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RICK BARTOW Origin of Song

presented by stonington gallery


Rick Bartow: Origin of Song

Rick Bartow (Mad River Wiyot) draws inspiration for his sculptures, paintings and prints from two deep wells: the mythological archetypes of his Native culture, and a personal symbolic catalogue. His work taps into the vitality of a parallel world where mythic characters clash and clamor with tangible force. In his hands, the realm of the spirit is not a quiet abstraction, but a place that can bite, bleed and sing. Bartow layers many media on paper or panel, then rubs and erases down through the strata to reveal textured gradations of color. By transferring the moment of emotion straight into his work, Bartow is able to leave traces of himself wherever he moves. Smudged fingerprints, scratches and scribbled notes show tangible signs of his presence, as he surrounds his characters in a maelstrom of colors and pulsating lines. Bartow catches birds, spirits and figures in the midst of transformation, capturing their blurred, uncertain features, exposing their rawness for us to see—and then letting them go on their way. Most works in Origin of Song were created in 2013, and make their debut with Stonington Gallery. As both visual artist and musician, Bartow explores the idea of song and sound through bird imagery: we see the powerful, transformational song within the brilliant colors of Cloak of Kestrel and Crow Hat; the whimsical notes in Fly Away Home and Crow in a Boat; and the ferocious call-and-response within Bartow made manifest in Raven’s Dream and Raven’s Reach. Song is also a form of communication, seen in the sculptures Bear & Salmon Conversation and Owl & Man Conversation, which portray rough-hewn animal and humanoid forms conversing closely. Whether they share information, conversation, knowledge or dirty jokes is for their ears alone. Now in his sixties, Bartow has gained wide recognition for his contemporary paintings and sculpture, with works in multiple permanent museum and private collections. The recipient of awards, commissions and residencies, he continues to make art and music in his home studio on the Oregon Coast.


PAINTINGS “The marks begin like fish darting into the baits, culminating in a frenzy with expanses of darkness and light. Negative spaces appear where one can rest as I do after the struggle and failure. The fear of the big failure subsides and while recalling the struggles, the image resolves so that to my right eye and left eye it seems whole. I continue to look, adding and subtracting small but intense details until the flood subsides two to three days later. In two or three weeks I look again and then I am done.” -Rick Bartow

Crow Hat Acrylic, Graphite on Panel 24”h x 18”w


Late Day Bird Acrylic, Graphite on Panel 24”h x 18”w


Memory Bird Acrylic, Graphite on Panel 24”h x 18”w


Bluebird on Pink Background Acrylic on Panel 14”h x 11”w


Kestrel’s Look Acrylic, Graphite on Panel 24”h x 18”w


Stoops to Conquer Acrylic on Paper 30”h x 22”w


Big Change Coming Acrylic, Graphite on Paper 30”h x 22”w


“Once it begins, the battle is on! The many marks go back and forth until the war is done. It must play out until resolution, and make cognitive the blindly thrashing marks, line and color.” -Rick Bartow

Cloak of Kestrel Acrylic on Canvas 40”h x 30”w

Image on following page:

Raven’s Dream Pastel, Graphite on Paper 26”h x 40”w


Bashful Crow Acrylic on Panel 12”h x 12”w


Fly Away Home Acrylic on Panel 12”h x 12”w


“Transitions are a part of my life that I now actively seek, seeing transition as growth. I welcome change now; before, I was afraid of it.” -Rick Bartow

Night Crow & Moon Acrylic on Panel 12”h x 12”w


Night Bird’s Cry Acrylic on Panel 12”h x 12”w


Standing Crow Acrylic on Panel 12”h x 12”w Image on following page:

Raven’s Reach Pastel, Graphite on Paper 26”h x 40”w


SCULPTURE “The wood is speaking, and I try to hear what it is saying. I record the story by whatever means necessary. Be it Native style crooked knives and adzes, European chisels and gouges, or chainsaws and grinders, I am vigorous in my pursuit. These carvings show signs of their creation, place of origin, and the fact I love working with various and sundry materials. Humor and curiosity rest just beneath the surface of metal, hair, and nails.� -Rick Bartow


