Shanna Fliegel is drawn to the physicality of clay and the way in which it documents the artist’s every touch through form and surface. She explains that nature of the material dictates a dance of creation: her movement around the work; the manipulation of the form; even the lifting of bags of clay and then the works into and from the kiln. “I find that my spirit connects with movement, and I find that this very versatile substance is something I have to really engage with.” On clay as the medium through which the artist’s intent is documented she explains how, “Essentially any fingerprint, or movement, or reaction, or intentful shaping, is something that remains within the form. Whether I am drawing into a surface or I am moving a coil around the rim of a pot, it’s this record of time, my thoughts and my ideas.”
Shanna has also found a community in the world of ceramics, where ideas and techniques are freely shared. The connections she has made with those whom she has learned from, been inspired by, or with whom she has shared her knowledge, are strong and lasting. She considers many of her cohort as family.
She uses a number of techniques. Her wall-based pieces are generally red clay slabs, while most of her vessels are coil-built. For her surfaces she combines a screen-printing technique called Thremofax, sgraffito scratched through white underglazes, hand-drawn and painted imagery, and washes of glazes and mason stains.
She hopes that the viewer is drawn in by the restful and calming color pallet, and by the forms that have their roots in the familiarity of historical storage jars, pitchers, and Greek and Roman urns. She hopes that the viewer feels promoted to move around the work and discover the imagery contained on the surface – imagery that has a surreal feel and is, at times, intentionally disconcerting. Her intent is to draw you in and then shift your perception to provoke and emotional response or curiosity. Her narrative is oblique and implicit, leaving the interpretation to the viewer.
Shanna attended James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA where she earned her BFA in Studio Art with a concentration in Ceramics. Shortly after graduating in 2001 she accepted a year-long residency at the Cub Creek Foundation in Appomattox, VA. Here she connected with potters and sculptors from Shigaraki, Japan and Seoul, Korea. These relationships strengthened her background in wood-firing, native clays, and surface.
She received her MFA in Studio Art/Ceramics at Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville, IL in 2008. She has had residences at Greenwich House Pottery in the West Village, the Clay Art Center in Port Chester, NY; the Archie Bray Foundation in Helena, MT, and Guldagergaard International Ceramics Research Center in Denmark. She has held teaching positions at Montana State University in Billings, Montana and Sidwell Friends School in Washington, DC, before relocating to teach ceramics and sculpture at Governor's Academy in Byfield, MA.
Andrea Benson is a Portland-based artist working with encaustics and mixed media. She has a number of themes she likes to visit including: where the land meets the water in a series she calls “Obscure Coast”; the forested landscape of the Northwest in her series “Homeland”; and the figure in landscape in her series “Figure and Ground”. We are currently showing her series “Implied Containers”. She explains that her "Implied Containers" series developed through experimenting with the medium. The subject matter draws on how “Many of us have an almost primal desire to collect and arrange objects. I spend a lot of time - maybe too much - moving shapes around to find groupings that create a kind of poetry of adjacencies. In the first works of this series I thought of the pieces as shelves. As it continued, I began to think of them as implied containers - as boundaries holding a moment of sensation, memory, or landscape. They became stand-ins for the body and the ebb and flow of impressions and thoughts; images of something elusive momentarily constrained.” Andrea moved to the Pacific Northwest when she was in her twenties after growing up in a small town on the edge of a forest in Pennsylvania. Like any good Northwesterners, she loves the trees, mountains, rivers and the ocean. Even the grey drizzle that punctuates half of the year has created a rhythm that supports her creativity. She says the combination of these natural elements in her life, “makes it easy to work in the studio or get lost in a book. I've always loved to walk, and feel that moving, looking and listening has a sizable influence on making.” Andrea’s art background is varied, working in drawing, printmaking, photography, ceramics, paper making and sewing. She also worked as a cook for several years, and later as an interior designer and space planner doing corporate interiors. She tells of how “Putting my hands onto material and working with it has always been compelling, as has trying to combine multiple media in some resonant way.” In 1999 she took a class on using encaustic wax-based paint, which set the path for future studio practice. It was a material that could bring together the many elements she had enjoyed when using other art media. Encaustics has been her main medium since 2003. She has been working with it intensively, using a wide variety of techniques, most often combining it with paper, drawing and collage. She appreciates, “There's an appealing range of qualities to explore with encaustic: the ability to layer, obscure and excavate, to engrave and inlay line, and variations in transparency, opacity, saturation and subtlety of color. There is the transitory liquidity of heated wax paint; I get to melt things.” This material has given voice to her visual language, which is based strongly in compositional harmony. “One of my favorite parts of making images is the act of composition: the language of visual energetics, of relationship and proportion, in which each element affects the others. It’s a conversation taking place on a surface, where line, shape, color and pattern convey weight, direction and energy. Sometimes it's a puzzle to work out and sometimes a revelation, where a small thing can change everything. I often start with a simple drawing or layout, acting as a compositional scaffold to hang things from, and knowing that there will be a continual back and forth between structure and improvisation.” In Andrea’s work we are offered provocative beauty. About her current art practice she comments, “In strange times, when the news presents a comic dystopia and so much is in peril, I've felt more clearly that I don't want to add ugly to the world, but to make things that bend toward beauty, that offer a gesture of appreciation and respect for this place. Sometimes, I think of these pieces as a prayer, or a poem, being sent up by one who is amused, sad, perplexed and amazed - all at the same time.”
