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Pat Boas: Record Record

September 13 - October 28, 2009

Pat Boas is an artist who has intrigued me for a number of years. The artist makes work that explores and examines language in context—letter by letter, word by word, image by image. I have long been drawn to the elegance of her ideas and their expression.

The Art Gym exhibition Pat Boas — Record Record includes four series that comment in very quiet ways on the text and images in The New York Times and a new series of digital works What Our Homes Can Tell Us that captures language found in the artist's home and places of importance to her extended family.

In 2002, The Art Gym presented the first artworks Boas would make addressing The New York Times as source material in the group show Slowness. At that time we exhibited Alphabet (NYT 01/01/01), All the Heads on the Front Pages of the New York Times 2001, and a series on jewelry ads. Record Record includes the first two.

Recently, after several drawing series that took her work in a very different direction—readers may be familiar with the exquisite Mutatis Mutandi drawings, which are not included in this exhibition—Boas returned to the Times. Her A3 series, completed in 2008-09, comments on the paper's decades-long practice of presenting a Tiffany & Company jewelry ad next to an international news photograph on the third page of the paper (the Times discontinued this practice in 2008). A second series titled NYT Little People was also begun in 2008.

Boas writes: "After completing the 2001 New York Times drawings, I kept watch on the sociology of the front page and began to see a change in those featured 'above the fold.' By 2008, the trend had shifted away from the rich and powerful toward ordinary people doing ordinary things. I thought of the Egyptian Faiyum commemorative portraits and Persian miniatures, and again began to collect the front pages of the Times for a series of gouache drawings. Each isolates only the 'unfamous,' brought together by the somewhat arbitrary nature of what is considered newsworthy on a given day. The titles of the drawings pair the major headlines with the people I am choosing to commemorate."

Record Record concludes with the artist's digital photographs and video series What Our Homes Can Tell Us. For this new body of work, Boas is assembling a photographic lexicon of words found on objects in her house and in the European hometowns of her family and ancestors. Like The New York Times works, these new works coax meaning from the texts and images that surround us.

In the artist's own words: "Two influences lie behind the videos and prints of this series. One is the theory held by some linguists that our experience of language is determined as much by random associations, arbitrary contexts and stray memories as by the meanings of the words we use. The other is those beautiful Shaker "spirit drawings" of messages received by a medium/artist thought to be under divine influence. Putting these together, I wondered what might lurk in the spaces we inhabit and decided to try my hand at becoming the medium."

Written language is all around us—imbedded in the newspaper, on the objects and products in our kitchens and bathrooms, and on the streets and buildings of our hometowns and cities. These words, and the images that surround and present them, tell us something about ourselves and our society. Pat Boas makes work that pays attention to these complex messages and asks us to do the same.

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

About the Artist

Pat Boas is an artist and writer based in Portland, Oregon. Her drawings and projects have been shown at the Portland Art Museum, the Boise Art Museum, the Salt Lake Art Center, the Nicolaysen Art Museum in Casper, Wyoming, and Seattle's Consolidated Works. The recipient of several grants and awards for her studio work, she was a contributing editor for Artweek from 2000 through 2006 and has written articles and exhibition reviews for such publications as Art Papers and artUS.

Boas is an assistant professor of drawing and painting and chair of the Master of Fine Arts Program at Portland State University.

Thank you

The Art Gym is grateful to the Regional Arts & Culture Council for a project grant that has provided invaluable financial support for the Pat Boas – Record Record exhibition and publication. RACC has provided critical funding for The Art Gym's exhibitions and publications for many years.

The Art Gym also tapped its newly established Publications Fund to complete the funding for the catalogue, and we thank the Harold & Arlene Schnitzer CARE Foundation and Linda Hutchins for their ongoing contributions to the fund. Portland State University's Office of Research and Sponsored Projects provided Pat Boas with research and production support for What Our Homes Can Tell Us.

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