Exploring his relationship to the natural world in his layered abstractions, Lavadour’s life’s work has been a translation of his environment into expressive experiments in translucent, saturated color. His understanding of the rolling fields, craggy cliffs, and shimmering mountains of his home on the Umatilla Reservation in Eastern Oregon is evident in the devastating richness of his works. He writes: “My art education came from the land. I learned through endless walking, looking, hearing, and feeling the natural world around me…Every morning I walk to the studio before the sun comes up. Fifteen years ago, on that walk, a meteorite streaked overhead and lit everything like day. It was a terrifying and wonderful moment. Painting is that same experience. The bits and details of that flash of brilliant clarity would pass by if not for the practice of painting. A painting is a structure for the extraordinary and informative events of nature that are otherwise invisible.”
Born in Pendleton, OR in 1951, James Lavadour is one of the Northwest’s most revered painters. His family are descendants of the Walla Walla tribe, part of the modern day Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation. As a committed tribal member, he has lived on the reservation for 38 years, and has worked for the tribal government in education, housing, alcohol and drug treatment, and natural resource management. In 1993, Lavadour co-founded Crow’s Shadow Institute for the Arts, a not-for-profit print studio/arts organization that provides a creative conduit for social, economic, and educational opportunities to Native Americans through artistic development. Lavadour was a recipient of an Honorary Doctorate of Human Letters from Eastern Oregon University, the Eiteljorg Museum Artist Fellowship, the Award for Visual Arts from the Flintridge Foundation, the Joan Mitchell Award, the Seattle Art Museum’s Betty Bowen Memorial Recognition Award, and numerous other awards and large commissions throughout the Pacific Northwest.
James Lavadour: All that I can see from here
Exhibition Dates: October 3 – October 27, 2018
PDX CONTEMPORARY ART
925 NW Flanders Street
Portland OR 97209