Michael Brophy

Hallie Ford Museum of Art, Willamette University

Largely unknown outside the Pacific Northwest—barring recent appearances in the touring West Coast survey “Baha to Vancouver: The West Coast and Contemporary Art” and on the cover of Sleater-Kinney’s album The Woods (2005)—Portland painter Michael Brophy achieved a career milestone with this twelve-year retrospective. Organized by the Tacoma Art Museum, Washington, the exhibition included twenty-six of the artist’s signature works: landscapes dominated by second-growth forests, fields of stumps, and slash heaps of logging detritus. Accompanied by curator Rock Hushka’s lengthy essay, the show successfully captured the evolution of an ambitious, romantic vision informed by a wry sense of humor and an encyclopedic knowledge of regional history.

In paintings such as Earth, 2000, and Measure, 2000, both riffs on Caspar David Friedrich’s Wanderer Above a Sea of Fog, ca. 1818, a lone figure appears,

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