VISUAL ART

Katherine Bradford’s luminous nocturnes

"Magenta Nights" at Adams and Ollman considers atmospheres of air and water and the paint that can create them

“art is the power that causes the night to open.” — Maurice Blanchot, The Gaze of Orpheus

Katherine Bradford is a prolific and imaginative contemporary painter from New York City. Meeting her at the opening reception for her show Magenta Nights at Adams and Ollman gallery (through June 2) was like seeing a friend: Bradford’s social affability is that genuine and infectious. This is in keeping with proprietor Amy Adams, who worked closely with Bradford before the show to select works in her NYC studio. That evening, I got to talk with her a little about her acrylic paintings in that show, and then some more through correspondence. One takeaway from that initial interaction and my first looks at her work was Bradford’s affinity for atmosphere, the play of light and dark that is quintessential to the human experience, abstract and actual.

Katherine Bradford, “Swim at 6:10”, 2018, acrylic on canvas, 24 x 18 inches/Courtesy of Adams and Ollman

In a 2016 interview with Jennifer Samet, Bradford said, “what interests me the most is the language of painting—how people are able to say things using paint.” She then refers to a vernacular forever common to both poets and painters: the sea, the sky and clouds. Having seen two of her exhibitions in person, both at Adams & Ollman, I’ve asked myself, what is it then, that Bradford is saying with her pictures? She’s telling me about revery, buoyancy, fun—all perhaps contingent upon meditation and reflection. And then there’s the mysterious depth of the night that Bradford summons, that and the deep sea, the human mind. It’s all exciting, beyond sense, mystical, and yet utterly clear, approachable.

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These Are Not Abstracts

Out & About: Joe Cantrell's photos of the micro-structures of rocks reveal patterns as big as the cosmos. How and why he got those shots.

PHOTOGRAPHS AND ESSAY by JOE CANTRELL

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Portland photographer Joe Cantrell will give a free art talk from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, May 16-17, in the lobby of the Ellyn Bye Studio of Portland Center Stage at The Armory. He’ll speak about his remarkable exhibition of blown-up images of micro-structures of rocks and minerals that has been hanging there through the recently ended run of the play And So We Walked, written and performed by DeLanna Studi, like Cantrell a Cherokee artist.

Cantrell’s images in this exhibition, a few of which are reproduced here, reveal vast-looking “landscapes” so small they can’t be seen by the naked eye. The amplified images suggest the expansive scale of the universe even in its “smaller infinities” ordinarily hidden from sight in what we think of as tiny spaces. In their compressed physical state the images are hidden from the artist, too, until the camera brings them out. “I’m just a valve,” Cantrell comments on the PCS website. “I point the shiny side of the camera at something, push the button, and things pass through so you can see them, too. Often, I don’t even ‘see’ what I’m photographing; rather, I feel it and am thoroughly surprised when the final image appears.”)

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Why This Is, with the stipulation that I am certainly not a scientist, philosopher, or expert in anything, and I’m probably wrong:

We live on a small, rocky planet orbiting an unremarkable star, among more stars in the cosmos than there are grains of sand on all the beaches on earth. Jist a little bitty thang, in Ozarkian. Yet it is entirely possible that, based on our crude fantasies of “significant differences” – race, sex, financial status, nationality, religion, entitlement – we may willfully destroy life on the planet. What a joke on us! Haha folks. Haha. But you know this.

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Sherrie Wolf: The freedom of the still life

Paul Sutinen talks to master painter Sherrie Wolf about her explorations of the still life, which in her hands contains universes

Painter Frank Stella said, “In great art all the relationships sparkle, radiating coherence.” In Sherrie Wolf’s still life paintings there is marvelous rendering of fruits, flowers, reflections in glass and copying of old masterworks, but the key element in her work is the musicality of the relationships among all the objects depicted—the loud, the quiet and the spaces between them. Wolf takes a genre with a 2,000 year history and keeps it fresh and new. Her new paintings are at Russo Lee Gallery through May.

