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Class of 2014

There are fifteen colleges and universities in Oregon that grant art degrees at the BFA level and above. For the past nineteen years, Blackfish has offered two such graduates of each program the chance to show and sell. This month, the entire space, including the two street-side “Fishbowl” windows, boasts work from the classes of 2014.

In general, the “look with your eyes, not with your hands” rule applies. However, among this year’s selection are several pieces that address a more multi-sensory and temporal approach to art viewing. You are invited to sit upon large, overturned vessels in a piece entitled “Ruminate,” and to strip layers of a painting away in the interactive “Peeled in PDX.” (“Felt great,” commented Blackfish member and Reed College professor Michael Knutson after pulling off a long strip. “Like the end of a good sunburn!”)

Or perhaps your fancy is to settle down for a spell in a life-sized model of a 1990’s rec room — complete with a working television and a row of VHS tapes — for some nostalgic R & R.

Jurassic Park, anyone?

Play, peel, and ponder the work of the next generation of Oregon artists through August 2.

Blackfish Gallery

420 9th Ave

Portland, OR 97209

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(photo: Detail of Ruminate, a ceramic installation by Miranda DeVore) 

Accessing the Story: Introducing Damara Bartlett

There’s a new business card on the desk of Blackfish this spring: Damara Bartlett, Director.

The gallery recently bid a teary “bon voyage" to Gina Carrington, who officially stepped down from her seven-year post as director earlier this year. Damara joins Blackfish with a recent master’s degree in Art History from the University of Oregon; work and volunteer experience at local art institutions like RACC, PAM, and MoCC; and time as an intern abroad at Chile’s Museo Fonck.

Though Blackfish is artist-owned and operated, it has for many years employed a part-time director to oversee operations and democratize membership. Damara has spent the last month getting to know the 30 member artists at Blackfish, as well as diving into the unique duties as director of a cooperative gallery.

Damara is especially keen to get to know the story behind each piece in the Blackfish collection so she can share it with gallery visitors and patrons. On one hand, she recognizes “the immediate, surface response to a work” as a key element of art appreciation. “However, nearly any piece assumes interesting dimensions,” Damara explains, “when you can access the story behind it.”

Blackfish Gallery

420 9th Ave

Portland, OR 97209

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Lee Kelly exhibits new work at Elizabeth Leach Gallery

Well known Portland artist Lee Kelly opens Pavilion, an exhibition featuring new large scale sculpture in welded stainless steel, at Elizabeth Leach Gallery, on view March 13 - April 26, 2014.  Creating ambitiously scaled sculpture in Cor-Ten and stainless steel, Lee Kelly’s works often bear the influence of the artist’s extensive travel experiences.  For Pavilion, Kelly interweaves the forms and narratives of Nepal, one of his favorite destinations, with his distinctive “goddess” figures. These goddesses, representing Kelly’s longtime interest in mythology, seem to inhabit the sculptural structures.

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Additionally, after a 50-year hiatus from painting, Lee Kelly recently started working with oil paint on canvas again. A significant figure working as an abstract expressionist painter in Portland in the 1950s and early 1960s, Kelly has returned to painting, bringing his experience of 50 years as a sculptor to the new paintings. His new paintings will be on view as part of the gallery’s Pavilion show March 13 - 29. 

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Part of what inspired Lee Kelly to return to painting after such a long break was his major retrospective at the Portland Art Museum in 2010 in which his early paintings from the 1950s and early 1960s were displayed alongside his sculpture. During this exhibition, the museum created this video interviewed with Lee Kelly in his studio discussing his 50-year career, his art, and what inspires his creative process. 

Be sure to stop by Elizabeth Leach Gallery to see the newest work by Lee Kelly!