November 15, 2011
Oregon Public Broadcasting reviews exhibits by Miles Cleveland Goodwin and Laurie Danial on opb.org
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"I like the uncertainty of the space in Laurie Danial’s monographs and paintings. At first it seems so flat and unexceptional, and then it suggests depth and even layers, and I start to figure out the lay of her land, and then I’m derailed by tangled little “events” of color and line, get lost in tracing ideas that she’s overpainted and generally feel a little discombobulated, though not unpleasantly so.

Sometimes her lines and color are so delicate and exact, and at other times, they are thick and crude. Sometimes I think I’m in the middle of a very elaborate doodle, and then I shift to thinking that everything is very deliberate, purposeful.

In “Between a Rock and a Hunk,” she creates a sort of topographic grid describing something that looks like a mountain, which she overpaints. The outline of that geographical feature repeats in a line drawing that floats close to the top of the picture, where it intertwines with lines from other non-geographical elements. I try to correlate the overpainted grid and the drawn mountain, and they don’t quite match up. My eye drifts to a stack of boxes and a bowl — I’m using these particular nouns very loosely — and then a tangle of lines that somehow suggest flowers or something. Pretty soon the highway of thick yellow lines leads me back to the mountain.

After those strange figures and spaces, it’s a bit of a relief to head into Goodwin’s more familiar painted world, thought “relief” isn’t a word we’d usually associate with those bleak, wintry scenes, in which the state bird is the raven waiting its chance to peck at our innards. Well, he doesn’t get THAT graphic, but you get the idea.

In “Train Jumping” a young man and woman, teens perhaps, are dashing toward a train over some snowy barren fields, marked by broken fences and trees. They look determined or maybe frightened, as the train barrels toward them along a long curve of track, its smoke swirling with the thick clouds and general gloom.

“Chasing Deer” is more sedate at first glance, as two men, hunters presumably, climb down into a little valley dotted with frozen ponds and snow-covered fields. But those pesky ravens, the harsh conditions, the storm gathering in the hills on the other end of the valley — it’s not idyllic. They are both painted expressionistically, not carefully illustrated, perfect for the subject matter: You don’t need finely detailed fences when a series of fast strokes will do. And the general effect of cold is profound enough to make you zip up your jacket."

Barry Johnson,11/14/2011

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