News Archive
February 2018 Exhibit

Aleutian Dreams
With FisherPoets Gathering just around the corner, Imogen Gallery is pleased to be hosting Aleutian Dreams, an exhibition by professional artist/fisherman, Corey Arnold of Portland, Oregon.  This will be Arnold’s third exhibition at Imogen, held in conjunction with the 2018 FisherPoets Gathering, an annual celebration of the fishing community, offering a glimpse into a very specific industry through stories and poetry written and recited by fisher folk.  The exhibition opens February 10th for the Astoria Second Saturday Artwalk with a reception from 5 – 8 pm, followed by an artist/welcoming reception held Friday, February 23rd from 4 – 6 pm, to kick off the full weekend of events scheduled for FisherPoets Gathering.  Throughout that weekend, Arnold is also planning a collaborative projection show on an adjacent building to Imogen Gallery, located on 11th and Marine Drive.  Light bites and beverages will be provided by the Astoria Coffee House and Bistro for both events.  The exhibition will remain on display through March 6th.
Corey Arnold began fishing as a child, about the same time he first picked up a camera.  What began as weekend adventures with the family quickly became a permanent part of life, culminating into a successful dual career, one mutually supporting the other. This exhibition will include photographs from his most recent series Aleutian Dreams. Arnold began fishing commercially in 1995 as a deckhand aboard various vessels and skiffs in Alaska. His career as a fine art photographer and fisherman has taken him far, both documenting and fishing the world’s oceans. The photographs included to this exhibition are from more recent trips, working out of Dutch Harbor, Alaska, where he focused his time documenting the challenging work of the commercial fishing industry. Despite his international success as a photographer, Arnold returns every summer to Bristol Bay, Alaska, where he captains two skiffs, fishing for salmon.
Arnold’s work is without doubt a celebration of the lifestyle of the fisherman.  He also hopes to convey a broader message, raising awareness to the challenges that coastal communities and our oceans, are facing in the 21st century.   Through his lens he captures the raw and rugged reality of hard work, with brutal and honest images that depict both danger and beauty, sometimes in the same moment.   Corey is not one however to overly romanticize, he is critically aware of the struggle of a rapidly changing global fishing industry.   He states “Serious threats to small-scale fishing communities include fleet consolidation due to catch shares, poorly managed fisheries abroad, ocean acidification, fish farming, and watershed destruction due to urban development, mining and pollution.”
Regardless of present obstacles and demands on a struggling industry, Arnold states:  “Although it’s important to be aware of the challenges facing those who work at sea, the most essential message of all comes from the spirit of this way of life. Whether we are landlocked in the mountains, or out on a boat at sea, the hard work, passion, blood and guts of this profession speak to a vitality that I hope will inspire the viewer on his/her own personal journey.”
About this current series, Aleutian Dreams, Arnold states, “I returned to the Aleutian Islands this time to photograph instead of fish in order to capture the life that I couldn’t previously. There is a collision of nature and industry up there that I find captivating and in this new work, I focused on elements of the place and the life at sea that inspired me as a young greenhorn. As a new fisherman going up there what is most striking is the scale of nature and the oversized tools needed to harvest and survive under such harsh conditions. I love the Aleutians because it feels like you’re in on a strange behind the scenes secret, and that ‘normal’ people don’t ever experience such things.”
Arnold’s fine art photographic work runs deeper then capturing a lifestyle, he tackles environmental issues, food production and man’s complex relationship to the natural world, all on a global level. With a keen eye for composition, Arnold brings imagery that narrates the reality of contemporary culture from a perspective he knows best. When asked in a recent interview to elaborate on why he continues to fish and how that plays into the American dream he responded by addressing our current political landscape. He states, “Make America Great Again… whose dream is that? What does the American Dream look like? The fishing industry in the Aleutian Islands, as dangerous it is, as messy as it is, you can go out there and you can find this American Dream. It’s a dream that might look like a nightmare to some, but a certain breed of human thrives off its gritty reality. You can make good money and have this experience. The eagle, our national symbol, is not always the stoic icon we see on postage stamps and nature documentaries, it can also be a scavenger and opportunist feasting off human garbage in town. Their population is thriving because of the food fishermen have brought to the island, but is that “great”?  Maybe for the eagle or maybe not, it’s all about perception.  I’m very interested in these kind of themes.”
Arnold, who graduated from the University of Art Academy in San Francisco has enjoyed a diverse and exciting career.  His ongoing series Fish-Work was launched after receiving a commission from the PEW Charitable Foundation, taking him to Europe and photographing from aboard fishing vessels in eight European countries. He has also been awarded an American Scandinavian Foundation grant which lead to the documentation of the work of fishermen in Northern Norway.  His work has been exhibited in Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago and New York as well as numerous other venues worldwide, and published in Harpers, The New Yorker, New York Times LENS, Art Ltd, Rolling Stone, Time, Outside, National Geographic, Mare and The Paris Review among others. Arnold has published two books of photography by Nazraeli Press including Fish-Work: The Bering Sea, and Fishing with My Dad. He is represented by Charles A. Hartman Fine Art in Portland, Oregon.

