Laura Ross-Paul - Northwestopia
Nat Meade - Guys are Dolls

November 4 - November 29, 2008

Through a painting career spanning 3 decades, Laura Ross-Paul has established herself as one of the preeminent Northwest artists. Emerging from a period of turmoil in American politics and the ending of the Northwest Mystics painting movement, she continues to find inspiration in our unique environment and mindset. From her childhood she recalls spending summers at camp on Mt. Hood, staying in a dormitory designed by Pietro Belluschi. The views from this building framed the vast expanse of forest while narrowing the focus of the viewer, as if describing the trees in fractal patterns. For Ross-Paul, “the forest contains the ultimate aesthetic experience: color, pattern, texture, soft and harsh edges and undulating light of varied intensities.” The exquisite chaos of the forest prompts a moment of quiet reflection, a “being present moment.” Northwestopia explores the idea that our urban proximity to nature can lead to a utopian viewpoint.

Nat Meade's interest in traditional oil painting techniques melds perfectly with his clean compositions and stark figurative themes. Intrigued with the idea of painting from his weaknesses, Meade set out to confront his self-consciousness and create paintings of austere beauty from unremarkable lives and everyday people. Guys are Dolls uses the central theme of the figure, whether posed or natural, costumed or plain-clothed. These figures inhabit a quiet world of used luggage, arcade cabinets and starkly monastic rooms. Meade used two separate models throughout the group of paintings, dressing them as one would a mannequin, posing them like toys. From this process of dressing up the model and directing their poses, Meade was reminded of playing with action figures or dolls.