Lisa Bryson is an established American contemporary figurative painter. In 2017, the same year as earning her Master of Fine Arts in Painting and a Teaching Fellowship from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, Lisa’s work was exhibited in the highly competitive Manifest International Exhibition Master Pieces. In 2018 she was awarded the prestigious Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation grant in painting.
As an artist she respects the nature of her chosen medium, subject matter and approach. However, she is acutely aware that in doing so she may be judged as being out of step with the contemporary art scene, a perception she will keenly refute. She cautions critics not to dismiss figurative work as traditional or purely representational, as contemporary concepts are often present and speak of current culture and experience. Now that experimental conceptual work is no longer new and shiny, and can be judged as a valid approach rather than beating a new path, there is a ground swell of opinion shifting perceptions about contemporary figurative work. Traditional studio practice and conceptual treatise have never been mutually exclusive, and Lisa Bryson’s work is a case in point.
She explains, “The mastery of the past is continually recalibrated into our current visual culture vernacular. Re-interpreting, appropriation are common contemporary art practices, such as, Marko Velk’s The Retriever re-interprets Francis Bacon’s assimilation of Diego Velazquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X. These actions are mirrored in my work. Rembrandt, Goya, Freud, Bacon, Schiele, Kollwitz, historical mentors resonate in how I present the psychology of human experience. The work, however, does not reside in the past; content alongside inspiration derived from such artists as Alex Kanevsky, Sophie Jodoin, and Anne Gale ensure relevancy. We can, as artists, utilize the past, while questioning the present to perpetuate a relevant, dynamic visual vocabulary that informs and possibly forms our future.”
Lisa Bryson’s work articulates human experience in a moment of time, pregnancy, birth, aging, and isolation. This is set within the pervasive context of how social media is changing the way we communicate and experience the world. She says, “In an era of high speed, real-time global communication (texting, instant messaging, social media), the art of interpersonal (face-to-face) communication has greatly changed. Public is the new private, and conversation is technology driven. The practice of social networking on portable devices, in common public settings, is the norm in contemporary society. Ease of access informs popular culture; appropriation and reinterpretation are postmodern practices that permeate all facets of society. Lines are blurred. Connectivity in tandem with appropriation is presumed ubiquitous, however, the flipside, if acknowledged, disassociation and lack of true identity also exist. The intent for the work, through direct observation and documentation, is to redefine and challenge societal norms and social interactions.”
Lisa Bryson’s painting express the search for a transient moment of clarity in the milieu of noise. In an interview for the National Association of Women Artists, she explains her intent. “My work fractures the human form, reaches below the surface into the psychological, addressing issues of physical abuse, victimization, isolation and fear. I remain enthralled by the human figure, but am driven to find ways to expand on figurative representation as it pertains to our current trends and contemporary visual culture.”
Imprint Gallery will be presenting four works by Lisa Bryson as part of its Spring exhibition. The exhibition runs May 1 – August 2.
This spring Northwest artist, Karen Abel will be bringing her ceramic sculpture to show with Imprint Gallery in Cannon Beach. Her hand-built and slab-built ceramic structures often reflect homes, agricultural buildings and simplified bird forms. The flat planes of her construction provide a canvas for imagery that is incised and glazed on to the surface. Communicating a narrative is central to her work. Stories often emerge organically from the marks created by the clay texturing process. Groupings of multiple buildings provide a multi-frame structure through which the story can develop, and the interaction of bird groupings serve as a device to reflect human idiosyncrasies.
We wanted to get to know this artist a little better and she was kind enough to answer a few questions, with the resulting interview. Karen will be showing with Imprint Gallery April through June. The Cannon Beach Gallery is open daily, 10:00am – 5:00pm and is situated at 183 North Hemlock Street.
I’m Pacific NW born, bred and based. I’ve been blessed with a life rich in stories of family, friends, neighborhoods and community thus home and hearth themes have always resonated strongly. Houses, windows, doors, walls and stairs are overflowing with symbolism and meaning for most people – whether a protected place or a broken place. My challenge is thus to leave enough ambiguity in my structure’s shape and imagery so that others can complete the story with their own memories and emotions. I may think I have built a simple garden shed until the buyer starts to tell me about their grandfather’s sod house in Nebraska. Rural structures extend the symbolism with feelings of nostalgia and history and are interesting forms to replicate. I tend to be upbeat and enjoy tongue and cheek humor – houses, farms, communities, cul-de-sacs, animals and birds overflow with possibilities.
