhibition, Leaves for The Forest opens Saturday, September 9, 5 – 8 pm with a reception for Dobrowski, who will be present and available to answer questions about his work. Light bites and drink will be provided by Astoria Coffeehouse and Bistro.  Leaves for The Forest will be on view through October 10th.

Ryan Dobrowski is not one to sit idle; creative and physical energy seem to perpetually feed his talents.  Known as drummer to two bands, the internationally known indie-pop band, Blind Pilot as well as the regionally respected Hook and Anchor, Dobrowski still finds time to express himself through the visual language.  Although he has cultivated a successful career as a musician, honing his skills as a drummer since childhood, he has also consistently worked to express himself through painting, earning a BFA from the University of Oregon.

For his second show at Imogen, Dobrowski brings a series of paintings and drawings of varying points of reference, tying them all neatly together through metaphor, while seeking to contain and/or make sense of that which may not be controlled. He brings depictions of terrain of the Sonoran Desert where he spent the last winter, as well as imagery realized by imprint of forests. Dobrowski has long taken inspiration from the land for his painting, seeking out places that are meaningful to him. About his paintings of place he states, “By creating paintings, I am given a chance to physically engage with the landscape again and remember to keep seeking those unknown experiences.” This current series is a departure from his past body of work which depicted the stark terrain of the Icelandic landscape.  There is a common thread connecting the two bodies of work that is undeniable. Working primarily in oil for his larger pieces, Dobrowski continues to show stark and rugged beauty of landscape sought out for its drama. With a primarily subdued palette and flattened plane, Dobrowski carefully plays with a fine balance of surrealism to hyper-realism, softening and whether intentional or not, romanticizing what is known as a dramatic and inspirational landscape for artists of all disciplines.  He portrays through sometimes sharp contrast of color and defined raw edges, the powerful geological wonders of the desert of the Southwest.   

Along with paintings of more arid terrain, he takes the viewer into the trees with paintings and graphite drawings that echo the play of light and shadow. In beautiful gradation of grays, nearly from black to white he creates sublime pattern from light dancing its way through the dense canopy of tree tops above. These elegant depictions are as much about the tree, the limb, and the leaf as they are about negative space defined by contrast of filtered light. Dobrowski also brings tiny and delicate acrylic paintings on various species of leaves he’s collected.  On leaves he paints miniature scenes depicting our relationship to one another and to the land we live within. Also part of this collection is a series of abstract drawings and paintings, a departure from other pieces included to the exhibition, but making sense in his quest to find balance, or to cultivate a place of order out of chaos. His calculated and repetitive mark making are the end result of dynamic and geometric compositions that resound with a sense of rhythm, much like a steady drum beat forming the backbone to musical composition.

About this series Dobrowski states, Leaves For The Forest is a show more about personal experience than being about actual trees. Although that is clearly a reference point for many of these pieces. Having been on the road touring as a musician and relocating to the desert this past winter, these pieces have been created in various places and in different dedicated chunks of time. While scale, materials and even style will vary from piece to piece, there is a common theme of finding stability in an increasing unstable world. Leaves for the Forest is a modification of the saying 'Can't see the forest for the trees'. In this case it is a reminder to see what is in front of me instead of only focusing on that which I can't control.”

August 2017 Exhibit

Christos Koutsouras
Venetian Red for Despina

Imogen Gallery is excited to be celebrating its 5th anniversary with the third solo exhibition for internationally known artist Christos Koutsouras, who brings Venetian Red for Despina. Koutsouras delivers yet another powerful collection of paintings; smaller impasto paintings on wood and several of his evocative large scale canvases in both oil and acrylic. The exhibition opens for Astoria’s Second Saturday Artwalk August 12, with an artist’s reception 5 – 8 pm. Koutsouras will be present and available to talk about his recent series with light bites and beverages generously provided by Astoria Coffeehouse and Bistro. The exhibition will remain on display through September 5.

Astoria has been Koutsouras' U.S. home base for nearly 7 years, working consistently here in Astoria to create exhibitions that have traveled to the Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art as well as art venues in Europe. His upcoming exhibition will be focusing on one of the last remaining union fisherman net sheds on the Astoria riverfront. The building, affectionately known locally as Big Red, was owned by the late artist Royal Nebeker who used the building for years as his own studio. Christos has like many been impressed by the history of the building. Its allure still strong, even now in its failing stature, but still upheld as being iconic to Astoria and the lore of its renowned fishing industry.

