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Phenomenal: NW5C Painting Colloquium: Home


Phenomenal: The Northwest Five Painting Colloquium

November 3-4, 2017

at the University of Puget Sound, Tacoma, WA.


This two day inaugural conference serves as a platform to discuss, connect and engage with painting from a fresh perspective.There will be exhibits, a keynote speaker, and panel discussions. For more information about events, please see the schedule below.

While the conference is free, registration is required.

Please fill out the registration form.

Conference Schedule: Friday, November 3

Friday, November 3, 2017

5-6:30           Exhibition Reception Liberal: Recent Paintings from the NW5 and Phenomenal, Kittredge Gallery


6:30-7:15       Roundtable Discussion:  Painting and the Liberal Arts, Kittredge Gallery

Michael Knutson, Reed College

Michael Knutson was born in Everett, Washington in 1951. He received a BFA from the University of Washington and an MFA from Yale University, and has taught at Reed College since 1982. He was awarded the Alice Kimball English Traveling Fellowship from Yale in 1975, an NEA Individual Artist Grant in 1982, Juror's Awards in the 1985 and 1999 Portland Art Museum Oregon Biennials, a Betty Bowen Award from the Seattle Art Museum in 1995, and an American Academy of Arts & Letters Exhibition Purchase Award in 2010. In 2006 a mid-career survey, "Michael Knutson, Paintings and Drawings, 1981-2006," was presented in two parts, at the Art Gym, Marylhurst University, and the Eric and Ronna B. Hoffman Gallery, Lewis & Clark College. He is represented by Blackfish Gallery in Portland and Greg Kucera Gallery in Seattle.

Richard Martinez, Whitman College

Some highlights of Richard Martinez' exhibition history include solo shows in Oregon, California, Washington, and Texas, and numerous group exhibits across the United States. He earned a BFA from Southern Oregon University, and an MFA from University of California at Davis. His work explores subtleties in process, and shape relationships through the language of abstraction.




Elise Richman, University of Puget Sound

Associate Professor Elise Richman currently serves as chair of the Department of Art and Art History. Elise Richman has exhibited her work nationally in commercial galleries, non-profit spaces, and university galleries. Her paintings are included in private collections in San Francisco; New York; Washington, DC; Baltimore; and Seattle as well as The Hallie Ford Museum, King County, the Greater Tacoma Community Foundation, and the City of Tacoma. 

Her innovative, process-driven paintings explore elements of the material world and states of flux. In her work the material potential of paint acts as a metaphor for distinct aspects of the material world. Richman’s current work is informed by multi-disciplinary research into water as an elemental substance, physical phenomenon, resource, and as a subject in landscape paintings throughout history.


James Thompson, Willamette University

James B. Thompson was born in Chicago, Illinois. Thompson earned his BA degree from Ripon College in Ripon, Wisconsin and his MFA degree from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. Thompson's work has been featured in numerous international and nationally recognized solo and group art exhibitions at prominent museums and galleries throughout his career and is included in public and private collections in the United States and abroad. Thompson is a faculty member at Willamette University in Salem, Oregon, where he serves as Professor of Art. As a professional creative practitioner working in a variety of media spanning the realms of painting, printmaking, mixed-media, drawing and kiln formed glass, Thompson has established a formidable artistic reputation as one of the most thoughtful and intriguing artists and educators from the Pacific Northwest region of the country.


Cara Tomlinson, Lewis and Clark College

Cara Tomlinson received her B.A. in Painting and Literature from Bennington College and herM.F.A. in Painting from The School of Architecture and Allied Arts at the University of Oregon.Her work has been supported by numerous grants and residency awards including: the Ucross Foundation, Millay Colony for the Arts, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and the Willapa Bay Artist Residency, Ford Foundation Grant, Individual Artist Fellowship Grant from the Oregon Arts Commission and two Professional Development Grants from the Portland Regional Arts Council and Oregon Arts Commission. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally.


