Curated by Bill Rhoades, Maude Kerns is a major survey of Kerns' life work. It includes nearly eighty pieces shown in two Portland locations. The exhibit at Guestroom Gallery focusses on prints and smaller paintings, while the exhibit at Katayama Framing features Kerns' larger oils. This is the first time in fifteen years that Kerns' work has been exhibited in Portland.
Maude Kerns, The Enigma (1962), oil on canvas [Guestroom Gallery and Katayama Framing, Portland OR, Mar 14-Apr 26]
Maude Kerns (1876-1965) was ahead of her time as the first West Coast female artist to practice principles of nonobjective art. Considered to be a pioneer of modern painting in the Pacific Northwest, Kerns worked in a style that closely paralleled innovations in New York modernism during the 1940s.
Kerns' avant-garde paintings encompassed elements of abstract expressionism while conventional styles were still favoured in the Northwest. Her travels to Asia and Europe (where she was exposed to the works of Wassily Kandinsky, Piet Mondrian and Paul Klee), influenced her style. In particular, she embraced the art-as-spiritual-expression philosophy of Kandinsky. She also studied under notables such as Hans Hofmann and Rolph Scarlett. Her energetic works and international exhibiting record earned her a greater reputation in New York than in her native Portland, Oregon.
Today, Kerns is also remembered for her contributions as an extraordinary teacher and generous benefactor at the University of Oregon (where she taught from 1921-1947), and for her work as as founder of the Eugene Art Center which is was re-named the Maude Kerns Art Center.