James Lavadour | Recent Findings
Opening Reception Saturday May 20th, 6 - 8 PM * Artist will be present
We are proud to present the work of James Lavadour in his third solo exhibit at Cumberland Gallery. This self-taught Native American painter from Oregon is one of the most sought-after and respected contemporary artists in the Northwest. This show is in conjunction with the Crystal Bridges Museum’s State of the Art: Discovering American Art Now exhibit at the Frist Center of the Visual Arts in Nashville, TN, highlighting 100 of the most important artists working in the country today. This traveling exhibit which includes a Lavadour from the Crystal Bridges collection will be on display at the Frist from May 26th to September 10th. James Lavadour’s Recent Findings will open here with an evening reception on Saturday, May 20th. The work will occupy both galleries with new works on paper and panels, including a 90” x 102” nine-panel painting on the main wall of the lower gallery.
Lavadour’s national reputation hails him as much more than a great landscape painter. While his abstract paintings evoke the mountains and cliffs native to his Oregon home, Lavadour considers himself an “abstract action painter,” translating land into physical erosion of paint on surface. Often using a Richter-esque squeegee technique, he glazes and scrapes paint, later wiping it away to reveal layers of sediment and history. The artist improvises through a series of marks or ”events” followed by his reactions to them. Relating this improvisation to jazz music, the result is always different, fresh, and energized. While working in this active process on several paintings at once, Lavadour achieves an elegant balance of focus and abandon. Even though he views color as more of a necessary tool than a starting point, Lavadour’s brilliant, fiery hues, sometimes saturated or smokey, vibrate with energy of the elements.
Inspired by his routine early-morning walks in the Blue Mountains of the Umatilla Reservation, Lavadour’s work relates to the “spirit of the mountain.“ His stunning references to fire express a regenerative force in nature. The built-up layered surfaces read like the evolved sediment which inspired them, casting a glimpse of transcendental power and cosmic depth. According to Lavadour, the work does not merely reflect his heritage or simply depict his understanding of the land. The work is energy and existence, nature, discovery, and universal truths as much as it expresses personal epiphanies. The creation exceeds the creator.
During his 40 year career of artmaking and exhibiting, James Lavadour showed at the Venice Biennale 2013 and other art fairs including Portland Biennial, Seattle Art Fair, and Miami Project, among others. The recipient of the 1998 Joan Mitchell Award, Lavadour has exhibited at the Boise Art Museum, Maryhill Museum of Art, The High Desert Museum (WA) and more. Collections include the National Museum of the American Indian at the Smithsonian Institute in NY, Crystal Bridges Museum, Seattle Art Museum, Bank of America Corporation San Francisco, and many more. He co-founded Crow’s Shadow Institute for the Arts in 1990, a non-profit organization dedicated to the cultivation of the arts in and around the Umatilla Indian Reservation.