A week from tomorrow, my exhibit, Wonky PDX: Cityscapes by yours truly, will be hanging at the Full Circle Gallery, 640 SE Stark Street. The Opening reception is First Friday May, 6 –9.
I have been painting a few new paintings, seriously editing some older ones, and tweaking others, particularly around the edges, as I try to pull various framing styles together. It’s been fun and rewarding to see this particular set of takes on Portland come together.
The Fremont Bridge painting is one that’s getting a new frame. It’s an oldie, but one I’ve grown quite fond of. There’s another Fremont Bridge painting that is far more elegant and “straight.” I’m fond of it as well, but it isn’t quite so wonky.
Fremont Bridge at 16th and NW Naito, 16 x 12″, oil on masonite, 2008
This painting is one that was tweaked a bit — it struck me as a bit dull beside the other when I hung them together. The photo is of the old version.
Of course, there’s the painting that graces the front of the postcard, which is far wonkier than the one above:
While the Fremont Bridge paintings are about the power, noise, and ubiquitous nature of interstates, Circling involves my perception of what it felt like to spend 16 –20 hours painting plein air pieces (slightly wonky but not totally absurd) at an odd SE street corner. SE 6th and Alder has some interesting old architecture, which I knew about, and interesting inhabitants and habitues, which I didn’t know about until I spent my time there. And then there was the traffic that seemed endlessly to bump by the corner, trying to escape whatever vehicular jams were happening on SE 7th and/or Grand Ave. I would occasionally get a catcall or thumbs up from the drivers looking out their windows, but mostly they just looked tense and frantic. It was a good lesson about a city neighborhood mostly ignored by folks encased in their tin cans.
Perhaps the earliest of the wonky paintings I put together from studies done on-site is the one of McLoughlin Boulevard from the then-new bike and hiking bridge over the street. McLoughlin was a main route into Portland at one time and suffers still from its designation as wide street with improvised businesses, industries, and housing along it. There are still remnants and pods of residential housing that can be seen from the bike path (the Springwater Corridor) as well as the winding path of Johnson Creek, with its trees and greenery. It’s an odd combination of elements, embodying all kinds of city history.
The main building in the painting was once a used car company, but also served, I believe, as a bowling alley and bar. Across the street from it (unseen here but central to several other paintings),another building, now replaced by a metal prefab, was the same bright yellow, but had been burned, along with what looked like several cars in its parking lot. A bit creepy, and cut off from the highway by a high curb, which must have done in whatever business existed there to begin with.
The painting I just finished, quite new, comes out of the 10 or 12 paintings (including a panorama) of the St. Johns Bridge. It is as wonky as Circling and was just as much fun to paint. I will post it next week, when I add the reminder that the opening reception is a week from tomorrow, on Friday May 6th, 6 –9.
Come around that evening, and I’ll regale you with tales of the characters I met and the thoughts I got to thinking as I painted plein air in these Portland places. Each of the wonkiest paintings has its origin in the many studies and paintings I did on site, talking to whomever wanted to hit me up for a buck or admire the weather or just check out the crazy woman sitting on her stool on a busy city corner. –June
Oh, and if you would like a snail-mail postcard, let me know your address and I’ll send one along. I have a bunch:-)