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True Places Adam Sorensen, Wellspring (2011)
Reception Saturday, July 14, 2012, 6-8pm Swarm Gallery is pleased to present a group exhibition of paintings and sculpture by a Portland-based artist collective. The artists are: Hayley Barker, Michael Endo, Tia Factor, Grant Hottle, Ruth Lantz, Kendra Larson, Daniela Molnar, Emily Nachison, Ryan Pierce, Adam Sorensen, and Eva Speer. The exhibition is titled TRUE PLACES, and is on view from July 14 – August 19, 2012. The Portland-based artists in TRUE PLACES are connected to each other through an organically formed grouping of ideas and formal sensibilities. Converging over the past year, they are challenged and inspired by one another as they gather monthly in the rotating studios of their peers for critical and social dialogue. Beyond the bond of creative camaraderie, the connections run deep on multiple-levels: the prevalence of paint as the medium of choice, the commingling of abstraction and representation, and the combination of improvisational or process driven techniques with conceptually derived underpinnings. Most significantly however is the prevalence of place as a unifying motif in the work of all eleven artists. These eleven artists confront the viewer with unique propositions exploring and questioning the theme of “place.” Certain artists use depictions of the land as a mirror to reflect their cultural attitudes towards nature. Adam Sorensen’s landscapes function as both utopian and eerily post-apocalyptic visions, each of which can be seen metaphorically as social concerns in contemporary life. Michael Endo’s paintings offer a societal vision that is either pre-technological or postapocalyptic. Endo suggests that life off the grid might be less than utopic. Ryan Pierce depicts a post-industrial world, a synthesis of two opposing hypotheses to create scenes that speak of the struggle and mystery of the human relationship to the rest of the natural world. As he explains, “One side of me is optimistic, and believes that with a clean slate and cautious determination we could avoid further ecological disaster. This is tempered by another view that human greed and conflict are unavoidable.” On the other end of the spectrum are the depictions of childlike wonderment experienced in wild places by Kendra Larson and Hayley Barker. Closely tied to the 19th Century Romanticism of painters like Caspar David Friedrich, Larson’s paintings explore the belief that the sublime can be experienced directly and viscerally through solitude in nature. Similarly, Barker focuses the external and internal sensations, exploring the emotional, spiritual and psychological experience of being in nature. Her paintings depict her wanderings and unmediated experiences of the natural world, her body being the primary recorder of her experiences. “Place” is frequently used as a reflection of personal memory as well as an agent to describe the failings and distortions within the perceptions of the human mind. Grant Hottle’s large and colorful works are a combination of nostalgic signs and structures that pay homage to the past as they become distorted by memory and recontextualized to meet the needs of the present. Tia Factor’s latest project is motivated by a longing for travel and romanticizing of places already visited. Using interviews with people who have traveled, she explores the common need to transform nuanced and complex places into simplified places of fantasy. The works of Eva Speer and Ruth Lantz explore the relationship between space and place and its subsequent effects. Speer’s work contemplates both the passage of time and our struggle to construct a place within it. Her paintings acknowledge our relative minuteness, small blips in the geologic immensity of time, while respecting the struggle to construct a meaningful existence within it. Lantz intentionally distills the act of looking through a veiled understanding of what it is we are trying to see. Her recent work sources a collection of pin hole photographs to investigate the continual translation and fracture of a viewing experience, leaving the paintings to hover in the ether of an undetermined space. Daniela Molnar and Emily Nachison are both concerned with the intersection of art and science, culture and nature. Employing ephemeral imagery and text from vintage science books and maps in her multimedia collages, Molnar creates visual-verbal explorations into the relationship between internal and external landscapes. The objective, classificatory goals of science mingle with the subjective, interwoven world of the individual, creating a place that is equal parts of different fictions. Nachison’s sculptures and installations are a hybrid of synthetic and natural accumulation, drawing from anthropology, geology, and the decorative arts. Mythology and New-Age idealism become starting points for an investigation into the cultural creation of landscape. The works in TRUE PLACES supply a multi-layered tension as the viewer tries to find their place in the landscape. The artists explore states of consciousness accessed through the contemplation of space and place. The works supply no easily accessed road maps to direct us through the terrain, only multiple vantage points; no map is needed to find true places. COLLECTIVE BIOGRAPHY: Consisting of thirteen artists, “Extra Painterly Discourse” is a group of Portland-based artists who meet on a regular basis for critical and social dialogue. The group formed in early 2011 when founding members Grant Hottle and Tia Factor invited a few artists they each admired to meet in a fellow artists studio for a critique; most of those artists invited one new member resulting in the present number of regular participants. This is the first time the group has shown together.