Your approach to glazing is very painterly…. do you do preparatory drawings or just work directly on the clay?
I keep a sketchbook in which I gather ideas for structure shapes, approaches to color, and drawings of individual elements that become part of the overall image. However, I rarely plan out an entire scene because ideas and stories often emerge out of the texturing process; My work seems best if I can keep the etching and glazing process as loose and spontaneous as possible and not overthink things.
What other artists do you admire?
I love the work of Dennis Campay. This contemporary Atlanta-based artist uses disorderly drawings and marks in his paintings of cities and street scenes. Often a quirky black bull pops up – sometimes next to a phonebooth. How fun it that?
The extraordinary surfaces on the ceramic vessels of Sam Hall and Craig Underhill, both contemporary artists in the UK, humble me and remind me I have a lot of development left in my own creative practice.
Are there any artists or art movements that you feel have influenced your work?
Paul Klee and Wassily Kandinsky pushed the used of color and line but I am most struck with Klee’s comment that a “drawing is simply a line going for a walk”. I love taking lines for a walk around and around my structures either with incised line or with wire.
Is there recurring imagery in your work? And, is there any special meaning attached to that imagery?
Birds, crows, cows, chairs, ladders and telephone lines crop up often. Birds, especially crows, mimic human idiosyncrasies and thus are great fodder for our own home and hearth stories. Cows have so much expression in their lack of expression that it’s easy to fill in the blank with our own thoughts. Plump little songbirds are sweet until they lined up and become nasty little gossips. I’m attracted to imagery that is often slightly humorous and gives the viewer a jumping off place to develop their own stories – and maybe their own title to the piece.
Can you give a brief description of your technique?
I work out three dimensional ideas for structures using stiff paper templates and a lot of masking tape to hold those shapes together. [Basically, I get to play around with paper houses!] That paper becomes the templates use to cut shapes from very stiff flat slabs of clay. Construction of the clay house is followed immediately with the application of texture by troweling on an uneven layer of moist clay and making marks, scratches and drawn imagery. Colored slip (liquid clay) is also added at this time. After the structure is bisque fired, I rub black stain into the textures and incised designs and apply very sheer glazes. Both these techniques really make the incised imagery pop. I’ll fire the piece two or three times to get the desired color wash.
Dawning Splendor is an exhibition pairing the works of Kamala Dolphin-Kingsley and Mary Alayne Thomas, opening as part of the new program at our new gallery in Astoria. The new gallery will be called Brumfield Gallery, opening in August. Dawning Splendor is scheduled to open September 12, running through October 4. Unsold work will then transfer to Imprint Gallery in Cannon Beach.
Kamala Dolphin-Kingsley and Mary Alayne Thomas are each creating a new body of work for the exhibition, sharing a fascination for wildlife, a similar sense of design within their composition, and spark of magic in their representation of the world. Both paint animals and botanicals to create a sense of myth and fairytale with an Art Nouveau flourish.
Kamala Dolphin-Kingsley’s paintings are rooted in marine biology, ecology and the natural environment, but her approach is influenced by a myriad of diverse aesthetic concerns and storytelling formats. Art Nouveau, kitsch, Asian art, and psychadelia provide visual cues, while childhood nostalgia, fairy tales, histories and an “Alice in Wonderland” sensibility drive the content.
Through experimentation with combining watercolor, inks, acrylics, glitter, sequins and gold leaf, and with this plethora of stimuli, she has developed her own style to depict animals, plants, landscapes, water and a general feeling of lushness. She paints temperate rainforests and tropical plants with psychedelic properties. She explains that, “I’m often trying to create a primordial sense of magic, to regain the feeling of wonder I had as a child adventuring in the mossy Redwoods alone or with animals.”
