In Praise Of Lucinda Parker

I’m delighted with Eugene Weekly’s continued coverage of the visual arts by writer Ester Barkai, especially her March 21 article reviewing Portland painter Lucinda Parker’s 60-year retrospective on display at Willamette University’s Hallie Ford Museum through March 31.

Parker would not deny that her work emerges from a Northwest tradition rooted in landscape painting, a sensibility that comes from a lifetime of mixing genres as diverse as cubism and abstract expressionism. Her brand of cubism shares the DNA influence of Northwest modernists like, say, C. S. Price.

Parker’s lush, orgasmic paintings juxtapose tectonic blocks to swirls and swooshes that suggest an environment in constant motion. I am particularly fond of her acrylic and Rhoplex period in paintings like “Sweet Tooth” (1974), which was also featured in her smaller retrospective now housed in the Portland Art Museum’s permanent collection.

Her paintings are indeed influenced by the past, but suggest that the universal must first be intensely local and personal, rooted in the artist’s psyche and exhibiting an agreed-upon code of painterly rituals for self-investigation that underlies her brand of creativity.

Critically, there was a Pacific Northwest school of painting; in actuality, there was a diverse group of artists like Morris Graves, Guy Anderson, Kenneth Callahan, Mark Tobey and William Ivey responding to each other and to their contacts with the past, which are carried forward in Parker’s paintings. Her Force Field is well worth the drive to Salem.

Mike E. Walsh


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