January 2018 Exhibit

Roger Hayes

Memento Mori

It goes without saying the end of one year and the beginning of a new, brings time of transition. It is with this in mind that local favorite and internationally renowned Outsider artist Roger Hayes returns to Imogen for his third exhibition. Painting primarily in acrylic, he brings a new series of abstract and representational paintings considering Memento Mori, a Latin phrase translating to "remember you must die", or in this case artwork intended to remind the viewer of mortality with imagery portraying symbolic reference to the shortness and fragility of human life followed by regeneration.  Memento Mori opens during Astoria’s Second Saturday Artwalk, January 13, with a reception for the artist 5 – 8 pm. Food and drink will be provided for the reception during Artwalk by our friends at Astoria Coffeehouse and Bistro. The show will be on display through February 6th.

Memento Mori, the ancient practice of reflection on mortality dating back to the time of Socrates has also played a prominent role in art history. One of the better known painters of Memento Mori was surrealist Salvador Dali, with imagery reminding the viewer of time slipping away through symbols such as hourglasses, clocks and even skulls to depict the practice of recognizing one’s own mortality. Through painting the concept is portrayed that with life comes the acknowledgement of time passing, moving forward. The practice of honoring one's impending death is not to be feared but looked upon as a guide to self-reflection. Seneca, a Roman Philosopher stated “Let us prepare our minds as if we’d come to the very end of life. Let us postpone nothing. Let us balance life’s books each day. … The one who puts the finishing touches on their life each day is never short of time." 

Roger Hayes, who recently finished up a four month residency sponsored by Astoria Visual Arts Artist in Residence program, took advantage of the time and space to focus primarily on the genre/concept of Memento Mori. For this series he takes a literal look at the theme with powerful and large scale depictions of skulls to anchor the exhibition. He also brings a more metaphorical approach through imagery of trees and other life forces of the forest, portraying death, decay and the regeneration that follows. When discussing this series he considers the life forces of the forest and states: 

In a sense one species yielding its constituents to another, as a form of feeding, and finding nutrients, is a reminder of the transitory nature of life. Trees then became the most symbolic vector of natural loss, and decomposition, rendering minerals as food, and a symbol of interconnectedness amidst the inevitability of death.

In the case of painting skulls, there was a desire to connect with tradition, and improvise on a familiar theme. There was no over-bearing meaning, just a familiar object that could be improvised on like a musical theme. The form itself offered the most potential, along with colors and tones laid side by side.

Thus both themes speak to the temporal nature of beings. This seems more pronounced with trees of the northwest, with symbiotic relationships between moss, lichen, and mycelium forming a conduit of energy and the continual exchange of information and the transformation of matter, easily seen as a moment mori of being in the present, ever becoming other things, and other life-forms. Hopefully there are some moments of subtle meditation on transitory states, the interconnectedness of things, and symbiotic relationships.

Change and the mercurial nature of all things that bear form are the themes of these pieces. As a remembrance of mortality I am reminded of organic decay. As with death, the subject is unseen - natures' decomposers, and rebuilders who borrow from one form to build another.

Hayes, who hails from the gritty streets of Detroit, studied ambiguously the constant evolution of sides of buildings, billboards, and passing trains created by graffiti artists whose only canvas was the city itself. He has enjoyed a colorful and eclectic career as a painter, extending well beyond the diverse art community of Astoria, Oregon, establishing himself early on in his career into what was known as the International Neo-Expressionist movement.  His work has been exhibited extensively throughout the great cities of the Mid-West prior to his inclusion in European exhibitions.  He has participated in exhibitions throughout France, Switzerland, Argentina and many other destinations.