The Medium & Techniques Encaustic is a painting medium using a wax and resin-based paint. It is valued for its rich luminous surface and its versatility for use with other artists' mediums. Encaustic paint is typically applied to a rigid absorbent surface, often in multiple layers. The wax-based paint must be melted to become fused to the rigid base, and each subsequent layer of paint must be fused to the previous layer. This process of melting and fusing is what the word encaustic refers to - it comes from Greek and means “to burn in”. Andrea Benson uses filtered beeswax to make most of her own paints. The encaustic paint is kept liquid in containers sitting on a hot plate set to about 200 degrees. For color, she adds dry pigments to the wax. Different types of pigments allow for varying levels of transparency and opacity. She begins by coating a Baltic birch plywood panel with several layers of encaustic. The paint is applied with brushes that are kept warm on the hot plate. Each new layer of wax is carefully melted with a propane torch, electric iron or heat gun to fuse it to the layer below. The wax hardens immediately and can be carved, shaped or incised and engraved with tools. Multiple layers are built up and can be selectively scraped away to reveal what's below. Areas can be remelted and reworked. Collage elements can be added and embedded.
Andrea draws and makes marks on paper, usually Japanese Kozo (mulberry paper) - The paper needs to be an absorbent natural fiber paper. She employs ink, markers, watercolor paint or pencils in this mark making. She then saturates the paper with clear unpigmented encaustic, basically making it into wax paper. Paper that may have looked white before, now becomes translucent.
She tears or cuts the waxed paper into shapes and seals it to the encaustic coated wood panel using more encaustic paint. The waxed paper bits and pieces are layered over each other and as they build up, the lower layers show through, depending on the transparency of the paper. She may also engrave into the work in places and then inlayed a different color of encaustic into the engraved lines. On the "Implied Container" series of works this engraving is typically found in the outlines of the containers.
On an encaustic painting, for several months after the wax was last melted, it subtly and slowly cures and hardens. During this period the surface may become slightly cloudy. This is called bloom, and it's more visible on darker colors. It's not a defect. The surface may be gently polished with a soft, clean cloth to dispel the bloom and restore a lustrous shine without harming the artwork. Because wax is impervious to moisture and air, it doesn't easily deteriorate and doesn't need to be protected with a varnish or glass. It will not yellow or darken with age. Although, like most fine art, colors are still susceptible to fading from UV radiation and it should be kept out of direct sunlight. Temperatures need to get much hotter than your home to damage the wax - typically above 170 degrees. References: https://www.andreabenson.com/about-encaustic
James Tisdale’s ceramic sculpture is a construct of personal iconography, referencing the cultural, social, political and religious experiences of growing up in Mississippi. Although his work often employs humor, it is often poignant, and sometimes unapologetically confrontational. The artworks challenge what is considered socially acceptable or beautiful, and the condemnation of what is perceived to be ugly and undesirable. For him, the intrigue lies not only within the borders of these interpretations but also in how these labels can influence a lifelong attitude. The work explores how social conscripts and learned behavior shapes our lives sometime for the good, and sometimes malignantly; how it is sometime difficult to recognize which side of the line you are on; and that beauty and ugliness can coexist in us all.