Where Mary Alayne Thomas’s work differs from Kamala’s is the introduction of the human protagonist. She paints women adorned with flowers and birds, surrounded by animals. These are fairytale women that may well have step from the magical temperate forests painted by her colleague. They are caught in a moment of contemplation and often are pensive. She is rendered as a part of the overall composition, no more important that the flowers and birds in her hair, the mink in her embrace, or bear at her side.
In common with Kamala, Mary Alayne is concerned with relaying a pure an innocent response to nature, drawing on childhood experiences. She explains she is, “constantly inspired by the wildlife, forests and dark beauty of my home in Portland Oregon, and childhood memories of wandering the mesas in Santa Fe continue to compel my work. I strive to capture those magical ephemeral moments we all experience, real or imagined.”
Raised by two full time artists, Mary Alayne began her career early, illustrating children's magazines at the age of eleven. After much experimentation with many mediums, she discovered the harmonious combination of encaustic with watercolor, refining the process to her current technique - a complex layering of encaustic and silkscreen over a watercolor painting. She says, “There is a sense of mystery, a softness that emanates from the floating art forms within the transparent, waxy surface. It creates an atmospheric work, a dreamy ethereal expression.”
Dawning Splendor will run September 12 – October 4, open daily 10:00am-5:00pm, (Closed Tuesdays), at Brumfield Gallery, 1033 Marine Drive, Astoria, OR,
John Westmark’s paintings convey a sound sense of composition and an attention to detail that allows conceptual elements to be seamlessly woven through the narrative without diminishing the aesthetic of the work. By these means he is able to create a subtle intellectual dialogue that quietly speaks of sociopolitical issues and gender.
The context, imagery, narrative and media are all carefully considered. His work comments on the portrayal of women in art from the standpoint of a contemporary male artist and feminist. Aesthetically his work has common threads with diverse genres including: Western formal portraiture; Japanese Ukiyo-e woodblock prints; early 20th Century Russian propaganda posters, and monumental Mexican muralism. These paintings are grounded in art histories, drawing on archetypes to both document and question the portrayal of women, gender status, and power relationships.
He presents his female figures as agents of revolt, stoic martyrs, or fantastical beings. In every instance the identity of the figure is obscured by wraps, bonnets and bound faces. It is hard to avoid parallels with the use of clothing such as the burqa to mask sexuality, especially as the unavoidable “male gaze” remains a disquieting discussion in regard to the depiction of women by male artists. The absence of religious or cultural cues suggests it is more likely a devise to create ambiguity; a void in which meaning is sought through dialogue rather than dictate. The anonymous nature of these veiled entities poses the question of where the privilege of choice, control and power lies.
Much of his current work incorporates store-bought paper sewing patterns applied directly to the canvas - his interest being, “the metaphorical potential of unorthodox materials”. This particular material provides a rich stream of associated themes creating an undercurrent to the main narrative. We can choose to draw on feminist discourse regarding the role of fashion in the repression and/or liberation of women; or make reference to sewing and homemaking skills; or we can admire the nature of the material within the construct of the work as a whole.
Westmark explains that, “By embellishing the garment patterns with custom text from contemporary feminist writing and criticism, a conceptual narrative is created alongside the existing material narrative of imprinted assembly instructions. This added textual narrative disrupts the nostalgic or stereotypical notion of “women’s work” and admits an aggressive feminist dialogue into the visual conversation. The viewer is asked to read both the text embedded surface and the image.”
Remembering John Westmark’s 2014 solo exhibition Narratives, Amanda Breen, Curatorial Assistant at Gibbes Museum of Art, comments that, “it took me longer than I’d like to admit for me to realize these subtle messages the artist weaved into each piece. This realization forced me to slow down and examine each work closely. No longer just figures on the canvas, these small lines of text added to my interpretation of the piece and I eagerly sought out new details I may have missed.”
The strength of John Westmark’s work lies in the nuanced way in which he combines conceptual threads with skilled manipulation of material to create visually engaging paintings. The work would fail if the paintings could not stand in their own right as powerful compositions, provoking an emotional and intellectual response.
John Westmark received an MFA from the University of Florida and a BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute. His work is held in numerous private and public collections including the Council on Foreign Relations, Washington DC; Weisman Art Foundation and Museum, Malibu, CA; Bemis Center for Contemporary Art, Omaha, NE; Gibbes Museum of Art, Charleston, SC; and the Kansas City Art Institute.
