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 Back  Vignettes | Oregon | April – May 2016

By Allyn Cantor

JAY BACKSTRAND: SELECTED WORKS 1968–2008 Laura Russo Gallery, Portland, Apr 7–30 Throughout his career, Jay Backstrand has formulated complex, enigmatic imagery from ongoing explorations and reformulations of art, history and contemporary life. Showcasing works that span 40 years, Backstrand engages in an amalgam of subjects, juxtaposing disparate images into compositions that can at times be unsettling. He often renders human subjects with intense definition and a high-chroma palette, igniting an overall restlessness.

BARBARA STERNBERGER: INVISIBLE PRESENCE Elizabeth Leach Gallery, Portland, Apr 7–30 Bellingham painter Barbara Sternberger creates sensitive, fluid abstractions that combine formal elements of color, light and space with psychological and conceptual aspects of the physical act of nonrepresentational painting. The artist balances intention with intuition, patience with chance, comfort with bravery. In recent years, Sternberger has begun creating her own paints from scratch. This shift in materials is evident in both her thoughtful, minimalist compositions and her subdued, earthy palette.

JOVENCIO DE LA PAZ: BOY WHO STARED AT THE SUN PDX Window Project, Portland, Apr 2–30 Jovencio de la Paz is an artist and writer who works with textile and fiber processes. Now returning to print production after several years, he’s creating screen-printed works that continue his pursuit of colour, form and materiality as vessels for symbolic narrative. He’s moving away from the rectilinear forms and limitations of cloth seen in his previous work, and using cut-out polystyrene surfaces to create vibrantly patterned pieces such as Boy who stared at the sun.

PHYLLIS TROWBRIDGE: RECENT LANDSCAPE PAINTINGS Michael Parsons Fine Art, Portland, Apr 6–30 Quiet observation is at the core of Phyllis Trowbridge’s artistic approach. The Oregon artist, known for her plein-air landscape painting, renders scenes with a warm familiarity that evokes a passion and reverence for her environment. The unpredictable climate in the moody Pacific Northwest poses a challenge for any artist working outdoors here. Directness with her subject helps Trowbridge create inspired paintings that are genuine and inviting, balancing emotion with representation.

NELSON SANDGREN: AN ARTIST’S LIFE Hallie Ford Museum, Salem, May 14–Jul 17 This retrospective celebrates the work of Nelson Sandgren (1917–2006), an important Oregon artist and educator who taught at Oregon State University for more than 35 years. Throughout his long career, Sandgren was both a painter and a printmaker, with a strong interest in landscapes, the sea and travel images. His expressive style in both oils and watercolors shows a painterly confidence, rendering the essence of a subject through simple, dynamic brushstrokes. In Portland, an exhibit at Michael Parsons Fine Art throughout May also showcases decades of Sandgren’s art.

Jay Backstrand
Jay Backstrand

Barbara Sternberger
Barbara Sternberger

James Luna
Jovencio de la Paz

Phyllis Trowbridge
Phyllis Trowbridge

Nelson Sandgren
Nelson Sandgren

 Sat, Apr 9, 2016