Spotlight: 2013 Pacific NW Photography Viewing Drawers (round 6)

Why, hello there! Welcome to Round 6 of our  2013 Pacific Northwest Photography Viewing Drawers Spotlight.

Blue Sky established the Pacific Northwest Photography Viewing Drawers program in 2007 to feature a juried, public archive of original prints by contemporary photographers based in the region. Our Drawers program has quickly become a favorite aspect of Blue Sky’s ongoing programming, available to approximately 25,000 visitors annually. For 2012—to coincide with the newly inaugurated Portland Photo Month (every April)—Blue Sky expanded the geographic scope of the Drawers program to include photographers from Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, British Columbia, and Alaska.

We’ll continue to preview 10 Drawers artists every week through Thanksgiving (aka: the beginning of holiday gift shopping season). Yes, all the prints in the Drawers are for sale! Email Amanda Clem at or call (503) 225-0210 to inquire about prices and availability. Better yet, come to the gallery and take some time to look at the prints in person.

Review rounds onetwothreefour and five by clicking through. And now...this week's 10 artists are...

Jenny Riffle, Seattle WA

Artist Statement: "Scavenger: Adventures in Treasure Hunting" —“There comes a time in every rightly constructed boy’s life when he has a raging desire to go somewhere and dig for hidden treasure.” -Mark Twain, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Riley grew up in rural eastern Washington. As a child he read Mark Twain’s stories of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn and decided he wanted to be like those mythical boys. He wanted a life full of treasure and adventure. Riley started smoking a corncob pipe, wearing a straw hat and even went to school barefoot until he was told not to. He got his first metal detector when he was eleven and to this day he continues to seek treasure in the dirt, in sandy beaches or even looking through a handful of change for wheat pennies and real silver. In my project, Scavenger: Adventures in Treasure Hunting, I have been following Riley out on his hunts and photographing the objects he collects. I explore the line between documentary and fantasy as I look at the objects he finds, what drives him to continue and the mythology and history of the treasure-hunting persona. In Scavenger I don’t try to reveal Riley’s essence as a traditional portrait would, but build upon it to create a more complicated presence. I express my romantic view of his life and his treasure-hunting obsession and choose not to show his daily activities outside of that. By only showing one side of his personality I create a larger than life character. I photograph him in Twain’s spirit, as a mythical adventurer, like Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer. The objects Riley collects are an escape into this mythology, a fantasy world full of possibilities. Riley finds little monetary reward for treasure hunting since most of his day is spent digging up worthless pull-tabs and random scraps of metal, nevertheless he spends all his free time scavenging. The thrill of the hunt and the spirit of adventure are all he needs to keep going.

From: $1,000


Jim RiswoldPortland, OR

Artist Statement: I recently spent more than my fair share of days in the ICU at OHSU recovering from cancer surgery. I cheered myself up by reading about the carnage of World War One, The War to End All Wars. I learned July 1, 1916 was the first day of the Battle of the Somme. That day is the bloodiest day in Britain’s history. The British Army suffers 57,470 casualties, including 19,420 dead. Most of those casualties came in the first hour of the battle. This is what happens when old generals and old tactics send young men charging unprotected into modern weapons, such as entrenched machine guns and relentless artillery fire. I learned 20,000,000 horses died during World War One. So did a whole bunch of cows, camels, chickens, pigs and sheep. Apparently, animals fare just as bad, if not worse, as young men against machine guns. I learned about the disillusionment of the common soldier. On March 3, 1916, during the Battle of Verdun, German Expressionist painter Franz Marc wrote, “For days I have seen nothing but the most terrible things that can be painted from a human mind.” The next day he was dead. We’ve learned to make jokes about the French Army. Here’s one: What do you call 100,000 Frenchmen with their hands up? The French Army. I learned 1,397,800 French soldiers died and 4,266,000 were wounded in World War One. There is a good reason the French are war adverse. I learned The War to End All Wars Didn’t End All Wars. So, I did an art show about it. At the same time, I took some self-portraits of my post-surgery battered body. They are the start of my next show called A Big Bowl of Cancer scheduled for October 2013.