John’s work was also selected for the U.S. State Department’s Art in Embassies program. John is the recipient of two Individual Florida Artist Grants. In 2011, John was awarded a Pollock-Krasner grant and was selected as a finalist for the Arte Laguna Prize, Venice, Italy.
In 2012, John was awarded The Gibbes Museum Factor Prize for Southern Art (Charleston, SC). The Factor Prize acknowledges an artist whose work demonstrates the highest level of artistic achievement in any media while contributing to a new understanding of art in the American South. In 2014, John was a Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant nominee. John’s work has been featured in New American Paintings, American Art Collector, Studio Visit Magazine, Surface Design Journal and Art in America.
Print: Eighteen Printmakers
Print is a survey exhibition demonstrating the breadth and diversity of the printmaking represented in Imprint Gallery's collections. It features work by eighteen artists covering a wide range of printmaking techniques.
We are especially happy to be including the work of Liza Jones, who has impacted the Northwest printmaking with an indomitable spirit and encyclopedic knowledge of techniques. Another of the shows exhibitors, Jani Hoberg, cites Liza Jones as the reason she is a printmaker. Having taken a class with Liza, she quickly realized that she had found her home. As the curator of this show, I can also cite Liza Jones as one of the reasons why we have such a focus on printmaking. I had always collected and shown printmaking, but it was at a talk by Liza that I truly began to understand both the complexity and supportive nature of the printmaking community.
We are also taking this opportunity to introduce a new printmaker to our collections. Michèle Landsaat is a Northwest writer, illustrator and printmaker. The approach to her whimsical etchings mirrors her approach to storytelling. Both her narrative and imagery evolves through the transformative nature of the process. Along side the unpredictability of acid on copper in the creation of the plate from which the images is drawn, Michèle also adds color and tone through small pieces of chine collé. These patterned papers are screen printed by the artist to add tonal elements beyond that achieved through aquatint etching.
We have always had a soft spot for mixed media sculpture, and have represented the work of John Taylor, Morgan Brig, Rebecca Ruegger and Karen Croner for some time now. We are delighted to add to this line up in time for the Stormy Weather Arts Festival. Geoffrey Gorman has agreed to work with us in what we hope will be a lasting partnership.
Often we follow an artist for sometime before inviting them to show - sometime stalking them for a year or two - and this was the case with Geoffrey. His name had been mentioned to us by a collector very early on in establishing Imprint Gallery, so we are thrilled to now be showing his work in this exhibit of Mixed Media Sculpture.
Every year Cannon Beach Chamber of Commerce puts together a fabulous program for the Stormy Weather Arts Festival in the first weekend of November. As part of this festival the galleries come together to present a walk of new exhibitions and receptions on the Friday and Saturday nights. This year Imprint Gallery has curated a show to introduce four new artists, Doug Whitfield, Carla O'Connor, Michael Kelly, and Ruth Hunter. “& Others” is an exhibition showcasing contemporary figurative work, focusing on the nature of humanity rather than the depiction of the human form. It is about the people we are, believe our selves to be, hope or fear others see us as, and how we see others. The show also features the works of Duy Huynh and Emily McPhie.
The gallery is also presenting an exhibit of mixed media sculpture as a vehicle to introduce the work of Geoffrey Gorman. Geoffrey Gorman is an established sculptor who has had significant influence in the genre of mixed media sculpture using found, recycled and unusual materials.
The Stormy Weather Arts Festival central pillar is a series of concerts and events, making this an exciting time to choose to visit Cannon Beach, tour the galleries and hear some great music. For details and ticket information about the concert and event series presented by Cannon Beach Chamber of Commerce go the the main festival link at the top of this post.
Friday, 1 November, 5:30-7:30PM
Saturday, 2 November, 5:30-7:30PM
The one commonality we have with others in
this world is that our perception of it is unique.
Friday 1 November, 5:30-7:30PM
Saturday 2 November, 5:30-7:30PM
“& Others” is an exhibition showcasing contemporary figurative work, focusing on the nature of humanity rather than the depiction of the human form. It is about the people we are, believe our selves to be, hope or fear others see us as, and how we see others. It is also an exploration of self as we pass through the realms of reality, dreams and imagination. The exhibition has been curated as part of Imprint Gallery’s program for the Stormy Weather Arts Festival, opening on November 1.
