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November 2022 Exhibit

November 2022 Exhibit
Facing You   
Our 8th annual invitational portraiture exhibition

Pippa Arend, Reed Clarke, Denise Monaghan, Timothy Peitsch, Amelia Santiago, Ruth Shively and Aaron Toledo

Imogen is pleased to be presenting its eighth annual invitational exhibition exploring humanity through portraiture. This year’s exhibition will include the paintings of Portland based artists Pippa Arend, Reed Clarke and Ruth Shively as well as local Astoria talent of Denise Monaghan, Timothy Peitsch, Amelia Santiago, and 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 humankind. Each portrait tells a story; we invite you to take part. The exhibition opens during Astoria’s Second Saturday Artwalk, November 12th, 12:00 – 8:00 pm and will be on view thru December 5th. Artists will be at the gallery from 5 – 7 pm, November 12 and available to answer questions about their work.

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. All seven of these artists fall into that category. Portraiture becomes a vehicle utilized to explore deeper reflection of who we are and what we convey via nonverbal communication, 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.  

This year we are honored to include the work of two artists new to Imogen. Pippa Arends from Portland and Denise Monaghan of Astoria. They both bring work that honors specific individuals. Pippa Arend, the cofounder of p:ear, a nonprofit supporting homeless youth, brings three bold and energetic portraits of individuals she’s known through her work with p:ear. After 20 years of working with this population of youth she has come away with a strong perspective on what sets these young people apart. About this and the work she includes to the exhibition she states, “Some believe that people get what they deserve. Others think we receive only as much we can handle. All meted out through some act of karma or divine judgment. Such thinking ignores the whimsical nature of luck, good, bad or none. In this show, titled “FACING YOU,” I invite you to look into the eyes and lives of these faces—Jupiter, Oddessa, Kayla. These three strong, lovely, exquisite people have been dealt difficult hands, and they’ve played them with various amounts of skill and, yes, luck. I believe in luck, in all its light and dark, in its profound power to make or break a life. Which is why I also believe in compassion. For me, drawing has always been a path to empathy and compassion. WHO is this person behind those eyes? How does that taut cheek feel from the inside? WHY is that the posture they project? Is that smirk I see grimace or grin? For this body of work, I’ve created three portraits of p:ear youth, based on their own mugshots. The conversations we shared while searching for the photos were hilarious and raw, as revelatory as the narratives radiating from their faces. The youth I worked with for those 20 years at p:ear struggled, some to the end of their ropes. My intention here is to reflect their tenacious journeys as well as the luck they fled and the fortune they found.”

A portion of the proceeds from Pippa’s work will be donated by Pippa and Imogen directly to her subjects. Imogen will also be donating proceeds from all sales from this exhibition to p:ear.

Denise Monaghan also brings a humanitarian element to the exhibition, portraying individuals who have and are contributing to global issues through their skills. Working in oil on linen she brings 8 portraits of people dedicating their lives to the betterment of the world. About this series she states: “Mostly, I want to connect and learn, and I hope the viewers will as well. I believe we have to look at our situation with open hearts and minds. We need to include nature, only then can things change. The people I have painted bring me hope, their work and words have helped me understand human nature. I now know that some people can be absolutely wonderful animals.”  Monaghan carefully creates composition in her  portraits , placing each of her subjects within the landscape relating to their work and vision.

Reed Clarke of Portland, Oregon has dedicated much of his career as a fine artist, painting others. Often his subjects are known literary greats. Clarke also creates his own characters, referencing people he’s observed in daily life while bringing in elements to create dynamic composition. 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.  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 his work Clarke 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. 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 the talented Amelia Santiago. Santiago who lives in Astoria is not new to Imogen, some may recall her incredible felted sculpture of our canine friends and other elaborate needle felted wool sculptural pieces. She balances her work as a fiber artist equally with her love of the painting process. After graduating from Pacific Northwest College of Art with a BFA in painting, Santiago traveled to Iceland where she became enamored with wool fiber, this led to a decade long career of creating 3-dimensional animal portraiture. Still, she never let the process of painting stray too far. About her work and processes she states: “I have been making art my entire life and I have always been drawn to the figure, both human and animal and often the two together. To me, painting a portrait is not only about the sitter but equally about the artist as well. I see myself in the images I make, and I think about the human condition. I think of our feelings about what is happening around us, our relationship to the other creatures we share this world with and our existence and effect on our environment. At the same time, I feel a portrait should be a work of art in itself. I love to push around paint, layer and build, sand and refine. I am enticed by realism but wild with color. I strive to create flow and depth and to think about light, shapes, and pattern. Most of all, when I paint portraits, I love that moment when the sitter comes alive, when the eyes begin to see things, I can’t see and don’t know and have feelings that are not mine.”  

