The Oregonian's John Motley reviewed The Art Gym's exhibition, Paraprosdokians and Rubber Chickens, which runs through December 5, 2014.
November 5 - December 9, 2007
David Airhart and Trude Parkinson make paintings that harbor stories that are complex and difficult to understand let alone unravel. Because they are paintings rather than moving and flickering images, they offer us time to look, time to absorb, time to puzzle. Airhart's paintings present evidence of one man's struggle to make sense of the news of the day. Parkinson's painting installations attempt to understand the complexity of a life shaped by other lives. The stories these two artists engage are ongoing.
Year by year, scene by scene, Airhart responds to and chronicles the events and policies that disturb him and the small things that offer hope. The Art Gym exhibition Hidden Stories includes more than 20 works from the past seven years. In these paintings Airhart addresses the issues of the day through a language of symbol and metaphor, showing us a man with a forked stick poised to pierce a hornet's nest, another holding a giant boulder above his head, a third tentatively touching a sleeping dove. Some are caught red-handed, others exposed for their double-speak. At times the artist seeks relief in the day-to-day and lets his protagonist cavort with the dog. Taken together Airhart's paintings form a journal and a reckoning.
In the past decade Trude Parkinson created four multi-panel painting installations. All four, including two new installations, are included in Hidden Stories. Like Airhart, Parkinson focuses on the individual – a woman walking in snow, or at her easel, a boy with a gun, a young woman headed for a wall. These paintings occupy the fronts of panels. On the backs the artist collages additional information: reproductions of German birth certificates, family photos and letters on some, and fragments of poetry on others. Some of the paintings seek to come to terms with the past. Others look to the future. Once complete she suspends the paintings in varying configurations to reveal and suggest the changing relationships of fronts to backs and parts to a whole.
About the Artists
David Airhart began his career in Boise, Idaho, where he was honored with an Idaho Commission on the Arts Fellowship in 1986 and a solo exhibition at the Boise Art Museum in 1992. He moved to Portland, Oregon, in 1993 and caught the eye of museum curators John Weber and Prudence Roberts, who included his work in Crosscut, the Portland Art Museum's centennial exhibition. Airhart maintains his studio practice in Portland and has continued to exhibit his work in Oregon, Washington and Idaho.
Trude Parkinson also moved to Portland in the 1990s, following a career begun in Arizona which included regional, national and international exhibitions, a position as visiting artist in the Program in Visual Arts at Princeton University, and an award-winning public art project. Parkinson quickly gained her footing in Oregon when her first multi-panel installation, Accomplices: Memory and Metaphor, was included the Oregon Biennial at the Portland Art Museum in 1997. She has exhibited widely since moving to the state and received grants from the Regional Arts and Culture Council and an Oregon Arts Commission Fellowship. Parkinson is a member of the Department of Art and Interior Design at Marylhurst University.
Sightings and Passages
This new publication documents Trude Parkinson's work in Hidden Stories. Trude Parkinson: Sightings and Passages is a 36-page color catalogue with an essay by Seattle artist and writer Victoria Ellison and poem by Willa Schneberg. It was made possible with support from many sources. In 2004, Parkinson received an Oregon Arts Commission Individual Artist Fellowship, which she used to travel to Worpswede, Germany, in 2005. While in Germany, Parkinson created many of the watercolors for this exhibition and began work on the paintings for Memories and Illusions. In 2007, the Regional Arts & Culture Council awarded Parkinson an Artist Project Grant to assist her in creating new work and this publication. Many individuals have also come forward with support. The artist and The Art Gym express appreciation for the foresight and generosity of all those who have made this project possible.