Flights of Fancy/ Moments of Doubt
February 2-27, 2021
This exhibition of works on canvas and paper continues the tribute in my aesthetic to dreams, mysterious promptings from the muse, and the unexpected compositional structures and imagery which emerge of their own volition when very watery washes have been employed. Improbable land and waterscapes, symbols, architecture, patterns and figures (human and animal) reveal themselves. The question becomes where does this artwork want to go now? Sometimes the answer may not emerge for several years. I am always intrigued and delighted by the way imagery appears and is adamant about what must and must not be added - whether through drawing, painting, or collage in a variety of mixed media - to finish the work. Any initial ideas I might have had are wonderfully changed by its demands.
Completing the piece is like working my way through to the end of a particularly satisfying mystery novel; the intricate dance between
imagery and the consideration of formal needs keeps me looking at and working on it until I feel a satisfying solution has arrived.
In this exhibit I continue to explore a variety of themes that have always fascinated me. Having made art for many years, I move back and forth, without a linear evolution, through shifts in imagery, media and process. I revisit earlier motifs and images for new and further exploration inevitably reflecting my deep concern about the environment and the world. Linear time is an illusion when dancing amongst the mysteries of the creative process.
The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. -- Albert Einstein
Above: Barbara Black, "mixed messages", 2020-21, acrylic on canvas, 40” x 30”
Flights of Fancy/ Moments of Doubt
The Greek and Roman myths are transmigratory travel lessons. Chimera, imaginary creatures melding human and animal spirits, gods, goddesses and lesser gods, exist on the same plane as mortals, mirroring our desires, fears and flaws in enhanced and poetic form. The retelling of their stories gathers momentum propelling and transforming them for our own time.
A battered straw suitcase from Sicily, full of previously unexamined family photos from a by gone era, was the catalyst for much of the imagery. Angels, demons, temples pagan and christian, wings and winged creatures, are in every frame alongside the people enjoying family celebrations. Were their chimera real, an illusion or just part of an allegorical landscape?
Sicily, an early Greek colony from antiquity, is an island bursting with Greek ruins — it is said there are more Greek ruins in Sicily than Greece. It is also an island that has been conquered many, many times, lending an enduring pathos to its beauty.
The figures in these paintings are set in a dream-like, romantic space and are imaginary beings. Small groupings of figures are in the background, culled from sketchbook drawings of people going about their everyday lives in airports, restaurants, streetcars etc. One can “see” chimera everywhere if one looks for them. Flight, as in birds and planes, is a recurrent element.
Our chimera still exist in our dreams, and in the stories which we never tire of hearing. Our landscape (or plane) is now informed not only by metaphor, but by the world of science. Our genes can be manipulated for better or ill. Chimeras manifest in nature are created in laboratories as well as our imagination. Will we create monsters or angels? Will the stories prevail?
The paintings and drawings are executed on rabbit skin glue gesso on wood panels (paintings) or paper (drawings). There are many layers, some being absorbed by the gesso to create a fresco-like, archaic surface. These surfaces sometimes reveal, others conceal what is underneath. Misdirections are dependent on the painting process and greatly guide the outcome. This process values chance and experimentation, two pillars of surrealistic thought.
Above: Angela Passalacqua, "Flights of Fancy, Moments of Doubt", oil on wood panel, 36” x 36”, 2021
Back Room Gallery
In Memoriam: Dyann Alkire (1948 to 2020)
Dyann was a founding member of Blackfish Gallery. While she moved on to other venues over the years, she always felt close to the gallery and the artists associated with it. Her work was displayed at the gallery over the years, most recently in 2019 at the 40th Celebration Show.
Born in Vancouver, Wash., Dyann graduated from the University of Washington in Seattle with a BFA in painting. Along with her husband, Tom Alkire, she later moved to Salem and Portland. Two children came along in the 1980s and all the while she continued to make art: first painting, then etching, and later painting again. Her work has been shown over the years at many shows and galleries across the West, and her work is in many public, corporate and individual collections.
In a recent statement about her work, she wrote: “I’m held hostage by nature, a good place to be. Nature images combine in my work with various shapes. It’s an ‘interpretation’ of nature: it is my North Star….My thrust of my work is how I like combining different images. For example, placing finely ink-drawn images of birds next to childlike washy renditions of petroglyphs or placing sophisticated cave painting images adjacent to abstract expressionist painterly areas. Juxtaposing smooth areas with textural impasto areas lends interesting surface qualities.”
We lost her way too early due to pancreatic cancer, but her spirit lives on in her work, and she would be happy that some of her etchings and paintings are now being displayed at Blackfish.