Joining us for again this year is Ruth Shively, a Portland based artist. Typically drawn to imagery of women she portrays 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.

After a several year hiatus we are pleased to be welcoming back the exquisitely rendered work of Astoria artist, Timothy Peitsch. Peitsch has always focused on the portrayal of people in his work, quite often people who are close to him. His last solo show several years ago at Imogen was an impressive series of graphite portraits of historical individuals who somehow added to the lore of Astoria’s illustrious history. Peitsch has always enjoyed the challenge of portraiture, considering it the purest subject matter, the most recognizable. For him it’s an exploration of personality, with the goal of capturing something beyond the surface ad finding an understanding or hint of who someone is, not merely what they appear to be. About his work he states: “A portrait is the most enjoyable platform for me to work from. I’ve always loved the viewers reaction to them. It seems like everyone brings their own narrative and life experience to my portraits. Inevitably the viewers will begin to tell me stories about a person they knew or a personal experience they had. It’s always fascinating to me that a portrait will trigger those memories and emotions in a person.

We are also excited to welcome back 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 paintings 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 seven artists share a commonality of commitment and dedication to the somehow 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 2022 Exhibit

October 2022 Exhibit
Michelle Muldrow
Spaces Between the Places that are Known
October 8 – November 7
 
We are excited to be hosting artist Michelle Muldrow and a new series of paintings for her first solo exhibition at Imogen. Her painting is a conceptual exploration of the American landscape, imbued by working history of the land she portrays. The exhibition opens during Astoria’s Second Saturday Artwalk, October 8. Muldrow will be in attendance during artwalk and available to answer questions about her work, 5 – 7:30 pm. The exhibition will remain on view through November 7. Also joining us for the evening will be the Horsenecks, comprised of Gabrielle Macrae on fiddle and Barry Southern on banjo, performing their Old Time and Blue Grass music from 5 – 7 pm.

Michelle Muldrow who is well versed in the arts, is a nationally recognized painter and singer/songwriter. She brings a new collection of paintings exploring the relationships between landscape, consumerism, historical aesthetic philosophy and personal narrative. Working in casein on panel with a muted palette, she applies philosophical ideas to American landscape painting, using historical precedents while considering the contemporary experience to reach an understanding of America. A sense of nostalgia marks her gestural style and sense of composition. Her chosen medium casein, is itself historical in nature being one of the original forms of paint, dating back to prehistoric times and utilized in early cave paintings. The medium, soft in tonality with a matte finish lends itself perfectly to her painting style, evoking a dreamlike imprint of memory.
Her subject matter has always been rooted in sense of place, known landforms, man-made landmarks make their way into composition. New to the Northwest, via Los Angeles she has shifted her focus in recent paintings to riverways, timber lands, landscape worked by time and mankind.

About her work, she states: “From macro to micro, I observe and absorb the landscape; from the broad strokes of the vistas that capture the incredible iconic images that define the Pacific Northwest to the small observations that tell the stories of the lives that live in this landscape. I search for the signifiers, the markers that set the region apart from any other place in the United States. As a child of a career military family, I moved all over the United States, developing a subconscious shorthand to recognize the differences from place to place. In my art practice, I study these small “tells”, elements that reflect a region, their priorities, the economy, the history, and the struggles. I first paint the broad strokes, the obvious, the iconographic, almost like a tourist, then follow the throughline, finding the clues that feel as potent as a symbol. I look for those repetitions that become like talisman, a repeating line in a poem. I investigate these empty landscapes, filled with signifiers, until I winnow it down to where the people interact with the landscape, searching, understanding, digging into the stories that are reflective of what captures the essence of a region. This is why I paint; to understand place and gain further understanding of what is this American landscape and American experience.”

Muldrow has exhibited her work extensively throughout the country, from New York to Los Angeles with many stops in between. She is a 2021 recipient of a Provincetown Art Museum/Lillian Orlowsky and William Freed Grant and has her work included to many private and corporate collections, including the Microsoft Corporate Art Collection, the Cleveland Clinic Art Collection, Gerard Louis-Dreyfus Art Collection, and many others.
 

