Blue Sky Gallery is pleased to announce that Lisa DeGrace has accepted the position of Executive Director, effective December 2, 2015. Lisa has spent her career working in nonprofits in Oregon and SW Washington in various leadership and fundraising positions. Over the past 20 years, she has gained a clear vision of what makes non-profits—particularly arts organizations—thrive. Lisa served as the Director of Foundation Relations at the Museum of Contemporary Craft and PNCA during the first years of their joint operating agreement in addition to working for the Sitka Center for Art and Ecology and as the Managing Director of Profile Theater. Lisa is also a composer and a performing artist, and she brings a deep passion for the arts and photography to her new role at Blue Sky:

“I admire Blue Sky’s deep roots in the local and national arts scene, its collaborative tradition, and its commitment to the photographers who show their work at Blue Sky. As Portland’s art scene continues to grow and change, Blue Sky, with its 40-year history, has a unique voice in this landscape. I’m excited to work with our board, staff, artists, and arts community to help steer Blue Sky toward its next 40 years.”

Welcome, Lisa!


Connecting Boundaries in the work of Carol Yarrow and Terri Warpinski

The two Drawers photographers whose work is on display this week, Carol Yarrow and Terri Warpinski, both traveled away from home to photograph these wonderful series: Yarrow photographs the many different personalities of primates in the jungle of Cameroon, while Warpinski’s Surface Tension focuses on the Berlin Wall, the U.S.-Mexico Border, and the Israeli-Palestinian separation border and the “multiple and conflicted personalities that complicate these places.”

Terri Warpinski’s series “Surface Tension” focuses on border control and the chaos that often takes place in the areas where the borders are located. Some images focus on the physical land and the areas in which the borders have been made, whereas other images show groups of people anticipating their entrance onto the other side. Warpinski successfully uses diptychs and triptychs to heighten the viewer’s sense of place as well as emphasize the notion of a divide that is physically created on the paper by dividing the images.

Many of the diptychs and triptychs serve as a narrative, leading the viewer from one image into the next. By making these connections there is a better understanding of what takes place in these highly guarded and concentrated borders. Warpinski states, “Walls and fences, embodiments of social and political oppositions, mark and divide the physical landscapes. Surface Tension utilizes various methods for capturing photographic images and incorporates the juxtaposition of images arranged in diptychs, triptychs or single frames.”

Carol Yarrow’s portraits of chimpanzees remind us of our shared ancestry with these “animals” and we’re reminded where we, as humans, truly originated from. Although most people consider apes to be animals, recent studies and lawsuits show that some people and scientists continue to convince the public that chimpanzees are legally human. Yarrow’s photographs only further confirm those statements when you notice the many personalities and human-like traits these chimps exhibit in her photographs.

The studies of animal behavior has a lengthly history when it comes to apes. Although one may point out that most chimpanzee emotions are noticeable in their eyes; they are extremely smart and talented. They know compassion and they know fear – something many humans tend to forget. Yarrow successfully photographs the chimps in their natural environment where they are comfortable with her presence and welcome her by allowing these portraits to be photographed. Yarrow captures the moments where some chimps are in a state of trance and others are completely locked in eye contact with her. Yarrow explains the experience as “life changing and life affirming.”

- Kory Jean Kingsley

Isolated Dwellings by Mary Stroud and Tina Tran

The two Drawers photographers whose work is on display this week, Mary Stroud and Tina Tran, both focus on isolation particularly in their homes and neighborhoods: Stroud photographs the abandoned dwellings on the remote Arctic coast of Alaska, while Tran’s work explores the intimate moments that take place inside her brother’s home.

Mary Stroud is a fine art photographer residing 300 miles above the arctic circle in Barrow, Alaska.  Originally born and raised in the deep South, Stroud has always enjoyed photography as a hobby but when she moved to Alaska in 2006 she began using her camera more often to focus on her photographic projects and the results are beautiful.

For her series featured in the drawers, Stroud photographed abandoned neighborhoods and dwellings that are slowly deteriorating on the coast of Alaska. In her statement she explains: “Where I find isolation and vulnerability, the Inupiat traditionally find protection and sustenance. It is a distinction that weighs on my mind as I struggle emotionally with my surroundings. I think this is what first attracted me to photographing the dwellings in my community. They don’t belong. Houses stand out conspicuously against the landscape, vestiges of an outside culture, my culture, one that has fatefully assumed dominance.” She strives to answer the questions “What lies within? A healthy household that is warm and inviting? Or one that is cold and dark, succumbing to deterioration within as well as without. Hope or despair?”

