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Andrea Benson, Ken Hochfeld, Todd Griffith and Bonnie Meltzer at
325 NW 5 (between Everett and Flanders)
Portland OR 97209
September 2 – 30, 2010
Opening reception 6:00 to 10:00 on First Thursday, September 2
Open house with the artists 4:00 to 7:00 on Thursday, September 16
Inspired by the scientific study “Spontaneous Knotting of an Agitated String”, four artists, Andrea Benson, Ken Hochfeld, Todd Griffith and Bonnie Meltzer, untangle the theme of intentional and unintentional interconnectedness at Anka Gallery through the month of September. The researchers of the experiment Douglas Smith and Dorian Raymer of the University of California, San Diego, studied knot formation. They dropped a string into a box and tumbled it for 10 seconds. They repeated the process over and over with different sized strings of various flexibility. The results were that knots happen without specifically being tied. It is no surprise to anyone who has crawled under a desk to untangle electronics cords; brushed long curly hair or tried to conquer blackberry brambles; that knots happen without provocation. Furthermore, the longest most flexible strings in the most spacious confinements became most entangled. Stiff short strings in confined spaces don’t knot. Stuff bags work because of the confined space while a big box of many spools of sewing thread is always a tangle.
Metaphorically a tangle is used to describe all manner of social, political and emotional issues and problems. Read the news and see more than one gordian knot that needs to be cut or see examples of the “Butterfly Effect”. On another note, think of love, that magical intertwining of lives. What on the surface might seem like a narrow and somewhat trivial subject matter has become a basis to visually express a host of other subjects — nature, human impact on the environment, the conflicts of growing up and world events. Visually and metaphorically the artists are united by their interest in interconnectedness, fragmentation and the beauty in apparent chaos. The theme ties Hochfeld, Benson, Griffith and Meltzer together into a string quartet but they remain distinct in their use of materials and how they tell the story.
In 2008 Bonnie Meltzer heard about the theory and immediately called Ken Hochfeld whose photographs of thickets seemed like a perfect expression of the theory. They decided to pursue the idea for a group exhibition. A short time later Meltzer invited to the exhibition planning two other artists who she knew through Portland Open Studios. Andrea Benson’s encaustic paintings of unraveling dresses wound into balls of yarn and Todd Griffith’s large paintings of tangled balls of string were perfect additions to Hochfeld’s photography and Meltzer’s tangible tangles of crocheted wire and found objects.. The group met over months and wrote a proposal for the exhibition which is opening at Anka Gallery on September 2.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
The very nature of Bonnie Meltzer’s work is an entanglement. She uses “very mixed media” to describe her sculpture which connects multiple techniques and materials (painted wood, found objects and crocheted wire) into one piece. Crocheted wire, a primary technique she uses, is a deliberate and structured knotting in itself but it often ties the disparate elements of a piece together visually and stucturally. In this series she has explored the taming of everyday tangles — hair; phone cords; thread; head and heart; and past and present.
Todd Griffith’s knot paintings and drawings from his series “Transitions and Patience” show controlled chaos. The knots appear to be in nice neat bundles, but on closer inspection the order is illusionary. The string is tangled, and more often than not is escaping from its confines. For Griffith, the knots are metaphors for the confusions, stresses and emotions one faces. The title is apt for this series. Patience is as necessary a character trait for navigating change as it is for unraveling a knotted ball of yarn.
With the series “Threads”, Hochfeld captures a personal interpretation of nature’s lyrical grace and mystery in found and somewhat created, fanciful circumstances. He imagined these photographs of vine entanglements and branches as visual equivalents to short verses, each with its own particular melody, created with expressionistic brush strokes of reality and imagination. To common scenes of what we otherwise interpret as disorder and confusion, he perceives as a sense of balance, rhythm and continuum, as seen through open windows of photographic frames.
Andrea Benson’s figurative mixed media paintings use multiple layers of encaustic and drawing to focus on gesture, stance and a state of mind that is both personal and cultural. In a tattered and constantly ever-changing unraveling world where everything is enmeshed and entangled they explore a point between confusion, entropy and repose.
You can see Entangled through September at Anka Gallery, 325 NW 6 in Portland, Oregon. Two events are planned with the artists: Opening night Thursday, September 2 from 6:00 to 10:00 and Thursday, September 16 from 4:00 to 7:00. Both events are free and open to the public. To see more about the Entangled with pictures of artworks go to the project website at http://www.bonniemeltzer.com/ENTANGLED2/entangled.html
By Shu-Ju Wang
When you look up into the night sky, you see the beautiful light of the stars, light that was emitted thousands, millions or billions of years ago, in a time before people, before earth.
The light from this distant past is just now reaching your eyes, passing through your cornea, passing through your pupil, your crystalline lens, hitting the retina. The signal is now traveling on the optic nerve and finally arrives at your brain. The brain receives the signals, interprets and makes sense of what it sees.
And our ancestors, seeking to understand what they saw, created the constellations in which heroes, villains, lovers and seekers live out their lives in full view of us mortals.
Fast forward a few thousand years.
You’re in Jesse Reno’s studio, looking at his work. And that can make you feel old. I mean ancient, like a few thousand years old. Seeing his work is to know what our ancestors experienced when they looked up into the night sky and saw epic poems and morality tales written in starlight.
Like a shaman, Jesse Reno can take you to a vastly different time and place. And like a shaman, you can imagine earth’s energy coming up through his feet, his legs and his torso. And then through his arms and hands, paints and pigments spill out, forming the new constellations of an alternate universe.
Below, Reborn, acrylic, oil pastel and pencil on wood.
