Judy Cooke

Converge 45: Popping up with the times

Responding to a year of crisis, Newberg's Chehalem Cultural Center hosts a show of Oregon contemporary posters for public spaces

One of the strengths of gallery programming at the Chehalem Cultural Center in Newberg is that the deep, long-term planning that arts director Carissa Burkett packs into the calendar for as much as a year in advance is coupled with an ability to pivot when circumstances change, when new opportunities and challenges present themselves.

Like, for example, 2020 — the year, one might add, of the center’s 10th anniversary. 

The #Act for Art posters in their natural public-spaces habitat. According to the National Endowment for the Arts, Converge 45 said via Twitter, Portland has the fifth-largest concentration of artists in the nation, after Manhattan, San Francisco, Brooklyn, and Los Angeles. Photo: Converge 45.

The center has already had a couple of COVID-inspired pop-ups this year, and for a few more days, visitors will find the latest of these unscheduled surprises: #ACTforART is originated as a PDX-centric project organized by Converge 45: a series of commissioned posters for public spaces that share the artists’ vision during this new, weird normal. Yes, theaters are shut down and concert halls are closed, but windows and fences and walls provide space for art, so the group has been spreading the love in lieu of its traditional programs, which typically involve exhibitions and gatherings where the six-foot rule wouldn’t work. The work is also being shared on social media platforms.

Continues…

A history of Portland women artists

Katherine Ace's "9 Portraits" celebrates the strength of a generation of women artists. All nine gather to talk about how they got there.

It’s all about the art, of course. But it’s also about the artists and the viewers, and how and why the art came to be. So on a sunny Saturday morning at Froelick Gallery off Northwest Broadway in Portland, a standing-room-only crowd of more than 80 people, many of whom had ducked and dodged around the Portland International Beerfest setting up in the park a block away, gathered to delve into a particular work of art and its double and singular visions.

Katherine Ace, 9 Portraits, diptych, 2019; oil, alkyd on canvas, 72 x 120 inches, at Froelick Gallery through July 13. Photo: Jim Lommasson

The crowd, many of whom were also artists, packed the place to get a close look at 9 Portraits, artist Katherine Ace’s 10-foot-wide diptych group portrait of nine prominent veteran Portland women artists, and to hear those artists talk about the painting, their careers, and the often difficult path of making it as a woman in a traditionally male-dominated field.

Continues…

Visual Arts 2018: The big picture

2018 in Review, Part 7: From museums to studios to brave new spaces, a recap of some of ArtsWatch's views and reviews from a year in art

The visual arts stories at ArtsWatch this year ranged far and wide and – as usual – didn’t even come close to covering all that went on in the world of Oregon art. While some may see that as a failure, we choose to see it as a windfall. We are fortunate to live in such an active arts community. If we could cover everything, it would mean a much smaller everything, and that doesn’t benefit anyone. Here is a neat (and incomplete) encapsulation of visual vrts stories in 2018.

We took you behind the scenes with interviews with Oregon artists that explored origins, processes, interests, and other machinations of established and emerging artists. Paul Sutinen interviewed, among others, Judy Cooke on the occasion of her fall show at Elizabeth Leach and Tom Prochaska on the occasion of his spring show at Froelick. Hannah Krafcik interviewed kiki nicole, and ariella tai about their work with the first and the last, an experimental film/video and new media arts project in Portland. Krafcik was then able to follow up in another interview with Jaleesa Johnston about her screening and workshop at the first and the last.

Judy Cooke, “Pink”, 2018, oil, aluminum, 14” x 10” x 1.5”

Continues…

VizArts Monthly: Big shows on tap

Around the galleries this month: James Lavadour, Judy Cooke, Chris Rauschenberg, Terry Toedtemeier

October is here, and the arts calendar isn’t slowing down. The Portland Biennial has announced its curatorial team, featuring Portlanders Yaelle S. Amir and Ashley Stull Meyers, and Seattlite Elisheba Johnson. Meanwhile, Nationale has added Francesca Capone to its stable of artists, and the Stumptown artist fellowship (curated by Nationale director May Barruel) has opened a new show (see below).

If you’re thinking that fall is a great time to review what the Portland art scene has to offer, you’re in luck – the latest edition of the Grapefruit Juice Artist Resource guide has just been released. This un-editorialized compendium of local venues, organizations and other resources for and by artists is available for free at many locations, including Passages Bookshop, Nationale, Ampersand, and Monograph Bookwerks. A noteworthy addition to the shows listed below is a group show opening at PCC’s North View Gallery. The Work Continues features six Portland artists including OCAC Dean Jiseon Lee and the prolific and talented Samantha Wall.

