I’ve always been a sucker for the Laverne Krause Gallery in the AAA building on the UO campus. It was the site of my first Polaroid adventure ever (remember “Big Balls“? Didn’t think so!), and where I got the squeamish delight of inspecting pink wax casts of raccoon feet.
The gallery is a giant laboratory for young artists to test their work with the public. That’s why it’s so great: even if the artist’s hypothesis fails, her experiment will surely bubble and fizz in some sort of chemical reaction.
That’s how I felt about one piece that was hidden behind a black paper curtain, which created a sort of isolation room to view a formation of canvases covered in painted geometric shapes, which shifted visually and emotionally depending on the color of an ever-changing light. Gosh, that was a long sentence! But that’s how the piece felt: like a convoluted term paper waiting to be written rather than an art piece created with passion.
And then there are the diamonds in the rough like Taylor Engel, who fixed her photos to the wall with thumbtacks. I was particularly struck by this piece, initially because of the attention to those graceful, natural curving and curling lines of the woman’s hair.
The piece is an excellent psychological portrait. The woman’s identity is obscured- or is it lost in a haze of thought or fatigue or confusion? A sharp shadow on her nose contrasts with the out of focus but almost smooth texture of her mouth. It’s as though her lips are sealed shut! Stunning and unsettling.