November 30, 2021 - January 1, 2022
While Covid 19 raged, Carol Benson needed a focus and an escape. She created a series of drawings, working in a stream-of-consciousness manner, which reflected her fears and feelings. Benson has created over one hundred drawings, first in black watercolor crayon then later in the series transitioning to color. The intense black of the monochromatic drawings echoes the darkness of the time, softened with water and drips that illustrate a loss of control and reliance on chance. Benson considers these drips as the tears shed during the pandemic. Although the works are abstract, Benson inadvertently found herself repeating certain themes in the separate drawings of the series. She experiences migraines and the zigzag auras these produce can be seen in her drawings. Also prominent is unintelligible writing that reflects the incomprehensible bombardment of medical news, often conflicting, which we find ourselves subjected to. Benson uses other repeating symbols such as circles, gravestones, coronavirus spikes, skulls, RNA strands, Delta triangles, and charts. Her later works that incorporate color emphasize the weaving patterns of various shades as representative of her long-time admiration for the fabric art forms traditionally practiced by women.
Above: Carol Benson, Corona Chronicle #117, 2021, 42” x 29”
Above: Michael Knutson, Vertical Poised Wedges, 2021, watercolor, 41” x 31.5”
...........................................Recent Watercolors, Skeleton Drawings and a Memorial
Michael Knutson exhibits eight large watercolors made last summer, thirty-three skeleton drawings, and an Iraq-Afghanistan war memorial. Knutson’s spatially complex and richly colored watercolors are four-layered, symmetrical tangles of spiraling ovals on two-colored triangular or diamond-shaped grids.
The skeleton drawings were made in 1988, first shown at Blackfish that year as a guest artist in a group show. Made with black oil bar on cream-colored paper, they began as a technical exercise. As the drawings piled up they began to suggest feverish, restless sleep that resonated in the early days of AIDS, and again now in the time of COVID.
The Memorial is a response to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is a 2” x 12” x 10’ Douglas Fir board almost covered with over 6,000 6d box nails. The nails represent all of the US military casualties in those wars. Knutson started pounding in 2005 and the last nails will be pounded in October 2021.
Back Room Gallery
Each December, Blackfish Gallery presents Small Works (as in, small works of charity, and small in size and price). We donate 100% of the proceeds each year to a non-profit dedicated to serving our neighbors who are in need. Like last year, our selected 2021 non-profit is the Oregon Food Bank.
Oregon Food Bank envisions resilient communities throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington that never go hungry. Oregon Food Bank fosters community connections to help people access nutritious food today, and works to build community power to eliminate the root causes of hunger, for good.