September 2022 Exhibit: Elsi Wagner Speaks With Kimberly Marrero

September 2022 Exhibit: Elsi Wagner Speaks With Kimberly Marrero
Elise Wagner speaks with Museum Lecturer + Art Advisor Kimberly Marrero from her Portland studio – the artist discusses the recent work for her upcoming exhibition Marking Time.

Elise Wagner has devoted her studio practice to exploring our planet its vastness in space and the many mysteries that it holds. Her art draws from celestial imagery and the many scientific advancements that have impacted the precious planet that we share.

Marking Time, one of her two exhibitions, scheduled to open this fall, gets its title from the nature photographer, James Balog’s stunning images of our planet’s rapidly melting glaciers. Balog has been tracking the dramatic effects of global warning with a team of scientist annually – the resulting time elapsed images are the focus of his award-winning film Chasing Ice that debuted in 2012. Balog’s film has had an enormous impact on Wagner’s art - igniting in her a similar potency and directive towards the urgency that we can no longer overlook relating to the changing environment – Since the launch of the very first pubic phase of legislation reporting on global warming in 1988 art and science have been on a steady collision course. Influential artists such as Olafur Eliasson, Mathew Richie and Tomas Saraceno present room sized immersive installations that attract record breaking crowds and are meant to beckon public consideration of the earth we share and the damaging effects of our carbon footprint.

Elise Wagner’s art joins in these ranks and leads us - full circle – to the earliest warning signs that we have chosen to ignore– further sounding the irrefutable alarm on the dire predicament that we find ourselves in around the world today. Can and should art be instructive? It certainly appears so.

An artist, first and foremost, Wagner’s work presents us with stunning abstract fauv-like compositions. Her smooth and sometimes textured surfaces come from her arduous process of built-up multiple layers of vintage scientific recordings and the most compelling galactical illustrations that are digitally transformed into stenciled fragments and then combined with swatches of natural fabrics and raw colored pigments and set into fields of thick encaustic wax. A technique, all her own – Wagner has been developing and perfecting this for over a decades long career. Like a scientist at work in the laboratory, her unique studio practice draws from the brains of the environmentally conscious. One might refer to her art as “eco-friendly” evidenced by her research of sustainable organic materials such as honey and akua soy – that she has transformed into art-making medium. Her alchemical art attempts at, making tangible, the atmospheric phenomena, geological matter and the various forms of technological apparatus that measure planetary climate changes and strengthen our gradual understanding of the world around us.

One of her latest works Astral Legend, 2013 offers a visual manifestation of scientific sources such as Author Frank Close’s eye-opening book from 1987 “Particle Explosion” giving visual form to data reflecting the origins of the universe and the subatomic particle. In this work Wagner incorporates interpretations of the astral world inspired by multi-layered and textural images of particle movement discovered through the advancements of technologies like Google images. Another pivotal work, which will be featured in her second exhibition in New York, Is Terra Europa. The impetus for this work originated from the images taken of Pluto’s moon Europa by the New Horizons program – which the artist sourced on the internet.

Wagner’s work carries with it a conscience. She says her art has a responsibility to add something productive to a world that's already overburdened with enough “ineffectual stuff” and she is not alone - her art builds upon the globally conscious icons of the past – some of the earliest environmental artists – you might say - who come before her - like Winslow Homer and JM W. Turner whose seascapes turned our focus to the powerful sea voyages and man’s futile attempt to battle its treacherous forces - and then there are the mid 19th- Century land-dwellers like Thomas Coles and Asher Durand – pioneers of the Hudson River School group– with their meticulously rendered landscape paintings – presented to the viewer on a grand-scale – an exercise of careful observation and regard for the untainted wilderness.

Q+A WITH ELISE WAGNER AUGUST 2022 Kimberly Marrero

On a very hot August day, I spoke with the artist Elise Wagner in her Portland studio about her upcoming exhibitions, her artistic process and the inspirations that continue to drive her practice.