December 2017 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, artist-made paper sculpture by Lâm Quãng and Kestrel Gates of HiiH Lights, wall hung mixed fiber art pieces by Susan Circone, nuno felted scarves and wraps by Julie Kern Smith, hand bound book art by Christine Trexel, and paper sculpture by Kathy Karbo 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 9th 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 based art has a long running history, 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 diminished 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 principle of art form, utilizing fiber to create compelling and complex pieces. 
New to this year’s exhibition will be the wall hung fiber art pieces by Susan Circone. Circone brings intricate abstract compositions focusing on brilliant use of texture, pattern and nuance of color. Coming from a former career in geological sciences, her compositions are inspired by nature. About her work she states:  Paying homage to the curvilinear nature of organic forms, especially at the microscopic scale, is the main focus of my work. Repetition of these cell shapes and filaments creates the visual vocabulary that interests me. These abstracted motifs reference the simplest single-celled organisms. I am drawn to the prevalence, perseverance, and resilience of microorganisms, the first forms of life on Earth. They reproduce quickly and readily adapt to changing conditions, often despite the best efforts of mankind to control and defeat them. Our existence is intimately entwined with their presence in our microbiome, and they will continue to thrive long after our species has disappeared from the Earth. Working primarily on a foundation of cotton or silk fabric that she has hand-dyed, discharged and printed, Circone cultivates visual depth with translucent layers of silk organza and thread. Cheesecloth is often used to provide a distorted organic grid that is further manipulated to define the composition. These layers are bound to the foundation with embroidery floss and hand stitched. Finished pieces are then mounted on felt and framed in acrylic cases.
Christine Trexel of Astoria includes her intricate hand-made books and boxes utilizing handmade paper, some holding remnants of stories told with the inclusion of printed material and found objects further enhancing a contained theme. Roxy Applegate formerly of Astoria, now residing in Portland, has for years focused on the creation of hooked rugs, 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. This year she brings two large scale rugs incorporating more relief to her designs by use of varying materials. Julie Kern Smith of Portland, shares her rich and sophisticated wraps made of nuno felted wool and repurposed silk, from vintage scarves and kimonos. Her choice of materials are exquisitely brought together through fusion of fiber, creating rich and tactile wearable art forms.
Husband and wife team Lâm Quãng and Kestrel Gates of HiiH Lights, bring a new series of lighting and sculpture, a whimsical fusion of purposeful and sculptural. Created from their own handmade paper is a new collection of lamps inspired by fungi in many forms.  Kathy Karbo also returns with simple and metaphorical boat forms. Her handcrafted, painted (and sometimes stitched) vessels bring dimension and reference to the areas nautical history.   Hook, Pulp and Weave is an eclectic, tactile and exciting blend of fiber forms that all will enjoy. 

October 2017 Exhibit

Hope In Another
The Paintings of Bethany Rowland
The arts have the power to connect humanity through the profound ability to recognize love, beauty, sorrow and compassion. For artist Bethany Rowland of Portland, Oregon these emotive qualities have always been the backbone of her work. Now more than ever, in a world seeped in what seems unending anguish, she brings a new series of acrylic paintings, Hope In Another. She portrays through definitive gesture and mark making a shared sense of place; the visible and the invisible, the remembered and the forgotten, the imagined and the numinous. Practicing an intuitive process she depicts the power and sometimes quiet beauty of both landscape and its wildlife; her foremost source of inspiration and utilized as metaphor to provide quiet reflective space for hope.  Hope In Another opens for Astoria’s Second Saturday Artwalk, October 14th with an opening reception from 5 – 8 pm. Bethany Rowland will be available to answer questions about the collection and her painting techniques. The exhibition will remain on display through November 7th.

As Rowland began preparing for her third solo exhibition at Imogen she found herself considering the natural world, a place she returns to like a migratory bird returning to its place of origin. Here she seeks refuge and space to heal, offering a sense of renewal and inspiration. Her paintings become metaphorical windows reflecting those moments of peace which in turn bring comfort and guidance. Direct imagery acts as profound offerings of solace and strength. Her goal is to offer through the vehicle of visual art a path to move forward with grace, kindness and compassion from places of grief, despair and uncertainty. Within her own need to make sense out of senseless acts she began to ask herself “Where does hope reside? How do we make the unbearable become bearable? How do proximity and attention help us to care and act? What does it mean to really see another? How do we become the hope for those who cannot survive without our protection?” This series is a glimpse into her own intuitive process of answering those very questions.