Mostly James uses his work as a conduit through which he communicates his own narrative. “This my language.” He explains. “It is built for me, made for me, created for me. It’s about expressing emotions and thoughts that are hard to put into words - I guess that’s why I am a visual artist. It’s a protective way of me putting myself out there without being totally understood – and that’s okay. It is a protective way of me being able to speak.” He purposely leaves the interpretation of the work to the viewer saying, “People get what they get, they see what they see. They can approach it with a want of understanding, but I’m not going to reign it in with a description - because I don’t want to put blinders on them. We have different points in our lives that we are going to come to experience artwork and I want people to see what they want to see.”
James first began to sculpt figures in Grad school at the University of Georgia. He arrived as a potter but transitioned to sculpture as a process of dealing with his father’s death. His father died shortly after his arrival at the art school and he stopped making pots and began making drawings. His professor told him he didn’t have to make pots anymore and that he should start building figures from his drawings. He hadn’t trained in hand building sculpture, his past studies being based around the potters’ wheel; and the hands-off nature of Grad school necessitated that he learn through his own trial and error.
James’ pieces are constructed using various methods with a heavy grog white clay body. Most are coil built, but recently he has created a series of slip-cast works. Once the form is established, the surface is then finished with several layers of underglazes, stains, and glazes. With each added layer, the work is subjected to another firing. His historical art influences range widely from the figurative art works of the Renaissance, to the personally powerful folk art of the south.
We are sad to report that Molly Cliff Hilts passed away peacefully on January 21, 2021. She had been diagnosed with cancer in late summer 2019. She lived her life purposefully and was a positive spirit who will not be forgotten.
As soon as we decided to open a new space in Astoria, I began planning my program, and talking to Molly Cliff Hilts about a show. Molly’s work fuses painting, photography, and printing using wax, lithographic ink, oil, and charcoal to create vast atmospheric landscapes and enigmatic portraits of people she admired, and birds she felt embodied the sense of the people she knew. We have shown Molly’s work for a number of years now, and love both the work and the artist. Once we had secured the venue and came to fix dates things had changed for Molly. Molly had been presented by the devastating diagnosis of cancer and was about to begin her first course of treatments. Molly was in a fighting mood, confident that she would be back in the studio in no time, and we set a date, on the understanding that it could be moved, delayed or cancelled.
When I write about an artist I generally focus on the work – I am a curator, not a biographer. But, in this case it’s hard for me to separate what Molly was going through this past year and her work. And in truth, she was an artist whose work should be seen in context of her family, friends and community. After art school she became an interior designer shifting to studio practice in order to stay home with her children. She began to exhibit these works as a contribution to her community, by way of offerings to fund raising auctions supporting causes she cared about. Her works became sought after by collectors and the organic shift to becoming a professional artist was inevitable. She is also known for hosting artist gatherings in her home and was delighted to discover that these salons are a family tradition dating back to her great-grandmother, Mary Porter Sesnon.
How does the details of a life being lived relate to the work? We are always influenced by our own circumstances, history, loves and preoccupations. There is a design element in Molly’s work that might be attributed to her first occupation. The landscapes she chose to paint were those in which she has shared experience with her family. The titles often relate directly to the narrative of her family life. Her large bird portraits are called by the names of her family and friends. She painted a series of portraits of fellow artists, writers and musicians she had become acquainted with through this extraordinary life experience.
Molly’s journey with her illness and her relationship to her work has been a complicated narrative - a year navigating feelings about her own mortality. She had complications resulting from her radiation treatment and in July was told that her cancer has metastasized. I am guessing that her commitment to this show was a welcome point of focus, but also, at times an unnecessary burden. She has shared process images of work from the studio and thoughts about her spiritual connection to the work. She has updated me on the developments of her illness and treatment. We have had difficult discussions about how the show would need to be delayed. All of our communication were by phone and email, as covid has prevented me from making a studio visit.
Although Molly was not able to finish all the work she had planned, we decided that 2021 should be set in the right direction by moving ahead with the show. We collected a group of six new works, which are now in the gallery with the collection of four works we already held from 2019. The exhibition runs through March 7.
We were able to send Molly images of the installation, as she was going into hospice care. She described this phase to me as a means to managing her pain while she researched alternative treatments. She even asked me to be be patient with her as she had every intention of completing the works that were unresolved in her studio.