As Far as I Can See From Here, James Lavadour

James Lavadour: All That I Can See From Here

October 3 – 27
PDX Contemporary, 925 NW Flanders

New paintings by Northwest favorite James Lavadour. Lavadour’s trademark style – wild, rich, and full of precise accidents – plays with material and representation to capture some of the mystery and majesty of landscape while never denying their paintfulness. If you’ve somehow never seen Lavadour’s work, this is a good chance to see some fresh samples. If you’re familiar, you’re sure not to be disappointed.

Waterpark Second Thoughts, Ralph Pugay

Stuck on the Ride

October 6 – November 30
Open Signal, 2766 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd

If you’ve ever felt that the subject matter of exhibitions in Portland is hard to figure out or repetitive or vague, then you can’t miss this show full of waterparks and rollercoasters. Ryan Woodring, an interdisciplinary artist and former special effects instructor at Open Signal, has curated an exhibition that examines amusement parks place in American culture and media. Artists Ralph Pugay, Erin Mallea, Kristin Lucas, Claire Hentschker and Yaloo explore the subject matter through projection art, virtual reality, video and painting.

Painting by Anya Roberts Toney, photo by Mario Gallucci

Anya Roberts Toney

Through November 26
Downtown Stumptown, 128 SW 3rd

The show marking Anya Roberts-Toney’s awarding of the Stumptown Artists Fellowship features an arresting and beautiful set of détourned still-lives. Roberts-Toney “play[s] with this idea of flowers representing the female body, and by incorporating moments of rupture and fantasy, I seek to consider a counter-femininity that is powerful, self-possessed, and disregarding of the viewer’s satisfaction.” These impressive, self-possessed paintings command the space of the flagship Stumptown location downtown. If you go to see them, pick a quieter time for the cafe so you can spend some time with them.

Indian Cove, Terry Toedtemeier

Terry Toedtemeier: Sun, Shadows, Stone

October 20, 2018 – February 17, 2019
Tacoma Art Museum
1701 Pacific Avenue, Tacoma WA 98402

Self-taught photographer and curator Terry Toedtemeier (1947–2008) is best known for his monumental, haunting photographs of Oregon’s iconic natural features – the coast, the Columbia River Gorge, and the high desert. Beginning with snapshots from a moving car, he went on to become an accomplished photographic craftsman, influenced by the photographic traditions of the American West and the evidence of its geographic history. TAM remarks that “Toedtemeier often sought to capture the most dramatic images of places that have been shaped first by catastrophic geological events, then by the imprint of humans.” Part of the Northwest Perspective Series, this exhibition runs through mid-February, with a members celebration event on Saturday, November 17.

Hoi An – by Chris Rauschenberg

Chris Rauschenberg Photographs

October 4 – 28
Nine Gallery, 122 NW 8th St

A new set of photographs taken in Vietnam by Rauschenberg will be on display in the Nine Gallery space in the back of Blue Sky Gallery.

 

Painting by Judy Cooke

Judy Cooke: Conversation: Aluminum, Oil, Rubber

Through October 27
Elizabeth Leach Gallery, 417 NW 9th Ave

Subject of a recent Artswatch interview, Judy Cooke has become one of the Pacific Northwest’s most established abstract painters. For the past 30 years, she has explored abstraction and the structures of painting, working with formalism, color fields, and specific materiality.“ Her new series ”Conversation: Aluminum, Oil, Rubber” verges on the sculptural, embracing rubber and aluminum as both painting supports and materials.

Also opening at Elizabeth Leach this month are Portland-based artist Mark Palmen’s small, intricate embroideries, “influenced by his diverse interests ranging from art history and fashion to metaphysical investigations surrounding the cosmos.” An exhibit of Malia Jensen’s sculptural works, which opened last month, will also be on display, including a re-firing of a sculpture started decades ago.

 

Stills from Post Analog

Post Analog: Paloma Kop and Sara Goodman

Through October 21
Grapefruits Art Space, 2119 N Kerby, Suite D

New media artist, poet, curator, VJ, and teacher Sara Goodman and electronic media artist Paloma Kop have packed a remarkable amount of analog video synthesis and glitch art into the small warehouse Grapefruits gallery. This is a show for anyone who gets excited when they see a Sony Trinitron in a gallery. These pieces of original video synthesis come out of a community of artists working with technology that was once considered cutting edge but now refers to a very specific – and fading – moment in technological history. Citing “an increased resurgence of analog tools to create and distribute newly created video content,” this movement is drawn to pre-digital means of making video precisely because of its imperfections and technical demands on the creator. Bonus: some work was created using a device called a Wobbulator.