She’s Gone Yellow Cedar, Small Beads, Leather 8.50”h x 5.50”w x 2.25”d


Pastel, Graphite on Paper 26”h x 40”w


Salmon 2012 Wood, Acrylic 12”h x 53.5”w x 1” d


Hieronymous Bosch’s Left Shoe Wood 8.25”h x 8”w x 5”d


Repeating patterns of ripples appear on Bartow’s most recent sculptures, including those commissioned by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, DC. The pattern is “not Oceanic or Northwest Coast or African, but it is South Beach [Oregon],” says Bartow. “It is the tides changing on the mudflats, where I dug clams, and Booker and great-granddad dug clams. When you go clam digging, the water makes this shimmer; it vibrates. [It is also] the movement down to generations or up through the generations… like little waves.”

Untitled (Bear/Man Pole) Western Red Cedar, Port Orford Cedar, Abalone 78” h x 21” w x 20 “ d


Man & Owl Conversation Wood and Mixed Media 54”h x 32”w x 20”d


Bear & Salmon Conversation Wood, Metal, Graphite 60”h x 28”w x 20.5”d


PRINTS At the base of the Blue Mountain foothills on the Umatilla Indian Reservation is an historic mission schoolhouse. Inside it is Crow’s Shadow Institute of the Arts, a nonprofit organization providing artistic opportunities for Native Americans in Oregon and beyond. CSIA recently invited Rick Bartow to participate in his second residency. The following monoprints—each original, and bearing the CSIA imprint—are the result of that 2013 residency.


Bird Hat Monoprint 30”h x 22”w


Crow in a Boat Monoprint 30”h x 22”w


Crow Shadow Monoprint 30”h x 22”w


Gatsin / Crow Monoprint 30”h x 22”w


Bartow was commissioned by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian to create two monumental sculptures for the museum’s exterior. The sculptures were completed and installed in 2012.


About the Artist:

Born in Newport, OR in 1946, Rick Bartow has shown work in museum and gallery exhibitions both nationally and internationally. In 1969 he earned a Bachelors of Arts in Art Education from Western Oregon State University. Soon after, Bartow served in the Vietnam War for thirteen months, 1970-1971. He returned to art-making several years after his military service ended. In the interim, Bartow worked in many fields including fishing, bartending, building maintenance, and teaching. Currently he is an active blues guitarist. Bartow’s work is held in numerous private collections and public institutions, some of which include: •

Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, Washington, DC

Denver Art Museum, Denver CO

Heard Museum, Phoenix, AZ;

Minneapolis Institute of the Arts , MN

Museum of Contemporary Craft, Portland, OR

Museum of Man, Frankfurt, Germany

New Mexico Museum of Art, Santa Fe, NM

Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA

Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA

Portland Art Museum, Portland, OR

Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, WA

Selected Solo Exhibitions: Dog’s Journey: A 20 Year Survey, 2011-12, A.D. Gallery, University of North Carolina, Pembroke, and Missoula Art Museum My Eye, 2002, organized by the Hallie Ford Museum of Art, traveled to University of Notre Dame and the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture in Spokane, WA

Selected Group Exhibitions: 20th Century American Sculpture at The White House, Washington, D.C., organized by the Heard Museum Continuum 12, 2003, National Museum of the American Indian (NYC) Indian Reality Today, at Westfaliches Landesmuseum fur Naturkunde, Munster, Germany Head, Heart and Hands, organized by the Kentucky Art and Craft Gallery in Louisville, KY / American Craft Museum, New York, NY Changing Hands 2: Art Without Reservation, Museum of Art & Design, New York.

Recent Residencies: Crow’s Shadow Institute of the Arts in Pendleton, OR (2013) Museum of Glass in Tacoma, WA (2012) Pilchuck Glass School, Stanwood, WA (2010).


Stonington Gallery 125 S Jackson St Seattle, WA 98104 206.405.4040 / art@stoningtongallery.com www.stoningtongallery.com All Work by Rick Bartow Photos by Ashley Genevieve, Smithsonian Magazine, and Froelick Gallery Catalog Design: Nicole Bell Essay by Sarra Scherb Š 2013 Stonington Gallery

Rick Bartow: Origin of Song - Stonington Gallery  

2013 Exhibit Catalog Presented by Stonington Gallery

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