The Pleasure of Working with Local and Regional Artists

This month’s post was contributed by Laura Russo Gallery

As preparations for our current summer group show at Laura Russo Gallery were underway in July, we were even more conscious than usual of the great pleasure that comes with working with artists who live and work relatively close by in Oregon and Washington.

One tangible benefit of the proximity of our represented artists, is the frequency with which they drop in and spend time at the gallery, and the relative ease with which they can all join us for events like a First Thursday opening, or for artists’ talks, which we routinely hold during solo exhibitions on the second Saturday after a show opens.  For the group show, a majority of our artists were able to join us for a festive opening, and once more for a fun group photo.

Jack Portland, “Ten Images”

Regional influences and interconnections are terms that pop up again and again in conversations with our artists.  There is a rich vein of artistic ‘conversations’ that occur among artists, both in visual and spoken language.  Recently, a large audience for a Jack Portland artist talk had the opportunity to hear him reminisce on his mentorship and friendship with the late Louis Bunce, who was his teacher at Portland’s Museum Art School in the late 1960s and early ‘70s. His paintings even now make a nod to the aesthetic interests that they shared.  Jack, in his turn, also taught for years at what is now the Pacific Northwest College of Art, and influenced many contemporary and younger artists, who show at Laura Russo, as well as at other galleries throughout Portland.

Louis Bunce, “Study for Airport Mural”

Several of our younger artists have been taught by the elder generation of artists whose work we represent. Michael Brophy, Eric Stotik and Roll Hardy were students of Lucinda Parker and Tom Fawkes, among others.

Michael Brophy, “Silence #4”

Tom Fawkes, “Jardim Coberta – Mateus “

Gina Wilson studied with Mel Katz.

Gina Wilson, “Swim”

Mel Katz, “in Orbit”

Lucinda Parker, and others, studied with the late Michele Russo.  This list goes on.  Artists from other PADA  galleries, including George Johanson, Judy Cooke, and the late Bob Hansen also taught a myriad of students who continue in their traditions as painters and draftsmen and women.

Outside of the classroom, lots of connections are made as well, just by these artists looking at and reflecting on the works of their peers.  In that vein, Jay Backstrand ‘quoted’ a Sherrie Wolf in one of his paintings a few years ago,

Sherrie Wolf, “Tangerines with Dancers”

Jay Backstrand, “Smoke”

while a shared visual vocabulary of beauty in abandoned spaces can be seen in work by Roll Hardy and Henk Pander.

The sharing of ideas happens vigorously throughout the arts community in Portland, and has been going on since the early years of the local art scene here in the early 20thcentury.

Roll Hardy, “Hidden Garden”

When visitors come to our gallery and to others throughout the city, it can be visually and intellectually rewarding to think about the aesthetic conversations that are at play between the artists and the works that you find.

Henk Pander, Enola Gay Hangar- Wendover, Utah

Portland’s growing reputation on the national art radar has a deep foundation in artists who have committed themselves to a dedicated practice of artmaking here for decades.

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Filed under Laura Russo Gallery, Resources for Artists, Resources for Buyers, Resources for Educators

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