From: $850 - $2,500


Rich Rollins, Portland, OR

Artist Statement: "Word From the Street" —Each of us searches for and hopefully finds a way of expressing our selves. In certain moments of our lives we are compelled to make a declaration out of desperation. At other times a statement comes out of our deeply felt belief system about the personal, societal or global world we live in and are affected by. Sometimes we simply wish to express harmony or dissonance with the world that surrounds us. There are people who keep their voice quietly housed in a personal journal, incorporate it into a piece of writing, or speak it into existence. These photographs are born out of the expressions of people who put their voice out into the world visually because they want it to be seen, encountered, and engaged. Their statements ask questions for us to consider, questions each of us may answer and wonder about in our own way, never truly knowing who created them or why.

From: $350


Paul Romaniuk, Victoria, BC Canada

Artist Statement: “While they do not preach, have no overt polemic, nor are even factually accurate, their redeeming grace is that they have allowed air, sunlight, rain and decay to recover the spirit of the place” Jonathan Green from his introduction to “Primal Images” by Jerry Burchfield. Taxonomy is an ongoing project of contemporary portraits of plants created using the lumen photogram method pioneered by Jerry Burchfield in the late 1990s. Each image is formed from the direct interaction of plant with photographic paper during exposure to sunlight. Through this process I am creating one-of-a-kind prints with ambiguities that evoke a sense of beauty, mystery and loss. I was inspired to make lumen prints after reading “Primal Images”, the book of lumen prints Jerry Burchfield made in the Amazon. Although I am a trained scientist, I was attracted by the idea of using the method to document plants from our garden in the intuitive, experiential way I used as a child learning about the natural world. I was also attracted by the ability of the process to transform the conventional beauty that we associate with plants by revealing the hidden beauty within them. This hidden beauty is composed of translucent shapes, remnants of the plant material embedded in the photographic paper, and the combination of muted and intense colors. Each print is like a fossil in rock that can only hint at the nature of the original object. The unpredictable outcome of the process makes it difficult to classify these artifacts, thus the taxonomy is incomplete and remains open for further investigation.

From: $500 - $900


Michael Sell, La Grande, OR


Artist Statement: The members of the online forum, one of the many community forums on the Internet, are mostly strangers. I had never met them, but I know of them. A Meme of One: The UFCK Family is a collection of photographs that depict the UFCK cohort in both fictional and real forms. This work addresses issues such as living our lives in public forums, privacy, how the Internet helps the discourse of fictional narrative, and how those of us who choose to interact with others in an online forum do so anonymously. The photographs tell the story of a community connected through distance and how the individual members are pieces in a larger puzzle. Though I had not met any of these subjects before photographing them, the camaraderie and familiarity of these personalities is palpable through the intimacy of the photographs. As memes, the members of the UFCK community are not different from the members of other Internet forums. Their language, interests, and behaviors are quirky and exceptional in their simplicity and anonymity. Yet this is only one element of what makes them semi-famous as a subculture to those who know them. As peers, posting online, commenting, and creating our fictional selves, we participate in the online dialogue, acting in the same way. As disparate as we may be, we are, in the end, members of the same family.

From: $150


Brandon Sorg, Portland, OR

Artist Statement: Since moving to Portland four years ago, I have documented the things that visually set the city apart from other places I have lived. I regularly spend time walking its streets, photographing scenes in the landscape that, in my mind, compose Portland. I avoid the obvious clichés that are so often associated with this city, and instead focus on documenting the (usually more subtle) characteristics that repeat. Repetitions such as the lushness created by the rain, discarded or postponed adventures sitting in wait on the in the form of RVs, Volkswagen vans, or old cars, optimism and disappointment in the same shop window, coincidence and the strange, good intentions and hope, the many and varied depictions of Mt. Hood, or houses and objects consumed by plant growth... to outline a few. This work is about these repetitions that I like to believe illustrate, symbolize, and constitute Portland.

From: $200


Andrew Stanbridge, Portland, OR

Artist Statement: In November of 2012 I traveled to the Turkey/Syria border town of Kilis to document the Syrian refugees crossing into Turkey, escaping the brutal civil war that has consumed the country. At the border I found that crossing into rebel (Free Syria Army or FSA) controlled areas of the country was quite easy, so I decided to go and spend time with the FSA fighters and witness the war torn landscape for myself. Rather than focusing on the blood and bang-bang street battles I decided to instead create quite portraits of the scarred towns and individuals involved in the war in order to give context to the everyday horrors reported by the mainstream media. This war is far from over and even when these two sides find resolution there is a long road of smaller battles to be fought. I plan on returning to Syria regularly and continuing this project as the various histories evolve.

From: $500 ~

Travis Stanton, Portland, OR

Artist Statement: This project is about colliding with strangers and bringing them into a tangible perspective shift. I approach any person-of-interest from any walk of life and bring a small, unexpected interruption to their day. Initially the people are unsure of my intentions, this is when I place a world-bending lens between our faces. With this movement my English is no longer heard. Through this lens eyes light up and foreheads wrinkle with tiny sparks of confusion and curiosity. A different part of the brain obtains control of the human without effort, and imagination takes the wheel. They raise their hands like a child would toward the intriguing glass as I place it into their hands. Their eyes become glued to the view through the sphere at the astonishing new perspective within. I watch as they look at the sky, their hands, at the street and at me. I make faces at them and they make faces at me. With this lens in hand, they can abandon all normal adult social behavior and a non-language playtime can occur. This project is about the celebration of the human and the human reaction. It is a project of joy and the simple shifting in objectivity both within the glass and within the mind. It is a peephole for me to see into people. It is a peephole for people to see themselves and step into a unique and unscheduled moment. This is a project I intend to continue throughout my life. I have conducted this with hundreds of people to date. Each sliver of moment tells a little bit about the person, from the way they hold the lens, to the zany or concentrated face they put forward. We can see a very tangible, even if only temporary change, pushing the mind mental arena of lively fun. With each interaction the mind is moved, a memory is created, a moment is shared, and a dramatically into the photo captures the event - thus the idea is shared with you...

From: $350


Elizabeth Stone, Greenough, MT

Artist Statement: "Death By Drowning, Lucy’s Water Bowl" — I have an intense fear of moths. I’m not sure where it came from. Perhaps it was the “Bedtime for Frances” book my mom read to me as a young kid. Frances is a badger and is trying to go to sleep. She gets frightened by a moth climbing against her bedroom window. I started this project a couple of years ago. My dog Lucy has a big stainless steel water bowl outside. One day I found a moth had drowned. It was stunningly beautiful in its death. As the summer progressed more little lives drowned in the bowl. I photographed them and returned to the water bowl almost every morning to memorialize whatever creatures had lost their lives while I was sleeping. The project continues each summer. My biggest successes are when I can scoop a life, not yet lost, from the water and place it on the rocks in the sun. My hopes are simple, to elevate these small slices of reality that surround me and make them subjects for pause and reflection.

From: $450


Mary Stroud, Barrow, AK


Artist Statement: "Chrysaora melanaster: the Arctic Sea Nettle" — Too often people see only what is obvious in their surroundings. While beauty can certainly be found in the wild, minimalist expanse of the tundra and beaches of the Alaskan arctic, the majority of what exists is small and too easily goes unnoticed. The arctic sea nettle is a large jellyfish that lives in the waters of the Arctic Ocean. In the early months of summer as the sea ice begins its yearly retreat, these jellyfish can often be found dead or dying on the beaches around Barrow, AK. At first one might notice them only as a precaution or simply because their presence on the brown, gravely shoreline seems out of place. If observed closely, however, they transcend the ordinary and become extraordinary with an inner illumination and grace of movement that belies their fate. These photographs share the results of a close observation of the uncommon beauty of these common arctic creatures. Nature is at its most beautiful and most rewarding when we choose to see it beyond the obvious.

From: $175 - $225


Thank you for reading! As always, we invite you to come look through the Drawers to see the rest of the images we have from these photographers from noon to 5pm, Tuesday through Sunday.




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