Last weekend we went to the Portland Open Studios event held yearly in PDX - a chance to visit the lairs of local artists and hear a bit about their processes. Here are the extremely talented people I met:
Jill works with metal and mixed media, constructing abstract, monumental pieces for indoor or outdoor display with a modernist edge. She has created a beautiful spread of shadowbox-type pieces brimming with haunting ephemera. Her work has a haunting quality, incorporating equally both an object and the absence of it in silhouette, and her poised fine-art work has a delicacy that lingers with you in contrast to the industrial power of her metal work.
When asked about his art-making process, Wayne describes a classically-inspired technique that includes multiple layers, not a handful but eight or more, beginning with the contrasting hues and building up. Parsing what tones to put on which layers sounds to me like nothing short of magic. However he does it, the small pictures from across the room have a photographic quality, saturated and highly realistic. Only moving closer reveals that the brushstrokes are actually quite pronounced and abstract. Wonderful talent!
Craig Dorety's art sings with the delicacy of his sensitivity to hue and pace: deep layers, each individually illuminated, shift as slowly as shadows at noon through exquisite gradients of color. A fellow enthusiast for his work described it as therapeutic, a moving meditation. I agree. In a darkened room, you find your eyes pinned to his pieces, waiting for what the sculpture will do next. If you can't be in the presence of one of his works, I suggest watching one of the videos on his site to get a feel for his talent.
Rudy Broschofsky's work hangs - this week at least - in his lovely gallery, Flat Blak. Wonderfully large pieces, many over five feet in height, bleed gorgeous gradients and incredibly rich colors. Rudy explains that he hand-cuts the elaborate stencils used, and achieves his beautiful hues with simple spray paint, expertly handled. The striking modernity of his process presents an engaging contrast to his wild-west themes, lending to the traditionally black-and-white images a living sunset of color.
BENZ AND CHANG
I was convinced that the art of Benz and Chang was extremely skillful photographic manipulation until I saw it in life - actual sepiatone photos quirked into surreality. In truth, they are hand-painted on watercolor paper with walnut ink. The aesthetic is impressive enough, and the incredible skill it must take to manipulate a single pigment into a spot-on sepia that reads like true antique photography staggers me.