Koutsouras was born and raised on the island of Samos Greece, sharing the birthplace of famed philosopher/mathematician Pythagoras. At the tender age of 17 he began his first career navigating the world’s oceans as a merchant marine, rising quickly to the rank of third mate. His dream of becoming an artist took hold and could no longer be ignored by 1980 when he jumped ship to enroll in the art schools of Germany’s most prestigious institutions, studying under those he felt could teach him what he yearned to understand and master. His years on the open ocean gave him a deep understanding and respect of nuance of atmospheric conditions, this element today is still eloquently portrayed in his paintings. In 1995 Koutsouras continued his career in New York before relocating to the Midwest where he became an Adjunct Professor of Drawing and Painting at the University of Indianapolis, while furthering his career as a painter.  Following his ex-wife and sons, he came west to take up studio space in Seattle. It was here that plans for a second solo exhibition at the Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art (IMOCA) were brought to fruition. In 2010, knowing he wanted to create a body of work about the Pacific Ocean to share with his audience in the Midwest, he took an exploratory trip down the Oregon Coast. It was along the banks of the Lower Columbia River he found his muse, her name is Astoria, Oregon.

His intent was simple, to stay six months for an intensive period of painting, ultimately creating a body of work inspired by the wildness and integrity of the region. This place of confluence took hold like an anchor dropped from a freighter; Astoria beckoned and he listened. Inspired by the landscape, and tenacity of those who settled here, he has worked from the same studio on the banks of the Columbia River for seven years, creating four distinct bodies of work for exhibitions shown here in the United States as well as Europe.  This series, Venetian Red for Despina takes on an epic quality, considering Astoria’s past, present and future and how the creative community participates in the framework of the area.  Many great artists over time have visited the area to take inspiration of the grand and vast landscape.  Cleveland Rockwell first came to the lower Columbia region as a surveyor in 1868 where he became a highly regarded landscape artist.  He painted “Smoky Sunrise, Astoria Harbor” in 1882 which now hangs in the Seattle Art Museum as part of their permanent collection.  Childe Hassam, an American impressionist traveled from his home in New England to Oregon twice to paint the majestic terrain.  In 1904 he came to the North Oregon coast and inspired by some of the same things Koutsouras sees today, he painted “Ecola Beach, Oregon”, now part of the Fred Geller Family Foundation based out of San Francisco.  Hassam was noted in describing the quickly changing skies and effects of subsequent play of light and shadow on landscape, what is now the base of Koutosuras’ work.

The series is for Koutsouras a personal one.  He like many has been taken by the allure of the Uppertown net shed that was built in 1900. The building stands as a symbol to the now declining fishing industry, much like the building itself, failing but still standing as an iconic tribute to a way of life that has shifted dramatically.  Through exquisite and subtle use of color he paints the structure in its state today, portraying rough shards of structure battered by decades of storms, reminiscent of old bones of an aged individual not ready to relinquish vanishing youth.  Jeremy Efroymson, former director of the Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art and Lori Miles, Professor of Art at DePauw University when discussing this current series noted that Koutsouras “used to paint people like architecture, and now paints architecture like people.”  Efroymson goes on to say “Christos’ new body of work represents a dramatic shift in conceptual approach, while remaining true to his expressionistic, moody style.  The buildings he renders are suspended in spaces that alternate between chaos and calm; persistent and still structures that seem imminently mortal in their rendering.  He knows these buildings well, with an evident familiarity that borders on a personal relationship.  This makes sense, of course, since Christos’ subjects are now the physical structures in which he spends most of his time; homes, studios, and spaces he occupies in his travels.  His itinerant life, a life with multiple places to call home, has allowed him an intimate understanding of these spaces.”

