News Archive
April 2017 Exhibit

Wild & Whatnot
Imogen is ready and excited to jump into spring with the fresh and bold paintings of Jennifer Mercede. Wild & Whatnot opens for Astoria’s Second Saturday Artwalk, April 8th, 2017. Mercede of Portland, Oregon, is well known for her bold, playful and expressive style. For her third solo exhibition at Imogen, she brings a collection of animalia and abstract paintings that are sure to captivate and embody the life forces of spring. The exhibition opens Saturday, April 8th 5 – 8 pm, with a reception.  Light bites and drink will be provided by Astoria Coffeehouse and Bistro. Wild & Whatnot will be on view through May 9th.
Jennifer Mercede who has enjoyed a lifelong love of the visual language, is not afraid to bend the rules of painting; in fact she has developed her own set she follows for her mixed medium creations. Not one to fit the mold of a traditionalist, Mercede practices what she preaches. After graduating with a fine arts degree from Western Washington University, Mercede left the academic structure for the more casual atmosphere of the Alberta District in Portland. It was there that she began to practice her own set of rules allowing the freedom that truly defines her style. Working on all scales, each finished painting expresses a quality of joie de vivre, bold and exaggerated use of color and brilliant brush stroke jump from surface, as if trying to escape containment.
 Mercede's abstract paintings consist of free flowing text, bright color fields, organic shapes and crazy energetic doodling. She is inspired by color, children's art, old school hip-hop flavor, graffiti, abstract expressionism and inner spirituality. Abstract compositions form intuitively, often bright neon colors and some recognizable imagery. With deliberate subconscious, they reflect how she perceives the surrounding world.
 Her painting process consists of gooey, dripping paint, rapid scribbling markers, soft, sensitive lines kissed by colored pencil, and pens gauging into wood. To quote Mercede, "My art is spontaneous, it is just what happens. It's what comes out of me, like an outpouring of consciousness.” The work included in this series reflects her interest in animal life, “bold animal paintings and wildly expressive abstracts are created by following whatever may lead me.”  In Mercede’s confident and freedom loving approach, there is no such thing as a mistake.  About her process she states, “I stay spontaneous and pay attention to the painting, letting it tell me when it is finished, picking up whatever color paint needs to be used, whatever marker looks/feels right, a pen when I feel a pen. 
Mercede, who has exhibited her work throughout the country, has also illustrated and published a children’s book, been a featured artist on OPB’s ArtBeat program, and created a two story tall mural on the façade of the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum, to name just a few of her accomplishments. 

March 2017 Exhibit

Ceramics on the Edge
Imogen is honored to be participating in the 2017 National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA) as a satellite venue.  This year’s event, brings ceramic artists and enthusiasts from all over the country to Portland for its 51st annual conference.   Imogen is excited to be a participating venue and is hosting an exhibition focusing on the ceramic arts of our own represented artists.  Amy Fields, Barb Campbell, Javier Cervantes, Robin Hominiuk, Aaron Murray and Christos Koutsouras, are participating in this special exhibition, celebrating clay in all forms. The exhibition will open for Astoria’s Second Saturday Artwalk, March 11th with a reception for the artists, 5 – 8 pm.  All are invited to attend and enjoy good company and conversation with the artists.  Light bites and beverages will be provided by the Astoria Coffeehouse and Bistro.  The exhibition will be on view through April 4th. 

NCECA, a non-profit organization founded in 1966, today enjoys a membership over 4,000 strong.  The annual conference, which takes place in different cities across the nation each year, is the world’s largest event, focusing solely on the field of ceramic arts.   The unique artist-run organization provides valuable resources and support for individuals, schools and organizations with shared interests.  To learn more about the organization and this year’s event in Portland, March 22 – 25th, please check their website.   The conference will be held at the Oregon Convention Center, but extends far beyond the boundaries of  that space, with outside venues showcasing diverse exhibitions throughout Portland and the state, all celebrating the ceramic art form.  Imogen Gallery is the only venue located on the Oregon coast to participate in the event. 

This year’s conference title is “Future Flux” and focuses on the evolution of ceramic arts.  The 2017 conference is described by NCECA organizers here:  “As journey’s end for Lewis and Clark in the early 19th century, expedition and discovery have framed our imagination of the Pacific Northwest. As we pass beyond NCECA’s first fifty years, the interconnection of mind, materials, and transformation at the heart of ceramic process, art and education can serve as trail heads to our future. Our creative work in the 21st century increasingly engages with hybrid practices, issues of diversity, notions of community and dynamic change.” 

With that theme in mind, Imogen Gallery presents a group exhibition of several represented artists exploring firing process, building technique, surface treatment and form.

