Happy 2016: Here’s a Great Beginning

Beginning January 7, 2016, I will have my first solo exhibit since 2012. The exhibit is at the Art Haus in Milepost5, the art community and residential apartment complex off 82nd Ave. Art Haus can be accessed between 81st and 82nd on Oregon St. The exhibit will run January 7 through February 8, 2016.

When James Halvorson of Art Haus at Milepost 5 dropped by my studio¬†and, on¬†seeing my big abstracts, asked if I’d like an exhibit — well, shucks, what could I say? Here¬†are some photos of the exhibit before it opened. And below are a couple of personal photos taken in the studio:

Full studioMy full studio, before delivering art to Art Haus. Below, the empty studio.

empty studio

The paintings, or those not purchased, will be delivered back home in February. In the meantime, I can bask in the thought of them hanging for all to see.

I was pleased by James’ generous offer. It had been some time since I had had a solo exhibit.¬†I moved into my new studio mid-year 2014, and with its generous proportions it enticed me¬†into making large abstract paintings; a workshop with Bill Park was a¬†further incentive. One of the first of these large abstracts (which sneaks toward abstraction but not without having a bit of figurative work in it), started in Bill’s¬†Painting Intensive. It¬†is called The Green Green Grass of Home:

GreenGreenGrassofHome2015WLGreen Green Grass, 54.5 x 54 inches, is mostly acrylic on canvas and was finished in 2015. The title is personal, but I think the painting transcends its label. However, I must report that someone who grew up in the same countryside as I did found the title instantly meaningful. But you can name it anything you like:-).

The last painting in this series was named just this morning by Jer. It’s current title is “Gone” although in the exhibit it’s called Untitled (2016 Number One).

112016NumberOne30x40WLGone (Untitled [2016 Number One]), 48 x 60 inches, oil on canvas, 2016

Titles, like abstract paintings themselves, come slowly to me. I’m always reluctant to taint the viewers’ perceptions by insisting they see what I saw; sometimes I can’t claim to have any idea what I saw at all, although any painting I put on exhibit is a painting I feel is complete and satisfying. And so, the painting below also escaped having a meaningful title:


Mixed Media, 2015, 68 x 58 inches, mixed media on canvas, 2015.

Three of the canvases in this exhibit¬†are 4 feet by 5 feet (48 x 60 inches). This is no coincidence. I am recycling a¬†7-canvas panorama (total 28 feet)¬†that was done in 2009. The painted canvases are fine underlayments for the newer paintings, and I’ve saved one of them, mostly for nostalgia’s sake. I love the notion that each canvas holds a lot of history, even if that history is obvious only to me.

04UntitledBlueSpacetwentyFifteen48x60WLUntitled (Blue Space, 2015), 48 x 60 inches, oil on canvas, 2015

05UntitledFormationstwentyFifteen48x60WLUntitled (Formations, 2015), 48 x 60 inches, oil on canvas, 2015

The other paintings in this exhibit are below. All the work is for sale; give a shout if you are interested in purchasing any. And if you are in the area, drop in to Art Haus at Milepost5 and check out the art. And/or drop in to my studio, which is just up the street from Art Haus.

A couple of the pieces are textiles that date back as far as 2007. They too were hanging in the studio, and James wanted them for the exhibit.


Miocene, 92 x 82 inches, hand-dyed and painted fabrics, machine stitched, 2007

01The Rising65x52WL

The Rising, 65 x 55 inches, hand-dyed and painted silk, machine stitched, 2007.


Golden Canyon, 52 x 48 Inches, oil on canvas, 2009


Untitled (2014 Number One), 30 x 40 inches, oil on canvas, 2014


Untitled (2014 Number Two), 30 x 40 inches, oil on canvas, 2014


Winter Working, 30 x 40 Inches, oil on canvas, 2015

The title of this exhibit is “Winter Workings”.¬† My artist statement is below, just in case you were wondering:


Studio Paintings by June O. Underwood

I am enamored of space.  Spaces, actually.  All kinds of spaces.  In my twenties I was a wannabee caver, and I found crawling through small caverns in rock to be exciting.  Having grown older and perhaps wiser, I find large spaces, like Nevada’s basin and range country, exhilarating. Montana’s Big Sky delights me. I love eastern Oregon’s air and geologies, wrapped in light.

Space also means light to me, all kinds of light.  One of my earliest memories is of sitting at the supper table in what must have been early fall, with a golden flood of light in the room, and outside, the gold pouring over a stubbled corn field, glinting off the river beyond.  While scientists can measure some kinds of space without light, we ordinary viewers need light to see space.

And where there‚Äôs light, there‚Äôs color ‚Äď which for the painter means paint.¬† And canvas.¬† And brushes, and other instruments (knives and spatulas and rags) to make color make light make space.

So I begin my work with right-sized canvas.  And with imagination and time. In the winter, I don’t have geologically interesting rock structures or neighborhood houses and wonky vehicles or even trails through the trees to provoke my space lust.  So I go with imagination and abstraction.  I plunk the paint onto the canvas, smear it, push it around, stare at it and study it, until its destination, its metaphor or story or sensuality becomes clear.

Not that anyone else has to find space in my abstract or semi-abstract work. Your imagination can work on the color and light and canvas, and you can allow it to roam freely.¬† But if you want to know what, in general, I was thinking of, think ‚Äúspace.‚ÄĚ

Of course, I always play with other elements of painting ‚Äď texture, color, line, rhythm, shape, design. And these, taken together, are what lead me to metaphor and/or story. ¬†Space, light, time. Metaphor, story.¬† Paint, canvas, brushes.¬† Imagination, studying, immersions ‚Äď all these go into my winter workings.

A bit of biography:

I‚Äôm a 74 year old female, and I have moved across the United States from rural Pennsylvania, stopping in Virginia, Wyoming, Long Island, and Kansas before my husband, daughter, and I landed in Portland, Oregon, in 1989. I taught English and women‚Äôs studies at Emporia (Kansas) State University until 1985, had my first visual art exhibition in Oregon City in 1995, and traded textile art for painting in 2006. ¬†We now live in Montavilla in Portland, about 3 miles from my daughter; we have a grandson who will graduate from Reed College in 2016; and we are in the last developmental stages of our lives. ¬†‚ÄúLast‚ÄĚ goes on a long time these days, so I think I have time to explore neighborhoods and landscapes in the summer and to bring forth a lot of Big Paintings in my winter working.

And a happy new year to all of you; may your new year bring forth a lot of big paintings, or the equivalent.

jou (june, aka June O. Underwood, when she’s in trouble)




6 thoughts on “Happy 2016: Here’s a Great Beginning

  1. Hi June,
    I love your work. Also, your studio is so clean and tidy. Maybe it is a part of being a sculptor but mine is a but is dusty and has a lot of wood shavings and stuff. I will have an open studio in Oct so i better get to cleaning it up a bit.
    Anyway, what i understand to be the frames within frames painting is a really great affect.

  2. Wow! June, I love, love, love your imagined and abstract spaces! So very different from the paintings I’ve seen of the actual places where you’ve had residencies. Gorgeous! Evocative! Thanks.

    • Marni, Forgive me. I just saw this. Thanks so much for your comment. It means a lot to me, coming from you. And your language about the paintings is elegant — elegant, m’dear. Thank you again.

    • I think that’s one that really evokes strong personal associations.
      And yours is as good as any I’ve heard. I can’t say that Munch came to mind while I was painting, but as I said, who knows where these things comes from. Thanks for checking in, Diane.

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