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First Thursday Opening Reception: September 7, 6-9pm

Artists Talk with Carol Benson and Michael Knutson: Saturday, Sept. 16, 2pm

Two Roads Towards Abstraction, Artists Talk with Lori Latham and Ellen Goldschmidt: Saturday, Sept. 23, 11am


New Work
Carol Benson and Michael Knutson

Counterpane 18 — Carol Benson, 2023, oil on gessoed paper, 24" x 18"

A powerhouse team of artists, painters Carol Benson and Michael Knutson present their latest variations on established themes, each artist deepening engagement with a serious and persistent fascination.


Benson extends her exploration of complex and playful compositions that reference quilts—traditional women’s work, the largely unsung, handmade projects that females create in the home. In her Counterpane series, Benson draws on Robert Louis Stevenson’s poem, The Land of Counterpane (in which an ailing child imagines the colors and patterns of his bedspread to be a land of adventures) as an inspiration for the paintings and their titles. Additional influences are the artist’s interest in color interplay, patterns and puzzles and her natural and urban surroundings.


In three large, horizontal oil paintings on wood panel, quilt imagery merges with landscape. Here, Benson exploits the horizontal orientation to convey the patchwork impression of cultivated land seen from above. 

Michael Knutson’s recent paintings involve a mixture of deliberation, physical drawing, digital manipulation, chance and impulse. They are his most dense and intense works to date. “I wanted them to have the weight of oil paintings,” he says—though the works are realized in watercolor—“to be a bit overworked, even to brush against the ugly.”

Certainly, the ugly moniker is debatable, as Knutson’s uncanny virtuosity with watercolor results in fractal images of daring complexity, saturated color and remarkable luminosity. To view them is to enter a world of stain-glassed wonder; the mind boggles at the spatially complex and kinetic images. Like the inner workings of perpetual motion machines or antique clocks, they are impossible to fully grasp. This makes one more aware of the process of looking, which is what the paintings may be about, Knutson allows.

Zigzag I — Michael Knutson, 2022, watercolor, 31.5" x 41"

Benson and Knutson, who are married, joined Blackfish in 2004 and 1997, respectively. This is their eighth two-person show.


Essence of Oregon - a year in review 
Lori Latham

November — Lori Latham, 2023, acrylic on canvas, 36" x 36"

Essence of Oregon is a visual journey which describes the Pacific Northwest's distinctive natural beauty. Using color and texture, Latham captures the unique spirit of each month of the year in twelve vibrant abstract paintings. The paintings are arranged in a single line, wrapping around the walls of the gallery. Viewing each painting chronologically in succession, visitors can see the hints of the upcoming month as they witness the year unfold.


Latham conceived of this body of work over a decade ago, working on it on and off over the years. The series finally came to fruition this year as the artist committed to painting the “feeling of each month,” devoid of  representational imagery. Latham has paired each image with a Haiku poem she created with an assist from ChatGPT.


Color Forms  Ellen Goldschmidt

Le Pont de Fauves — Ellen Goldschmidt, 2023, acrylic, collage on canvas, 36" x 36"

The painter Ellen Goldschmidt has made a practice of unpredictability, alternating between figuration and semi-abstraction in a variety of forms over 20 years of exhibitions. In Color Forms, she has gone all-in on pure abstraction, tracing the boundaries of possibility in the fundamentals of color, form line and texture.


This new work demonstrates Goldschmidt’s bonafides as a colorist and her imaginative range as an image maker. The show includes sixteen 12” x 12” and two 36” x 36” canvases. References to landscape, biology, nature and art history can be discerned, but overall, the images are playful and open-ended—an invitation to revel in the pleasures of paint, to find joy and sustenance in visual experience.


Goldschmidt is donating 10% of her sales to Friendly House Inc, a non-profit community center and social service agency in Portland.

Blackfishers Doing Cool Stuff

See what Blackfish Artists are involved with outside the gallery this month.

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