KM - Elise, I am delighted to have this studio visit with you! Is it a coincidence – or perhaps not- that we are doing this during an extreme heatwave across the country that many attribute to the direct effects of climate change and perhaps - global warming. These are unchartered times we live in…

EW - These certainly are uncharted times and unfortunately coincidence has shifted into a new normal. One of the things I had grown to love about living in the Northwest is its ideal Summers that were opposite from New Jersey with average temperatures of 82-88, sunny deep blue skies, low humidity and cool evenings. Now, as I write this, it is 96 degrees, muggy, humid and overcast. Hello Jersey! Not to mention the fact that I work with hot wax produced by a dwindling bee population as the result of climate change. Working with wax has deepened my awareness about the importance of bees. Oregon particularly along with many of the Western states is an area of the country constantly under threat and susceptible to wildfires in the surrounding wilderness area during the Summer month which creates poor air quality and very arid and muggy conditions. Just a spark from a campfire in hot dry climates like we are experiencing this Summer could create a tinderbox and burn thousands of acres of forests and jeopardize wildlife like back in 2020.

KM - I want to begin by pointing out that this a very exciting time for you, with the opening of Coast to Coast shows this Fall and your recent grant awards from the Ford Family Foundation and the Oregon Arts Commission. After a very long period of isolation during the Pandemic I was really thrilled to learn of this special grant, the Artist Resilience Award, that you received. I wasn't aware that this even existed.

EW - Yes, I am thrilled beyond words. In February and March I applied for four grants in anticipation of my solo show at Imogen Gallery in September, then, I was invited to have the New York show. I was so pleased to have won three out of the four, especially with an additional out of state show thrown in! The Artist Resilience Award was funded by the Oregon Arts Commission in partnership with Oregon Community Foundation and the James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation. We are fortunate to have had the Miller Foundation based here in Oregon. The Artist Resilience Program provides relief funding to Oregon artists who have experienced financial hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic due to loss of income, loss of opportunity or other unanticipated impacts to their artistic practice. Funding is intended to help sustain the artistic practice of professional artists. The Oregon Arts Commission offers cycles of Career Opportunity Grants for artists up to $2,000. The application also extends an option to apply for additional funding through the Ford Family Foundation for specific expenses and this time, I was pleased to learn that I received both grants.

KM - Your work always seems to embody questions of ethics and sustainability relating to the environment and climate change. Can you tell me more about that?

EW - An underlying theme in my work intersects with nature’s indifference to human progress and the damage that both cause. It began through studying environmental biology and geology and then noticing the frequency of storms, tornados and wildfires combined with the rising population and sea levels due to greenhouse gas emissions.

KM - I’m noticing a whole new direction in this recent body of work. These are neither prints and nor paintings. You’ve ‘combined a whole lot of different media here and created some compelling hybrids. What lead you to this transition and collision of materials – did you know how they would react together and did you work with specifics here or intuition?

EW - I had a specific idea that developed over some time through discovery of new materials and what I learned through adding printmaking to my studio practice in 2006. While putting myself through collage, I had a particularly unique student job of hand painting color charts at Gamblin Artists Colors factory. This began an inadvertent deeper dive into learning about color theory and chemistry. Sometimes, ideas steep for so long that when they finally come to fruition they feel more like a whim to me when they are actually happening. It has been exhilarating to work in the studio since the start of this year and begin to realize some long steeping ideas. For over two decades, I have been integrating multiple medias in my studio that have now fully matured and melded together. My functions very much like a lab to me at times, as I am always experimenting new and different combinations. I have never been able to work with one solitary medium. This particular combination of media derived from a moment of discovery in my studio, setting the path towards “compelling hybrids”. One day in 2002, I thought, what if I printed the texture of my encaustic paintings on flat panels like printing a collagraph only, the collagraph “collage” materials would be replaced by textured white wax that I make and the unique texture common of my paintings? I started out experimenting with a rolling pin and some pigment sticks. An soon turned to an etching press to get my desired outcome. In recent years, I have refined the process I call Encaustic Collagraph Printmaking through the use of nontoxic soy and honey based Akua Intaglio Inks along with learning and experimenting more with fine art rice papers and Evolon microfiber that lend themselves well to my printmaking practice.

KM - You have a practice that is rooted in materials and a keen interest in researching the most sustainable formulas for your art. Can you tell me about this interest in creating a “green” studio with sustainable inks derived from akua soy and honey – even your use of rice papers and organic micro-fiber textiles - and of course, coming up with your own brand of Wagner Encaustic Collograph White?

