Review of Sherry Joiner’s Art Exhibit at US Bank, 16th and Weilder, Portland, Oregon by Joyce Lackie- Humanists of Greater Portland
I truly enjoyed seeing your paintings at the US Bank. It appeared to me that you had studied a number of artistic styles although I am not sure what some are called. I saw hints of impressionism in your ocean waves, for example, and your hands on the back wall reminded me of some of Diego Rivera’s murals. (I’m not sure what his style was called.) That painting of hands spoke of peace with the water acting as a unifying, life-affirming agent.
I might call those paintings on the back wall your multicultural section. The portrait of the Native American woman was quite realistic while expressing serenity. All that blue in the painting reinforced the sense of serenity. What a beautiful young woman! She seems to know exactly who she is. Or maybe her being all dressed up in the clothing of her heritage has made her confident and secure.
The soft and warm colors in the painting of the black woman plus the tropical flower create a relaxed atmosphere, but there is a questioning look in the woman’s eyes. She’s serene, but she’s wondering something.
You used a lot of soft blues and greens with your ballerina. Although white is dominant, it is a rosey color, and the greens are softened by so many different shades, going even into yellow and some reds. The tall stalks of grass echo the upright stance of the ballerina. She looks rather pensive even though she isn’t completely relaxed. (Who could relax with all the emphasis on standing upright and tall?) It’s not exactly tension I’m feeling — more a feeling of paying attention.
It’s interesting that except for the hands, which could be of either gender but which look masculine to me, you have painted no men. You must identify with women. You paint them with such empathy.
The painting of the big rose on the center column of the room is somehow harsher than your other work. This is ironic because the subject is a flower. It has less mixing of background colors, and the flower itself is a brash, straight-out red, not a lot of shading. Even the green is more solid with only some shading. The smaller flowers bring in other colors, bringing variety and softening the work somewhat, but I wonder what it is saying in contrast to your other work.
The pictures in the front of the room are more gentle. In even the darkest areas, something positive appears — flowers, reflections of light, for example. The sunset pictures definitely suggest peace. The birds with fruit reaffirm life and the process of sustaining it. Birds almost always speak to me so that is a personal reaction. But for any viewer, the bright red of the fruit has to jump out. It’s a much more positive red than that in the big rose painting, however, because it’s not only a softer color but it reflects the light in its environment.
Your frequent use of blues and greens is very calming but also suggests verdant life. Those are the colors that tell human beings we are in a safe, nurturing place. I understand that blue is the color that enhances sleep, and of course, green indicates growing vegetation. I was especially taken with the large curling wave that goes from turquoise to dark, but a variegated dark. That is stunning work.
That variegated dark you do well on the bird (a crow? a raven?). I can’t really comment a lot on that bird, other than it seems at rest with the flowers.
The painting with the waves crashing and rolling over the rocks has a nice sense of movement. You can’t see it without sensing it in motion. Also, I don’t remember whether it is in that painting or one of the others, but your use of green softened by white gets very close to that moment when the waves actually become translucent. I remember first becoming aware of that phenomenon when my sister and I visited Hawaii last year. I couldn’t decide exactly when it happened, but either at the height of the wave or just after the water began its downward curve, you thought you could actually see through it.
I can see why you speak of finding peace while painting. Your work reaches out toward the positive, the calming, the tranquil. It also expresses a great deal of diversity. You move from sea and landscapes to portraits and from style to style. At least one has an obvious thematic statement while others simply reflect the beauty around us. Thank you for telling us about your show. I’m glad I had the experience, and I can see why it is a healing experience for you.
All good wishes,