This Exhibit Just Might Be Appropriate

Tomorrow night I’m opening a solo exhibit at Kempton Hall, at the Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in NW Portland. 23 paintings, dating from 2008 to September 2011, will be my initiation into a different kind of “solo” — the sole kind of art I envision making from now on.

Jou  Barn Dreams, 12 x 24″, oil on masonite, 2011

I keep wondering why I am giving up the fiber art, but the truth is, my passion is for painting. I got the last piece of exhibited fiber art back from Kansas in December, rolled it up, and put it away. One of these days, I may even have a grand sale, freeing up storage space for paintings.

Here’s the last textile piece I did:

JOU, The House of the Rising Sun, something like 36 x 48 (my database is incomplete), pieced and fused fabric and batting, sheers, machine stitched,  2011.

The House of the Rising Sun is typical of the late textile works I made. None of them are pretty or even decorative. They use quilting techniques, but they are about something entirely other than textiles or stitching or quilting.

JOU, Les Jeux Sont Faits, about 7′ x 8′, fabric paint and stencils, cotton, machine stitched, 2009(??)

The late textile pieces tend to be painterly. For good reason. Since 2006 I have been slithering, sliding, sneaking, and finally trotting toward oil painting as my primary medium.  I would have given up the quilted art earlier but for my membership in the Kansas Art Quilters organization and in the SAQA – Oregon group. Both groups were run by people I admired, whom I felt were friends, and to whom I felt a sense of professional obligation. So these last few years, I’ve struggled to put together a couple of pieces for exhibiting with these groups.

But it became clearer and clearer that without practice, I struggled with the stitching processes. And I struggled with impatience.

I am never impatient when I paint. Frustrated, yes. Exhausted, yes. Needing to work on multiple pieces at once, yes. But not impatient.

I am not a natural stitcher. I didn’t learn to sew at my mother’s knee (my mother made homemade clothing, things we wore because we had to and because we knew she struggled, generally unsuccessfully, to sew something that didn’t look homemade. Early on, I resolved never to make homemade “things.”).

I learned to quilt in the late 1980s, got a sewing machine (which I had to learn to use) in about 1992, found I loved the mechanics of the machine, adored designing with the fabric and thrilled at watching the quilting stitches become designs — but I never liked piecing or tweaking or doing the finicky stuff that fine sewing requires. I absolutely hated doing the finish work, but I never could find anyone who did it the way I wanted it done. Even I didn’t do it the way I wanted it done.

And so December marked the end of an era in my artistic life. RIP.

January marks another beginning, auspiciously, I think, with the Trinity exhibit.

Installation view, Inside Out: Fragmented Landscapes, Kempton Hall, Trinity Episcopal Cathedral

The exhibit consists primarily of four sets of pieces, each set having one large, somewhat surreal (or at least wacky), painting, hung between “conventional” plein air landscapes. What pleases me about these “sets” is that they talk to one another, providing something of the context that I experienced as I painted them. I’m hoping people will understand more about the space and place I found as I painted.

When painting plein air, I am totally immersed in the scene visually and chronologically — time, people, cars, wind, odors, and life pass as I work. A single plein air scene, regardless of how well it’s painted, doesn’t capture any of the roving views that I take in or the way the light and perspective shifts as time and I move around. So the sets of 3 or 5 pieces grab a bit more of time, space, and place.

Here’s one of the sets that’s hanging at Trinity: the first four pieces are 12 x 16″, the last is 34 x 36″.

JOU, Inside Out, 34 x 36″, Dye, acrylic, & oil on silk and canvas, 2011

Every end is a beginning — every beginning marks an ending. And so it is with this exhibit.

If you are in the neighborhood, come on by Friday night. The Trinity art committee has been great to work with and rumor has it that the comestibles will be a delight. I’ll be there. –June

For a bit of text about the exhibit, see the continuation.

Inside Out: Fractured Landscapes by June O. Underwood

                                                                               Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, January and February 2012

June Underwood goes out and paints what she sees. Then she comes back in to her studio, thinks about the place and her time in it, and she paints again. Outside she sticks to a single area, creating different versions of the place. Inside, the scenes are collaged into surreal landscapes, tied to but different from the calmer open air paintings.

In January and February 2012, at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in NW Portland, Underwood will be showing clusters of her landscape paintings. The exhibit will bring together her fractured landscapes surrounded by her realistic depictions of the same places.

“When I’m confronted with a painting possibility, I immerse myself in its peculiarities. I do research. I sit and watch the space. I see stuff that people who are more casually connected have no time to see. I know when the lawn sprinklers come on in Cathedral Park. I draw the different barn types in eastern Oregon. I can recite names of geological formations in the John Day Fossil Beds. I understand how the time of day dictates the styles of people walking around SE Alder and 6th Avenue in Portland.

“I paint plein air in clusters and over time because it takes more than one visit and one painting to show what I see and feel about a space. Then I revisit, mentally, those open air scenes in my studio, trying to capture a different mental extract of my experience.”