EW - I later worked in a marketing capacity at Gamblin Artist’s Colors where traveling to trade shows exposed me to the vast world of art materials. I had the opportunity to meet the makers of Golden Acrylics, R&F Handmade Paints (encaustic), Kremer Pigments and Dominque Sennelier himself! My interest in green studio practices derived from my time at Gamblin. It was my job to educate oil painters across the country about studio safety and green practices. All of this exposure and education became the foundation of my studio practice and kept me pushing the boundaries of my materials. It also even briefly inspired creating my very own boutique line of encaustic paints; Wagner Encaustics. After realizing I didn’t want to be a manufacturer but an artist instead, I stopped making my encaustic paint line. However, at the time, I was also developing a new way to work by printing the texture of my paintings. I began creating “encaustic collgraphs”. Collagraphs are collaged plates for printing and in this instance, the collaged material is replaced with white wax. I formulated Wagner Encaustic Collagraph Wax made from beeswax, titanium dioxide and just enough dammar resin in the wax so that it would not stick to the paper when printed. In my research for the best organic materials while developing both the encaustic collagraph product and the actual printmaking method, I found these amazing Akua Intaglio Inks. I discovered that these inks were originally developed by the Brooklyn artist Susan Rostow. The inks are now produced by Speed Ball who bought her formula. The honey and soy base of Akua Inks forms the perfect marriage with my Wagner Encaustic Collagraph White to releases easily from the paper. I love that they were created by an artist like me and are non-toxic and easy to clean up with soap and water. Through more trial and error I have arrived at creating my prints on rice paper and Evolon, a microfiber. Both, one more delicate, print collagraphs beautifully and can handle the pressure of the press.

KM - Let me state the obvious here: your art goes well beyond the formal aspects of aesthetics: form, color + material. It’s also a platform carrying a serious message of global consciousness. Can you say a little bit about these two worlds coming together – art + environmental awareness?

EW - I have always been a strong proponent for the environment and a believer in scientific evidence and technological advancement. I also have great interest in creating sustainable, substantive work that stands the test of time in both its actual making and its message. In the mid-1980’s I saw the film Koyaanisqatsi which carried a very impactful message about humanity, technology and the future of civilization as we have come to know it. From there, I set out to gain understanding of specific areas of both earth and hard science which became the core aspect of my work. There are two seminal nature conservancy books that had a huge impact on me very early on; Aldo Leopolds Sand county Almanac and Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring beauty and nature conservancy Aldo Leopold’s Sand County Almanac. Later, I came into the writings of Elizabeth Kolberet, Margaret Atwood and Helen Kaldicott which were hugely impactful. Working with beeswax, made me very aware of our dwindling bee population. So over a long period of time, my work began to come together with issues surrounding depletion, industrial pollution and the raping of the lands of our planet.

KM - We are in the midst of a global urgency that is no longer avoidable. Pandemics, Major fires, intense storms and flooding. Can you speak a little bit about how your art might help sound the alarm and how art can have a social impact on the public? What were you making during the Pandemic?

EW - These highly textured paintings I call Global Retreats – why? because we were all going into isolation as a planet. I was reading James Balog at the time and I wanted to reflect the Marking of Time of with the retreating of the glaciers – which brought me back to this “retreat we were all experiencing during the Pandemic. This concept led to th title of my show and of my print series.

KM - Let’s talk science for a moment. For the lay person, these references you make to Astro physics and the celestial universe can go over our heads… materiality to it. For example, this latest series of prints are based on found images of bubble chambers and meridians that you digitally manipulate, correct? Can you explain to us what a bubble chamber is - does?

EW - Sure, two of my visual influences in science are NASA and the International Space Station. My parents moving from Jersey to Houston afforded the opportunity for me to visit NASA a few times. I also visited NASA Goddard in Maryland in 2020. I had a visit arranged through an astrophysicist there to see behind the scenes of their media center and the James Webb Telescope which was canceled pretty much upon arrival there due to Covid! So disappointing!

KM - Every artist experiences that critical moment - Henri Cartier Bresson called it “the decisive moment” - when you are struck by something in your life that - a shift – a discovery – something that drives your artistic path….?