There is one painting that Molly made that is not included in the show - a large landscape, a body of water, the light hitting the horizon and an atmospheric sky. As soon as Molly had posted pictures of this, she was getting offers to buy it. But there was something about this painting that had become essential to Molly and her wellbeing. She felt a spiritual connection to this painting like no other. In the band of light she recognized a place of calmness and of love, and it gave her solace and comfort. Molly now resides in that light.
If you want to send your condolences to Molly's family, there is a page set up by her sister, Shanti Cliff, at https://www.caringbridge.org/visit/mollyhilts. Here you will also find journal entries dictated by Molly through her journey. The following is taken from Molly's last journal entry.
"I found out a few hours ago that my painting, titled Eagle Creek, is now in the Portland Museum of Art’s permanent collection of Northwest Art. The painting is a premonition of the fire that started in Eagle Creek and spread to the gorge—as the hills are depicted in a smoky orange. I painted it in 2016 and the fire happened in 2018. This is a huge honor for me."
I want people to know that what I have learned through all of this is that I am loved and that I have made a difference in peoples’ lives. And I want each and every person to know that they are loved and they may not know it, but they have an impact and touch so many lives in so many ways that they are not aware of—sometimes big and some times small, but always meaningful."
Keaney Rathbun is a Northwest artist, working in the medias of silkscreen printmaking and painted bas relief carving. His work is a bright and optimistic depiction of happiness. His love of landscapes, gardens and birds is paired with a narrative of a life shared with family and friends. He explains that his images are “deceptively simple metaphors of human experience. They are joyous and whimsical, emotional and poignant. They represent an optimistic and naïve spirit embracing the moments that make up my life.”
He celebrates the simple acts of taking a walk in the park, sitting in a garden, observing something of beauty. In capturing these moments, he is presenting us with totems of love, kindness and joy. Their existence in a world that is much more uncertain and imperfect provides us with accents of poignancy evoking our own memories of fleeting joy. He tells us, that we can find peace, saying, “As I get older, I find myself seeking tranquility. I am less likely to squander my energy in turmoil. I am following my loves and interests, distractions and travels. I am comfortable in my skin. The making of my work - the incorporation of beauty and humor into my life’s subject matter - allows me to express personal feeling that I could not broach in words.”
Silk Screen Process
The silkscreen prints are created by layering colors through a silkscreen with a developing stencil painted on to the surface. With each application of color, the stencil is worked a little a little more. To keep colors clean, sometimes a layer is printed in white before being printed again in the chosen color. Each layer needs to completely dry before the next can be applied, and Keaney’s prints may have in excess of sixty layers of color.
Lyell Castonguay is a printmaker creating narrative woodcut prints depicting the natural world. Recently he has been playing with the introduction of man-made imagery, a plane seen immersed in a murmuration of birds, a submarine moving through a shoal of fish; but his work always has a natural underlying theme. His main subject is the portraiture of birds.
The artist’s interest in avian subjects began when he was gifted two juvenile society finches. Being fascinated with the hidden lives of animals and birds, an avid consumer of natural history literature and films, Lyell found himself the ethologist. He recognized their distinct personalities and observed them communicating with one another and huddle together at night. Aviculture remains a part of the artists home life, and birds the main protagonists in his work.
“Birds take on a larger than life presence in my work. As a long-time bird owner, I see my subjects up close every day. I’ve learned to appreciate their personality as much as their beautiful colors, shapes, and patterns. Birds always remain their own master, and my art is about capturing their indomitable spirit. Like the ancient shamans, who once drew spiritual power from animals, birds are my source of creative power.”
Early in the creation of this body of work Lyell was inspired by Audubon’s book, “The Birds of America”, to compile his growing bestiary of larger-than-life bird imagery. That is not to say his intent was documentation through scientific illustration. He is more concerned with the peculiarity of behavior and perceived personality of his subject from the viewpoint of the observer. These are allegorical beasts distorted through the lens of personification.
Lyell Castonguay was introduced to printmaking at New Hampshire Institute of Art. After experimenting with other media, he settled on woodcut printmaking as his primary instrument of creativity. He is drawn to the process orientated natured of the technique, which helps to slow down the creative process but also throws unexpected curve balls. “Woodcut is a decision-making process. Once a mark is carved into the plywood’s surface, it cannot be undone.” The finality of the mark making is offset with the uncertainty of how the matrix will print, the inks overlay, and myriad of issues the process may present.