Tina Tran is a young photographer who explores her presence in her brother’s home by photographing his living quarters with her Mamiya RZ67 camera. With the use of warm light and color, Tran photographs every-day objects that speak of her brother’s lifestyle. Tran’s photographs successfully depicts a sanctuary that seems to be uninhibited. These photographs give the viewer an idea of an individual who prefers to be unaccompanied – potentially comfortable with the idea of loneliness. Although there is no human presence, Tran makes this sofa look inviting as it appears to be velvet from the warm light.

Tran’s statement explains “In a transient state where I am constantly on the edge of the unknown, I explore the only space that has remained constant over the past year. Currently living in my brother’s living room, I investigate one of the many facets of the “post-grad life,” and document moments of struggle, growth, and a hope for renewal. I am interested in the ideas of response, emotion, repetition and frequent these areas while adapting to living in a private/public space.”

- Kory Jean Kingsley

Southern Perspective: photographs by Kory Jean Kingsley

This past week at Blue Sky Gallery, I have displayed some prints from my most recent series titled “To Be Here,” on the “No Strings” wall, a weekly non-juried opportunity.

I’ve just recently moved to Portland to pursue my career as a photographer.  I’ve spent the last four years living in Savannah, Georgia where I received my B.F.A. in Photography and Printmaking from the Savannah College of Art and Design in May. Primarily using medium format film, I strive to document subjects that influence my personal life.

During my time in Georgia, I developed a connection with the local people and culture of the Southeast. Soon after I started living in Savannah I became more aware of the fact that the community that I was apart of was deeply rooted in African American history. From there I began exploring my relationship with the surrounding residents (usually men) by taking their photographs. I found that the photos came more naturally with men because often women wanted their portraits to be staged and anticipated. I quickly befriended these men and gained their trust by explaining my motives as a photographer. When photographing for the series, I would visit the local basketball court and stay after dark to photograph the players and share some laughs when they joked around. Just around the corner from my apartment there was a house where groups of families would sit outside and visit with one another, warmly welcoming me as I passed by. Occasionally, I would stop by the local barber shop “Jazzy Cutz,” and exchange stories with the barbers, or step out my front door and see smiling children playing near the street. These places are where I found companionship and trust when I was taking photos. After leaving Georgia, I feel fulfilled knowing that I created these bonds with many people for whom Savannah is home. 

Along with interning at Blue Sky Gallery this fall, I’m an editor for Aint-Bad Magazine, a bi-annual publication that focuses on contemporary photography. I’ve exhibited my work at various venues in the United States and internationally, including in Egypt and Southern France. In the future I hope to pursue many similar projects and to become an educator.

- Kory Jean Kingsley

Extraordinary Vacant Spaces with William Rihel and Christopher Rauschenberg

The two Drawers photographers whose work is on display this week, William Rihel and Christopher Rauschenberg, focus on finding the extraordinary moments within the ordinary: Rihel creates narratives by including traces of humans without their physical presence, while Rauschenberg’s work explores light and space in neighborhoods and alleyways in places far from home.

William Rihel is based in Portland, Oregon. He graduated from from Pratt Institute in 2000 and has been actively exhibiting his work since his return to Portland in the following years. Rihel’s work featured in the drawers depicts what seems to be uninhabited areas, and although one figure appears in the series, she is still hidden from view only exposing her feet to the viewer. His apt use of color juxtaposes the loneliness of these images, allowing the viewer to relate to the space but to also acknowledge the abandonment that’s taking place.

 Christopher Rauschenberg, one of the founding members of Blue Sky, makes most of his photographs overseas. Christopher has explored many different areas of the world and has exhibited his work in Argentina, Brazil, England, France, Greece, Germany, Italy, Sweden, the United States, and Yugoslavia, to list a few. Rauschenberg’s series featured in the drawers focuses of his trip to Macedonia during the summer of 2013. There is a mysterious sense of place in each of the images which portray an active yet empty cityscape. Rauschenberg successfully captures the ephemeral aspect of light and color in these wonderfully composed photographs.

- Kory Jean Kingsley