Patricia Williams pondered the 48-inch-by-48 image on the wall of her new studio art gallery at Salishan’s courtyard mall.
“That’s the one I’d buy,” she asserted, her enthusiasm cast-iron for the young Portland artist, Jesse Narens, who is exhibiting at the Salishan Art Gallery through Aug. 31.
“There’s no attachment to preconceived creations,” she said of the somber, reflective, startling scene before her. “Seemingly vital forms are removed, leaving a ghostly reminder of what was once there before, or revealing the potential of what may be.”
Like his art, Narens was an ethereal presence at a recent wine-and-cheese opening where his work drew scores of art lovers searching for the meaning of it all. Gliding between patrons, he was soft-spoken even as his art talked forcefully.
“I spent a lot of time in the woods immersed in environmental issues,” reflected Narens, 29, who would fit the mold of the solitary, brooding artist but for a doting wife and bubbly child who played by the mall’s courtyard fireplace. “The paintings are my internal process of looking at the disconnect between humans and nature.”
The images are haunting but ultimately cool as the forest fog it all fades into: a deer in the grip of a formless predator, strange animals that appear half-plant, leafless sticks, spider webs and celestial embellishments. Laboring in acrylics and colored pencil on wood, Narens clearly notices the small details lost to the rest of us in the dense layering of plant and animal life all around us.
A wide price range, $300 to $3,000, invites collectors to claim a piece of this talented, self-taught artist’s emerging work.
“My art is a reminder to go outside, that everything is temporary, and that there is beauty in change,” commented Narens. “Hang my art on your walls, or place it on your window sill next to a plant and some sticks you found in the woods. Leave my art in your garden to get eaten by bugs.”
Salishan Art Gallery, open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday, is located at 7760 N. Hwy.101.