Lyell Castonguay received his BFA from the New Hampshire Institute of Art in 2010. His influences include Antonio Frasconi, Leonard Baskin, Bruce Waldman, and Christopher Hartshorne. His work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, including France, Ireland, and Wales. In addition to his own studio practice he is also the director of BIG INK, a collaborative project that encourages the practice and understanding of large woodcut. BIG INK revolves around a variety of programming including workshops and community printing events.
Lyell’s favorite piece of equipment in the studio is his mammoth press, which he affectionately calls “The Big Tuna”. Traditional woodcut techniques are often based around hand printing, but access to a large press has enabled Lyell to create large scale, multi-layered color works.
“I start a project by making painterly marks with ink onto plywood, establishing general forms. Then a finer rendering using sharpies and pencils balances the immediacy of the ink painting. This is in preparation for the hours I will spend hand carving around each drawn line with small chisels. Once the carving is complete, the woodblock is ready to print! A thin coat of oil-based ink is applied to a rubber roller. The roller distributes ink across the surface of the carved image. Ink sticks to all the raised areas of the plywood. The carved areas don’t catch the ink and remain white on the printed paper. Paper is placed on top of the inked surface and the woodblock is run through a press. The press applies even pressure thereby pushing the paper into the woodblock’s sticky inked surface. Finally, the paper is peeled away from the woodblock, resulting in a finished print.”
Michael Barnes was born in 1969 in Michigan of the United States. He grew up outside the small town of Ithaca, where his family lived on a wooded plot in the midst of farmland. This wooded plot contained a 19th century family cemetery where he spent much of his youth playing and fostering his imagination for later ventures in his artistic life. He went on to receive his BFA from Alma College, Michigan in 1991 and his MFA from the University of Iowa in 1996, both with a focus on Printmaking.
Michael developed a passion for the medium of lithography during his graduate studies at Iowa and has focused on this process for much of his work since. His research seeks to document and retain traditional methods of this fine art printing medium, while investigating means of integrating them with new media. His art has been exhibited and has received awards in venues worldwide. His research and artistry have taken him to such places as Germany, France, Serbia, Belgium, Italy, China, Estonia, Poland, and New Zealand, and he was recently supported by a Fulbright Specialist Grant. Michael now resides in St. Charles, Illinois, near Chicago. He is the head of the printmaking area at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, where he is a recent recipient of the Presidential Research, Scholarship, and Artistry Professorship.
The Steindruck München Series
The recent series of lithographic prints created by Michael Barnes will be premiered in October at Brumfield Gallery in Astoria, Oregon. was begun during a residency at the Lithografiewerkstatt Steindruck München studio in the Münchner Künstlerhaus, Munich, Germany in 2018. The pieces began as the key black and white images and were developed in color over the following two years and just completed in September 2020.
The imagery of this series explores ongoing themes in Barnes’ work, which addresses, in part, the destructive nature and absurdities that so readily prevail for humankind, along with themes of mortality, morality, and the philosophical questions of existence in general. The images are concerned with environment, social decay leaning towards an inward and isolated path, and cynicism about the historical evolution of so-called civilization and its effects upon the world and its inhabitants.
The two-month period of working in the Altstadt of Munich brought new inspiration to this series. Daily walks through the city, its museums, and the beautiful Englisher Garten evoked images of daily life experiences and exploration and inevitably seeped into the imagery that he was developing during this period.
Additionally, a new theme emerged during this time exploring traditional folk lore. This was inspired by the stories and images of the Brothers Grimm, which came about during a trip into the Alps which passed through the small town of Oberammergau. In this town many of the houses are painted with murals (Lüftlmalerei) of traditional folk lore, scenes of Bavarian life and religious traditions.
On one of the homes was painted the mural of the four animals from Brothers Grimm’s “The Town Musicians of Bremen”. The animals are standing on each other’s backs in the famous scene where they all make their various calls and scare robbers from a farmhouse that was encounter on their path to Bremen. This encounter led Barnes to further explore these tales and in which he found many parallel themes to his own work.
