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November 2020 Exhibit

November 2020 Exhibit
Facing You

An Exploration of Portraiture

Imogen is pleased to be presenting the sixth annual invitational exhibition exploring humanity through portraiture. This year’s exhibition will include the sublime paintings of Reed Clarke, Ruth Shively and introducing local artist Aaron Toledo, all exploring the essence of humanity. This evocative collection moves beyond a surface glance of an individual, inviting the viewer a step closer and to consider the underlying. Perhaps even to see ourselves through the eyes of others, and what it means to be a part of mankind. Each portrait tells a story; we invite you to participate. The exhibition opens Saturday November 14th, 12:00 – 8:00 pm and will be on view thru December 7th. The gallery is currently open Thursday – Monday, 12 – 5 pm and Sunday 12 – 4 pm. We are also available by appointment for private viewing.

Many artists at some point in their career have placed focus on the human form as subject matter, for some it’s a practice of study, for others it’s a means to participate with humanity on a more intimate level. Artists Reed Clarke, Ruth Shively and Aaron Toledo fall into that category. Portraiture becomes a vehicle utilized to explore deeper reflection of who we are, what we convey without speaking, simply by stance, expression or direction of gaze. These artists, all incredibly skilled with chosen medium bring suggestion of story and history through portrayal of individuals.  

Reed Clarke of Portland, Oregon has dedicated much of his career as a fine artist painting others. Known for his skill as a painter and printmaker, he has had his work juried into Clatsop Community College’s prestigious Au Naturel:  Nudes in the 21st Century exhibition several years running, receiving a first prize award as well as a purchase award from CCC.  He has exhibited his work throughout Portland including a show at the White Gallery of Portland State University. For Imogen’s sixth exhibition Facing You, he brings yet another strong collection of work, inviting the viewer to perhaps create their own story. His skill is apparent in the nuance of palette to create mood and emotion through an intimate look and consideration into another’s experience, perhaps with a goal of fostering greater understanding and acceptance of who we are. About this series he states:

 “Faces and figures inhabit all my paintings and when I try to stray from this subject something I can’t resist always calls me back. In my work I hope to elicit a statement about being human that is familiar, and also seems impossible to say as clearly or completely in other mediums.  Many of my paintings exhibited in this show are specific people:  a writer, a weaver, a poet, a child soldier, etc. and I hope to have imparted some degree of a palpable and potent humanity in these paintings. The idea of restricting myself to a human subject and the discipline that presenting such a subject imposes on the composition is something I value. When possible I seek to emphasize the geometric shapes formed by different part of the composition and bring out the abstract surface rhythms of the composition. Ultimately however, I’m striving for a balance between recording a human subject that is compelling and creating a paint surface on the canvas that engages and rewards the viewer.”
 
We also welcome back Ruth Shively a Portland based artist. Shively who focuses her figurative work on portrayal of women, brings an essence of quiet resilience and an innate sense of strength and beauty. About her work she states:  “I work largely with the figure, concentrating on women. In awe of the strength women behold, I feel the need to express their character through my work. I can't explain how I choose my subjects, I go with my instinct and immediate feelings and drawn to stark, positive/negative space. I like humor, mysteriousness and intimate mood, wanting the viewer to make their own interpretation. I studied drawing and illustration in school but I'm a self-taught painter and prefer this medium as I love the spontaneity of the paint and using color to create space.”   Shively, who grew up in the Midwest has lived in Paris, New York City, Minneapolis and now Portland. She has exhibited her work in numerous group and solo exhibitions that have taken her from Los Angeles to New York and many venues in between.

This year we are excited to include the work of Astoria based painter and tattoo artist Aaron Toledo. Toledo who relocated to Astoria in 1999 from Kansas City owns and operates Keepsake Tattoo, our neighbors here on 11th Street. His small scale and intimate oil paintings explore the relationship between people and the space they occupy, “zooming in on moments as if they are memories, exploiting the perceptions that energize these small captures of time.” As a nonacademic artist his education and career in art has been far from traditional. About his work he states, “My work is inspired by the often overlooked and singularly unimportant candid moments, the spaces we live, our most boring days, the far reaches of the earth, bad storytelling and good mistakes.” With a muted palette and limited brushstroke he brings moody and gestural imprint, or glimpses into people’s personal world; a direct look at reality of moment and fleeting honesty of contemplation.

