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Anne Appleby
PDX Contemporary Art, Portland, Oregon
Recommendation by Richard Speer


Anne Appleby, "Lackawanna," 2007, oil and wax on canvas, 45 x 45".

Continuing through December 28, 2013

When first you look at painter Anne Appleby’s “Quaking Aspen” and “Lackawanna,” with their segmented squares and rectangles of seemingly pure color, they recall the hard-edged color blocking of Ellsworth Kelly and Barnett Newman. And in works such as the nearly monochromatic green “Ontario Spring,” Appleby conjures a verdant, eco-minimalist updating of Robert Ryman. But spend more time studying the works up close, and you begin to discern myriad layers of paint (dozens, it turns out), finished with still additional layers of encaustic medium.

There is a wispiness, a suggestion of vaporous atmospherics or flowing water communicated in these layers. These natural referents are not generalized evocations; they are the painter’s near-journalistic observations of the sylvan uplands surrounding her home and studio in Montana. The works’ titles, such as “River” and “Requiem for a Ponderosa Pine,” point to the purity and fragility of their sources. The works have a sense of inhalation and exhalation, an expansiveness and vitality commensurate with the majesty of an area poetically — and quite accurately — known as Big Sky Country.


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