|"The Remains of Turmoil" by Susan Johnson|
The NSH Gallery is exhibiting the four women artists from Corvallis, Albany, Portland and Salem through April 18. The gallery is open 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays.
“Susan Johnson and Friends” features the work of Johnson, a long-time Corvallis oil painter and former director of the Corvallis Arts Center; Eileen Cotter Howell, a watercolorist from Salem and co-founder of Portland's Art in the Pearl Festival; Kathy Haydon, an established painter and collage artist who lives in the Portland area; and Heather Kier, an emerging artist from Albany who has begun exhibiting around Oregon in recent years.
Susan Johnson's work in the exhibit explores her work with Oilbars over the past two decades. She uses the fat, crayon-like oil paint sticks to create both realistic and abstract landscapes that often portray pathways--not only as design elements but also as a device to suggest the choices one must make in life's journey. Her paintings have been shown in over 45 exhibitions, including a 2008 one-woman show, “Windows into Oregon,” in the Oregon Governor's Office.
Eileen Cotter Howell has worked as an artist and instructor for more than 25 years and has also been an active promoter of other Northwest artists. Besides helping to start up Art in the Pearl, she was artist and co-owner of the Waterstone Gallery in Portland, and coordinator of the Professional Division of the All-Oregon Art Annual at the Oregon State fair for five years. She describes her paintings as offering “glimpses of the familiar mixed with rhythmic shapes, dense patterns and vibrant colors, all working together to build an ebb and flow of energy that draws the viewer deeper into the labyrinth.”
Kathy Haydon's acrylic and mixed-media collage pieces show some of the experimental directions she has explored during the past several years, including using sand, fabric, paper and letter forms in her paintings. She also draws inspiration from the surface textures she encounters while “poking around” in Portland's older or abandoned industrial buildings. “I like to zoom in on the details I find in my environment that have interesting textures, colors and shapes,” she says. “They often possess a hidden beauty.”
Heather Kier, who has worked in graphic arts and publishing for over 20 years, paints in acrylics on canvas, and also experiments with adding cut-paper to her work. Her paintings tend toward the abstract and semi-abstract. She says she loves to get lost in the process, “waffling between quickly adding thick layers of paint with unconventional tools, such as credit cards and kabob sticks, and slowly layering thick paint, thin washes and drawing into wet paint to create texture and interest.”