BAIT: Oil and wax on canvas by Charles
It’s important not to overlook the significance of Greenhut Gallery’s 30th anniversary in business. Showing art for that long and just surviving is hard enough, but Peggy Greenhut Golden, who has owned the gallery since the beginning, has done more than just survive; she has done pretty well and has done it running a good gallery. This is far from easy in Portland, or any other market.
Portland likes to think of itself as an art-friendly town. For this to be true Portland needs a functioning art economy, and that means there must be galleries that can actually show and sell work and stay in business over the long haul. Non-profits come and go, but galleries are the bedrock of an art scene. Showing work is an integral part of the artistic process. Healthy galleries mean a robust artistic ecology.
The 30th anniversary show is technically over, but most of it will remain hanging until the end of January. It’s a professional, serious show with plenty worth looking at.
When Golden started up, things were different. Her gallery was smaller and aimed at what might be called the decorator market, with posters and pretty paintings. Golden has clearly grown in her ability to see art as her gallery has grown. The posters are long gone and the level of seriousness has deepened. Golden has looked at a lot of art over the years and has developed a pretty good eye.
There’s plenty of evidence for this in the current group. Some are Greenhut regulars; others were invited for the occasion. Here are an arbitrarily chosen few of the forty or so artists included:
Will Barnet is represented by a small circular serigraph, "Circe II." It has the familiar characteristic of Barnet’s work in that everything in the picture is reduced to medallion-like flatness, as if the figures in the painting were signs suggesting the real, rather than representing it.
FLAGSTAFF ISLAND: Oil on linen by Marguerite Robichaux, 24x48.
The Marguerite Robichaux painting, "Flagstaff Island" is a long horizontal view of an island in the early autumn. Robichaux offsets the careful representation of her subject by allowing the paint to drip, and the outer edges of the picture reveal the bare linen support. It’s a way of emphasizing the artificial nature of the act of painting.
Kathleen Galligan, on the other hand, obscures her materials. Her small work in the show, "Blue Eventide," was made using pastel, but it’s hard to know that. She has a way of using pastels that produce soft atmospherics that are not a characteristic of that difficult medium.
The large Charles DuBack painting "Bait" is an exuberant example of modernist methodology merged with the organizing principle of representation. It’s a big work, over five feet high, with strong rhythmic strokes of color laid next to each other. It has an evenness of tone all across the picture, and only partially yields up the nature of its subject.
The late Neil Welliver’s paintings of nudes weren’t shown much. "Two Nudes In A Pool," an oil on paper nearly four feet tall, is unusual not only for its subject but also for the uncharacteristically loose paint handling.