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The Cultural Landscape 12: Special Edition

K.B. Dixon's cultural-portrait series continues with a "special edition" featuring trailblazing women artists Lucinda Parker, Judy Cooke, Phyllis Yes, Sherrie Wolf, and Laura Ross-Paul.

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Text and Photographs by K.B. DIXON


As with the portraits in the previous installments of this series, I have focused on the talented, dedicated, and creative people who have made significant contributions to the art, character, and culture of this city and state. In this “Special Edition” installment, however, I have narrowed the field of view to focus on a particular group of trailblazing women artists. These women have enjoyed long and storied careers in the visual arts. They have been mentors to and role-models for a new generation of female artists.

Though I have narrowed the field of view, my aspirations have remained the same: to document the contemporary cultural landscape and to produce a decent photograph—a photograph that acknowledges the medium’s allegiance to reality and that preserves for myself and others a unique and honest sense of the subject.

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Lucinda Parker

Parker has been called the “grand matriarch of regional modernism.” Originally from Boston, Parker received a B.A. jointly from Reed College and the Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland, Oregon, and an M.F.A. from the Pratt Institute, New York.  Her work has been exhibited in numerous one-person shows throughout the Pacific Northwest and nationally in cities including New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C.

The Portland Art Museum honored her with a mid-career retrospective in 1995, and the Hallie Ford Museum mounted a major career retrospective, Lucinda Parker: Force Fields, in 2019. “Central to [her] long, successful life in art-making is her acknowledgment of the accomplishments of others—past and present—together with her remarkable originality as a painter of form and color, as an inventor of bold compositions that can stagger and ultimately inspire viewers,” wrote Roger Hull, the late Senior Faculty Curator at the Hallie Ford Museum of Art and Professor of Art History at Willamette University.

Parker’s work may be found in collections throughout the Northwest. Major public collections include the Hallie Ford Museum of Art at Willamette University, the Portland Art Museum, and the Seattle Art Museum. Public commissions can be found at innumerable venues including the Oregon Convention Center and Portland City Hall.  She is represented by the Russo Lee Gallery in Portland.

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Judy Cooke

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Cooke has been exploring abstract imagery and the structure of painting for more than 45 years. Recognized for her compositions that often reveal a harmonious combination of geometric and natural shapes, Cooke has focused her attention most frequently on the mysterious space between two and three dimensions. She majored in printmaking at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. She received her B.F.A. at Tufts University and an M.A.T. at Reed College.

She has exhibited extensively, including a retrospective at the Art Gym at Marylhurst University, and exhibitions at Portland Art Museum and Tacoma Art Museum. A founding member of the Blackfish Gallery and a Professor Emeritus at Pacific Northwest College of Art (PNCA), she has been the recipient of numerous prestigious grants, including the Flintridge Foundation Award for Visual Art, Regional Arts and Culture Council Visual Artist Fellowship Grant, Oregon Arts Commission Individual Artist Fellowship in Painting, and the National Endowment for the Arts Visual Artist Fellowship.

Her work is included in the collections of the Portland Art Museum, Tacoma Art Museum, School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and Boise Art Museum, among many others. She is represented by the Elizabeth Leach Gallery in Portland.

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Phyllis Yes

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Phyllis Yes is an artist, educator, and playwright. She earned a B.A. in art from Luther College, an M.A. in art from the University of Minnesota, and a Ph.D. in art from the University of Oregon. She went on to teach art at the Federal University of Ceara in Brazil, Western Oregon University, Oregon State University, and Lewis and Clark College. At Lewis and Clark Yes served as Chair of the Art Department and Dean of Arts and Humanities and became a Professor Emeritus of art, painting, and drawing in 1998.

Her artistic media range from works on painted canvas to furniture, clothing, and jewelry. She is known for challenging gender roles by “feminizing” stereotypically masculine objects such as paint cans, hand guns, ladders, hammers, and cars. Her work has appeared in more than 130 exhibitions, including exhibitions in Tokyo and Hong Kong. Among Yes’s best-known pieces are “Por She,” a 1967 Porsche painted over with lace rosettes and exhibited at the Bernice Steinbaum Gallery in New York City.

In 2016, at the age of 75, she wrote her first play, Good Morning Miss America, which had its theatrical debut in Portland, Oregon, in 2018. She has been honored with innumerable awards, including grants from the Oregon Arts Commission and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship.

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Sherrie Wolf

“With spirited forays into an ingenious kind of self-portraiture, Sherrie Wolf remains first and foremost a painter of still life,” wrote critic Sue Taylor. Wolf graduated from the Museum Art School, now the Pacific Northwest College of Art, Portland, Oregon, in 1974, and received an M.A. in 1975 from the Chelsea College of Art in London, England. She began exhibiting her work in the mid-1970s while teaching art at PNCA.

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Arranging objects in front of excerpts from Old Master paintings, her images openly play with the fact that art is artifice. Using light, shadow, three-dimensional spatial relationships, and nontraditional perspectives, she connects herself to a history of reinterpretation and artistic borrowing. Her work is included in such collections as The Vivian and Gordon Gilkey Center for Graphic Arts, Portland Art Museum; Hallie Ford Museum, Salem, Oregon; Tacoma Art Museum, Tacoma, Washington; City of Seattle; and Washington State Art Collection.

Wolf has also been included in multiple curated group exhibitions across the country. In 2012 her work was presented in a solo exhibition at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona, and in 2014 she was featured in a solo show at the Long Beach Museum of Art in Southern California. In 2022 the Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation published a monograph titled Sherrie Wolf: A Retrospective as part of a retrospective exhibition at the Schnitzer Yeon Gallery. Wolf is represented by the Russo Lee Gallery in Portland, Oregon.