Sherrie Wolf, Self Portrait with Red Drape, oil on canvas, 90″ x 60″ , after Charles Wilson Peale, 1741-1827

You were at the Museum Art School (now Pacific Northwest College of Art) in the early 1970s when minimalism and process art were in fashion. You probably studied with painters steeped in abstract expressionism. Were you planning to be a realist painter when you went to school?
It was hard to be a realist painter then because it wasn’t the thing, except I saw Jim Dine, David Hockney, Wayne Thiebaud, and I went to a huge retrospective of Georgia O’Keeffe’s work when I was a first-year art student. I wouldn’t say it was minimal. It was all abstract expressionism.

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Art on the Road 3: Street/Barnes

Art on the street, art on the museum walls: Friderike Heuer pairs scenes from the eclectic Barnes and outside on the North Philly streets

Soutine

It’s all about education. I could not get these words out of my head at the end of an extraordinary day spent first at The Barnes Foundation and later in the streets of North Philadelphia. The photographs you see here are paired, with the Barnes first, and what I found on the streets second.

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Art on the Road 2: Boston’s MFA

Friderike Heuer leaps into the art and architecture at the Museum of Fine Arts

I had never been to the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) in Boston before. It has been in existence since 1876, steadily growing. Its most recent home, designed by Guy Lowell in 1909, is an imposing art palace paying homage to the Beaux Art movement. Current modernization and additions by Norman Foster did not take away the grandeur, but make traversing the museum more like moving through a rabbit warren.

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Art on the Road: Becoming modern

Harvard and Philadelphia exhibits are suffused with a desire to take stock of past periods that might inform us of how to handle the present

Something is in the air – and I am not just referring to mobiles, although every museum I set foot in during a short trip to the East Coast last week seemed to have something floating about.

Harvard Art Museum


Philadelphia Museum of Art

MFA Boston

Rather, the air is suffused with a desire to take stock of periods of the past that just might inform us about how to handle the present, in our understanding of art history as well as that of our times. Two current exhibits are the perfect examples of this: Inventur at the Harvard Art Museum in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Modern Times at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

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Out & About: Twice the party

The crowds mingle as Willamette University's Senior Art Majors show and James B. Thompson's endangered-water exhibit open. Party on.

SALEM – It was two parties for the price of one at the Hallie Ford Museum of Art three Friday nights ago, and if at first they seemed an unlikely fit, the partygoers almost immediately mingled and merged until you really couldn’t tell who was here for what, because everybody was taking in both scenes, and having a grand old time of it.

The occasion was the opening celebrations for two new exhibits, both of which continue at the Salem museum through May 13: the annual Senior Art Majors show from Willamette University, with which the Hallie Ford is affiliated, and which drew a young and brash and demonstrably exuberant crowd; and Water Is Sacred: Water Is Life, the latest solo show by James B. Thompson, a longtime Willamette art-faculty member and a mature artist at the height of his career. It was a bit of a time warp, but a satisfying one – young artists on the verge, trying things out; a master craftsman and broad artistic thinker exploring terrain he knows intimately, and still making discoveries in it.

Peri I. Hildum’s “Shattered New Surface” (foreground) and Miles Solomon MacClure’s “Growing Up, Growing Away (Not What It Looks Like)” on the wall on opening night.

All the accouterments of an opening party were here, and then some: the long table overflowing with free munchies (deeply appreciated by the students there to see their friends’ work); the bustle of people attired variously in student funky, old beatnik artist, Northwest casual, and Friday-night-out-on-the-town; the museum guards keeping a friendly but practiced eye on the proceedings to make sure nothing went bump in the night. Artist friends of the artists were on hand, among them Thompson’s fellow veteran Salem artist D.E. May, one of whose precise template paintings hangs just through a doorway into the museum’s Carl Hall Gallery and its fine collection of Pacific Northwest art.

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