News Archive
December 2021 Exhibit

December 2021 Exhibit
Hook, Pulp & Weave
A celebration of fiber as art

Always a favorite exhibition at Imogen, this year’s show will not disappoint. Included to this year’s diverse array is the “Vegan Taxidermy” of Marjorie Taylor, nuno felted scarves and wraps by Julie Kern Smith, abstract wall hung fiber art by Susan Circone, plant based dyed scarves and wall art by Iris Sullivan Daire, needle felted figurative sculpture by Amelia Santiago, felted wool soft sculpture and functional wear by Karen Thurman, throw pillows and wall hung art by Pamela Chipman, intricate needle woven beaded jewelry by Celeste Olivares and papercut art pieces by Kathy Karbo.

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 watertight, 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 & Weave is a collection of just a few examples of what textile or fiber art has evolved into. With the lessening of the importance of function, and the consideration of pure artistic expression being delivered through the fiber medium, artist 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, many pieces are based strictly on the principle of art form, utilizing fiber to create compelling and complex pieces.

We welcome back the intricate wall hung abstract compositions of Susan Circone from Portland. Her imagery places focus on subtle use of texture, pattern, and color. Coming from a career in geological sciences, her compositions are inspired by nature. About her work she states: “Working primarily in textiles, I explore the minutiae of the physical and natural world. I find inspiration in the structures, textures, and forms observed in both organic and inorganic matter. The importance of the mundane and the microscopic, ignored, unseen and often ephemeral, is a reminder of our temporal existence. My process employs hand stitching for both mark-making and construction, binding together layers of textile-based elements with simple, repetitive stitches. The construct often unfolds withing the spatial framework of a grid. The labor-intensive process and the evidence of the hand, with its intrinsic variability are fundamental aspects of the created object.”

Pamela Chipman also from Portland is known primarily as a photographer. It was during the lockdown in 2020 that she began exploring with transferring her art to fiber during the pandemic. Experimenting with sun activated fiber dyes, she creates fabric prints from her negatives and local plant materials. She includes both wall hung pieces as well as gorgeous art pillows from her silhouette figurative photography as well as botanical imagery.

Celeste Olivares of Astoria brings a new collection of her intricately needle woven beaded necklaces and earrings. Each piece is an exotic one-of-a-kind design utilizing semi-precious stones, vintage glass, and crystal, often incorporating found objects. She exquisitely combines brilliant color and form with an end result of timeless and original jewelry pieces.
It’s been a few years, but we are excited to welcome back the needle felted sculpture of Astoria’s Amelia Santiago. Her lifelike small scale animal sculpture is created with careful attention to detail. She creates solid wool sculpture by hand, a painstaking process of forming felted wool through needle work into realistic creatures. This year’s collection will also include human form and a bit of a surreal edge.

Julie Kern Smith of Porland, returns with her rich and sophisticated wraps made of nuno felted wool and repurposed silk from vintage scarves and kimonos. Her choice of materials is exquisitely brought together through fusion of fiber, creating elegant and tactile wearable art forms.
Astoria fiber artist, Iris Sullivan Daire who is known near and far as a master of natural dying techniques includes her plant-based hand dyed botanical silk scarves as well as wall hung pieces utilizing encaustic and dying techniques working primarily with indigo. Her work quite frequently imbues Celtic imagery and symbols.

This year we welcome for the first time the work of Marjorie Taylor. Taylor, from Eugene creates what she calls “Vegan Taxidermy” that she describes as “animal replicas that are a mix of realism and fantasy.” Her one of kind sculptural pieces are made from recycled needlepoint, faux fur, chenille, beads, and ribbon. She proudly states, “there are no animal parts of any kind used in the construction.”

Another newcomer to this annual exhibition is the work of Karen Thurman from Portland. Thurman has had a long career creating felted wool soft sculpture and utilitarian pieces. Through the felting process of wool, she creates soft sculpture that is sure to delight. About her work she states, “I love working with fiber. My inspiration comes from the medium itself – the transformation of fiber into felt, and the natural world around me. Felt lends itself well to color, pattern, shape, whimsy and humor – all of which I incorporate into my work to bring some levity into this world.”

