Amanda Wojick's Cliffs and Waterfalls, Claire Cowie's Village, Kristan Kennedy's Valentine Field; 417 NW 9th, through Feb. 26
The day after Valentine's Day, a few discarded valentines had blown through the schoolyard by my house. I found them piled up against a chain-link fence like a tiny red and pink snowdrift. It made me think of the three shows up at Elizabeth Leach Gallery. Though each of the three Northwest artists--Claire Cowie, Amanda Wojick and Kristan Kennedy--use differing materials and styles, their work, for me at least, will be forever linked to decaying valentines.
The first things you notice in the space are Wojick's mixed-media sculptures. Band-Aids, linoleum chips and other materials cover Styrofoam structures, creating colorful landscapes that look a little like psychedelic birthday cakes plucked from someone's dream world. Wojick's works on paper combine drawing and the artist's apparent fascination with Band-Aids, resulting in a visual feast of common objects and doodle lines that somehow add up to unforgettable beauty.
A soft other-worldliness runs throughout the gallery. Claire Cowie's show, Village, uses watercolors and sculptures, to explore a land populated by tree boughs ripe with color, where clusters of cottages lay off in the distance and gnome-like creatures ride horses and wear pointy hats. Sparse and delicate--dainty even--there is a creepy element to Cowie's Village that may not be intentional, but I like it.
The title of Kristan Kennedy's show, Valentine Field, is not a premonition of my schoolyard experience, but the name of a real football field that Kennedy found in a tiny town here in Oregon. The title alludes to memory and a sense of place, two themes that tether Kennedy's abstract mark-making to a sublime world of almost-perceptible landscapes. What were started as "drawings for drawings' sake" took on a hidden architecture, becoming imagined spaces with their own laws of gravity, space, and time. Many of the works defy a sense of scale, simultaneously suggesting the monumental terrain of another planet and a microscopic close-up of the neural pathways in your brain.