The title tries to encompass a multitude of themes that run through this body of artwork. The word ‘others’ can have positive and negative cogitations. We can take comfort in being with others, and we can feel anxiety in seeing ourselves as being separate and different from the others. Often our own sense of self is tied to how we place ourselves within the context of others.
The one commonality we have with others in this world is that our perception of it is unique. The exhibition offers up the unique perceptions of the artists to be interpreted from the unique perspective of the viewer. This process can throw up quiet discomfort when the visual language used is foreign to the viewer, but often we recognize shared truths and connections. “& Other” includes work from regular gallery artists, Duy Huynh, Emily McPhie, and Aggie Zed. It also introduces the work of new artists to the gallery, Doug Whitfield, Carla O’Connor, Ruth Hunter and Michael Kelly.
Doug Whitfield is fascinated with the concept of individual perception of reality, dreams and alternative realities. His approach to painting is instinctive, engaged and engaging. There is whimsy combined with real-world grit in the subject matter. In his dancing couples and shortened figures he questions the notions of loveliness and the grotesque - creating endearing protagonists that fall outside the norms of accepted beauty. He explains, “My compositions are dreamlike; they blur myth, history and fantasy together. My characters gesture to you dramatically and strike romantic poses on the stage of my fantastic theater. They are cognizant of you, just as you are of them. In my ambiguous dramas, the beautiful and grotesque seem but two sides of the same coin. The point of these juxtapositions, other than for your delight, is to engage the power of your imagination to reconcile the ambiguity. My performers beg you to step onto their stage and play along with them in my fantastic theater.”
For Carla O’Connor, an award-winning watercolor painter, the human form has been the touchstone of her work. She strives to amalgamate the three dimensional figurative form with a two dimensional abstraction of its surroundings. This is the means by which she communicates a personal vision of the strengths and fragility of life. “My work addresses the passage of time - the human response to the internal and external events that change and shape our lives. The work has evolved like a continuous spiral, always circling around to a new beginning and provides me with a visual narrative to express all those moments and experiences—both minuscule and monumental. “
Aggie Zed’s mixed media painting also seek to express the joy and poignancy of life. Her drawings and paintings mix dreamed and lived experience in a collision of realities, questioning the rationality of human activity. Much of her imagery is drawn from her rural home environment. She often depicts humans and/or animals, within a domestic or farmyard setting. Mirrors and doorways are then used as devices to added elements that appear chronologically wrong or inappropriate to the narrative. Animals play an important role both as participant observers to the human drama and foils to daily tasks of mundane life.
The figure is Michael Kelly’s main source of inspiration, representing all that we are familiar with in terms of form, function and emotional narrative. In his work he aims to reflect energy and motion - to reveal the living aspects and true nature of his subject’s existence. He uses Matisse’s quote," Inherent truth is disengaged from the outward appearance of an object " as a key to the intent of his work. His drawings are a spontaneous response to observed reality. Although he talks in terms of reality, it is not his intention to faithfully render the physical form saying, “It is a search for an internal reality that validates an object’s reason for being.” He explains that his work “is a process of discovery through deconstruction. This process allows me to dignify the presence of the subject that I am working from, rather than to characterize it. I maintain the aspect of the gesture in the approach to my work. This approach allows the drawing to live and to invoke a response.”
In Duy Huynh’s poetic and contemplative paintings the artist has developed a vocabulary of symbolism with recurring images that relate to physical or spiritual travel. Born in Vietnam, themes of geographical and cultural displacement are prevalent in Huynh’s artwork. Ethereal characters maintain a serene but precarious balance, in a surreal or dreamlike setting. He attempts to literally and symbolically connect the fluid patterns in nature with that of human made aspirations. His goal is to nurture a visual language that evokes a sense of wonderment while celebrating the fragile nature of life.