Rowland who has been painting for well over 20 years handles her medium, style and subject matter with unabashed confidence, carefully cultivating imagery that is a beautiful and evocative marriage of representation and abstraction. Combining quiet corners of complex layers of sheer color with definitive mark and gesture, she conveys emotion; a hint of melancholy, comfort and acceptance within each composition. She states, “I am drawn to the mysterious and unbidden ways that creating or viewing a work of art can transform us, much in the way regarding another being with an open heart transforms us. It involves listening. Seeing. Feeling and imagining the heart and soul of another with compassion and curiosity. The vulnerable pose of a young horse in an uncertain landscape stirs in me our universal need for sanctuary. It’s about love and it gives us hope. Hope in Another.”
Rowland readily sights such artists as Phil Sylvester of The Drawing Studio in Portland, OR as well as others including Andrea Schwartz-Feit, William Park and the late Royal Nebeker for giving her the courage to trust her own intuition in her practice. She understands form and allows herself freedom to explore the nuance of posture through the discipline of painting the human figure.  Her figurative work has been juried into Clatsop Community College’s annual Au Naturel:  The Nude In The 21st Century, 2009, 2013 and 2014, exhibitions. Her work is regularly included to the annual Sitka Art Invitational as well as the juried annual Cascade Aids Project art auction.

September 2017 Exhibit

Ryan Dobrowski
Leaves for The Forest

Many artists can spend a lifetime trying to master one art form, Ryan Dobrowski happens to be one of those rare individuals who seems to cultivate a balance between two very different artistic expressions, music and painting.  The Astoria based artist brings to Imogen a new collection of paintings and drawings inspired by the forests and the desert. The exhibition, Leaves for The Forest opens Saturday, September 9, 5 – 8 pm with a reception for Dobrowski, who will be present and available to answer questions about his work. Light bites and drink will be provided by Astoria Coffeehouse and Bistro.  Leaves for The Forest will be on view through October 10th.

Ryan Dobrowski is not one to sit idle; creative and physical energy seem to perpetually feed his talents.  Known as drummer to two bands, the internationally known indie-pop band, Blind Pilot as well as the regionally respected Hook and Anchor, Dobrowski still finds time to express himself through the visual language.  Although he has cultivated a successful career as a musician, honing his skills as a drummer since childhood, he has also consistently worked to express himself through painting, earning a BFA from the University of Oregon.

For his second show at Imogen, Dobrowski brings a series of paintings and drawings of varying points of reference, tying them all neatly together through metaphor, while seeking to contain and/or make sense of that which may not be controlled. He brings depictions of terrain of the Sonoran Desert where he spent the last winter, as well as imagery realized by imprint of forests. Dobrowski has long taken inspiration from the land for his painting, seeking out places that are meaningful to him. About his paintings of place he states, “By creating paintings, I am given a chance to physically engage with the landscape again and remember to keep seeking those unknown experiences.” This current series is a departure from his past body of work which depicted the stark terrain of the Icelandic landscape.  There is a common thread connecting the two bodies of work that is undeniable. Working primarily in oil for his larger pieces, Dobrowski continues to show stark and rugged beauty of landscape sought out for its drama. With a primarily subdued palette and flattened plane, Dobrowski carefully plays with a fine balance of surrealism to hyper-realism, softening and whether intentional or not, romanticizing what is known as a dramatic and inspirational landscape for artists of all disciplines.  He portrays through sometimes sharp contrast of color and defined raw edges, the powerful geological wonders of the desert of the Southwest.   

Along with paintings of more arid terrain, he takes the viewer into the trees with paintings and graphite drawings that echo the play of light and shadow. In beautiful gradation of grays, nearly from black to white he creates sublime pattern from light dancing its way through the dense canopy of tree tops above. These elegant depictions are as much about the tree, the limb, and the leaf as they are about negative space defined by contrast of filtered light. Dobrowski also brings tiny and delicate acrylic paintings on various species of leaves he’s collected.  On leaves he paints miniature scenes depicting our relationship to one another and to the land we live within. Also part of this collection is a series of abstract drawings and paintings, a departure from other pieces included to the exhibition, but making sense in his quest to find balance, or to cultivate a place of order out of chaos. His calculated and repetitive mark making are the end result of dynamic and geometric compositions that resound with a sense of rhythm, much like a steady drum beat forming the backbone to musical composition.

About this series Dobrowski states, Leaves For The Forest is a show more about personal experience than being about actual trees. Although that is clearly a reference point for many of these pieces. Having been on the road touring as a musician and relocating to the desert this past winter, these pieces have been created in various places and in different dedicated chunks of time. While scale, materials and even style will vary from piece to piece, there is a common theme of finding stability in an increasing unstable world. Leaves for the Forest is a modification of the saying 'Can't see the forest for the trees'. In this case it is a reminder to see what is in front of me instead of only focusing on that which I can't control.”
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