All three artists share a commonality of commitment and dedication to the marginalized within their work. Each brings beauty, vulnerability and rawness, elements that live within all of us. The power of the individual shines bright through compassion for humanity. Facing you, we invite you to step inside. 
 

October 2020 Exhibit

April Coppini & Molly Schulps
Everything is Possible/Nothing is Possible
Back by popular demand are the gorgeous charcoal (and sometimes pastel) drawings of April Coppini. We have invited April to come back for another exhibition, this time sharing the stage with ceramic artist Molly Schulps. Schulps a recent addition to Imogen brings a new collection of ceramic sculpture and vessels. She splits her time between her studio here in Astoria as well as in Los Angeles where she is director to the Cypress College’s ceramic department. Coppini and Schulps both share a common passion for environmental issues, specifically relating to wildlife preservation. As Coppini utilizes paper for her support of dramatic imagery, Schulps turns to her wheel thrown and hand built clay pieces as backbone to her love of drawing and playful use of color. Known for her bigger than life charcoal drawings of bees, Coppini brings a new series of elegant drawings showcasing her exquisite skills of breathing life into two dimensional work. We are excited to be presenting these two incredibly talented artists together. The exhibition will be on view October 10 – November 10 and opens Saturday, October 10. . The gallery is currently open Thursday – Monday, 12 – 5 pm and Sunday 12 – 4 pm. We are also available by appointment for private viewing.
 
Coppini, known for her passionate interest in all creatures and their importance to place, brings a series of gorgeously rendered charcoal drawings. She portrays a focused record in her subject matter depicting the wild and unseen side of animalia. A slight tension of muscle before a possible leap, or the look of pensive awareness in preparation for escape from a possible predator, are all elegantly conveyed through beautiful and gestural mark making. With the underlying message of the importance of all creatures and their independent role to ecosystem and/or as pollinators, predators, scavengers or even domesticated animals, Coppini asks the viewer to consider the role our species takes (or doesn’t) as caretaker’s to the delicate relationship between mankind and animal as well as a direct reminder of our symbiotic relationship to all life on a global level. About this specific series she states:
 Everything is Possible/ Nothing is Possible. There is not a better way to describe this feeling I wake up to every day of this past six months of pandemic/ quarantine and social & political crisis. It’s chaos. Its upheaval. It’s shock and grieving. It’s a humbling and an anxiety producing re-learning of basic functions. And it’s a blank slate. It’s invitation to change. It’s an opening for a hero to step-in and then the realization that the hero has to be you.
My entire existence as a mother I have been an artist. I am grateful for the flexibility it’s offered and for the time with my kids. Even while grieving the loss of their father and being full-on, full-time.
And it’s always been a struggle, but right now it’s a struggle in the same space and time, always. I wake up thinking, “I’ll draw before the kids wake up!” and then someone wakes up early and I think, “ok, later…”, but there is a constant stream of things to do and decide about and take care of… and I put them to bed at night and think “...after they go to bed!” and then I promptly fall asleep next to them. Or all I can do is sit and look at my work, energy spent. “Nothing is possible”.
Mostly, drawing that happens does so when I catch a wave of “Everything is possible!” in the midst of all the household chaos. Moments stolen away when I am not directly needed for something or feeling so oppressed by the realities of the outside world. Or when I am and it has to be let out somehow... holding both; “everything is possible” and “nothing is possible” at the same time. Torn, under pressure, full of possibilities. Just like all of us.

Coppini tends to focus primarily on charcoal for her chosen medium because of “its immediacy and forgiving nature”.  For her, the starkness of black on white strikes a basic and guttural cord. Within this series however she brings in rich use of color, pure blocks as background which aid in defining emotive qualities or even echo elements of subject matter while still allowing for the dominant line of charcoal do its work. The stark juxtaposition lends to the overall power and drama conveyed in each piece.