The viewer is asked to navigate themes of faith, family and recollection in Emily McPhie’s compelling paintings. She hurriedly interprets the emotions of family life, motherhood and the ever-changing relationships with her children, husband and siblings. She explains that she is driven by the need to translate those thoughts and emotions into images before her perceptions change, and time has opportunity to color her recollection. Her work uses symbolism in the magic realism tradition, but it is also rooted deeply in fundamental shared truths. She often uses the direct gaze to connect the viewer with the work, giving us mixed signals of familiarity and separateness. These paintings explore the experience of family, relationships, and establishing ones own persona within the world. Who am I? How do I fit in? What is important to me?
Ruth Hunter takes humanity and the ephemeral experience of being as her central theme. She is a consummate colorist, through which she manipulates the senses to evoke an emotive response. An established artist on the East Coast, she is a new transplant the the Northwest. Imprint Gallery is delighted to be introducing her work to her new audience.
Our exhibition "Menagerie" in the upper print gallery for Earth & Ocean Arts Festival is a neat companion for the "Habitat" show in the lower gallery. Continuing in the theme of wildlife and the environment Briony's detailed etchings create surreal versions of the natural world.
Morrow-Cribbs graduated from the Emily Carr Institute in 2005 and completed her Master’s of Fine Art degree at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2012. From 2012 to 2014 Morrow-Cribbs taught etching at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
As a printmaker, Morrow-Cribbs has shown both nationally and internationally with solo exhibitions in the Davidson Gallery in Seattle, Washington the Artisan Gallery in Paoli, Wisconsin and the Tory Folliard Gallery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
As an illustrator, Morrow-Cribbs launched her career with two New York Times Bestsellers: Wicked Plants: The Weed that Killed Lincoln’s Mother & Other Botanical Atrocities and Wicked Bugs: The Louse that Conquered Napoleon’s Army & Other Diabolical Insects, both written by Amy Stewart (published by Algonquin Books). Since then, Morrow-Cribbs has also illustrated a book of short stories titled Unnatural Creatures (edited by Neil Gaiman and Maria Dahvana Headley, published by HarperCollins) and created cover work for The End of the Sentence by Maria Dahvana Headley and Cat Howard (published by Subterranean Press).
“Habitat” is a group show, bringing together the work of six Northwest artists in a celebration of wildlife and the natural environment. The artists include Molly Cliff Hilts, Andrea Benson, Kamala Dolphin-Kingsley, Karen Croner, Randy Van Dyke and Bethany Rowland. The exhibition has been curated by Imprint Gallery in Cannon Beach to open at the beginning of the inaugural Earth and Ocean Arts Festival on September 20 and will run through October 27.
Earth and Ocean Arts Festival is organized by Cannon Beach Gallery Group in recognition of: the success of Cannon Beach as an arts destination being intrinsically linked to its location in one of the most beautiful places on Earth; the fragile nature of this rural coastline; and the need to protect it. With this as a starting premise, Imprint Gallery selected artists whose work is primarily inspired by the natural world. The gallery usually draws work from across America, but for this show it was important to keep the origin of the work within the Northwest. In addition to being a celebration of nature it is also a statement about the specific nature of a place.
The title, “Habitat” is an easy way to connect the subject matter of wildlife and landscape, but it also references human habitation. Although there is little evidence of the human presence in the exhibits, each artwork is an artist’s expression of human experience. Each provides a window into their understanding of the natural environment, and we, as the viewer, relate that to our own experience of the world around us.
The idea that it is normal for humans to be surrounded by concrete and steel is a concept born out of the industrial revolution and consumerism. It is important to reconnect to the natural environment to appreciate our place within it, and our impact upon it. We are not separate from the natural world. It is a part of our habitat, even when we are back home in our man-made boxes. Take this chance to explore habitat through art and by visiting one of the most beautiful places on Earth.
The exhibition opens with a reception on Friday, 20 September beginning at 5pm. The artists will be in attendance. There will be artist demonstrations by Kamala Dolphin-Kingsley (painting) and Karen Croner (sculpture) in the gallery on Saturday, 21 September, noon through 4pm, as part of the festival’s gallery walk. Imprint Gallery is located at 183 N Hemlock Street, Cannon Beach, Oregon.
Molly Cliff Hilts
Kamala Dolphin Kingsley
Randy Van Dyck