Venus, Mars – Paul X. Rutz

Paul X. Rutz and Amanda Hampton Wray: Into A Study

October 27
Ford Gallery, 2505 SE 11th Ave

The opening for this show is a one-night event that the artists refer to as “both an art installation and a carefully planned neuroscience study.” An ambitious and unusual project for the Ford Gallery, which has curated the atrium of the Ford Building since Gallery Homeland left, this exhibition is a collaboration between painter Paul X. Rutz and neuroscientist Amanda Hampton Wray. Sparked by Rutz’s questions about how people view new paintings, they have created an interactive exhibit in which viewers neural activity will be measured by Wray while they view Rutz’s paintings, which interrogate the history of the “female” and “male” symbols seen everywhere from bathroom doors to tarot cards.

Judy Cooke: The birth of an artist

Paul Sutinen's interview with Judy Cooke focuses on the Portland painter's development as an artist

Since her first exhibitions here 45 years ago, Judy Cooke has been a leading artist in the realm of “painting” in Portland, though paint is just one aspect of her materials palette. All of her works in the current exhibition Conversation: Aluminum, Oil, Rubber at the Elizabeth Leach Gallery were completed this year. However, the range of sizes, formats, materials and motifs—ten inches to eight feet, polygon, square, skinny rectangle, found sheet metal, wood panels, rubber sheeting, tape, oil paint, line drawing, brushy painting—samples her interests over the length of her career.

Portland artist Judy Cooke

Cooke had a retrospective exhibition at The Art Gym in 2002, Judy Cooke: Celebration After the Fact: a retrospective, 1973-2001 (the catalog essay is by Bruce Guenther), and she has also been the recipient of numerous prestigious grants, including the second Bonnie Bronson Fellowship Award in 1993.

The exhibition at the Elizabeth Leach Gallery continues through October 27. She will be speaking about her work at the gallery on Saturday, October 13, at 11 am.

When did you decide that you wanted to be an artist?

Probably when I was about eight.

Interesting. Some people have that very early thought. Did you know what an artist was when you were eight?

No. When I was six, I had a fabulous first grade teacher. The art part of that first grade was always the best part. It was kind of unusual. This was in Bay City, Michigan, a small school. There were two very large blackboards in the room. Every week she would let two kids go up and paint on those blackboards, with chalk or whatever—something you could remove. The whole class got to do this. At the end of the week they’d vote on whether one of those pictures could stay up. It was a fairly big blackboard. So that was where I had a chance to see something on a very large-scale. And I always drew when I was a kid—tended to be large shapes. The crayons that everybody used were very thick. At school they tended to use these big materials.

The black and the blackboard are still in your work.

Somewhere, yes. I think I tended to work more abstractly, at an early age, than concrete observation. I mean really paying attention to space and three-dimensionality.

Continues…

Judy Cooke and the quiet challenge

Judy Cooke's new work at Elizabeth Leach Gallery leads to a series of questions and some important answers

By PAUL SUTINEN

Judy Cooke’s paintings at Elizabeth Leach Gallery are for those who enjoy thinking about painting. They do not grab the viewer with bright color or bold brushwork. They are quietly challenging.

There are 11 medium-sized to small works in the show. They aren’t serial works moving from variation to variation. The paintings tend to engage most with the drawing elements of shape and line, and painting qualities of color and painterly viscosity are underplayed, maybe just matter-of-fact. Circuit, 2015 (oil and wax on wood, 14″ x 14″ x 2″) is a good example to begin with. All of Cooke’s works here are on wooden panels with thick sides. Circuit is fundamentally a composition of a few black lines. They are structured within a panel that would be a square but the left side tilts slightly to the right.

Judy Cooke, Circuit, 2015 (oil and wax on wood, 14" x 14" x 2"), Elizabeth Leach Gallery

Judy Cooke, Circuit, 2015 (oil and wax on wood, 14″ x 14″ x 2″), Elizabeth Leach Gallery

The painter Robert Ryman said, “It seems that the main focus of painting is to give pleasure: if someone can receive pleasure from looking at paintings, then that’s the best thing that can happen.” For me, the pleasure in contemplating a painting like Circuit is partly in trying to understand how it works and perceiving   the decisions made by the painter (the other part of the pleasure is a mystery, and delight in seeing that someone thinks in a way that surprises me and that that surprise is convincing). In Circuit there is a basic rectilinear structure painted in black, and it is clear how that structure pushes against the edges. But there is also a big swooping arc extending from one straight line and crossing another. It makes no “rational” sense, but functions as a very restrained gesture, perhaps giving the work just enough dynamism to engage us.

