The Oregon Coast Council for the Arts presents “Meditations on Canvas,” an exhibition of oil paintings by Washington-based artist Dennis Hartley, from April 5 to May 26 in the Runyan Gallery at the Newport Visual Arts Center. The exhibit will include painting from the artist’s current and ongoing series, “Fractures” and “Meditations.” A Frist Friday opening reception will be held on April 5, 5-7pm, with an artist talk at 6pm. An OCCA members-only talk will be held on April 4 at 4pm.
Dennis Hartley is an architect emeritus born in Los Angeles. With architectural firms, he worked in Los Angeles Paris, and San Diego, on worldwide projects large and small. For seven years, he also designed a line of dining furniture that was sold through designer showrooms from Los Angeles to New York. Although a life-long painter, in 1998 Hartley put aside his practice and other pursuits to paint full-time.
A Pacific Northwest resident for over 35 years, Dennis Hartley now lives and paints in a valley of forests and working farms and dairies situated at the foot of Mt. Adams in the Cascade range. He designed and built his studio and home on a 20-acre pasture next door to an old dairy barn–where the landscape speaks of decay and renewal. Nearby the White Salmon river cuts a deep rocky chasm through fields of echinacea on its way to the Columbia River Gorge.
“Visitors frequently ask me how living here informs my work,” Hartley says. “What I can say is that I’ve been dreaming of this place my whole life and painting it from my imagination for the last 20 years. And now, I’m here.”
“I’m calling the show ‘Meditations’ because the last 20 years have been a journey to define the essential…..or reduce something that is complex and messy down to its essence. That is, find what is interesting, and worthy of contemplation, and paint only that. I follow that thread and see where it might lead.”
Hartley began his series “Fractures” in 2017. He finds photographs or video stills of people that resonate with him on an emotional level and reveal something universal. These works address issues of identity, cultural context or appropriation, and pose questions such as: What is shown? What is hidden? The subject is the original image filtered through various media. For his painting based on the iconic photo of Chief Joseph, for example, Hartley asks himself: What was photographer Edward S. Curtis’ point of view? What is the truth behind the image?
“These works in ‘Fractures’ contrast representational fields of light brushwork with abstract field of heavy paint applied with putty knives, and play with the rhythmic interaction of field and ground, separation and blending, and color opposites,” Harley says. “Often the canvas is ‘fractured’ itself, strengthening the third dimension.”
In his series “Meditations,” Hartley features oil on canvas works that are then mounted on board with a white frame. Within a simple linear grid, fields of color and texture are interwoven, creating rhythm and movement. “The work is also influenced by the repetitive structure inherent in minimalist music,” Hartley says.
Dennis Hartley has had his work featured in solo shows at the Jacobs Gallery in Eugene, the Freed Gallery in Lincoln City, G2 Gallery in Scottsdale, AZ,, and the Morrison Gallery in Kent, CT, among other solo and group exhibits. His work has been selected through juried competitions sponsored by Studio Visit Magazine, the Columbia Center for the Arts in Hood River, and the First Street Gallery in Chelsea, NY. His works have been selected to be exhibited at US embassies in Ukraine and Kyrgzstan, and they are available through the The Portland Art Museum Rental Sales Gallery.
Works in Dennis Hartley exhibit will date from 2005, though most works were created from 2016-19.
The Runyan Gallery is open Tuesday-Sunday, 11am – 6pm.