matt leavitt
Time permitting, Portland-based artist Matt Leavitt allows his imagination to run free by tinkering, inventing, and manipulating objects in the pursuit of fine artistic ideas. The fascination of his multi-disciplinary artwork can be found equally in the methodologies spawning them as in the finished products themselves; trial and error, as well as chance events, serve as stepping stones to reaching greater ends -- some predictable, some unpredictable. Leavitt creates with the mentality of sussing out his wildest artistic fantasies, all the while drawing equally from his knowledge in Civic Engineering and his experiences at Great Vow Zen Monastery in Clatskanie, Oregon. In his experimentation, he has done things many would never consider. He has attempted to make ink from flowers petals; he has thrown melted candle wax onto frozen ponds; he has created sculptures from liquid clay. His interests flow in many directions, and these divergences are present when one looks at his entire body of work. The projects he undertakes are always well-detailed within his mind; every piece of every series falls in line with subtle stylistic rules yet deviates within a larger framework.

 

2010 began on a dark note for artist Christopher Davison. His Disasters Are People Too series kicked off the year, and much like a poet or musician wearing his heart on his sleeve through words, Davison displayed his innermost feelings through strokes on canvas. The series was a reflection of the year 2009 -- a difficult year of transformation of Davison. Through the black-and-white gouache paintings featuring dismembered, mangled body parts floating through dark landscapes, one got the sense of incompleteness, and even the lack of gravity in the pieces did nothing to ease their weight.
"Overall, [2009] had me feeling like I had been knocked off my horse," Davison explains. "The economy was one thing, but I was also trying to push my art into new and unknown territory. It took the whole year for me to really feel like I had the brushes under control." For the first time, Davison began relying almost exclusively on gouache, as opposed to following his previous mixed media routine, which included the use of inks and pens. The darkness pervading the Disasters Are People Too series was heavy, but it was necessary fodder for Davison to move forward. His newer work is brighter and more colorful, and features what Davison calls a "genuine marriage" between his love for rich blacks and colors. They are well-balanced and seem to perfectly parallel Davison's personal tastes.

 

"I've always been a sucker for melancholic music and films. No one really borrows movies from me because when they look in my cabinet, they see Ingmar Bergman, Adam Curtis documentaries, or Jan Svankmajer animations. Likewise, the albums in my heavy rotation always sound better at night or in the winter. So, if media indicates anything, it’s that color may come and go, but black is here to stay." - Christopher Davison