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 Back  Vignettes | Oregon | September – October 2016

By Allyn Cantor

APEX: ARVIE SMITH Portland Art Museum, Portland, Jul 30-Nov 13 Portland artist Arvie Smith has brought forth subjects of racial injustice throughout his lengthy career. His distinctly powerful painting style blends playfulness with irony and deep satire. Drawing from historical and current atrocities, Smith often employs whimsical iconic characters (like Aunt Jemima) in dense fluid compositions where the storytelling is undoubtedly poignant while the canvases are enticing and approachable. Smith achieves brilliant commentaries that aim to stimulate a dialogue toward bridging differences and opening up an emotional awareness.

JAQ CHARTIER: HUNTING COLOR Elizabeth Leach Gallery, Portland, Sep 1-Oct 1 Seattle artist Jaq Chartier is known for continued experimentations with alternative materials and painting processes that draw on scientific imagery. Developing her own complex formulas of inks, stains and dyes, her compositions begin as actual tests – saturated hues interact with hidden chemistries of humidity, gravity and light in elusive arrangements that shift and change at a microscopic level, altering the intensity of colours in time. Chartier’s evocative works suggest a notion of impermanence while drawing parallels between scientific and artistic exploration.

DANILA TKACHENKO: ESCAPE Blue Sky Gallery, Portland, Sep 1-Oct 2 Danila Tkachenko is a documentary photographer based in Moscow, Russia. Escape is a series based on the issue of internal personal freedom within the demanding framework of modern society. Tkachenko has photographed multiple individuals who have chosen to leave organized society behind for the wilderness of Russia and Ukraine, living in solitude to avoid conformity and the troubles of their past lives. Alongside the evocative portraits, Tkachenko captures the moody natural environment and varied forms of shelter his subjects inhabit.

CAROL BENSON: SEWN CONSTRUCTIONS Blackfish Gallery, Portland, Aug 30-Oct 1 Using discarded scraps of canvas from other painters, Carol Benson creates sculptural paintings that reference quilts, weavings and other traditional techniques commonly associated with women’s handiwork. Her oil on canvas constructions are formed by twisting and looping strips of canvas into overlapping shapes that are sewn together in a wall relief format. The Portland artist has been making these sewn constructions for five years. Through the formal investigation of material, Benson’s works read like both a deconstructed painting and an innovative piece of textile art.

RACHEL MCKENNA PDX Contemporary Art, Portland, Aug 29-Oct 1 Rachel McKenna’s process-driven works explore the relationship between empowered physicality and creative actions, drawing from her personal experience as a professional athlete. In her sculptural works, McKenna finds parallels in the dedication of mind and body involved in both art and sport. Her experimental sculptures utilize molten wax, glass and ice as colliding forces that create the push pull of action and reaction. The resulting sculptures are highly organic, coral-like crystalline forms.

Arvie Smith
Arvie Smith

Jaq Chartier
Jaq Chartier

Danila Tkachenko
Danila Tkachenko

Carol Benson
Carol Benson

Rachel McKenna
Rachel McKenna

 Sat, Sep 10, 2016