INTERPRETING THE TEXT
For Lake Oswego resident and artist Bill Baily, visualizing "Good Morning, Midnight" began with covering his canvas completely in white.
Baily's finished painting draws the eye with its use of jarring contrast in two shades of blue that represent both the barren Arctic tundra as well as the vast emptiness of outer space. Behind those blues, the vibrant white background is pulled through the piece as a reference to other themes in Lily Brooks-Dalton's post-apocalyptic novel, which is the selection for the 12th-annual Lake Oswego Reads program.
Baily is one of 20 artists whose work will be featured in an art show that opens Feb. 5 and highlights a month full of programming around the annual community-wide reading program. It's an opportunity for artists from across the region to showcase their talents while bringing readers and art lovers together to delve deep into the issues and themes that fill "Good Morning, Midnight."
Each artist was asked to give their visual interpretation of the plot and motifs surrounding the book's two protagonists, Augustine and Sullivan. While Augustine remains faithful to his post at an abandoned Arctic research station, Sullivan is on a spaceship returning from a mission to Jupiter. Mysterious circumstances surround the civilization's final days, and both characters are forced to deal with their past as they face an uncertain future.
At an opening reception scheduled for 6 p.m. on Feb. 5, the artists' work will be displayed at the Lakewood Center for the Arts, where they will explain their visualization of the novel. The gallery will remain on display throughout February before becoming a travelling display that will move around the state through November.
"For me, it wasn't the story as a whole. It was more the descriptive verbiage in each chapter that intrigued me," Baily says. "I guess I want viewers to look at (my work) as a strong composition of both dark and light that are connected."
There are small details in Baily's painting that make connections with the novel's characters, particularly two small figures placed in the middle of the snowbound earthscape and the visualization of orbits drawing lines across the sky.
This is Baily's ninth year participating in the Lake Oswego Reads Art Show. He says he returns each year because he loves seeing what his fellow artists come up with and how each has turned the book into something of their own.
Dyanne Locati shares Baily's sentiment. She says she's eager to see what this year's artwork will tell her about each of her fellow artists' style and approach to literary art.
"A lot of times I can tell whose painting it is without the name. People use their own personal styles and aspects of the storyline they connected with the most," Locati says. "I thoroughly enjoy seeing the paintings and reading the titles."
Locati's work focuses on the idea of communication — communication between the two protagonists as well as their internal communication with themselves. It also showcases the communication breakdown both characters have seen in their lives, particularly how it relates to their past.
"As I read it, I kept thinking about using figures that involved the Arctic and the colors maybe being an aurora borealis. But the more I read, the more I realized it was the about the lack of communication between father and daughter," Locati says.
While many of the artists participating in the art show are painters by trade, others — such as Debby Neely of Woodland, Wash. — use this opportunity to mix it up and try their hand at something new.
Neely's work usually centers mostly around woodblock printing of wildlife. But for this year's Lake Oswego Reads show, she worked with scratchboard, meaning she started with a dark blank canvas and pulled pieces away to reveal a white background in creating her images.
"The book showed us two similar yet opposite situations," Neely says. "People in space and on Earth who were disconnected from everything else, but they had commonalities."
Neely's piece features what seems like a million little stars twinkling in the dark. Several of the stars come together to makeup a large polar bear, or Ursa Major. Near the bottom sits Augustine's research outpost, sticking out of the barren tundra like a lighthouse on the edge of the ocean, signaling to pilots as they make their way home.
"What we (artists) do is visualize what's in our mind, what we've read or seen," Neely says. "I feel (Augustine) couldn't get away from the bears, whether they were in the heavens or on the Earth, just as we can't get away from things inside of us that we don't want to face. Our past."
Neely, Locati and Baily will all be at the Lakewood Center to talk about their work. The center is located at 368 S. State St. in Lake Oswego; admission to the show is free.
For more information about Lake Oswego Reads, including a complete schedule of events, visit lakeoswegoreads.org.