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Laura Ross-Paul

Laura Ross-Paul is an artist, teacher, and arts advocate. She has been painting professionally for more than four decades and has been represented by galleries up and down the West Coast, from Seattle to Laguna Beach. As an Associate Art Professor she has taught at Portland State University, Pacific Northwest College of Art (PNCA), Lewis and Clark College, and Oregon College of Art and Craft, among others.

Her work can be found in private and public collections throughout the United States. She has exhibited at such venues as Portland Art Museum, Seattle Art Museum, Tacoma Art Museum, Arnot Museum (New York), Palm Springs Art Museum, The Art Gym, and Portland Institute of Contemporary Art. She has been honored with an Oregon Arts Commission Individual Arts Fellowship, a Bonnie Bronson Fellowship, and a Susan Cooly-Gillion Artist Residency, and been awarded prizes in biennials at the Portland and Tacoma Art Museums as well as the West Coast Biennial at the Turtle Bay Museum in Redding, California.

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She has served on numerous boards and committees that support local and regional art and was a commissioner for the Metropolitan Arts Council. In addition, she was a co-founder of Northwest Artists Workshop and a committee member and curator for Portland Center for the Visual Arts (PCVA).

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Earlier in the series:

  • The Cultural Landscape: Part 11. Portraits of visual artist Marie Watt, percussionist and musical conductor Niel DePonte, dancer and choreographer Oluyinka Akinjiola, poet and storyteller Brian S. Ellis, and actor/producer Lauren Bloom Hanover.
  • The Cultural Landscape: Part 10. Portraits of All Classical Radio President and CEO Suzanne Nance, poet Carlos Reyes, playwright and librettist Andrea Stolowitz, visual artist James Minden, and flutist and Aligned Artistry founder Amelia Lukas.
  • The Cultural Landscape: Part 9. Portraits of illustrator and educator Kate Bingaman-Burt, visual artist Dan Gluibizzi, novelist and nonfiction writer Cecily Wong, essayist and journalist Aaron Gilbreath, and choreographer and Oregon Ballet Theatre artistic director Dani Rowe.
  • The Cultural Landscape: Part 8. Portraits of writer and Portland Parks Foundation leader Randy Gragg, playwright/director/photographer Lava Alapai, mixed-media artist Erik Geschke, writer Erica Berry, and dancer/choreographer Samuel Hobbs.
  • The Cultural Landscape: Part 7. Portraits of singer/actor Susannah Mars, violinist Tomás Cotik, Native Arts and Culture Foundation leader Lulani Arquette, sculptor Ben Buswell, and artist, costume designer, choreographer, and filmmaker Fuchsia Lin.
  • The Cultural Landscape: Part 6. Portraits of Profile Theatre’s Josh Hecht, Pacific Northwest College of Art leader Jennifer (Jen) Cole, opera singer and teacher Hannah Penn, novelist Tony Ardizzone, and make-up, prop, and effects artist Christina Kortum.
  • The Cultural Landscape: Part 5. Portraits of musicians Marv and Rindy Ross, artist David Eckard, actor Maureen Porter, and writer Todd Schultz.
  • The Cultural Landscape: Part 4. Portraits of Oregon Symphony’s Scott Showalter, Renegade Opera’s Madeline Ross, theater leader Michael Mendelson, poet Genevieve DeGuzman, roots music legend Lloyd Jones.
  • The Cultural Landscape: Part 3. Portraits of Reser Center Executive Director Chris Ayzoukian, Shaking the Tree Theater Artistic Director Samantha Van Der Merwe, Oregon Public Broadcasting President and CEO Steve Bass, photographer and head of Pacific Northwest College of Art’s photography department Teresa Christiansen, choreographer and interim artistic director of Oregon Ballet Theatre Peter Franc.
  • The Cultural Landscape: Part 2. Portraits of musician and composer Kenji Bunch, opera leader Priti Gandhi, actor and theater director Dan Murphy, contemporary art leader Victoria Frey, dancer and choreographer Shaun Keylock, landscape and urban design leader Zeljka C. Kekez, visual artist Barry Pelzner, poet and editor Susan Moore, musician and composer Cal Scott, writer and indie filmmaker Kelley Baker.
  • The Cultural Landscape: 11 Portraits. Portaits of theater leader Marissa Wolf, musician Darrell Grant, museum film leader Amy Dotson, Red Door Project leader Kevin Jones, bookstore owner Emily Powell, philanthropist and art collector Jordan Schnitzer, visual artist Jef Gunn, actor and singer Ithica Tell, guitarist Scott Kritzer, publisher Rhonda Hughes, and poet John Beer.

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Photo Joe Cantrell

K.B. Dixon’s work has appeared in numerous magazines, newspapers, and journals. His most recent collection of stories, Artifacts: Irregular Stories (Small, Medium, and Large), was published in Summer 2022. The recipient of an OAC Individual Artist Fellowship Award, he is the winner of both the Next Generation Indie Book Award and the Eric Hoffer Book Award. He is the author of seven novels: The Sum of His SyndromesAndrew (A to Z)A Painter’s LifeThe Ingram InterviewThe Photo AlbumNovel Ideas, and Notes as well as the essay collection Too True, Essays on Photography, and the short story collection, My Desk and I. Examples of his photographic work may be found in private collections, juried exhibitions, online galleries, and at K.B. Dixon Images.

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2 Responses

  1. Hi Ken
    Thanks so much for all the effort you put into this extensive, photo-documented project. Best hopes for future success.

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