Underwood’s twenty-three paintings represent three weeks at Cathedral Park; six days at SE Alder and 6th Avenue in Portland; and months off and on in eastern Oregon. Even a street scene, such as January Skies, comes from living and walking near SE Salmon for 15 years.

“My work is about place, place and space, but it’s also about being present, over time, in a particular space and place. It’s essential that I paint multiple versions of any single scene. It’s essential that I go back to a place, physically and mentally, over time. One visit, one view, simply isn’t enough.

Underwood’s renderings, representational and otherwise, will be on display in Kempton Hall at the Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, 147 NW 19th Avenue, January and February 2012. The opening reception is Friday, January 6, 5 –7 PM. The paintings can be accessed at other times by calling 503-222-9811

This entry was posted in Art, Art exhibit, barn paintings, Exhibit, landscape, oil painting, painting, plein air, quilting, SE 6th and Alder, textile and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to This Exhibit Just Might Be Appropriate

  1. Pingback: Custom Painted Auto Parts

  2. june says:

    Hi Pam, Thanks for checking in and being so supportive.

    Kathy, have a great time at PEFO. I’m thinking of returning there in order to pull together the paintings I did last time into something that is more meaningful than scenery. It’s a hard park to get a handle on because it covers a lot of territory in a lot of different directions. Just the thing for one of my big monsters — although I’d want to spend more time there to get a good fix on it again.

    As for doing all the things we can think of — now that way lies madness. Although you have lots more lifetime to play around than I do, and with your biological excursions it looks like you are already exploring in a variety of directions. So don’t b afraid to branch out; when you are 70 you can focus:-)

    Thanks for checking in.


  3. pamdora says:

    Good to see you grow, June!


  4. Kathy Hodge says:

    I think you’re brave to decide to make a decision to focus on one over the other. I tend to keep thinking in the back of my mind that I can do everything that appeals to me if only I have the time. But of course I couldn’t. If you have to pick one though, painting is the best! Looks like a great show, I especially like the one “lots of sky”.

    ps I heard from the Petrified Forest, my residency will be from April 23 to May 6. Can’t wait! I may have to read your journal again before I go….


  5. june says:

    Vivian and Cindy — you are both quite right. Never say never, or it will come back to bite you, right? But also following the current passion is what feel correct. Such a confusion of ideas you folks put into my head.

    Maybe I need to go paint:-)

    Thanks for checking in.


  6. june says:

    Thanks, Martha. My admiration for your work kept me in the quilting art circles for longer than I perhaps had any right to be. Thanks for checking in.


  7. june says:

    Jean, thank you. Part of my reason for staying with the quilted work was the community around it — including, of course, yourself. “Preciate all your comments and insights over the years. And all the others who commented here, too.


  8. june says:

    Olga, thanks for checking in. You are quite right — the “research” (the experiencing and trying to find ways to capture the experiencing) fits into my own love of ideas and thinking. Putting the thinking processes together with the visioning and making processes is, for me, a cornucopia of riches. And I’ve always been into excess –snort–


  9. Well, you should follow your passions, do what you love, do what feels right. No reason to cling to past preoccupations. Go for it, June!


  10. enjoy the place you are in at the moment.. You might come back to Textiles.. I love the ability to be in the Now…
    All our experiences meld together when we come to a new place in our lives.. does not mean we have to close a door on the past.. but experience to present fully at the time.


  11. Martha Sielman says:

    How wonderful, June! Best of luck with your new journey.


  12. Jean M. Judd says:

    Kudos to you, June, for finding the medium that truly lets you express your creativity! Also for having the courage to step away from what you had been doing.

    So many of us don’t know how or won’t extract ourselves from doing things that we are doing that ultimately don’t bring us the joy we are seeking. We think we need to “stay with it” and the joy will come back. Obviously your inner voice has found oils to be where you need to be now and the art quilter has found new outlets as the oil painter. It shows in your work displayed in your post.

    Continued Success!


  13. Olga says:

    By the way, I think that your groupings are a brilliant idea – not only in the showing, but in the making too. It sounds as if your research is so much part of your enjoyment in the making.


  14. Olga says:

    Sometimes one just has to be what one is not, or not quite, in order to find out what it is one is – or wants to be. The experience on the way is valuable, and informs the resulting journey on the new path. I wish you success and lots of fun.


  15. june says:

    Thanks, Cynthia and Kristin,

    Cynthia, someday we’ll find ourselves in the same place, same time — I’m sure of it.

    And Kristin, thank you to for hanging in for the ride. I’m still on the journey, of course, and expect to be until I can’t hold the paint brush anymore.

    Thank you both for your special thoughts.


  16. I wish I could see this exhibit in person. I’ve enjoyed watching your painter self emerge over the last few years. Well done, June.

    Have a great time at your opening reception!


  17. Kristin McNamara Freeman says:

    June…Your exhibit at Trinity has several pieces which speak to me…and are strong in design and color…It is good that you know what you want to do with your creative self…and when you were at the painted hills and at Basin your painting was blossoming before the eye of those who watched your work. Each year the work is, to me, stronger and you are definitely a painter.
    Congratulations on your successful journey as a painter.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s