In the 1960s Oregon-based sculptor Lee Kelly was tempted by the discarded 1950s chrome-plated car bumpers that were beginning to turn up in scrap yards. He carted away these sensual scraps by the truckload, preferring Buick and Cadillac bumpers - not only for their higher quality chrome-plating, but as much for their sexier forms. Once back in the studio, Kelly created a group of very unusual, rugged, curvy, humorous sculptures using the original form of the bumper as a jumping off point. Though widely known for his large-scale sculpture in stainless and Cor-ten steel, much of Kelly’s early sculpture takes on a more organic form, and a stronger relationship to his early Abstract Expressionist paintings, some of which can be viewed in the concurrent retrospective exhibition Lee Kelly, on view at the Portland Art Museum through January 9, 2011.
Born in 1932 in McCall, Idaho, Lee Kelly began his artistic life as a painter, and in 1959 graduated from the Museum Art School at the Portland Art Museum, now known as the Pacific Northwest College of Art. Kelly’s long and prestigious career, and prolific nature have resulted in a significant body of work which can be seen in public and private collections throughout the country, including at the Portland Art Museum in Oregon, Stanford University in California, New Orleans Art Museum in Louisiana, Seattle Art Museum in Washington and the City of Sapporo in Japan. As one of the most recognized artists in the Northwest, his modernist sculptures are a central focus at regional institutions such as Reed College, Marylhurst University, Oregon State University, Catlin Gabel School, the Oregon Health and Sciences University, and the Washington Park Rose Garden. Kelly has been exhibiting at the Elizabeth Leach Gallery since the early 1980s.
While New York-based painter Shane McAdams’ work has long been an exploration of the landscape, his most recent body of work, featured in Micro Chasm, approaches it much more explicitly. Examining the line between the natural and the manmade, McAdams introduces exquisitely executed, romantic landscape paintings within (and underneath) webs of biological-seeming abstraction. These abstract forms are created by the artist’s experiments with and manipulation of mundane media such as Elmer’s Glue, correction fluid, and ballpoint pen ink. In the sense that the abstraction is created by the inherent properties and physical realities of the materials, these forms are more natural than the grandiose and sterile vistas depicted within. McAdams is scrutinizing the tradition of easel and landscape painting and the basic processes of the natural world, exposing the folly of the human desire to outperform or challenge the forces of nature.
Shane McAdams received his MFA from the Pratt Institute (Brooklyn, NY) in 2004, and his work has been exhibited at the Marlborough Gallery (New York, NY), Pace Wildenstein Gallery (New York, NY), and Caren Golden Fine Art (New York, NY). He has been a regular contributor to The Brooklyn Rail since 2003. This is his first exhibition at the Elizabeth Leach Gallery.
In Shelved, an exhibition of small sculptures, Malia Jensen distills many of the concepts essential to her practice. She combines intensely seductive materials (primarily bronze and glass in this case) with a dark sense of humor, encouraging the viewer to deeply identify with the frequently imperfect or set-upon animals and quotidian objects that are often her subjects. Metaphorically rich, and sometimes perplexing, Jensen’s work relieves and redeems the funny brutality of all daily human interaction.
Malia Jensen received her BFA from the Pacific Northwest College of Art in 1989. Her work has been exhibited at PICA (Portland, OR), the Melbourne International Arts Festival (Melbourne, Australia), and The New Museum (New York), among many others. In 1991 and 1998 she was featured in the Oregon Biennial, and her work is included in the Altoids Collection, an acclaimed traveling collection of emerging art. Jensen is represented by the Elizabeth Leach Gallery and is currently based in New York.