Renée Hartig’s oil paintings and Kelli MacConnell’s linocuts make for a highly cohesive exhibition of Pacific Northwest landscapes. The two artists have filled the spacious Ford Gallery wall to wall, intermixing their work. They take viewers from coastal Cannon Beach to the Wallowa Mountains in northeastern Oregon, from miniature studies to five-foot panoramas. Both based in Portland, Hartig and MacConnell share a passion for the region and a staggering commitment to craft.
MacConnell’s linocuts are dense with detail. She keeps color minimal in favor of exercising contrast with the paper. Most of the prints are black ink, though some are dark blue and green gradients in the Japanese ukiyo-ë style. Tom Killion, known for his prints of the High Sierras and the California coast, seems a likely influence. Like Killion, MacConnell is fastidious about line. Her renderings of plant life evince an ecological respect for the subject, without being dryly documentarian. She imprinted un-inked lines in a series of straightforward tree cameos, for instance, activating the trees with wind.
In many ways, Hartig thinks like a printmaker, too. The painter doesn’t blend colors, but rather applies them systematically with sure-handed strokes. The layering effect, combined with the western landscapes and consistent color palette, recalls vintage barkcloth textile prints. Hartig’s geometric clouds, though, are to be found nowhere else; they are her signature. The clouds are perhaps the ultimate example of the energy Hartig invests in her canvases. She creates each painting alla prima, in one session. It may take more than that to absorb this joint exhibition.