We also invite all to stop by and see our nearly completed expansion. Lots of great changes on 11th Street. Cargo, our friends and neighbors have now fully opened across the street in the space formerly occupied by Bikes & Beyond who can now be found on 9th. We have created a new gallery space, a bigger and better viewing experience for our valued artists and visitors.

November 2021 Exhibit

November 2021 Exhibit
Facing You - an exploration of portraiture
Reed Clarke, Amelia Santiago, and Aaron Toledo
Imogen is pleased to be presenting the seventh annual invitational exhibition exploring humanity through portraiture. This year’s exhibition will include the sublime paintings of Reed Clarke, the soulful paintings of Aaron Toledo and for the first time, the evocative paintings of Amelia Santiago; 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 13th, 12:00 – 8:00 pm and will be on view thru December 6th.

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, Amelia Santiago and Aaron Toledo 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.  

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.  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.”

This year we are pleased to be including the portraiture work of Amelia Santiago. Santiago who lives in Astoria is not new to Imogen, some may recall her incredible felted sculpture of our canine friends. 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.”  
We are 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 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 2021 Exhibit

October 2021 Exhibit
Ruth Shively
Gone Fishin’      The Art of Rest & Relaxation
October 9 – November 8
We are excited to host a solo exhibition for Portland artist Ruth Shively. Known for her distinct style of figurative work Shively shifts gears from her typical subject matter for this series but her strong and deliberate use of brush stroke stays primary to her work.  Gone Fishin’:  The Art of Rest & Relaxation opens during Astoria’s Second Saturday Artwalk, Saturday October 9th 12 – 8 pm. Shively will be present and available to answer questions about her work from 5 – 8 pm that evening. The exhibition will remain on view through November 8th.

Not new to Imogen, Shively has participated in our annual invitational portraiture exhibition, including her evocative and gestural portraits of mostly women. She is highly regarded for her use of broad, rich swathes of color defining composition through brushstroke. This element remains pinnacle to her work but within this series she introduces a narrative quality, bringing in a bit of storytelling. Her figurative work now merges carefully into the realm of abstraction. Beyond a shift in her painting style, Shively also considers the past year and a half and the challenges is has brought, with lockdown, travel restrictions, missed family celebrations, etc. it has also revealed many other possibilities. Through her paintings, Shively takes a look at what this slowed down time has brought. The consideration of what really matters in life. Within this series she focuses on the simple concept of slowing down to relax and unwind to recharge, most prominently looking to our relationship with water and shoreline and its place in the process.

A sense of ease and relaxation is prevalent to this new series, a ship moving across the horizon line, a group of young women picnicking perhaps lakeside and a young girl with her catch of the day are just a few examples of the idea of what the water’s edge brings. A sense of nostalgia is ever present, a quiet nod to the past and perhaps an easier time where worries were abated simply by going fishing. She blends these obscure memories of time well spent with friends and families into something meaningful that nurtures psyche, giving strength to move beyond what ever struggles life brings. Within her paintings, her figures always display a quiet ease of resilience and an innate sense of strength and beauty.
About her work Shively states: “I work largely with the figure, concentrating on women. In awe of 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 am 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.” About this series she states: "Gone Fishin’ is a body of work reflecting on living in a pandemic for the last year and a half. Time at home has given me the appreciation for family, friends, travel and the freedom to go about life without restrictions. I want to live with the intent to rest and relax and appreciate the time I have to enjoy the things I most love in life. I hope these paintings bring you to a place of nostalgia and help you to remember what is important in your life." Shively depicts casual and simple scenes, things that perhaps were taken for granted during pre-pandemic times. 

Shively grew up in the Midwest and has lived in Paris, New York City, Minneapolis and now Portland. She has exhibited her work in numerous group and solo exhibitions in Europe and NYC to LA with many venues in between. Her work has been featured in both Vice Magazine and 1859 Oregon’s Magazine and is included to private and corporate collections around the country.