Barb Campbell and her husband Javier Cervantes who live in Corvallis and Oaxaca, Mexico, are known for their distinct styles.  Both artists have spent over 40 years developing their techniques and skills, working in both tradition firing processes  as well as intensive study and use of wood firing techniques.  Cervantes, who at a young age visited the Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City, became fascinated by the sculptural and functional object of early pre-Hispanic cultures of Nayarit, Michoacan, Veracruz, and Oaxaca.  These artifacts have consistently informed Cervantes in his own sculptural work for decades.   Barb Campbell whose work is widely recognized and collected also brings several wood fired vessels.  Campbell, who primarily focuses on hand built pieces is known for incorporating a great deal of surface design to her forms.  Utilizing whatever tools may be at hand, she presses and carves into each piece, creating unique design that echoes the element of a fine drawing or etching.  During her last trip to Mexico, she worked directly with a well-respected paper maker in Oaxaca.  She gathered local flora and pigments to utilize within her own handmade paper.  These were exploratory pieces, which echo some of her ideas utilized in her clay work.  There will be a series of her paper work included to the exhibition.

Amy Fields of Portland is a ceramic artist who is constantly exploring new ideas for extreme surface treatment, enhanced by firing process.  Working in mid-range electric fired porcelain as well as high-fired stoneware and porcelain, her wheel thrown and hand altered pieces vary from utilitarian to strictly sculptural.   She incorporates hand drawn and tactile elements to her forms.  About her work, she states:  “Clay has been a life-long passion for me. I learned to throw on the wheel when I was 16 and was hand building for years before that. I received my BFA from the NYSCC@Alfred University with a concentration in ceramics. Lured by the landscape I eventually moved out to Portland, Oregon. I am continually fascinated by repetition, texture and the inner workings of things whether it’s the skeletal structure of a bird, veins in a leaf or rows of crops in a field. I am equally inspired by function, nature, and texture.”

Clay artist, Robin Hominiuk of Seattle, brings a series of wood-fired vessels inspired by the natural process of erosion of river rock.   Her large scale pieces titled the “Disambiguation Series”, echo the lines and relief surface altered by hundreds of years of running water.  In her clay work, she interprets elements of subtlety of rock formation and evolution, through a combination of wheel thrown and hand-building techniques, further enhanced by the organic process of atmospheric firing.  Subtle coloration and texture created by combustibles in the process and/ or surface treatment of added porcelain slip, create gorgeous hues and texture suggesting the slow process of nature’s work.

Christos Koutsouras, known internationally for his paintings and drawings, recently spent an intensive period of time working with a ceramic artist in Greece, where Christos is from.  His last trip to his home island of Samos led him to exclusively focus on three-dimensional work.  He brings a series of small figurative pieces, made from raku fired, Italian clay.  The rough and primitive forms echo ancient artifacts, reminiscent of fertility figures.  About the series he explains:  “I came to meet Giorgos Nomikos, a Greek ceramic artist during the filming of a documentary I had been invited to participate in.  The focus was on six artists, their life, work and relation to Samos, the island I am from.  I have always had the wish and intention to try my skills in three dimensional expression.  The human figure as a subject matter came naturally to me as I have spent years dealing with the human form in my drawings, paintings and printmaking.  According to the Greek philosopher, Empedocles, the beginning of all things is based in the four elements, earth, air, water and fire, which one can find in the use of clay.  The material is a course clay from Italy, and the firing method is raku.” 

We also include the work of Aaron Murray, an artist and educator from Seattle.  Murray is known for his wry and whimsical folk art.  His love of animal form and patterns of nature enters into his finished work.  A sense of immediacy and personality is entrenched in each piece created.  Aaron, like Javier Cervantes, also become inspired by both ancient artifact and craft of Mexico after visiting Oaxaca at an early age.   He has been working in clay for over 25 years, utilizing porcelain and earthenware.  For this exhibition he brings a series of vases and jars, based on his self-described fascination with antique utilitarian crockery and animal symbolism


