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Katherine Ace: Coupling Dichotomies

January 14, 2005 - February 27, 2005



The Ellen Noël Art Museum announces a new public art exhibition: "Katherine Ace: Coupling Dichotomies" opening January 14, 2005 through February 27, 2005.

Katherine Ace, a Portland artist, builds on the painting legacies of the old masters to contemporary artists in her multi-layered surfaces infused with painted imagery and found objects. Ace mirrors the seen and unseen world through the exploration of extremities. Highly personal dialogues become universal themes to be investigated within the context of the viewers' own personal narratives. (right: Katherine Ace, Venus Reviled,  2004, alkyd/oil and mixed media, 42 x  60 inches)

Ace's unique background as street portrait artist, potter, commissioned copyist and corporate portraitist yielded an eclectic array of commissions and experiences, from Simon & Schuster's textbook series on great composers to her work on Motley Crew's first album. Working for more than ten years as a studio artist, Ace has shown her works in museums and galleries across the country. She is currently represented by the Woodside/Braseth Gallery in Seattle and the Froelick Gallery in Portland.


"If there were one overriding thematic connection in my work it would be contradiction. The intersection of contraries fascinates me: ecstasy and agony; humor and tragedy; natural and constructed realities; experience and news. I find that I'm curious about the struggles of diversity vs. unity in human, animal and plant societies. I am captivated by complex issues that we all face, and yet all experience as deeply personal. I am interested in the role of dark feelings, thoughts and states of mind in the process of transformation; l am drawn to fire beneath reserve.
Simple, common visual communication allows addressing broad yet complex issues. I value the strengths of an intuitive and common visual vocabulary coupled with a vigorous and acute process.
The energy created by the coupling of opposites (or contraries) intrigues me, and I think of painting as a slow yet dynamic art form. I have an image in mind but don't know how it will look to the eye -- the raw canvas is both filled and completely empty- rather like dream imagery, although images are not derived from sleeping dreams. I use my eyes, mind, imagination, memory, photos, historical references and chance to construct a whole. As I work, I pursue a dynamic interaction between an intuitive mental image, a sensual, rich and physical handling of paint, and the spirit/accident of the moment.
Although images appear "realistic", I paradoxically approach the canvas as a pure playground for paint and employ gestural approaches to the canvas grounded in the abstract expressionist traditions of the 20th century. I use knives, nails, pins, bottle brushes, scouring materials, gold leaf, plastic, brushes - new and old, and anything else that might be laying around - plus I throw paint at the canvas, use my fingers and incorporate small objects into the paint such as feathers, beans, tacks, sticks, glass and more. Paper collage elements are often digitally manipulated. Still life images (invented or remembered) are often explored: paper, fabric, flowers, birds, knives, food, insects, fish, toys, figurines and I think of still life as a type of figure. I work when I'm happy, angry, sad, confused, curious, thinking, longing, impatient and whatever else happens along. Each piece becomes a combination of the accidental and the intentional, and the resulting layers and textures form the flesh of the painting.  
I often approach cultural truths, myths, objects and histories that reach back into our collective and personal pasts. Figures and still life figures evolve as open ended metaphors for concepts and environments that are themselves also metaphors, and therefore fold - like fabric, time, or paint - back in on themselves. I think of a work of art as a vehicle akin to the Trojan Horse - what you get from it in the long run is not the same as what you initially see."     
-- Katherine Ace, Artist Statement

An opening reception and artist gallery talk is scheduled for Thursday evening, January 20, from 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm. The reception is free and the public is invited to attend.

rev. 12/23/04

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