Paintings bring together humans, nature in Oregon City
Clackamas Community College will host "Birth Mark," a 20-year retrospective by Portland-based artist Matthew Dennison. The exhibition runs Jan. 7 through Feb. 1 in the Alexander Gallery.
"Birth Mark" is made up of 20 works from Dennison's career as a visual artist. The exhibition includes oil paintings, drawings and sculptures, providing a sampling of the evolution of Dennison's observations and thoughts concerning the world and environment around him. His work has been exhibited and collected internationally.
Dennison's work combines figures and environments in unexpected ways — such as a bear on the Bonneville Dam, or a narwhal confronting a family in a ski boat — to re-jigger assumptions about where animals belong in our ever more human-dominated world.
"Understanding that we are tied to our environment and its outcome, I'm interested in daily life and its rituals and how that thread impacts us," he said.
One of the things gallery director Kate Simmons enjoys most about Dennison's pairing of humans and animals in unexpected ways is the way energy arises between them in many compositions.
"For me, it seems as though the animals are often on the move, almost fleeing the space as human's take time to contemplate themselves or are even trying to halt the animals from their path of travel," Simmons said. "It's like the animals know something that we humans don't want to acknowledge or face, and this reminds me of other things that are going on in our world today.
"I think this is one of the great things about viewing art, as we all bring our own experiences to the lens of viewing the work."
The public is invited to a free artist reception from noon-1:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 16, in the Alexander Gallery. Light refreshments will be provided and Dennison will speak at 1 p.m.
The Alexander Gallery is located in the Niemeyer Center on CCC's Oregon City campus, 19600 Molalla Ave. The gallery is free and open to the public 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday, except during campus closures.