7:30-8:30       Keynote Address, Tahoma Room

Welcome and Keynote Speaker Introduction, President Isiaah Crawford, University of Puget Sound

Linda Besemer, James Irvine Distinguished Professor, Art and Art History, Occidental College

Digital Imagery and Analog Painting: To Glitch, or not to Glitch

Our world is now permeated with images of digitally generated images and their errant artifacts, errors or glitches.  For the last decade I have been toying with the pixilated and geometric artifacts that have been generated from using various 2D and 3D digital drawing programs (primarily Autodesk Maya, and the Adobe Creative Suite). Initially experiencing glitches as mistakes to be avoided, I eventually began to see them as a way to generate new compositions based upon open virtual spaces and forms, as opposed to the gravity bound rationalism of European classical representation (which is of course, the built-in goal of most digital imaging programs). In this sense, the glitch is positioned as a potential form of resistance to Cartesian Rationalism, Humanist ideal forms and their subjectivities. If the glitch is potentially transgressive, can it possess political agency? What happens when digitally produced forms are painted by hand? Is the human-machine hybrid glitch still a transgressive form? How does glitch imagery avoid collapsing into mere stylish formalism?


Without canvas or traditional support, Linda Besemer explores the plasticity and physicality of painting. Spilling from aluminum rods affixed to gallery walls are dried sheets of two-sided patterned acrylic paint. Referencing critical theory, feminism, objectness, decoration and finish fetish, Besemer’s paintings question the forms and underlying signifying practices of modernism, abstraction, and dimensionality of the medium.

Besemer’s paintings have been featured in numerous museums, most notably: The Whitney Museum of American Art, The Corcoran Museum of Contemporary Art, The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The Albright Knox Museum, the Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, The South Eastern Center for Contemporary Art, Grand Arts Center for Contemporary Arts, SITE, Santa Fe, and The Palm Beach ICA, among others.  She is also exhibiting internationally in Europe, Asia, and Latin America.

Besemer is a recipient of a Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Grant, a Howard Foundation Grant in Painting, The Chuck Close Rome Prize in Painting, from the American Academy in Rome, The Anonymous Was a Woman Grant, and has recently been awarded an endowed professorship as The James Irvine Distinguished Professor of the Arts, at Occidental College where she teaches courses in art and gender studies.

Conference Schedule: Saturday, November 4

Saturday, November 4, 2017

10:30-12:00   Panel I: First Frame: Territory, Partition, Space in Contemporary PNW Painting, Tahoma Room

Painting is an act that is predicated on the framing gesture. It claims a highly restricted territory. The frame partitions and describes space but it can also expand a territory. 

Painters use the frame as a device, an object and a philosophical project. This panel explores how 5 painters define their pictorial territory through the force of the frame.



Pat Boas


“This is how space begins, with words only, signs traced on the blank page.”

-- Georges Perec

If painting is a window and a mirror, it is also that other “bounded territory of knowledge” -- a page. The space of the page in painting becomes a place where private language seeks to follow and also disrupt the syntax of thought. 


Pat Boas' work has been shown extensively in the West at venues such as, the Portland Art Museum, PDX Contemporary, the Art Gym and Disjecta Contemporary Art Center, in Portland, Oregon; the Hallie Ford Museum in Salem, Oregon; the Center for Contemporary Art in Santa Fe, New Mexico.  She is a 2017 Hallie Ford Visual Arts Fellow and the recipient of many honors, fellowships, grants and residencies including the Bonnie Bronson Fund, the Corporation of Yaddo, the Ford Family Foundation, Oregon Arts Commission, Oregon College of Arts and Craft, and the Pollock-Krasner Foundation. She is represented by Elizabeth Leach Gallery in Portland, Oregon and is an associate professor and director of the School of Art + Design at Portland State University.


Cable Griffith


One of the things that continues to fascinate Griffith about painting is its duality as both an object and a window.  It can be an object whose primary function is to disappear. That inherent duplicity is an interesting starting point for painting. More recently, his work explores a direct acknowledgment and response to the material qualities of painting -- canvas as a cloth.


Cable Griffith is an artist, curator, and educator living and working in Seattle, WA. He received a BFA from Boston University and an MFA from the University of Washington. Griffith currently teaches at Cornish College of the Arts and is represented in Seattle by G. Gibson Gallery.


Margie Livingston


The act of dragging a painting down the street situates the frame on the ground. Expanding the frame to include the act of dragging pushes the work into performance. New sensations embarrassment and shame appeared as I enacted such a peculiar activity in public. These new sensations are inspiring new work.


Margie Livingston received her M.F.A. from the University of Washington. Her awards include a Fulbright Scholarship, the Arts Innovator Award, the Neddy Fellowship in Painting, and the Betty Bowen Annual Memorial Award. She is represented Luis De Jesus Los Angeles and by Greg Kucera Gallery in Seattle.


