James Lavadour,Usual and Accustomed, 2006, Courtesy PDX Contemporary Art
In the current show at PDX Contemporary Art, the bold expressionist strokes of James Lavadour's new series of landscape paintings are sharply contrasted by the precise craftsmanship of Joey Lavadour's hand-woven baskets. While both artists are deeply influenced by their experiences growing up on the Umatilla Indian Reservation in Eastern Oregon, their work stems from different regional traditions.
Although James Lavadour is a self-taught painter, his work resides within a lineage of Northwest painters who look to the colors and forms of the region's lush landscape for inspiration. Sun Spots continues James Lavadour's continually evolving tribute to the landscape of Eastern Oregon. This new body of work retains the bold, spontaneous strokes that characterize Lavadour's work, but develops a heightened level of depth. The romanticisms of Lavadour's landscapes are conveyed less through his repeated reference to grand mountainous landscapes than through the ways in which these landscapes are altered. Ghostly architectural forms delineated by smoky washes loom in the foreground of works like Border Camp. In a large grid of nine paintings, panels marked by their unnaturally saturated color interrupt the earthier tones of alternating panels. In Wall, fiery bursts of intense color threaten to consume the entire frame. Lavadour's landscapes are activated through forces of constructing and destroying, mirroring the process of repeated layering and removing of paint that he uses to build the rich surfaces of his work.
Joey Lavadour revives centuries-old traditional basket-weaving techniques that nearly died out until a handful of artists began to learn and, more importantly, to teach this tradition within the past two decades. Originally created as bags to store goods and objects, Lavadour replaces traditional materials like reeds and leather with brightly colored yarn, accentuating the rigid geometrical patterns that decorate the surfaces. In both Joey Lavadour's baskets and James Lavadour's paintings, one becomes accutely aware of the surface, as both artists simultaneously ground their work by emphasizing these surfaces while inserting instability--Joey through the illusion of shifting surfaces that come from his bold patterns and colors, James through adept paint handling.
Joey Lavadour, (left) Migration, 2006, Courtesy PDX Contemporary Art