In Circuit there are also a few incidents of linear elements extending from the face of the painting onto the thick sides of the panel. Surprisingly this works. This is a very difficult thing to do without descending into showy mannerism. Cooke makes it meaningful: What does it mean for the image to extend past the edge of the front plane and onto the side? What doesn’t extend and why? Somehow this painting leads me to think of Piet Mondrian. Mondrian’s horizontal and vertical lines are clearly extremely well thought out. But Mondrian was a painter and his lines are visibly painted—not clean. Similarly, Cooke’s lines demonstrate exactitude, but not labored precision. Why/how does Cooke’s line line start or stop? How is it painted? When is the line smooth and when is it rough? The painting leads the viewer to be engaged in those issues because it is clear that Cooke herself is engaged in those issues. I believe she means every inch of every line.

One might wonder why anyone would be interested in Cooke’s decisions (the title of the show is Choose), but similarly those who enjoy the bombast of football or basketball might wonder about that slow game of baseball. Cooke’s paintings are for those who enjoy the little things.

Judy Cooke, Nostalgia, 2014 (oil, pencil and wax on wood, 36" x 34" x 2")/Elizabeth Leach Gallery

Judy Cooke, Nostalgia, 2014 (oil, pencil and wax on wood, 36″ x 34″ x 2″)/Elizabeth Leach Gallery

In contrast there are a couple standard rectangular paintings with a lot more going on (in  a conventional sense). Nostalgia, 2014 (oil, pencil and wax on wood, 36″ x 34″ x 2″), has several shapes, several colors, several divisions, and several ways of handling the medium, including a large area of scribbled pencil lines. However, again the main bold organizing device is a couple linear incidents hanging down from the top of the rectangle. The main line dangles—thin, thick, really thin, jog, jog, swoop. The other shapes and incidents key off those few linear incidents, but it is unclear in what order things were painted. Maybe the lines are painted in at last to tie the whole together, but it doesn’t seem like that. There’s a lot of virtuoso painting and drawing going on here, but it is not showy. That’s the intrigue of Cooke’s work: you can see she is in total command of all  the orchestra, but the music is very quiet.

Judy Cooke, Step-down, 2014, oil and wax on wood 13" x 14" x 2"/Elizabeth Leach Gallery

Judy Cooke, Step-down, 2014, oil and wax on wood 13″ x 14″ x 2″/Elizabeth Leach Gallery

Judy Cooke, Form, 2015, oil and wax on wood 7" x 32" x 2"/Elizabeth Leach Gallery

Judy Cooke, Form, 2015, oil and wax on wood 7″ x 32″ x 2″/Elizabeth Leach Gallery

I became very aware of just how I was looking at the paintings. Two works are just natural wood grain panels with thinly painted white shapes on them. In Step-down, 2014 (oil and wax on wood 13″ x 14″ x 2″), a jagged white shape is contained at a tilt within a fat T-shaped panel. In Form, 2015 (oil and wax on wood 7″ x 32″ x 2″), an irregular rectilinear shape is placed centrally within a thin rectangle. But what got me was how the shape in Step-down related to the T-shape of the panel and the wood grain is just a background, but in Form the shape seems to be tied to the lines of the wood grain itself and the bounding rectangle is neutralized, just there.

Judy Cook, Ledge, 2014, oil, acrylic and wax on wood, 18" x 65" x 2"/Elizabeth Leach Gallery

Judy Cook, Ledge, 2014, oil, acrylic and wax on wood, 18″ x 65″ x 2″/Elizabeth Leach Gallery

One more observation, this time about the anomaly in the show, Ledge, 2014 (oil, acrylic and wax on wood, 18″ x 65″ x 2″). Here, a long skinny rectangular panel connects two small irregular rectilinear panels across their tops. This in itself is a strange looking invention, but strange is not uncommon these days. What intrigued me was the thin line that crosses the long connecting rectangle, angling upwards slightly as it moves left to right. It is not a straight line. It is slightly, very slightly crooked. It changes slightly in thickness/thinness as it travels. But again, everything about that line tells me that Cooke meant it, and I marvel at it as my eye travels along it.

Frank Stella said, “There are two problems in painting. One is to find out what painting is and the other is to find out how to make a painting. The first is learning something and the second is making something.” Cooke shows what painting is—or can be. And by looking at what she has made, we can learn something.

Judy Cooke’s “Choose” continues at the Elizabeth Leach Gallery, 417 NW 9th, through August 29.