Oases of Calm
New (old) pieces at White Lotus
by Suzi Steffen
|Haku Maki’s 76-22 (Flavour A)|
Friday, Aug. 6, looks a little busy for our oft-maligned downtown. As the First Friday Art Walk swirls through blocks also teeming with dozens — perhaps hundreds? — of Eugene Storefront Art Project art parade folks, a calm spot for art contemplation might be hard to find. Pop into White Lotus for a breather and to see the “New Acquisitions” show, a survey (obviously) of work that recently arrived at the gallery.
The works range in medium, but not too widely. Prints and etchings dominate, including Yasuyuki Kihara’s Transition 8 and Transition 9. The precision of Kihara’s detailed work shows a virtuosic hand with the stylus, creating pieces that look both like portraits of woven baskets and patterned abstractions.
In Kozo’s Les Cérises and Reverie, among others, silkscreened red on black work gives a sense of amused contemplation. Cherries! Yes, they’re lovely, and their large, spotlit shapes, like that of the lotus flower in the other piece, provide a quiet focal point.
But the pieces that dominate the show hang on the south wall: Toko Shinoda’s larger lithographs Fulfillment (a gorgeous piece that looks like it sold as soon as the show went up) and Reminiscence, and Haku Maki’s 76-22 (Flavour A), a 1976 print that mixes abstraction and calligraphic strokes. Fulfillment, like many of Shinoda’s works, also balances abstraction and calligraphy. The suspended blue rectangular shape in the background provides a receding space that holds tension with the black and gold lines delicately but firmly stroked over the blue. A light grayish square in the middle ground gives another layer to a piece whose formal qualities underline its meaning and emphasize the skill of the artist.
Shinoda, born in 1913, began training in calligraphy when she was 6 years old (according to ArtNet). Thus she’s long dealt with the rigorous work necessary to mix brushwork and form, color and motion, print and ink, and the White Lotus pieces show that talent and discipline.
Maki, who served in WWII before becoming an artist, also balances calligraphy and abstract techniques in his mixed-media prints, and the result makes a joyful experience for anyone who enjoys Franz Kline or similar artists (if there are any; I find Kline one of the only Western artists whose work approaches something like “Calligraphic Expressionism”). As any bio about Maki, including that on the White Lotus site, mentions, Maki worked with wet concrete for his prints — a unique process that emphasized texture in his final work.
A more traditional woodblock and silkscreen print by Tetsuya Noda hangs on the northwest wall, a tiny piece called Diary: Aug. 21st, ’79 that looks no doubt like the kitchen tables of many Eugeneans around this time of year with its baby eggplant, tomato and other vegetables. Two other pieces that stand out are New Zealander Barry Cleavin’s etchings, especially the moving I Beheld a Pale Horse.
This show isn’t earthshaking or monumental, but that’s part of its charm. When White Lotus is a stop on the Art Walk, the small gallery grows too overstuffed to bear, but this Friday (and other days) should make for a bit easier viewing.
The stops on the Art Walk — which begins at 5:30 pm — include MECCA, where Sadmonk’s “Art Saves Lives” bluntly states the possibilities in combining Zen Buddhism and art; Imagine Gallery, with Hans Fuson’s light boxes; Studio West, which as usual sports jaw-dropping glassblowing demonstrations along with a show of paintings by Grant Hottle; Ink Thirsty, another fun little gallery space near Studio West, where gallery owner Richard Hofmeier premieres a video game work about street food vendors and where other Eugene artists present “street art” along with what Ink Thirsty’s calling “street food.” The final stop is across 8th Ave. at the FOOD for Lane County Dining Room, where the Art Walk community can help artist Alison McNair with her Caroline’s Corner work.
If you need or want a break from the Art Walk crowd, see if you can find the ESAP art parade, which will go from building to building on West Broadway, doing lightning art installations and moving on. Feel free to bring your own art to “install” for a few minutes along the way. If the parade gets to be bigger than 99 people, the group will split up into two (or more) groups of people reclaiming space for art.