Like Coppini, Schulps takes great inspiration for her love of the natural world and conveys her own message of the raw power and beauty through her use of form, color and content. Her sense of playfulness is included to each piece, many times including iconic and sometimes folkloric imagery that many of us grew up with. It’s not uncommon for Schulps to include Smoky the Bear and Paul Bunyan to the surface work of her colorful vessels that transcend to a lightheartedness and gentle reminder of the fragility of our world and our delicate ecosystems that are battling out coexistence with mankind. About this series of work she states:
 The Pacific Northwest could not be a more enchanting place to be. The beauty is awe inspiring and has had a deep impact on my work. Although, my heart is heavy with worry about the environment and all of the inhabitants. As an artist I feel the responsibility to make work that explores these concerns. I use imagery that relates to the area, so for this particular exhibition it was animals and fauna that are on the endangered species list in the PNW. I also use nostalgic references and familiar symbolism to allow for the viewer to form a sense of relatability to my work. This current body of work has both vessels and sculpture, which are the vehicles for the visual narratives and symbols. It is my hope that we become better stewards for the land and inhabitants.

Schulps, who was born and raised in Southern California recently took up residence in Astoria. As stated the area has been a rich resource for her personally in the development of her work. Her love of drawing is evident in every piece she creates, etching line into clay as well as building elaborate composition through glazing. The entire surface of each sculpture and vessel she creates explode with vibrancy of life. Her hand built and wheel thrown pieces of all scale act as her canvases for ideas of well thought out and sometimes narrative story telling. Every turn of each piece reveals delightful imagery of flora and fauna that playfully cover all surface.

Schulps, whose father was a well renowned studio potter grew up under his tutelage and then later earning her MFA with distinction from California State University. Schulps is now a highly respected instructor herself. Her work readily illustrates great skill and understanding of her chosen medium with elaborate glazing techniques, resulting in contemplative narration of ideas and concepts. Her work has been exhibited around the country and is included to the permanent collection of the American Museum of Ceramic Art.
 

September Exhibit

September Exhibit
Laura Hamje

In The Clouds
 
This region, known as a place of confluence where the mighty Columbia River flows into the Pacific Ocean, has long attracted artists, who pay homage to the vast and ever changing skies hovering over both natural and manmade elements that define the region. Photographing, painting, and writing about the unfolding drama of windswept hillsides, remnants of pilings left from the grand days of a thriving fishing industry, along with the iconic Megler Bridge, has long held the imaginations of all who visit. This is what has captured the attention of Seattle based artist Laura Hamje, who brings a new series of oil paintings, In The Clouds, for her second solo exhibition in Astoria. The exhibition will open Saturday, September 12th and be on view through October 6th. Laura Hamje will be available to answer questions about her work Saturday, September 12th, 5 – 8 pm. Also available will be her newly published book Concrete Ghost:  Seattle’s Vanished Viaduct and Emerging Paintings by Laura Hamje.  

Laura Hamje has found herself drawn to the region of the Lower Columbia River for years. Her strong love and fascination for the area has become informative to her work, shaping her vision and sense of composition. Hamje’s paintings portray a nostalgic and contemplative landscape, defined by architectural structure seemingly to support sky while at the same time acting as a point of connection between land, water, and atmosphere. Hamje, like many, has been drawn into the allure of Astoria and through that she depicts elements of history, a lost past, while also suggesting a path to what remains unknown; the future. When discussing this series she states, "Cloudy days can make the world seem darker and duller. However, I have witnessed the vibrancy that cloud cover brings having lived in the Pacific Northwest for 15 years now. The dim and subtly changing light illuminates the earth in unexpected ways, creating forms and shapes not visible on a sunny day. Without the high contrast of full sunlight objects, land, sea and sky bleed into each other creating unnamable space where ones’ mind can roam without constraints. This space has become for me not only quiet and reflective, but ethereal.”

Within this series Hamje depicts the moodiness of the region suspended with heavy skies moving dramatically as if they themselves are shaping the landscape. Through steel girders that bind structure, she carries the viewer across the river, into the ocean, and up quite streams of known and not so well known locations of the region. Ominous skies break, pierced by light while currents of wind move tumultuous up and over the river. Fog hangs heavy, shrouding and encasing pathways of transit, almost appearing as a blanket of comfort and protection. Hamje captures the dance of the ever changing and un-choreographed movement of atmosphere that dominates the terrain.
About the area she also states: 
“When I drive across the Astoria-Megler Bridge, I feel like I’m taking my life into my own hands.  Although the area can be calm and sleepy, this is not its constant state. There is a feeling of the impending storm, which can materialize without warning.  How many storms has the bridge weathered? Which structures along the river remain, and which of them show obvious wear and destruction?  It makes me consider permanence, and the things we cling to as anchors.  It makes me consider the storm, and if we should just give in to the unpredictability, the tumult…the anchor-less-ness of mortality.  Within this paradox, I find endless inspiration.”

