Friday, January 18, 2013

My kind of artist date

Terry Grant here. I don't really subscribe to the Julia Cameron art date, where you go off by yourself and do something fun and arty. I spend a lot of fun and arty days by myself in my studio, so a special art date for me is hooking up with an artist friend to go look at art and then discuss it. If we can fit a decadent lunch into the trip as well that makes it all the better!

A couple of weeks ago my friend Jeri and I went downtown here in Portland to see a new show by Portland artist, Gwenn Seemel. I was vaguely aware of Gwenn and her work. Jeri has the good fortune to be a friend of Gwenn's, so Jeri was my guide to Gwenn and her work. The show we saw is called "Crime Against Nature."  The underlying premise and themes involve issues of infertility and reproduction and the sexual and reproductive characteristics of animals. You can read her statement here.  A serious subject, with resulting work that can be viewed at many different levels.

The show consists of about 56 10" square paintings of animals, which she has put together as the illustrations of a children's book. The printed book is actually available for sale. The exhibit we saw showed all the paintings hung side by side around the gallery space.

Unfortunately, what you see in these small photographs look like nice, competent animal illustrations. What you miss, until you see them in closeup, is the sparkle and clarity of her work. Her technique of layering transparency in the paint and adding a kind of cross-hatch-like layer of colorful marks gives her work a depth and energy that excites and transfixes the viewer. I wanted to stand and carefully study each piece, and each piece was a new discovery and a deliciously colorful new delight.

I urge you to look at each of the paintings on this page. Click for the closer view and enjoy! Gwenn's portraits are also wonderfully quirky and insightful.  If you want even more, check out the video interview with Gwenn on Oregon Public Broadcasting's wonderful "Art Beat" show here.

"Crime Against Nature" is at the Place Gallery in Pioneer Place, downtown, Portland, OR. through January.

What a great day Jeri and I had! The weather was frightful, but sharing an art exhibit with a friend warms me from head, to heart, to toes. That's my kind of art date.


  1. Thank you so much for this! And for the links. The paintings are very inspiring, I will make time to go look at the videos later today. I am with you on the dates - a friend and art is WAY my favorite way to go. Lori W at Art Camp for Women

  2. That's my kind of date too! I'd go out with you any time. :-)

    Going to see the Chihuly exhibit in Richmond is on my list.

  3. Such an interesting point about spending so much time alone in your studio that going out with other artists "fills the well" in a different and equally important way. I'm loving the style of these images and looking forward to checking out the rest of the collection.

  4. How wonderful! I just love doing things like
    that ! thanks for sharing-

  5. Terry - I'm with you! I love to get together with artist friends for a few hours (lunch included!). It fills the well, doesn't it? I am going to look at the paintings now. Thank you for the links!

  6. I love visiting art shows with thoughtful, creative friends and THIS show is such a stimulating mix of provocative ideas, research and visuals. Lucky Portland folks to have Gwenn Seemel (and you) in their midst! Thanks!

  7. thanks for sharing the work of Gwenn Seemel! I just spent time on her blog, and then bought her book. A talented and brilliant young artist!

  8. What a great way to spend the day and how fortunate you were to be able to see that work up close and in person.

  9. Gween Seemel's work is amazing. i love knowing the "back story" and all the facts she shares as well. The videos on her website are so inviting. I want to know her! Jeri is lucky and you are lucky to have Jeri to lead you to Gwenn. Thanks for sharing your artist's date with us, Terry.