Animal House

Eugene Biennial award winners produce an animated exhibit at Karin Clarke Gallery

‘Hanging Out’ by Marjorie Taylor

The animals have taken over the Karin Clarke Gallery downtown, where a gorgeous group show of work by the nine artists who won awards at Clarke’s Eugene Biennial last summer opened on August 30.

The animals in question include fanciful chromed metal creatures by popular Eugene sculptor Jud Turner, small wood sculptures built around snakes, birds and a rabbit by Michael Whitenack, and a profusion of what artist Marjorie Taylor (no relation to Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene!) calls “vegan taxidermy” — pieces sewn together from found fabrics that look uncannily like real animals.

Taylor’s exquisite taxidermy in this show includes a fox, a Tasmanian tiger, a housecat and a pangolin, but the clear star of this entire exhibit is her “Hanging Out,” a life-sized buck’s head mounted as though in a hunting lodge, but crafted in needlepoint. Climbing on its madrone-branch antlers are tiny human figures, such as a lineman and a guitar player, a slightly unnerving Lilliputian chorus to the main event.

The other six artists in the show don’t focus on animals, but their works are equally engaging.

All those animals might need a home, and Kitty Kingston’s large mixed media monoprints showing closeups of trees might provide it. In any case, they capture the dark, detailed look of the Northwest forest.

Libby Wadsworth has presented a set of cool, conceptual prints that include photographs of white china dishes, accented by a spring of intense greenery. 

Some work is more abstract. Danuta Muszynska’s intaglio prints play with lines and shapes, while Doug Davidovich’s big acrylic paintings play more with color.

Ron Conrad’s strange little sculptures, scattered throughout the gallery, invite viewing and then re-viewing. 

And finally, Tom Miller’s expressive portraits, done on paper in warm combinations of acrylic paint, marker, and colored pencil, present us with the ghosts of his ancestors, who seem to be watching over the gallery and its non-ghostly guests.

Clarke began hosting the Eugene Biennial after the closure in 2015 of the nonprofit Jacobs Gallery in the Hult Center put an end, at least for a time, to the Eugene Mayor’s Art Show. By alternating between an all-comers juried show and — as this year — a group exhibition of recent work by the award winners from the previous year, the Biennial is able to show a broad spectrum of works from a larger pool of artists one year and then focus on a few of those artists in the next. That’s a great combination that works well over time.

Credit here also goes to Tina Schrager, who hung the current exhibit with a flawless eye, giving the whole thing a surprising feel of unity for a group show.

Go see this one, and consider adopting an animal to take home.

The Eugene Biennial Award Winners: One Year Later runs through October 14 at Karin Clarke Gallery, 760 Willamette Street. A closing reception will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 pm Friday, October 6.