Hamje’s paintings have been shown from New York to Los Angeles and many places in between. She has also been juried into Au Naturel: Nudes In the 21st Century by Jane Beebe, owner and director of PDX Contemporary, where she was awarded 2nd place for her drawing. She earned her BFA from the University of Washington, studied in Rome, Italy as well as the Chicago Art Institute.
 

August 2020 Exhibit

August 2020 Exhibit
Tom Cramer:  New Works 2020

We are excited to be presenting the third exhibition at Imogen by the renowned Portland based artist Tom Cramer. He brings bold, complex, color saturated paintings along with carved wood relief furniture and wood burned oil paintings.  The exhibition opens August 8th during Astoria’s Second Saturday Artwalk; Tom Cramer will be available to answer questions about his work and career from 5 – 8 pm. The gallery is currently open Thursday – Monday, 12 – 5 pm and Sunday 12 – 4 pm. We are also available by appointment for private viewing. The exhibition will remain on display through September 8th.

Tom Cramer has been at the epicenter of the Portland art scene for decades, known for his distinct and evocative painting style that reverberates with a sense of playful drama. For years many things have acted as a canvas to Cramer, utilizing furniture, cars, buildings, the ballet; these are just a sample of the channels of creative self-expression Cramer has utilized.  Within this series, his collectors might notice a shift in style as he merges into a new era, both personally and artistically. His work continues with strong use of color and pattern, echoing his long interest in Eastern spirituality, music and botany. Also using wood as a medium, the exhibition will include just a few of his wood burned oil paintings, still exploring abstraction though use of form and line. Cramer, utilizes organized color, and pattern to hold elements of geometry, that then in entirety become a vessel of essence and/or spirituality. He also includes to this exhibition one of his rare pieces of relief furniture, a carved golden bench.

A conversation with Cramer always leads into avenues that may have been little explored or considered, full of energy, ideas and many twists. Cramer’s paintings reflect very much the same, and are in many ways a direct reference to his own experiences. Drawing inspiration from intense periods of travel, and engaging on a deep and personal level in what he considers to be older and wiser cultures, has helped him to create “an art driven by emotional content”. 
 
Cramer considers this current series an homage to time past, a reflection on his youth spent here on the north coast when in his words, “life was good”. He reflects back on summer days spent at Short Sands Beach, haunting Seaside and taking in the vibrant colors and flavors of the iconic Phillips Candies; these fond memories are the backbone of the series. With the turbulent times of now, it makes sense to want to step back in time, when life seemed simpler.  When discussing his work, he states, “The paintings emerged slowly and were worked on for months. This allowed them, in a sense to paint themselves. A lot of layers and steps were involved and a passage of time hopefully is reflected in the imagery.  A common thread in all the paintings is my attempt to record memories of certain cherished places or emotions that have meaning for me. Included are positive childhood recollections of the Oregon Coast. Other themes range from urban to rural, and from organic to the human construct. Or, to quote Edward Munch, “I paint not what I see, but what I saw.” My way of responding to the current scary and chaotic social situation is to attempt to lift the viewer towards an elevated consciousness. I believe without art, music, love, and immersion in the natural world, life is not worth living.” It’s with this in mind that Tom is offering his paintings at levels that all can afford. His goal is simple and straight forward; to put art in the hands and hearts of all who will benefit from living with an original painting. Each painting holds spirit and soul, and much like music or poetry it has the profound ability to carry those who engage, to a better place whether it be momentary or forever.

Cramer’s formal training began at PNCA in Portland and then on to Pratt Institute in New York.  He has enjoyed a long and diverse career, showing in many reputable Northwest galleries over the years, including Russo Lee Gallery, and currently Augen Gallery, both in Portland.  His work has been exhibited at the Tacoma Art Museum and the Portland Art Museum, as well as many other prestigious visual art venues.  Cramer’s work can be found in the permanent collection of the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, University of Oregon, Eugene where they recently held a retrospective exhibition of his work, curated by art critic and writer Richard Speer. The exhibition Journey to the Third Dimension was a comprehensive exhibition focusing on paintings and drawings, by Cramer, created from 1977 to current. Cramer’s work can also be found in the permanent collections of Microsoft, Inc, Portland Art Museum, the Boise Art Museum, and many other prestigious institutions. 
 

