painting portland in passing

Slide Show and Q&A: Shawn Demarest's "You Are Here"

Local artist Shawn Demarest paints fleeting, sleeting Portland streetscapes in search of a sense of place. An exhibition of her work opens tomorrow.

By Jonathan Frochtzwajg October 31, 2012

In the transient urban landscapes she paints, Portland artist Shawn Demarest seeks to capture those evanescent moments when we stop, if only briefly, to recognize that where we are is beautiful—even in gray, rain, or sleet.

The oil paintings that make up “You Are Here,” the exhibition of Demarest’s work on display at Annie Meyer Gallery tomorrow through November 30, “represent times when I am most in touch with my place in the world: the sun turning a wet street into a blinding field of white, a cobalt sky against a line of approaching headlights, or a hazy pink atmosphere cut by innumerable power lines,” Demarest says. “These moments become thresholds. The door opens, and there is time to pause before continuing to the next place. Time slows for a bit and I catch my spiritual breath. In the studio, I aim to re-enter that golden space and recreate the feeling of it through paint.”

For local viewers, the paintings offer an additional point of entry: They all depict Southeast Portland scenes (some, such as Hawthorne Boulevard, quite familiar).

Click the slideshow below to see Demarest's work and read our Q&A with the artist about finding inspiration in Portland's gray, the beauty of streetscapes, and painting a sense of place.

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