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Christine Bourdette

September 8 - October 22, 2008

Riddles, Bunnyheads and Asides

In 1981, Christine Bourdette was one of four artists in the exhibition
4 Constructions at a new college gallery called The Art Gym located in the Portland metropolitan area. The Art Gym at Marylhurst College (now Marylhurst University) had opened its doors just a few months earlier and was hoping to position itself as an adventurous program of exhibitions and publications that took the art of the Pacific Northwest seriously. Bourdette had begun to make a name for herself and had recently completed two major installations, Garden State at the Portland Art Museum and Standing Target at the Contemporary Crafts Gallery. It was a year when both the artist and the gallery were emerging, although the artist (as is only right) was a few strides ahead. For The Art Gym, Bourdette created Fleet Suite and installed its sail-like forms high in the gallery's metal roof trusses. She then took off for Chicago.

After two years in the Windy City, Bourdette returned to Portland in 1983, where she has continued to live and maintain studio and public art practices. In 1985, The Art Gym participated in a national tour of the exhibition Rites of Passage. The show featured many small-scale works, often inspired by folk art and frequently featuring flat figures in silhouette.

Christine Bourdette: Riddles, Bunnyheads and Asides picks up shortly after Rites of Passage left off and follows the artist's course as she developed a fully three-dimensional vocabulary and a mastery of materials. The show includes more than 50 sculptures and six drawings from 1987 to the present and is the most comprehensive exhibition of Bourdette's work to date. Bourdette makes art that comments on social, political and simply human predicaments. Her commentary is often indirect and laced with humor that appears to grow out of both affection and frustration with the foibles of our kind.

Over the past three decades, Christine Bourdette has become one of the Northwest's most accomplished sculptors. Bourdette's artworks are included in many private and public collections, including those of the Portland Art Museum, Tacoma Art Museum, Boise Art Museum and Reed College. Her public commissions can be experienced in numerous cities, including Portland, Seattle and Phoenix. She is also known for her collaborations with other artists such as choreographers Mary Oslund, Minh Tran and Kristy Edmunds, and filmmakers Jim Blashfield and Joanna Priestley. In 1992, Christine Bourdette became the first recipient of the Bonnie Bronson Fellowship Award, and, in 2000, the Regional Arts & Culture Council honored her with a Visual Artist Fellowship. These have been decades filled with formal, intellectual and collaborative explorations beyond the scope possible in an exhibition or book, and we hope our efforts will encourage viewers and readers to explore her work further.

– Terri M. Hopkins, Director and Curator, The Art Gym

The Catalogue

Christine Bourdette: Riddles, Bunnyheads and Asides is a 76-page book with numerous full color reproductions. Linda Brady Tesner, curator of the Hoffman Gallery at Lewis & Clark College, has written an essay for the book that beautifully tracks and elucidates Bourdette's themes and formal explorations since 1987. In an effort to provide readers with a fuller understanding of the scope of Bourdette's work, we have chosen to include illustrations not only of works in the exhibition but also of those that we were not able to include due to space limitations.

Christine Bourdette: Riddles, Bunnyheads, and Asides - $30

Pick up your copy in the gallery, or call 503.636.8141, ext. 3383, or email Terri Hopkins to order your copy.
Catalogue: $30. Add $5 for shipping and handling.

Thank you

The Regional Arts & Culture Council's project grant program provided seed money for this project, lending its support once again for a major exhibition and publication on the work of an Oregon artist. The Oregon Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts also continue to recognize and support The Art Gym program. These public investments provide economic support and encouragement for our efforts to add to the community's understanding of the art of our region.

We are also sincerely grateful to the many individuals who have recognized the importance of this exhibition on the work of Christine Bourdette. We offer special thanks to our major sponsors Lindley Morton and Corinne Oishi, Larry Kirkland and Brendan Doyle, the Elizabeth Leach Gallery and Joan and John Shipley. We greatly appreciate the generosity of friends of the artist and The Art Gym who understood the merits of this book, including Ricardo Lovett, Martha Banyas and Michael Hoeye, Elaine and Warren Bourdette, Fernanda D'Agostino, Carol Edelman, Teresa Jordan and Hal Cannon, Betty Lovett, Sally Lovett, Don Merkt and Melissa Stewart, Marilyn Murdoch, Traci Parker, Trude Parkinson, Joanna Priestley, John Rogers and Carol Sherman, and Mark Teppola.

This spring, The Harold & Arlene Schnitzer CARE Foundation and Linda Hutchins and John Montague helped The Art Gym launch The Art Gym Publications Fund. This new fund provides a much-needed base of support for this and future publications. We thank these Publications Fund donors for their recognition of the importance of documenting the art of the Pacific Northwest and our role in that endeavor.


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