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New exhibits: K.B. Dixon’s profiles, James B. Thompson’s final works

Dixon's portraits of Oregon writers have been published on ArtsWatch; Thompson's "Tide Charts: Ebb and Flow" includes his final works before he died in 2019.


A couple of exhibits of particular interest to ArtsWatch followers are opening this week, one in Portland and one in Monmouth.

Regular readers are familiar with the work of photographer and writer K.B. Dixon, whose photo essays on subjects from carousel museums to renaissance fairs to street murals to studio portraits of Oregon artists, musicians, writers, and other cultural figures show up frequently here. As a photographer Dixon is adept at discovering the unusual in the ordinary, and his portraits of artists are deeply, quietly revealing.

Oregon poets Samiya Bashir (left) and Kim Stafford. Photos: K.B. Dixon

An exhibition from those sittings, Portraits: 20 Oregon Writers, opened Wednesday and continues 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Mondays-Fridays through Feb. 18 at PLACE Galeria, 735 N.W. 18th Ave., in the Portland home of the landscape architecture and design firm PLACE. Appointments are recommended, and can be made here: The portraits, all of which have been published on ArtsWatch, include among others Kim Stafford, Karen Russell, Jon Raymond, Willy Vlautin, Omar El Akkad, Lidia Yuknavitch, Molly Gloss, Samiya Bashir, Floyd Skloot, David Biespiel, and Leni Zumas.


James B. Thompson, “Cuttlebone,” Mixed Media, 2019.

Meanwhile, Time Charts: Ebb and Flow, an exhibition of mixed-media works by the late Salem artist James B. Thompson, opens Thursday and continues through Feb. 25 in the Cannon Gallery of Art at Western Oregon University in Monmouth. Thompson, a longtime professor at Willamette University who maintained his own vigorous studio practice, died of cancer in 2019, at 68. I wrote this memorial for ArtsWatch, and also wrote the essays for the book James B. Thompson: Fragments in Time, during the process of which I got to know Thompson and his wife, Martha Schuyler Thompson.

Thompson liked to work in series, and a great deal of his work was involved with the ways of the natural world. The works in Time Charts, the final series he completed, investigate the places where land and sea meet, exploring, in the gallery’s words, “concepts as vast as the nature of time and how memory informs the future.” The gallery statement adds: “Of the series he said, ‘I would like to think that these works played a role in tiding me over as I paused before heading for the next shore.’”

Martha Thompson will give a talk about the artworks and her husband at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 12, at the gallery, followed by a reception at 5 p.m. Her talk will be videotaped and available to watch afterwards on the university’s Art & Design website.

Senior Editor

Bob Hicks has been covering arts and culture in the Pacific Northwest since 1978, including 25 years at The Oregonian. Among his art books are Kazuyuki Ohtsu; James B. Thompson: Fragments in Time; and Beth Van Hoesen: Fauna and Flora. His work has appeared in American Theatre, Biblio, Professional Artist, Northwest Passage, Art Scatter, and elsewhere. He also writes the daily art-history series "Today I Am."