I can tell you what art of place is not. I am an authority on this because I was raised in a town that had a zillion galleries chock full of well-wrought seascapes, a thousand canvases of finely painted breaking waves with the sunlight shining through their transparent faces, and perhaps the Lone Cyprus® or a low-flying gull. Just because you can does not mean you should.
I can tell you that subject cannot define a regionally inflected art without veering toward kitsch. This is why I’m ambivalent about broken forestscapes. I do think that the lingering of the modernist smokey palette in the work of many NW painters (see PAM’s recent survey of PNCA-affiliated artists) may be a regionalism. Wouldn’t a Hockney or Thiebaud be fish-out-of-water here?
Now that we are all electronically connected, can there even be regional art? Perhaps not. Perhaps that’s a good thing.
All of this is to say that Genevieve Dellinger’s show 4/4 at Stumptown (downtown) came as a pleasant surprise…and felt very Northwest while managing to be very contemporary. It was the two big wool tapestries of course that did it, evoking Pendleton blanket cred (borrowed from Native American patterns, of course) with their pattern blocks geometric applique folding in graphic design’s current crush on simple repeating geometric forms and Dellinger’s long relationship with fiber (everything from felted "rocks" for the W+K nest to apparel).
It might be expected that I would appreciate Dellinger’s "Untitled 5" and "Untitled 6," two canvas wall hangings whose single minimalist gesture—a single black shape protruding from a sail-like canvas ground (complete with brass grommets for hanging)—nodding to work like Kasimir Malevich’s "Black Square" made for strong pieces. That the shape on one of the pieces hung limply while the other was boxed out square, made me think that Dellinger had only begun to explore the possibilities of this direction. Hope to see more.
Rounding out the show were the multiple tubes of Dellinger’s wall sculpture like an oversized necklace, a geometric patchwork of a soft sculpture, and an inverted chevron composed of paint dipped wood blocks, the only non-fiber piece in the show. Did I see in the work the "4/4 bars of minimal electronic dance music" that Dellinger (also a DJ) noted as inspiration? No. But there was something else, and it felt like home.