Sunday, February 18, 2007

Mary Henry

I saw a few nice paintings at PDX yesterday, the work of Mary Henry. Showing with her was D.E. May, a natural fit, as was also the Ryan Jeffries video. The press release states that Mary Henry is one of the Northwest's most formidable painters. This is, in my humble opinion, almost an understatement.

She’s art history royalty, a link to her teacher Moholy Nagy and the Bauhaus. I never saw a Henry I didn’t like, but then again, she would be preaching to the choir. Right now she is also showing at Howard House.

I remember the first time I saw her work. It was also perhaps the first time I was ever in PDX. Jane Beebe engaged with me right away about what I was seeing and when she saw that she had an appreciative audience, she said: “This work actually looks best with no light at all.” She proceeded to turn off the lights and close the blinds. (One of those paintings, by the way, is now at the Portland Art Museum.)

I knew from my own work just what she was talking about. There is more than one reason why I’ve had a show called Night Gallery and then another called Night Paintings. When the lights were turned out and I sat up in my bed, I would look at my paintings. They always looked best then, after the eyes had adjusted to the dark, almost functioning as the light source. This is still a means for me today - the most recent work I always have lined up wherever I sleep and the true test of its existence is how it looks in the dark.

Turning off the lights for stranger is just one example of Jane Beebe going the extra mile. She always has and is my idea of a great gallerist.


TJ said...

Henry is a graceful force at the intersection of geometries and color. Simplicity redefined. Jane recently offered me a glass of wine when I was sitting intently watching Vanessa Renwick's 'Trojan' again. It just felt good to be there in the space, in the dark, watching the transfixing image of an iconic skyline changed within seconds. There's something stark and beautiful happening at PDX. Jane continually offers a fine sense of taste in our city. The wine was pretty bold too.

J@simpleposie said...

In studio classes they always taught us to squint at our paintings to evaluate our tonal decisions - but honestly it is so much easier to just flick the switch once in awhile!

Hi Eva!