In Barnes’ interpretation, “On the Road to Bremen” he embellishes the travels of the four animals, who stop to take a picnic outside of the farmhouse just after they have just scared off the robbers, (the town musician animals creatively altered in Barnes’ piece to reflect his own imagination and world of creatures). These tales, especially many of the older and original versions speak to many elements close to Barnes’s work in dealing with human nature and the ethics of life and morality, often in a rather dark manner. In this piece, he notes the point that unexpected experiences may happen on any life journey that may lead to a change in direction – in the case of the story, the animals, who all met originally by chance and shared life conditions, end up settling peacefully in the farmhouse they encountered and abandoning their original plan to moving to Bremen to be town musicians.
Maggie Taylor is an artist who lives the edge of a sun-drenched prairie populated by cows, alligators and birds on the outskirts of Gainesville, Florida. She was born in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1961, and moved to Florida at the age of 11. In 1983 she received a philosophy degree from Yale University, and in 1987, a master's degree in Fine Art, studying photography, from the University of Florida.
She began her career focusing on still life, a subject she still returns to in a reimagined form. Since 1996 she developed her practice around the manipulation of photography to create original digital compositions using Photoshop and other programs. She was, for a time, married to Jerry Uelsmann, an early exponent of photomonage in America. In 1995, Adobe's creative director tried to convince Uelsmann to try out Photoshop. He didn't like it, but Maggie embraced it as the main tool in creating her surrealist work. Breaking new ground, she became a pioneer on the field of digital arts. Maggie Taylor's work is featured in Adobe Photoshop Master Class: Maggie Taylor's Landscape of Dreams, published by Adobe Press in 2005.
The medium has provided a way in which to marry personal recollection with an imagined world. She draws from other magic story tellers such as Anderson, Lewis Carol and the Brothers Grimm. Layering and manipulating imagery, texture and color fields, it is a process of addition and reduction which draws on the principals of painting. At its heart though, it is still an art form based in photography. Elements are collected through scans of old photos and materials or photography directly taken by the artist. The resulting images appear to be impossible snap shots outside of time and reality of in an impossible world.
Her digital composites have been widely exhibited and have been collected by many museums including: The Center for Creative Photography, Tucson; The George Eastman House, Rochester; Harn Museum of Art, Gainesville; Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas; The High Museum, Atlanta; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Ogden Museum of Southern Art, New Orleans; The Art Museum, Princeton University; The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland; The Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University; The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City; and The Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara.
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.
Duy Huynh came to the United States with his family as refugees in 1981. Described as "boat people", this epithet remains in the artist's consciousness and is sometime directly referred to within his imagery. Despite the challenges of assimilation and an enduring sense of displacement, growing up in southern California proved to be transformative. Here he was introduced to art through murals, graffiti, comic books and animation.
Duy studied illustration a University of North Carolina, and fell in love with painting. Following graduation, he pursued a career as a fine artist, and quickly became a full-time artist showing in several galleries around the country. He has explored a variety of avenues and applications for painting, including public murals and painting live on stage in collaborating with writers and musicians. He explains that, “it’s important to me that my work is accessible and far-reaching.” Artist Statement
As someone whose first language was not English, I have long been fascinated with the multi-layered ambiguities and nuances of certain words and phrases. As a visual artist, I enjoy taking things too literal, using the language of symbols and metaphors in conjunction with puns and hybrid words to add yet another layer of mystery to the narrative. Images that often reoccur in my paintings, such as moths/butterflies, boats, trains, musical instruments, flowers, trees, umbrellas, etc. have become a personal vocabulary used in deliberate combinations to hopefully evoke introspection and a sense of wonderment.
At the core of my work is a search for balance and continuity, usually between two or more mysteries. The characters I create often float (literally) somewhere between science and spirituality, memory and mythology, structure and spontaneity, ephemeral and eternal, humorous and profound, connectivity and non-attachment. The intent isn’t necessarily to provide enlightenment, but to celebrate the quest itself.
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.”
Doug Whitfield was born into a family of artists in 1945, Cleveland, Ohio. He studied at the Cleveland Institute of Art, Mohawk Valley Community College, Rochester Institute of Technology and Syracuse University. He received his AAS in Design in 1965 and BFA in Painting in 1968. Whitfield's work has been exhibited in solo exhibitions throughout the United States, and in Europe and Asia.