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SRO Video: Guys Doing Guy Things

April 7 - May 14, 2009
Closed Easter Weekend: Friday – Sunday, April 10-12

SRO Video: Guys Doing Guy Things
Oregon Artists: Mike Bray, Dan Gilsdorf, Mack McFarland and Stephen Slappe

Special thanks to Clackamas County Cultural Coalition and the Oregon Cultural Trust

SRO Video features work that goes beyond single channel video - it is video that combines projected images, installation and sculpture. You explore on your feet, rather than view from a seat. Stephen Slappe is creating a four-channel, four-wall projection of travelers on a remote road in rural Oregon. Mack McFarland is interested in ideas of utopia and dystopia and has been conducting and recording interviews in supermarket parking lots and street corners around the state. Dan Gilsdorf's works include a tiny video camera and model train, and burning trees as seen on stacked televisions. Mike Bray's installations use a combination of video and sculpture to conflate real and cinematic space.

About the Artists

In preparation for his upcoming installation When Movement Depicts Space in The Art Gym, Mike Bray is using two cameras to film slow tracking shots up and down a staircase. A third camera will be moved separately and "struggle to keep pace" as it records the cameras and camera operators attempting to move the dolly smoothly. The artist writes that this new work, "re-stages the movement of a camera dolly as a means to interpret cinematic space." The resulting video footage will be screened on television monitors and projected within a set constructed for the piece. This new installation is related to two earlier works Push (2008) and Drag (2007), which can be viewed on the artist's Web site ( In Push and Drag, Bray also plays with real and cinematic space, in these instances using moving images of a moving television. Bray has a complex and even humorous way of holding up a mirror to the world and its many imbedded, reflected and invented realities.

Dan Gilsdorf is presenting three works in the exhibition, his 2007 work RAIL and two new works Shots and Fire. In RAIL, Gilsdorf has placed a model train lacking both caboose and engine on top of a tall wooden trestle. As the train cars push and pull one another around the track, their movements are tracked by a small video camera and projected onto the gallery wall, creating the illusion of a life-size train passing at great speed. In Fire, the image of a single tree is divided among multiple stacked television sets. As the viewer watches, the tree catches fire and burns. The third work, Shots, conflates the painted silhouette of a shooter and a projection of a hunter in the forest. Gilsdorf writes,"... the projection of the shooter dominates the composition but the painted silhouette, which is the only element that physically exists, persists throughout the sequence. It asserts its physicality at the climax of the action when the gun is fired but the shooter is obscured." All three works address activity that we most often associate with men - the attraction to model trains, to guns and to fire. Like Mike Bray, Gilsdorf is also interested in ways in which the artworks can "fuse the virtual space of screen images with the real space of the world around us." His works combine objects, constructions, projections and painted images in various configurations and to various effects. Learn more about Gilsdorf's recent work and ideas at

Mack McFarland has a broad scope of interests, which one can explore on his Web site U-color-Topia, the installation the artist is making for The Art Gym, is the result of his interest in ideas about utopia and color theory. McFarland examined "the utopian impulse in Oregon today," in part by interviewing people on the street and asking them: "What is your favorite color? And. What is your utopia?" One person responded:

My utopia is like my favorite color because my favorite color is always changing; and one color leads to the next favorite color, leads to the next one... and so utopia is like that. It's where things are constantly changing, but everything is perfect, now. But you know it's going to change in a minute.

McFarland recorded the responses and is incorporating the recorded voices in a sculptural installation that includes sound and favorite color slides projected onto a sculpture built with televisions, wood, and cloth. The artist writes:

Spurred on by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's notion that "One searches in vain beyond phenomenon; it in itself is revelation." Not simply observing, but creating phenomenon, from which I am seeking revelation within the overlapping and contradictory response to the questions.

In preparation for Crossroads, the new work that Stephen Slappe is creating for The Art Gym, the artist headed out of Portland to film. Visitors will experience a four-channel projection of the results of multiple road trips, and what the artist calls "a metaphysical meeting of man and machine on the lonely highways of the American West." Crossroads builds on previous work, including the 2008 videos Homing and Cul-de-sac. (Clips from both projects are visible at www.stephen In these two earlier works, Slappe addresses home, transience and escape (physical and psychological). In Homing, the artist created a video made up of Google street views of all the homes he has lived in since birth. The footage moves from one residence to the next with intervals in which the camera drifts skyward. In Cul-de-sac, Slappe created a multi-channel installation and projected short clips from action/horror movies at Worksound Gallery in Portland. Viewers saw scene after scene of people running to escape some unseen predator or danger. For Crossroads, the artist staged his video on a rural highway - far from the city - then transplanted and restaged those images in the gallery.

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


The Art Gym has the Clackamas County Cultural Coalition and the Oregon Cultural Trust to thank for important support for SRO Video: Guys Doing Guy Things. This support has made it possible for the gallery to become better equipped to show art that incorporates new media.

Two artists, Dan Gilsdorf and Mack McFarland, received Artist Project Grants from the Regional Arts and Culture Council in support of their work for the show. The artists and The Art Gym thank RACC for its ongoing support of ambitious work by Oregon artists.


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