EW - It all started back in 1994 when I came across this NASA book at Goodwill called Exploring Space with a Camera. The changing technology has of course morphed my influence to be more visual by following the many NASA missions over the years and now, being able to get Google alerts on news and imagery from NASA and on particle physics, that tends to most often influence me. There are specific books I have added and returned to over the years in addition to my Exploring Space book. In 2004, I was living with a German Physicist at the time. We got into the discussion about pigments and particles and he told me about the neutrino particle (which means little elusive one in Italian). Then a client of mine brought me a book called The Particle Explosion filled with images of particles in a bubble chamber that I poured over for hours. It was then that I created a solo exhibition of paintings called “Particle Maps” in 2006 Since then, I have combined all earlier and newer visual information to create an overarching oevre in my work touching upon scientific advancements, astronomy and planetary placement in relation to human behavior.

KM - One of my favorite questions for artists’ is what is in your personal library? Who are the authors, and film-makers in your library that you go back to time and again?

EW - Yes, absolutely, the films of Godfrey Reggio were huge for me as I was developing my visual language and forming the ultimate narrative for my work. I also follow the work of James Balog who produced the film Chasing Ice in 2011. I am a huge fan of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi ‘s- Creativity, Flow, Finding Flow Elizabeth Kolbert’s - Field Notes from a Catastrophe James Elkins - Six Stories from the End of Representation Victoria Finlay - Color Exploring the Invisible - Lynn Gamwell The wild card here would have to be Gerhard Richter’s - The Daily Practice of Painting and the aforementioned environmental and nature conservancy writings of Elizabeth Kolbert, Rachel Carsen, Aldo Leopold, Margaret Atwood and Helen Kaldicott.

KM - I can certainly see a lot of Richter in your work and his remarkable ability of pushing materials to their limits – Your work embodies that same force. Not to put you on the spot here – but who was your first artistic hero?

EW - I would have to say Leonardo Da Vinci. It was 1982, my sophomore year at Holy Rosary Girls Academy in Union City, NJ. It was an old convent with it's own little chapel that I would visit regularly to find quiet. As a young Catholic child, I would often wonder into the church next to my school in Jersey City on the way home from school. I really thought god lived there. Looking back, this was the beginning of my meditation practice. My high school art history teacher Onelio Marrero introduced me to the genius of Da Vinci. I was so intrigued by Da Vinci’s unique ability to incorporate his knowledge of science, critical theory, engineering, health and athletics into one allencompassing artform. Upon seeing his work in my youth at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, it was the first time I had ever heard of an art polymath or renaissance man and was completely fascinated.

KM - Years later you mentioned how in 2019 you stumbled across an exhibition in Venice of Da Vinci’s Machines at San Barnaba and also many of his drawings at the Gallery Academia in Venice and and the enormous impact that had on you?

EW - Yes, this was just mind blowing to see and be among the actual machine replicas, some to scale that Da Vinci made and also to see his manuscripts and notes on his creations. That he existed in so many capacities as scientist, engineer, artist and innovator reminded me of the great power of creativity. That there is creativity in all things and that without an idea, there is not creation and thus, things do not come into being. He was so ahead of his time, designing the first helicopter, artillery of all kinds and the dredge used to clean the canals of Venice, the very place where I was standing and the premise of its design still in use there today! What Da Vinci didn’t know and I speculated on while there, is how many cell phones are dredged up in Venice each year with its DaVince designed machine! I bet a lot.

KM - We have talked about this before – the daily rituals of running and staying fit. I wanted to share an interesting parallel here with Leonardo da Vinci – a large part of his success was taking care of his physique. According to scholars, he assiduously studied every facet of the human body. He was an athlete and a vegan. One of his principals for developing genius was this quote by him “a sound mind in a sound body” Can you talk about your commitment to health + wellness and how it relates to your art ?

EW  - I’ve been running on and off for most of my adult life and doing daily meditations since I was 19. Both have become inextricably linked to my practice as an artist. I have a need to keep my art and ideas pure, open and flowing which comes from a pure, open, clear body and mind. Early reading of the Maharbartha and philosophers like Krishnamurti, Alan Watts and later Pema Chodron, Michael Pollan and Jon Kabot Zinn solidified the belief that the body is your temple. While I’m way, way far from perfect, I do pay attention to my nutrition and listen closely to my body. Running has taught me a lot about mindset and how I frame my thoughts. Most of my best ideas that drive my work and my writing come while I’m running or in relaxed state. A combination of yoga, meditation and running is the foundation of my artistic discipline.

KM - On the subject of “parallels” you mentioned a number of other parallels that have occurred along the way between your “every day life” and your art. Can you speak a little more on that?

