gregg renfrow

By Patrick Collier

Blackfish Gallery member Melinda Thorsnes has curated a show at that gallery. “EAST meets WEST” showcases the work of 16 Oregon artists from east of the Cascades. The title choice is understandable but unfortunate as it calls to mind some sort of orientalism (though it did inspire the title of this essay) that highlights our preconceptions of place. Of course, this may be intentionally ironic, for I saw nothing apart from a bit more yellow in the palette or geographic references in titles that would otherwise let me know that these artists were from over yonder.

I did, however, keep returning to Sandy Brooke’s two “Fate & Luck” pieces. Done with oil stick on linen, there is a spontaneity that seems an appropriate response to both the helicopters hovering within the oil mixture and what subject the titles suggest. As Brooke points out in her artist’s statement, no matter the mission, with merciful intent or without, choppers cause quite a stir, and she lets this happen in her art.

Sandy Brooke, “Fate & Luck, Grimsvotn,” Blackfish Gallery

I might further suggest the similarity of styles and mediums of many Eastside and Westside artists can be extended beyond Blackfish’s walls to what sort of exhibit we would get if we were to clump all of the galleries in town together in a single building. Such a show would certainly contain a healthy amount of abstract work (in its various permutations, both minimal geometries and chaotic expressiveness), including Jesse Hayward at GalleryHOMELAND,** Julia Mangold*** and Gregg Renfrow at Elizabeth Leach, and Gwen Davidson in Froelick Gallery’s front space, to name a few.


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