July 2020 Exhibit

July 2020 Exhibit
Diane Kingzett   
Dig In

 
We are excited to welcome back Diane Kingzett of Portland for her fourth solo exhibition at Imogen. Describing herself as a painter of emotion, Kingzett brings a new series of oil and mixed medium abstract paintings titled Dig In. Within her process she leaves preconceived ideas of content and composition to consider her own internal dialogue, allowing psyche to become muse. The exhibition, Dig In, will open for Astoria’s Second Saturday Artwalk, July 11. Kingzett will be present that evening from 5 – 8 pm and available to answer questions about her work. The gallery is now open Monday and Thursday – Saturday, 12 – 5 pm and Sunday 12 – 4 pm. We are also available by appointment for private viewing. The exhibition will remain on view through August 4.

Diane Kingzett is an artist who creates from an intuitive approach:  her own response to outside circumstances help to form her imagery. Places she’s been, memories of experiences and events, for better or worse, are all open to consideration once in the studio. As an artist, she conscientiously utilizes this in her painting practice as a tool to compartmentalize and process life changing events, in this case from a place of profound loss. Through her art she grapples with grief, taking it on with honesty and truth no matter how messy that process can be.  

Within this series, Kingzett’s work conveys in sublime and provocative ways elements echoing her own response and impression to traveling through grief while holding onto humor as an anchor to survival. Through abstraction, her compositions might bring vague imprint of place which for her are personal documentations of time and memory. With calculated use of palette, exquisite deep blues to intense and passionate pink blocked by black all lend to elements of landscape while offering a sense of haunting mystery and a nod to the unknown, much like death itself.  Pale washes of grey over warm infused color defined by thoughtful use of line and distinct calculated mark making echo the impressions of the day to day experience of moving through grief. These marks define the marching forward of time, while looking back to things that will never be the same again. Kingzett’s paintings provide space for that intuitive consideration of process through an ethereal sense of reality.

About this series she states,
“Someday I'll be a weather-beaten skull resting on a grass pillow, serenaded by a stray bird or two. Kings and commoners end up the same, no more enduring than last night's dream.” (Ryokan:1758-1831, Japanese Zen Buddhist monk)
 
These paintings are my personal conversation with death and grief. Honor and freedom reside in being offered crushing grief. When it is our turn to process great loss we are afforded true ownership of our very own, private process. Dig in to it, sleep on it, talk it through, drink it away, laugh it off, hold it up to the light, burn it, spit at it, cherish it, antagonize it, let it go, clutch it near your chest, outrun it, interrogate it, outsmart it, remember it, forget it, toss it to the stars, bury it in garden debris, keep it, guild it, forgive it, fuck it, release it, rinse, repeat.
 
Each of these paintings represents a day in the process of grief. Memories of specific places, tiny excerpts of previously forgotten conversations with those who have left, regrets, hopes, moments of clarity and areas of confusion. Days of rolling a boulder up a hill, days of letting that same boulder crash to the earth below. All reliably lead to the same place, freedom, finality, release.
 
In the words of Caddyshack’s Carl Spackler as spoken to the Dalai Lama…
 
And I say, “Hey, Lama, hey, how about a little something, you know, for the effort, you know.” And the Dalai Lama replies, “Oh, uh, there won’t be any money, but when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness.” So I got that goin’ for me, which is nice.
 
Each painting represents a collection of memory, putting it into a place of understanding, even acceptance in relinquishing oneself to profound loss. Her work is not an attempt to mirror what she sees, but through reflection of emotional response she constructs imagery to create beauty, clarity, and resolve out of debilitating heartache.  

Kingzett, who has painted for over 30 years earned her BFA at West Virginia University and studied at the San Francisco Art Institute as well as the Vermont Studio Center. Having lived in all four corners of the country, Kingzett has taken inspiration from her experiences and utilized that towards the development of her work as a painter. She has recently added silversmithing to her repertoire of creative expression. We are thrilled to offer her exquisite bezel set stone jewelry pieces along with her new collection of paintings.