EW - Well, this is certainly along those lines. When I was in Italy in 2019 just after I showed my Meridian series of paintings in my solo show in Seattle I saw Cassini's Meridian at San Petronio Basilica in Bologna! I could not believe the parallels with this sighting with my work and titles. Cassini discovered the planet Saturn. He taught at the University of Bologna. NASA had a Cassini mission I followed studying it's rings and moons. The mission ended by a dramatic crash of the satellite into Saturn's atmosphere in September 2017. While at the Basilica I got a little book Cassini placing the meridian and was totally blown away. The next day, I walked over to the University of Bologna and on to the AMAZING Palazzo Poggi science museum. So, just wanted to share that! The other little point I wanted to make is that my self imposed residency in Portland with Jane Pagliarulo at Atelier Meridan was a result of getting rejected from the Center for Contemporary Printmaking paid residency in Norwalk where you get to stay in the Helen Frankenthaler cottage and use presses she used. I have taught there a few times. It turned out to be better to have my residency here!

KM - Here’s a fun question for you – I would imagine da vinci at the head of the table – are there other artists you would want to have on your dream guest list?

EW - off the top of my head, there are tons more of course, but if I were to name the most important ones who were direct influences and maybe the creatives I'd want at my dinner table – they would be: DaVinci, Lee Krasner, Paul Klee, Grace Hardigan, Sigmar Polke, Eva Hesse, Joan Mitchell, Agnes Martin, Twyla Tharpe, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Frida Kahlo, Philip Glass, Gerhard Richter, Trevor Paglin, Edward Burtynsky, Julie Mehatru and Diane Burko

KM - Speaking of Grace Hartigan we have talked about her influence on your quite disciplined studio practice. I mentioned Mary Gabriel’s amazing book Ninth Street Women – a treasured gem in my personal library. It chronicles the five leading women of the Modern Art Movement. Hartigan, Lee Krasner, Joan Mitchell, Helen Frankenthaler and Elaine de Kooning. I loved the parts about their strong work ethic in the studio. Grace Hartigan barely left her easel. Her art came before most things in her life. Can you say a little bit about your similar interest in minimizing distractions that might otherwise keep you from working in the studio?

EW - As Mary Gabriel so aptly describes Grace Hardigan, I have always made my work a priority. I often describe and say that “Art is my other man”. Through marriage, divorce, heartbreak, loss, job changes, moves and big life transtitions, I have made art every step of the way. This was also reflected in the type of day jobs I chose to have over the years. When I first finished college with a degree in art, I faced the normal reality of getting a day job. So, while on the waiting list for a position, I took a driving job. Then, my number came up and I was offered a position at my alma mater in the School of Art Dean’s Office that allowed for flexibility, health insurance, paid holidays and vacations for art making. I would tell people that having a state job at the time was the closest to living in a socialist country! Starting out, I would work by day, and paint by night in my unheated giant warehouse studio. This period of 9 years fomented my self discipline in forming a studio practice. Over time, I made every effort to live a fairly uncomplicated and practical life to allow my creativity to thrive and not be pushed aside. After taking an environmental biology class and learning how much waste one human creates, I made a conscious choice not to have children. Given the statistics on marriage, I didn’t want to end up being a single mom with no family around me to help. Having children was never desired and just wasn’t realistic for me. That’s why I identify so closely with Grace Hardigan and her being from the next town over from me too!

KM - Circling back here to the great da vinci. I want to throw out this rather fitting quote “Here forms, here colours, here the character of every part of the universe are concentrated to a point; and that point is so marvellous a thing … Oh! marvellous, O stupendous Necessity — by thy laws thou dost compel every effect to be the direct result of its cause, by the shortest path. These are miracles…” – Leonardo da Vinci