As a child, Jesse dreamed of selling his drawings for $5 each. He thought he would have it made if he could just do that. On the way to growing up, he got side tracked. First, there was a stint as an would-be offset printer, and another as a would-be rock star. At one of his rock concerts, he met a band mate’s little brother’s best friend, a painter. The two connected and Jesse started to paint in Chris Giordani’s studio.
The first year, Jesse created 100 paintings. Using very simple geometric images of circles, lines, Xs, half bodies and figures, he played with colors and techniques, experimenting all the while thinking about the action and energy of painting.
He painted each panel over and over again, each time saving a little window so that he could remember what it once was. After a while, the simple forms and shapes acquired meanings, so he put them on his body to better remember them.
Over the years, his work evolved–animal characters started to appear and his art became more complex in imagery and concept. To step up his effort to remember the past lives of the paintings after so much layering and obliteration, Jesse started to write down his thoughts on the back of the panels.
guardian of keys protector of kings granting black dreams the collector soul collector keeps the spirit the order of dreams the value of freedom the value of a dollar he burnt all his money to unearth his heart then he became locking keys deep beneath golden pyramids gumming the keyholes swallowing dollars like gum drops that was all just yesterday now he’s just an awkward boy bouncing skeletons while wearing a dress hoping someone will see things the way he does
Above, Guardian of Keys Protector of Kings, acrylic pastel, pencil, collage and driftwood.
It should come as no surprise that Jesse had wanted to study archeology and loves The American Museum of Natural History in New York City. And it should also come as no surprise that when ebay came along, Jesse was able to fulfill his childhood dream of selling his work at ‘$5 each,’ although it probably wasn’t for $5…
Over the years, he has garnered the attention of collectors worldwide and, as a result, has travelled and exhibited his work internationally, most recently in France.
Portlanders are in luck–come October, you can see for yourselves how this rising international star go about creating his work in his workspace. Jesse Reno is artist #71 in the Portland Open Studios 2010 tour. Please see http://www.portlandopenstudios.com for more information about the event.
You can see more of Jesse’s work on his website at http://www.jessereno.com/. And for the month of August, Jesse is showing at Local35 (see http://local35.blogspot.com/), with a live painting event on Sunday, August 15 at the Hawthorne Street Fair.
Below, Jesse & his dog in his studio.
By Shu-Ju Wang
It’s in the genes, both literally and metaphorically, when you talk about art and science and their roles in Kindra Crick’s life and work.
From her grandfather, a neuroscientist, she inherited the drive for scientific inquiry. From her grandmother, a figurative painter, she inherited her need for artistic expression and visual conceptualization.
And from this genetic blueprint of her life, Kindra has created the two strands of her work–art & science–intertwined like a double helix.
Below, Ties III, Encaustic mixed media and string.
Kindra Crick graduated from Princeton University with a AB in Molecular Biology. Deciding that another 8 years for a PhD in Molecular Biology wasn’t in the works for her, she chose instead to attend the School of the Art Institute of Chicago where she earned a Certificate in Painting before moving to Portland to become a full time artist working in painting and printmaking.
Using art as her medium to explore the world around her while employing the analytical skills and methods of a scientist, Kindra balances her urge to explain, to measure, to search for absolutes, with the more spontaneous and nuanced gestures of experimentation, play and intuitive response.
Starting with building and preparing her substrates where precision and timing are important, to the founding thoughts for that particular piece–perhaps a statement based on scientific experiments or maybe a query into something science has yet to answer–she creates the constraints for her work. From there, she allows herself the luxury of not having to explain, to simply respond to the parameters she has created.
But as she works, more often than not, her intuitive responses cover and sometimes obliterate her original marks and intentions. And that brings us to the philosophical question that interests Kindra–after it has been obliterated, does that original meaning still exist? And how much does one need to call attention to this original intention? How does the viewer go about discovering the seed of an idea? And finally, how does understanding and perception affect what they see?
And how does one go about creating a painting about perception?
In a recent series of work, Kindra investigates how the heart became a symbol for love. How is it that we have come to perceive the anatomical heart as the seat of love? In another on-going series, drawings of eyes are captured in jars–much like biological specimens–expressing identifiable human emotions that challenge the viewers to decode. Our ability or inability to perceive these emotions fascinates Kindra.
Above, Emotion Elixir: Desire I, encaustic mixed media and string.
Kindra discovered encaustic a few years back, but it wasn’t until she built her own studio in her backyard, with great ventilation, that she was able to really delve into the medium. And she has found home.
The medium allows her to do all the things she loves–to obliterate and to rediscover, to embed drawings and watercolors, to incise, to write. And most importantly, as a mother with a toddler, to allow her to work when she has just snippets of time here and there. The medium is simply infinitely reworkable by introducing heat. The tools and paints can be left to dry, and to spring back to life when heated. Likewise, work in progress can be worked & re-worked without time constraints.
Below, a corner of Kindra’s studio.
Kindra Crick has been an active member of the Portland Open Studios board for the last three years. And hidden from public view, she has worked with a graphics designer to create the beautiful Portland Open Studios Tour Guides these past three years. Both the participating artists and the art-loving public owe a big “thank you” to this multi-talented artist!
Kindra is artist #58 in the 2010 Portland Open Studios tour. For more information about Portland Open Studios, please see our website at http://www.portlandopenstudios.com.
You can see more of Kindra’s work on her website at http://www.kindracrick.com/. She is also part of the International Women Artists’ Exhibition at Littman Gallery in August:
Her Presence in Colours IX
Littman Gallery, PSU
1825 SW Broadway, Smith Building
August 5 – 27
Reception on August 5, 5-7pm
Please see this page for more information.