Portland

Portland

various venues, Portland

A memorable recent show was the exhibition of 74 drawings and prints by the Italian, Umberto Boccioni, at Reed College.

The offering, organized by the Museum of Modern Art under a grant from CBS Foundation, was brought to the Eastmoreland campus by the Friends of the College and it suggested Boccioni’s considerable achievement.

Drawn from the collection of Harry Lewis Winston of Birmingham, Mich., the graphics gave excellent opportunity to trace the artist’s introspective, restless, ambitious and troubled periods of development. Particularly interesting in that they revealed how completely, and readily the artist absorbed Impressionist, Cubist and Expressionist techniques were various portraits Boccioni made of his mother from 1908 to 1915. A willingness to distort form for pictorial purposes pervaded. In later work light ate into the central figure forms and there was created dramatic interactions between light, space and solid. Rhythmic contours gave way to complex planes of light and shade. That the painter could draw expertly from nature was evidenced in the exhibit’s landscapes, animals and human figures. And included were 13 etchings, executed between 1906 and 1910, before the development of his Futurist style. They were frankly sentimental, but consistently excellent in technique.

Mostly recent metal sculpture by Lee Kelly and serigraphs by Sister Mary Carita of Los Angeles headlined the “Artists of the Month” series at Marylhurst College last month.

Not classifiable as a major show, the eight works by Kelly, ranging from two to ten feet in height, did make a dramatic array by an artist who has not been seen in a local display since the unfortunate demise of the New Gallery of Contemporary Art over a year ago. The Oregon City sculptor continues to use the torch with confidence and fervor. While girders and plates were left to rust in earlier constructions, here they were, for the most part, not only more compatibly pedestaled, but brought to a polish, painted and enameled.

At Oregon Ceramic Studio a group of shimmering porcelains and narrow-necked vases by Win Ng were recently shown. These were overshadowed by non-functional garden forms, plaques and figures. Effective were those pots whose swelling forms were decorated with primordial, softly barbaric textures. The majority of items, however, made one wonder if the artist was not more interested in “good taste” . . . rather than in breaking into new territories of ceramic proportions and relationships.

Three painting shows bore careful scrutiny. At Portland Art Museum in the upstairs main gallery were 23 pictures in a variety of media, but mostly oil, from the private stock of Roy R. Neuberger of New York City. And downstairs at the museum and all through the main floor galleries were 94 paintings and a scattering of drawings—an absorbing retrospective by Jack Mclarty. Items from the Neuberger holdings were chosen for their realistic, figurative elements, their mystical or symbolic overtones. As such, they offered suitable, representative strands of American painting—elements which could be seen woven into the oils of Jack Mclarty. A dozen canvases in the Neuberger collection were executed before 1945. The earliest was a Demuth water color (1917) and there were five paintings which stemmed from the 1930’s when surrealism and social realism were running riot.

By present day standards, the tenor of this collection would be considered gentle and subdued. However, in their time, one could not help but marvel at the advanced taste, the independence of mind and the talent for discovery evidenced by the Neubergers. Complexity of the spirit rather than of texture prevailed. Most straightforward and expressive were the early Hartley, the Pippin, also the Price and Bloom. Content-wise man predominated. When he appeared he was either a local coloration as in the orange, arid D’Arista, a moody decorative motif as in the Guston and Rattner, or a subject for satire or social commentary as in the Shahn and Levine. The essential tone was one of introspection and mystery. Bloom’s “Bride” (1945) conveyed magnificently that restless, vivid sensuality that underlies all nature. Graves’ “Bird” (1937) gave a concrete image of loneliness. Menacing and disquieting were the surrealist pieces by Dove and Matta. Inhibited by today’s standards but shocking ten years ago must have been the manic-depressive Mondrian-like Ernst and the lyrical, apple green Baziotes, “Dying Bird.” A trifle dull were the Dickinson and Berman.

Downstairs, lover-of-detaiI Jack McLarty had a show of canvases almost too well-known in West Coast art circles by now to describe. Oils by the Museum Art school instructor covered a 20-year span from 1943 to 1963. In canvases accomplished between 1956 and 1963 one found the primitivism convincing and the mysterious, glowing iconography titillating. At his best, McLarty stages a wedding of the surreal and necromantic—noted piecemeal upstairs in the Neuberger collection. The artist has found people for the most part interesting and amusing. He has seen their absurdities, but not as one who has felt called upon to condemn the manners of this society. In “Water Sports,” “Dark Garden,” and “Self Portrait as a Royal Rosarian,” the artist is witty enough to call attention to the foibles of mankind; yet, in mature work, there is almost none of that fierceness that breaks out in the canvases of other satiric painters such as Kearns, Levine and Cadmus. Recent work showed a strong sense of the complexity of the human animal. Paintings which predated 1956 proved that the painter had a strong idea from the first as to just what he was equipped to do.

At the Fountain Gallery, a virtuoso performance was given by Robert Colescott. The Portland State College painter and art educator presented a varied show of over 30 paintings and drawings in all sizes completed in the past year.

Darkly expressive figure types continue to wander about soullessly in fantastic, vast spaces. Landscapes in delectable hues reflected the painter’s immense pleasure of travel in the eastern part of the state this summer. Forerunners to a series of canvases called “magic windows” were split-landscapes—disparate images side by side which held and forced the viewer to look upon them as totalities. Perverse use-of spatial planes, disregard of time, light, image fragmentation were just some of the problems met and ingeniously overcome.

Andy Rocchia