February 2017 Exhibit

Uganik Bay
           Paintings by George Wilson
With the annual FisherPoets Gathering just around the corner, Imogen Gallery is pleased to be hosting the second solo exhibition by professional artist/fisherman, George Wilson, who resides in Portland, Oregon.  Uganik Bay opens February 11th for the Astoria Second Saturday Artwalk with a reception from 5 – 8 pmFriday, February 24th   from 4 – 6 pm, all are invited for a second reception, to kick off the full weekend of events scheduled for FisherPoets Gathering.  Light bites and beverages will be provided by the Astoria Coffeehouse and Bistro.  The exhibition will remain on display through March 7th.
One wouldn’t quickly draw a parallel of career choices between the fishing industry and the arts, whether visual or literary, yet it seems more prevalent than one might assume.  Year after year the fishermen who might be poets, or vice versa, convene in Astoria to share their prose, their short stories, their livelihood with those of us who have perhaps never been to sea, let alone experienced first-hand the hard and dangerous work of being a commercial fisherman.   Likewise, with visual artists who make their living from the sea.  George Wilson is one of those unique individuals, who from childhood has enjoyed the beauty, sometimes solitude and unpredictability of the fishing industry while combining that with his other love, that of the visual language which he utilizes to narrate his observations as a fisherman.  
For his second solo exhibition at Imogen, Wilson brings a series of small and ethereal watercolor paintings that depict his most recent fishing season in Uganik Bay of Kodiak, Alaska.   This was Wilson’s first foray into commercial fishing since leaving his hometown, a small coastal fishing village in North East Scotland.  About the series he shares, “In the summer of 2016, I crewed for seven weeks on a set net site catching salmon in the Village Islands on Uganik Bay, Kodiak, Alaska.  This return to commercial fishing for the first time since I left Scotland in 2012 was a return to the light and weather of my Scottish life.  Uganik Bay has a latitude of 57.8 North and my home village of Portknockie is at 57.7° North.  Familiar too were the calls of the seabirds, Kittiwakes and Arctic Terns and Oystercatchers.”  For Wilson, even though he was thousands of miles away from “home”, it was still a bit of a homecoming, echoing the climate, sights and sounds of a place he carries within himself.  He shares with the viewer his love of the landscape, with dreamlike renditions of places that resonate a deep and rooted sense of nostalgia.  He further describes his experience in Uganik Bay:  “Set netters live on shore in “fish camp”, in our case two wall tents; we drive skiffs out to the anchored nets four times a day to pick the five species of salmon.  I painted most of this work in my spare time between picks; after I returned to Portland, I augmented a few pieces with the aid of my sketchbook.  I hope they convey the scale and beauty of the landscape I encountered.”
Wilson who has painted as long as he’s fished, eventually found himself entering the academic world with studies at Gray’s School of Art, one of the United Kingdom’s most prestigious art schools located in Aberdeen, Scotland.  After graduating with a focus on painting and drawing, he found his way back to the sea where his time was shared between fishing trips and the studio.  His work is a beautiful balance of both worlds with one love always merging with the other. 

December 2016 Exhibit

Hook, Pulp and Weave
An Exploration of Fiber as Medium
Celebrate the holidays with Imogen as we host a rich and diverse invitational exhibition exploring fiber.  Functional and non-functional work will be included in this unique exhibition of textile based arts.   Color, texture and composition form the backbone of this diverse collection including a new selection of hand hooked rugs by Roxy Applegate, wall hung and free standing paper art by Lâm Quãng and Kestrel Gates of HiiH Lights, nuno felted scarves and wraps by Julie Kern Smith, felted wool sculpture by Kristy Kun, and hand bound book art by Christine Trexel, are just a few of the exquisite examples of fiber in art to be presented for the exhibition.   The exhibition will open for Astoria’s Second Saturday Artwalk, December 10th with a reception for the artists, 5 – 8 pm.  All are invited to attend and enjoy good company and cheer.  Food and drink will be provided by the Astoria Coffeehouse and Bistro. 
Fiber art is both an old and new art form, with weaving techniques dating back to Neolithic times some 12,000 years ago.  It is respected as one of the oldest surviving craft forms in the world that evolved from multiple cultures, including the Incans who utilized textiles as currency, which held a more prominent role then gold for trade.   Native Americans, for centuries have created elaborate basketry for all uses, including vessels that were water tight, made from regionally known plant materials.   Middle Eastern nomadic tribes, have been respected for intricate hand knotted rugs made of wool and silk, dating back over 4000 years, and the rich illustrative tapestries of the 14th and 15th centuries of European cultures, all helped to forge what we appreciate as textile based art today. The term “fiber arts” came to be applied much later, post World War II with the insurgence of the craft movement.   With this came the recognition of craft as fine art and the diminishing of the idea of utilitarian needs. 
Hook, Pulp and Weave is a collection of just a few examples of what textile or fiber arts has evolved into.  With the lessening of the importance of function, and the consideration of pure artistic concept being delivered through the fiber medium, artists have found a new voice to explore ancient arts, utilizing texture, color and form.  While much of the work included to this exhibition is functional, several pieces are based strictly on sculptural methods, incorporating some form of fiber.   Kristy Kun of Portland brings 3-dimentional soft sculpture created from felted wool.  About her process she states:   “With (mostly) gentle coaxing and a soapy water assist, a dense sculptural material is formed from soft wool fibers.  With the same process, the lightest of fabrics that incorporate silks or plant fibers emerges…. It’s magic, it’s renewable and reactive.”  Christine Trexel of Astoria includes her intricate hand-made books utilizing handmade paper fiber.  Roxy Applegate formerly of Astoria, now residing in Portland, has for years focused on the creation of hook rugs, sometimes dying her own materials and creating her own vibrant designs, she loves color!  Her finished pieces are meant for the floor, but they look equally grand on the wall, presented as strictly an art form. Julie Kern Smith of Portland, shares her rich and sophisticated wraps made of nuno felted wool and repurposed silk, from scarves and kimonos.   Also included to this year’s exhibition will be the work of husband and wife team Lâm Quãng and Kestrel Gates of HiiH Lights, they bring a new series of their own handmade paper wall art and screens, to accompany their many gorgeous lights currently on display at Imogen.  Hook, Pulp and Weave is an eclectic, tactile and exciting blend of fiber forms that all will enjoy. 
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