Tom Cramer, Gold Rush (2002), oil/metal leaf on carved wood relief
[Mark Woolley Gallery, Portland, OR,
Sep 30-Nov 1, 2003]
Most Portlanders know Tom Cramer for his landmark outdoor murals, wildly-painted art cars and carved miniature totems all of which are bright, bold and lean toward American pop-culture.
In the past few years, after travelling to India, Cramers techniques have become much more humble and reflective. His carved and painted wood reliefs speak more about subtle layers of reality than of graphic design. The intricately carved fractal-like patterning almost appears caused by chance or accident, rather than determined by the artist. In other pieces, Cramer has applied subliminal imagery in embedded, kaleidoscopic patterns.
Cramers tactile work expresses something infinite and intangible. Bordering abstraction and reality, confusion and clarity, and the invented and the improvised, these laborious baroque pieces seem to be crafted in the vein of William Blakes poetic concept: that the road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom. In emphasis, they have gilded surfaces inspired by the art of India.
For Cramer, the creative process is like a retreat from reality. The artist would delight in viewers being able to see beyond the seemingly decorative aspect of his work to the transcendent intensity of a new perspective.