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Michael Brophy: Recent Paintings

Laura Russo Gallery, Portland
Sept 6, 2001 - Sept 29, 2001

Woody Guthrie Singes the River Electric (2001),
oil on canvas

Michael Brophy's paintings of theatrical tree stump graveyards left after a clear cut are distinctly Pacific Northwest. "We live in one of the largest clear cuts," says Brophy when speaking about Portland. "When I see a clear cut there is something very grand and amazing about it, but it's also very dark and tragic." His large-scale paintings carry these ominous feelings.

Brophy's smaller scale works are mainly gauche and many contain a chronology which he compares to a comic strip. A series of 26 works tells the story of the decline of the environment along the Columbia River, starting with the Chinook people, early fishing and trading, outbreaks of malaria, the development of settlements, dams, power lines and channels, and ending with the river's recent tourism boom and "city coat".

In his piece Woody Guthries Sings the River Electric, Brophy portrays the songwriter in the landscape and in song. It is the push and pull, the passing time and the double-edge that exists in most of life's situations (especially around the environment) that Brophy is painting. However, this artist is not the "tree-hugger" that his paintings may make him out to be. Brophy is much more interested in irony and the quirky situations that exist between the landscape and humanity.

© Allyn Cantor