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Cherie Savoie Tintary’s collages at Chehalem Cultural Center turn old magazines into nostalgic whimsy

The Forest Grove artist uses images from old maps and nearly a century's worth of American magazines to create pieces that range from overstuffed to exuberantly symbolist.

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Cherie Savoie Tintary's show through June 21 at the Chehalem Cultural Center includes her “tunnel books” and other collage art.
Cherie Savoie Tintary’s show through June 27 at the Chehalem Cultural Center includes her “tunnel books” and other collage art.

If you had seen a show by Forest Grove artist Cherie Savoie Tintary four or five years ago, you probably would have seen a lot of photographs … but as we all know, a lot went down in 2020.

For Tintary, who had studied and practiced photography for about 20 years, more happened in 2020 than just the pandemic. A longtime hair stylist, she received a lung cancer diagnosis, which meant there would be no more photo-filled trips. Her creative impulse and energy had to be realized at home. So, after an encounter with Portland author and collage artist Kevin Sampsell and connecting with the area’s tight-knit collage community, she went to work with scissors on her piles of vintage magazines and hasn’t looked back.

The flowering of collage art that followed may be seen in Hand Cut Life: A Solo Exhibit by Cherie Savoie Tintary through June 27 in the Central Gallery of the Chehalem Cultural Center  in Newberg.

The imagery is drawn from roughly a century’s worth of American magazines, dating back to 1890 and drawing an endpoint at 1980, although the mix also includes some cuttings from old maps. “I like a sense of nostalgia, a sense of whimsy,” she told me. “And my artist name is Kitschy Collagist, and ‘kitsch’ means tacky, but I feel like it’s tacky in a good way.”  

Cherie Savoie Tintary’s collages, such as “El Encanto” (analog collage, 16 by 20 inches), incorporate clippings from American magazines from 1890 to 1980. Photo by David Bates

Several dozen pieces fill the gallery, most of them framed on the wall, but there are also a few “tunnel books” that consist of a frame mounted on a tabletop with imagery layered inside to give it physical depth.

The variety is not just in the number and types of images that coalesce into a single work of art, but also in the ways they are framed. In some, images fill the frame on all four sides, right up to the edge. Others take up less space to allow a collection of images stitched together to appear in front of a pure white or black background.

Some seem deliberately overstuffed and “busy,” while others are simple and exuberantly symbolist. The Glove, for example, features roughly a dozen unique images — a headless figure in a suit behind a steering wheel with a blue glove emerging from the collar, three circles, a pair of stemmed cups that mirror each other, and a woman in a one-piece bathing suit. 

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Cherie Savoie Tintary's “tunnel books” consist of imagery layered inside a book or frame to give physical depth. Photo by: David Bates
Cherie Savoie Tintary’s “tunnel books,” such as “Kon Tiki,” consist of imagery layered inside a book or frame to give physical depth. Photo by: David Bates

Looking at it, I thought of the images one might associate with René Magritte, which makes sense: Those early 20th-century surrealists loved photomontage, and even had a game called Exquisite Corpse in which a succession of artists added images, not knowing the origin of the previous image contributed by someone else. A small collage show in the counseling center at Lewis & Clark College, in fact, is called Exquisite Community and features a piece by Tintary. Curated by MJ Connors Davison, it may be seen there June 8 and 22 and July 6 and 20. 

Tintary is active with the PNW Collage Collective, which recently closed a show at Powell’s City of Books. She’ll be at the Chehalem Center for an artist’s reception from 5 to 7 p.m. June 21, and you can also catch her June 17 during a workshop hosted by the Paper Makers Circle in Hillsboro.

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Photo Joe Cantrell

David Bates is an Oregon journalist with more than 20 years as a
newspaper editor and reporter in the Willamette Valley, covering
virtually every topic imaginable and with a strong background in
arts/culture journalism. He has lived in Yamhill County since 1996 and
is working as a freelance writer. He has a long history of involvement in
the theater arts, acting and on occasion directing for Gallery Players
of Oregon and other area theaters. You can also find him on
Substack, where he writes about art and culture at Artlandia.

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