Koutsouras has enjoyed a career that has offered many unique opportunities including commissions for large scale public art projects. One such project is located at the East Side Gallery in Berlin, Germany where a monument of freedom was established when the Berlin Wall came down. He, along with over 100 other internationally respected artists were each designated with a 30’ segment of the wall to create a mural celebrating a message of peace. In addition to being represented by Imogen Gallery in Astoria, Koutsouras has exhibited work in various solo exhibitions around the world including the Martin Luther Kirche in Cologne, Germany; Abraham Lubelsky Gallery in New York, New York; Center for the Artist, Melian Merkouri in Athens, Greece; Christel DeHaan Art Center and the Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art in Indianapolis, Indiana. He most recently produced a soon to be released documentary focusing on six artists from his home island of Samos and is currently preparing for a solo exhibition in Denmark as well as a third exhibition at IMOCA in 2018. Koutsouras firmly has one foot in two continents, managing a career that spans from Astoria, Oregon, to Samos, Greece with several stops in between.

July 2017 Exhibit

Cynthia Lahti

We are excited to welcome back Cynthia Lahti for her third solo exhibition, Haunt at Imogen. Recently finishing a residency at Sitka Center for Art and Ecology located in the central coast area of Cascade Head, and now residing in the idyllic woods of Clatsop County, Lahti brings a fresh series of drawings depicting places known and loved by her since childhood. She combines imprints of cherished memory with the landscape of today to create compellingly lush yet delicate compositions of our mystical coastal region. Haunt is a reflection of her own heritage and history through visual exploration of places familiar over a lifetime. The exhibition opens Saturday, July 8th 5 – 8 pm with a reception for Lahti who will be present and available to answer questions about the series.  Light bites and drink will be generously provided by Astoria Coffeehouse and Bistro. The exhibition will be on view through August 8th.

For artist Cynthia Lahti, landscape intimate to her has always informed her two-dimensional work. Since childhood she has immersed herself in place, seeking out sites that instill an affirmation of the grand landscape of Oregon and her own connection to home. Lahti, known and respected for her mixed media three dimensional ceramic work, creates balance for her career by turning her focus on the process of mark making on paper. She has always held a strong affinity for the land, creating drawings and paintings representing places known and haunted by her and family who immigrated here from Finland. Her longtime love affair with the wetlands, forests and coastal regions of Clatsop County, culminated in a temporary move from Portland to the Lewis and Clark area of the county. Lahti brings a series of plein aire paintings, (work created on site as opposed to within the comforts of a studio) depicting places of personal importance to her, etched in her memory but now revisited decades later. Through quick and immediate gesture she portrays areas surrounding Youngs Bay, Fort Stevens and other locations around county. 

Lahti’s painting style shows an immediacy and sincerity to the power of the landscape, her own history and sense of enchantment embedded within each brushstroke or drawn line.  Her work reflects a desire to go deeper into the ability of mark making, creating metaphor in the construct of landscape. Her use of different materials, colors and line are all vehicles for describing and expressing elements included in the landscape. They contrast and complement each other, creating a sacred place that reflects the land itself and her emotional connection to it. This series takes a turn from past work, with vibrant and bold use of color echoing a sense of mysticism and spiritualism that pervades the forests of the county. The glow of sunlight filtered through dense overgrowth of trees towering overhead, allowing shafts of light to permeate surface of presumed moss, lichen or other local flora provide a richness in her conveyed tapestry of sacred space, a cathedral to nature itself.

About this series she states: “Oregon is magnificent in its intense natural beauty. I spent a lot of time as a child exploring its wild landscapes. They were haunted places and I was a guest walking through, lighting campfires, laughing and drifting its waters. It began my romance with natural places that has continued as an adult. It understands; nature in its complete and pure acceptance of life is where I find the greatest acceptance. The artworks included to the show Haunt reflect some of the recent adventures I have had around Oregon in the last year and my response to it. Many of the locations are places I have memories of visiting as a child and/or are of places that many of my ancestors would have seen.”

Lahti is highly respected by peers, collectors and institutions who work to further the acknowledgement of artists.  She has been awarded a Hallie Ford Family Foundation fellowship in 2013 for her contribution to Oregon visual arts, a recipient to a Bonnie Bronson Fellowship Award, and most recently awarded a grant by the prestigious Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Foundation. The Gottlieb Foundation awards up to 12 artists internationally each year who have dedicated their lives to art as a career choice.   Lahti has also enjoyed residencies that have taken her to Berlin, Germany, Caldera at Sisters, Oregon and most recently the Sitka Center for Art and Ecology at Cascade Head, Oregon.  Her work can be found in the collections of the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art in Eugene, Reed College, Portland, Oregon and the Boise Art Museum, Boise, Idaho.
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