September 2022 Exhibit

September 2022 Exhibit
Elise Wagner
Marking Time
September 10 – October 3
 
We are honored to be presenting a solo exhibition for Portland based artist, Elise Wagner with a collection of work titled Marking Time. This series will include her encaustic work while also combining print making processes expressing the unseen and the inevitable passage of time. This is Wagner’s first solo exhibition in Oregon in five years and her first with Imogen Gallery, made possible by an Oregon Arts Commission Career Opportunity and Ford Family Foundation Grant. Wagner was also the recipient of a second grant, the Artist resilience Award, from the Oregon Arts Commission. Marking Time opens during Astoria’s Second Saturday Artwalk, September 10, 12 – 8 pm and will remain on view through October 3. Wagner will be at the opening and available to answer questions about her work and processes from 5 – 7:30 pm.
Encaustic is itself an ancient art form, with origins from the ancient Greeks and Egyptians. And Wagner’s choice of medium is no accident, the alchemy of the process itself lending to her complex sense of the visual language and subject matter, both looking forward while looking back. Through encaustic, her passion for both science and art has become the perfect vehicle to create dialogue and a bridge between cartography use within ancient history to the uncharted galaxies beyond that we are seeing with our own eyes today, using new imaging technology. Wagner’s work has evolved over the years, with a strong sense of maturity and confidence present while holding constant to her fascination in uncovering the unseen and her constant exploration of materials.
An undeniable sense of timelessness is imbued within her work; darkness to light, celestial and other worldly while evoking a sense of mysticism. Through the rapid changes in technology the celestial universe has come closer to us, Wagner brings it even closer in her own interpretations of the mysteries contained within the vastness of space. About this series she states: “Science and technology have made it so that we can see the world and beyond from entirely new perspectives. As a visual artist, this is the greatest platform from which to observe, interpret and respond to our world. My work marks time from keen observations and the constant tracking of technological progress, climate change and the rapid advancement of scientific discovery. The works in Marking Time reflect the speed in which progress is being made in our contemporary world while taking a pause to notice the evident impact that humans have on our ever-changing environment. This paradox from the fusing of two age old and analog mediums; printmaking and encaustic in these works comes together to mark our present time while also harkening to nostalgia for the past.”
Wagner is known as a prolific, hands-on kind of artist, never to sit idle with a decades long career that is nothing short of inspiring through her commitment and drive as a fine artist. She is a recipient of a Pollack Krasner Foundation Award as well as receiving grants from the Oregon Arts Commission with work found in both private and corporate collections across the US, Canada, and Mexico. As an educator she has been invited to teach and present encaustic painting and printmaking at conferences and institutions Internationally and currently teaches virtual and private workshops. In 2022-23 Wagner will be teaching in Mexico, Ireland, and London. Currently her work can be seen in art venues from Astoria, Oregon to New York, Seattle to Washington DC with two simultaneous exhibitions running currently on each coast of the country.

 

August 2022 Exhibit

August 2022 Exhibit
Tom Cramer
City Lights and More New Works
August 13 – September 5

Opening Reception Saturday, August 13 noon-8pm
We are excited to be welcoming back renowned Portland artist Tom Cramer to help celebrate our 10th anniversary during Astoria’s Second Saturday Artwalk, August 13.  Tom brings bold, complex, color saturated paintings along with carved wood relief wall pieces. Cramer also spent some time with us in July creating one of his iconic murals in our entryway, stop by to see that and his newest paintings. We will also be joined by the Beatgreens, a duo of David Crabtree on guitar and banjo and Ray Coffey playing flute and saxophone. Together they bring original and longtime favorites, performing “surf jazz” music from 5 – 7 pm. Tom Cramer will also be at the gallery from 5 – 7 pm to answer questions about his work. His exhibition will remain on view through September 5th.

Cramer has been at the epicenter of the Portland art scene for decades as an exhibiting artist as well as creating public art. 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 for his creative self-expression. Within this series his collector’s might note a shift in style as he merges into a new era, both personally and artistically. His work continues with a strong anchor in use of color and pattern, echoing his long interest in Eastern spirituality, music, and botany. Cramer utilizes organized color, line, and form to suggest geometry, that then in entirety become a vessel of essence and/or spirituality.

Art Historian and professor emeritus, Roger Hull recently wrote about Cramer and his work. About Cramer he states: “Tom Cramer is a lover of music and musicians, from the Beatles to Beethoven (not to mention Bach, Bruckner, Mahler, and Mozart). Tom played French horn in the Portland Youth Symphony. Perhaps the throb that unifies his diverse art is music – the beat and rhythm of music, from jazz to Romantic lyricism. Some such positive force provides the underlying coherence and magic of his art, whether you come upon it out on the street, in the quietude of galleries, or in the indefinable realm of higher consciousness.”

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.” About this series “City Lights,” Cramer states: “To quote Edward Munch, “I paint not what I see, but what I saw.” My way of responding to current world issues 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 original artwork. 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 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 is also included to the permanent collections of Microsoft, Inc, Portland Art Museum, Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, University of Oregon, Boise Art Museum, and many other highly regarded institutions.