Working in collaboration with the Newport Public Library and the City of Newport, the Oregon Coast Council for the Arts is pleased to premier the exhibition, From the Heart: Author Drawings by Rick Bartow, from August 3 to September 29 in the Upstairs Gallery at the Newport Visual Arts Center. The exhibit will include 17 original works on paper that Rick Bartow (1946-2016) donated to the Newport Public Library in 2000, most of which have not been previously exhibited in public. A First Friday opening reception for From the Heart: Author Drawings by Rick Bartow will be held on August 3, 5-8pm, with Newport Library, City Council and Bartow estate representatives speaking at 6:15pm.
“From the Heart: Author Drawings by Rick Bartow has been an exhibit-in-the-waiting for nearly 20 years,” writes OCCA VAC Director Tom Webb in the exhibit’s catalog. “With the exception of a few works, these drawings have remained stowed away from public view.”
“The portfolio of Bartow drawings is something that I inherited in 2009, as the incoming Newport Library Director,” says Ted Smith. “The library had framed a few and put them up for public viewing, but, at the time, there wasn’t room to display them all. I’m excited to see them presented as a collection, first at the Newport Visual Arts Center and then traveling to libraries throughout Oregon. In 2020, the exhibit will return for permanent installation at the Newport Library. Given that the Bartow author drawings have been tucked away for many years, it feels like opening an artist’s time capsule.”
The From the Heart: Author Drawing by Rick Bartow exhibit and project is made possible by the Lincoln County Cultural Coalition, the Newport Public Library Foundation, the City of Newport and the Oregon Coast Council for the Arts.
“This is a concurrence of opportunities,” says Webb. “We are able to celebrate Rick’s work in a new way and better understand the role that books and libraries played in his creative life. The exhibit will include a catalog, and a performance is being developed based on the artist and authors included in the exhibit.” The performance, Rick Bartow: In Spirit, is being written by Portland playwright Merridawn Duckler and directed by Marc Maislen of New Visions Arts in Newport. Rick Bartow: In Spirit will debut at the Newport Performing Arts Center’s Studio Theater, with three shows scheduled (Dec. 14-16), ending on Bartow’s birthday. (Tickets will be available starting August 3).
“Rick lived surrounded by books, piles of books, stacked about his perch at the edge of a second-story picture window that encased a chyron of the Nye Beach neighborhood,” says Karen Murphy, Bartow’s longtime friend and a trustee of his estate.
In his series of author drawings, Bartow captures W.H. Auden, Bertolt Brecht, Robert Bridges, Joseph Conrad, Emily Dickinson, T.S. Eliot, William Emerson, A.E. Housman, Rudyard Kipling, Jack London, Archibald MacLeish, Edgar Allan Poe, Carl Sandburg, John Steinbeck, A.C. Swinburne, Leo Tolstoy and Elinor Wylie. The drawings are smaller than 12” x 12” and include mixed media on rice paper and repurposed papers. In these drawings, Bartow often blends watercolor with pencil and pastel markings.
“Bartow usually worked on several and sometimes many large pieces at the same time,” says Bill Avery, a Bartow collector and a trustee of his estate. “Still, this is a unique series. I’ve not seen anything like it.”
Bob Hicks, who covered Bartow for The Oregonian and Oregon Arts Watch, writes, “It’s a fascinating series—caricatures, really; purposeful scrawls. I love their opportunistic, slyly telling casualness: the imperial Kipling on an airmail envelope; Auden over a hand-written letter; Brecht with a self-satisfied smile and a telltale stogie.”
Bartow, one of the nation's most prominent contemporary Native American artists, was born in Newport, Oregon. He was a member of the Mad River Band of the Wiyot tribe of Northern California and had close ties with the Siletz community. He graduated in 1969 from Western Oregon University with a degree in secondary arts education and served in the Vietnam War (1969-71). His work is permanently held in more than 60 public institutions in the United States, including Yale University Art Gallery, CT; Brooklyn Museum, NY; and Peabody Essex Museum, MA. Bartow was the subject of over 100 solo exhibitions at museums and galleries, including the current retrospective Things You Know But Cannot Explain, organized by the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at the University of Oregon. The Froelick Gallery in Portland has represented Bartow since they opened in 1995 and continues to represent his estate.
In 2012, commissioned by The Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian, Bartow created "We Were Always Here," a monumental pair of sculptures, over 20 feet high, which were installed on the National Mall in Washington, D.C..
The Upstairs Gallery is open Tuesday-Saturday, noon to 4pm.
Rick Bartow: In Spirit: Dec. 14, 15, and 16, Newport Performing Arts Center
Inspired by the visual art exhibit of Rick Bartow’s author drawings, From the Heart, a new play, Rick Bartow: In Spirit, will premier in December at the Newport Performing Center. Rick Bartow: In Spirit is a play by Portland-based writer Merridawn Duckler and directed by Marc Maislen of Newport. The play is about Bartow’s fictional meeting with three inspirational literary figures: Bertolt Brecht, A.E. Housman and Emily Dickenson. Rick Bartow: In Spirit will run for at least three dates (Dec. 14, 15, 16) in the Studio Theater at the PAC, ending on the artist’s birthday. The project is being co-developed by Merridawn Duckler, New Visions Arts and the Oregon Coast Council for the Arts. Tickets ($20) at coastarts.org, the PAC box office or by phone: 541-265-2787, beginning August 3.
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