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FACULTY SHOW 2009: Recent Work by SRJC Faculty
November 5 - December 12, 2009
My new work, a series of paintings, drawings and collages based on views of the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon, has been influenced by both eastern and western painting traditions. Carleton Watkins’ photographs of the region, made in the 1860’s, have opened up an historical perspective on the Columbia River landscape that has broadened my appreciation of the Gorge. My paintings are triptychs and diptychs about the waterfalls, streams and beaches where I picnicked and hiked growing up in Portland. As a child, I went with my parents and grandparents to see the locks at Bonneville Dam, down river from The Dalles. My interest in painting this place stems from the power of memory, from the grandeur of the high basalt cliffs beside the Columbia, and from my awareness of how fragile this environment has become. In these paintings I pay tribute to what once was, and to what remains of this Pacific Northwest watershed. Fairfield Porter’s simplified, semi-abstracted paintings have been a resource for this work, as are the 19th century Ukiyo-e woodblock prints by Hokusai and Hiroshige. I am interested in how little information is necessary to convey the grandeur of a place, and so I stop well short of detailed realism.
Teaching is an art form in itself. I see my role as being a catalyst, setting up parameters, guiding and asking questions. It’s when a student starts asking his or her own questions that artistic work truly begins. We talk about complex ideas or about something basic, like whether painting is essentially an additive process. I develop a dialogue with each student, and the relationship is dynamic. I want them to think less about making a product. The idea of risking failure is a hard sell, but it is at the core of learning. For the past nineteen years I have taught painting and drawing to community college students. It has been gratifying to watch them transfer to universities, to earn graduate degrees, to start their adult lives and to enrich their experience of both making and appreciating art.
Santa Rosa Junior College is officially accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges