Thursday, February 5, 2009

Track Town U.S.A

Amazing what you come upon while Googling yourself. Luckily, not all of it is bad. I had my paintings hanging in Eugene, OR last summer at the Maude Kerns Art Center. Little fanfare and no sales. I didn't even go out to see the show. But apparently Chuck Adams from the Eugene Weekly did a review of the show, and I somehow escaped a negative review. *whew*

He writes:

"Just a few blocks from Hayward Field on 15th Avenue, Maude Kerns Art Center would be foolish to not capitalize on the interest of the Olympic Trials attendees. So with a juried exhibit titled “Track Town USA,” MKAC steps up to the plate and offers work in numerous mediums, some of it related to track and field and some not. Mike Leckie’s cast hydrostone bas reliefs of athletes in competition recall the Greek art of the first Olympiad in Athens, but Leckie’s are a sculpt-by-numbers affair, as if crafted by machine.

Kris Ibach’s oil paintings Release and Orbit appear to be the two major works of the exhibit, which is unfortunate because while they are lustrous and sensuous, their basic composition has gone completely haywire. In Release the shot-putter’s arm has been warped and stretched like Silly Putty to give it an inhuman, alien effect. Orbit appears to abandon common-sense anatomy outright, especially in the arms of the hammer thrower. Similarly dissappointing are John Giustina’s photoshopped and blown-up “action shots” on canvas. Another viewer wondered, “Why go the extra yard to make it artsy-fartsy?” I’d also like to know: Why print on canvas if you’re going to paste it onto flimsy foamcore? Canvas is meant to be stretched.

We start moving into some decent work with Carol Arian’s collages. Sacrifice, her collage of a long jumper in mid-air looking like Christ on the cross, posits the justified comparison of sports to religion, with the sacrifice of all the many miles and hours of training (and praying) paying off in gold medals. Just like Jesus. Or something.

Speaking of sports and religion, don’t miss Ryan Pancoast’s three oil paintings in the exhibit, all of which feel like they belong in a church or some other religious setting (making this former-church-turned-gallery the perfect setting). Pancoast’s The Starting Line certainly quotes French Neoclassicism in its mannered, dignified scene of cross-country runners. Poised at the starting line, the runners could easily be the soldiers in Jacques-Louis David’s Oath of the Horatii while the coaches squatting to the side are the unseen generals directing the athlete-soldiers to a considerably less bloody outcome. Pancoast’s The Spit is an oddly affecting portrait in muted yellows and muddy browns of a runner who catches his breath after a race by hawking a loogie. That’s a perfect blend of sports and paint."

I feel like I owe Chuck a word of thanks. Maybe the show wasn't a complete bust after all!

The full article is here.


  1. It's a shame none of the throngs of Olympic trials visitors had any time to visit art galleries and, you know, invest in the local economy. They sure missed out with your paintings. I feel bad your excellent work got lumped in with a bunch of crap, but that's the way it goes in Eugene, supposed "arts" town.

  2. Thanks Chuck! I also wish Phil Knight went to the show. Artist-in-Residence at NIKE wouldn't be a bad gig.