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Alden Mason, Spirit Bird Landscape

Alden Mason, Spirit Bird Landscape (1996), acrylic on canvas [Foster/White Gallery, Seattle WA, Sep 1-24]

Alden Mason: Selected Works

Foster/White Gallery
Seattle WA – Sep 1-24, 2016

Alden Mason, Salmon Totem

Alden Mason, Salmon Totem (2000), acrylic on canvas [Foster/White Gallery, Seattle WA, Sep 1-24]

Alden Mason, Look Both Ways Janus

Alden Mason, Look Both Ways Janus (2003), acrylic on canvas [Foster/White Gallery, Seattle WA, Sep 1-24]

The advantage of living to 93 for some artists, like Alden Mason (1919-2013), has meant that there has been sufficient time for the art public and establishment – museums, critics, collectors – to catch up with late-period, prolific achievements that otherwise might only occur posthumously. Mason, who spent most of his life in Seattle, though he showed in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles regularly, also took early retirement from the University of Washington so he could paint full time. The results are a fascinating fusion of mid-century Abstract Expressionism and Expressionist Figuration.

Phen Huang, director of Foster/White (affiliated with the Bau-Xi Gallery), has chosen beautiful examples from each of the many periods of Mason’s stylistic evolution. Known during his lifetime for his “Burpee Garden” paintings – celebrated in New York shows where they were considered a pendant to Color Field – Mason evolved into variants of Pattern and Decoration, Neo-Expressionism and Art Brut, all within his own energetic sensibility that involved scratchy lines, improvisatory gestures, and, increasingly, intense myth- and symbol-laden tableaux. Extensive travels to Central America, Asia, Australia and New Guinea also cemented imagery of shamanic power, exultant colour and shimmering surfaces that doubled as bark painting or tightly woven textiles.

Matthew Kangas

 Sun, Sep 18, 2016