When I started trying to promote my own artwork online I kept coming across other people's art that amazed or compelled me in one way or another. This blog has been a way for me to practice thinking and writing about art, as well as learning more about my peers and all the incredible art that is being made out there.

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Monday, March 10, 2014

Ellen Lesperance

My comfort zone generally runs toward representational and narrative art but I try to keep my mind as open as my eyes. Down at Upfor gallery here in Portland there's a display of work by local artist Ellen Lesperance that is worth your time if you happen to be in town. Her process is highly conceptual. Working from sweaters worn by feminist activists as well as the designs worn by Amazons on classical Greek pottery (!) she develops her own abstract pieces on hand drawn grids. Now concepts can be interesting or not, without having much impact on the visual end product. When the end product is as eloquent and captivating as these, it tends to deepen the interest, adding a layer of satisfying back story and possibly piquing the viewer's interest in those of the artist. In this case, that's the role of feminist activists who often sacrificed many other aspects of their lives to bring about necessary and still nascent changes in society. But process and intent should never be what draws you to a work of art in the first place, and they can be safely set aside until you have first taken in the finished product. Aesthetics is still the unavoidable root challenge of all visual art, despite numerous attempts to set it aside during the 20th century. These pieces meet that challenge with a startling synthesis of painstaking meticulous detail and elegant informality. The hand drawn uneven grid gives the structural aspect of the work room to breathe. The individual paintings are hung upon a background of hand-printed silks, and on a small table near the center of the room, small  statuettes of activists and Amazons cavort together across the millennia in common cause. It's as much installation as it is painting and sculpture, and it's a quietly powerful room to spend a little time in if you get the chance.
The show will up through March 30 at Upfor Gallery
You can see more of Ellen Lesperance's work at her website:

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