Contemporary Oregon Visions: Jo Hamilton and Irene Hardwicke Olivieri

April 01, 2014 to August 03, 2014

These two contemporary Oregon artists offer substantially different but equally innovative approaches to figurative art. Hamilton, born in Glasgow, Scotland, in 1972, found her true home when she moved to Portland in 1996. After painting for almost twenty years, her artistic practice was transformed when she visited a non-traditional textile arts exhibition. From there she was inspired to fuse the two parts of her life that were closest to her—her daily urban environment and her grandmother’s tradition of crochet. Often portraying friends and co-workers from her days in the food-service industry, Hamilton’s work displays a whimsical and affectionate vision of working-class Portland. As her work has progressed, she has taken on other subjects as well, including mug shots from Multnomah County, industrial landscapes of Portland, and full-figure nudes.

Born and raised in southern Texas and educated in New York, Irene Hardwicke Olivieri now lives and works off the grid in the high desert of central Oregon. Her intimate knowledge and passion for the natural world pervades her artwork, which expands on her engagement with natural elements to develop complex and idiosyncratic mythological worlds. A diverse assortment of tropical animals and woodland creatures serve as avatars for the artist and her loved ones. Language is also a key element in Olivieri’s painting, where dense layers of poetic, visionary, and autobiographical text are interwoven with the background and figures. The exhibition also features a selection of her inventive sculpture series Paleogirls, delicately articulated mosaics of female figures and hybrid creatures, made from the fragile bones she extracts from owl pellets.