Kevin Bell


The trace of human intervention is common in the American landscape. Our view of nature thus cannot be wide-angle or unbroken, as it is crowded with discordant elements that often contradict and muddy our perceptions and expectations. We instead experience our surroundings selectively. Through this process of filtering, we experience and frame the landscape not as a whole, but as a collection of instances, fragments, specimens and objects.


Kevin Bell's work is informed by growing up in the western United States, including ten years in Alaska and eight years in Missoula, Montana, where he is a professor. He has recently exhibited in Hong Kong, Dublin and Miami and curated Seeing It Again: Nature Reconsidered at Anderson Ranch Art Center


Paul Komada


Komada pushes the boundary of painting’s frame through hybridity.  Searching the hybridity in the his work, he combines knitting and painting, thereby reexamining the boundary between Art and Craft. He also produces video of the chroma-key painting process in the studio, which further investigate the meaning of “Painting” as an enduring art form.


Paul Komada was born in Seattle. He received BFA from the University of Washington and MFA from the University of Pennsylvania. Between 2003-06, he worked at a Buddhist temple in Tokyo. Today, he lives and works in Seattle.


12:00-2:00       Lunch, Student Exhibition, and Workshops, Tahoma Room

Contemporary Oil Painting Materials Lecture Demonstration, Scott Gellatly, Product Manager, Gamblin Artists Colors, Portland, OR

Since our founding, Gamblin Artists Colors has handcrafted luscious oil colors and contemporary mediums true to historic working properties, yet safer and more permanent.

The landscape of oil painting changed significantly during the 20th century – painters’ color palette was expanded with the development of modern organic pigments and the practice of oil painting has become safer through the development of contemporary mediums, solvents and varnishes.

As painters today become more invested in the craft of painting, they look to utilizing modern materials in which to create contemporary imagery.  This presentation explores how the development and adoption of new pigments, resins and mediums have influenced painting techniques throughout history and how this continues into painting today.

About the Presenter:

Scott Gellatly is presently the Product Manager for Gamblin Artists Colors. He consults with oil painters worldwide on technical issues and is involved in developing and testing all of Gamblin oil colors and mediums. Scott has given presentations on oil painting materials throughout the U.S., Canada and Australia. He holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Oregon and has exhibited his paintings throughout the United States. His work can be seen at


2:00-3:00        Lecture:  James Thompson, The Beauty, Mystery, and Terror of Color, Tahoma Room

This talk looks at the history of color and its use, its chemical make-up, our perceptions about it, the role it plays in our lives, the response it elicits through the ages, and our use of it to define aspects of ourselves and our shared humanity.  This interdisciplinary examination of color, its development, manufacture, uses, meanings and history allow us to learn more about its impact on trade and politics, governmental restrictions, psychological and scientific perceptions and their overall influences on the environment, art and culture.


3:00-3:30        Coffee Break


3:30-5:00       Panel II:  Phenomenal, Kittredge Gallery

Painting embodies action motivated by vision while fusing material marks and mental intentions. The act of painting activates a rich interplay amongst sensory faculties, physical acts, and critical thinking processes. The five painters in Phenomenal exemplify painting’s phenomenal potential to represent and reveal subjective experience through its shared language.



Eric Elliott

Eric Elliott completed his MFA in Painting and Drawing at the University of Washington in Seattle in 2007, and his undergraduate work at the University of California, Berkeley, in 2003. Elliott also completed a year long Kickstarter-funded art residency at the Jerusalem Studio School, Israel in 2014. He was the 2009 winner of the Behnke Foundation's Neddy Artist Fellowship, received the Seattle Art Museum's 2008 Kayla Skinner Special Recognition Award, and was in the 2009 Northwest Biennial at the Tacoma Art Museum. Eric Elliott is represented by the James Harris Gallery in Seattle, Washington, and he currently works as the Assistant Professor of Painting at Colorado Mesa University.


Ann Gale

Ann Gale is an American figurative painter based in Seattle, Washington. Gale received her BFA from the Rhode Island College and her MFA from Yale University. She has been the recipient of several awards including: Western States Art Federation/National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, the Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation Grant and a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship. She received an Academy of Arts and Letters Museum Purchase Award and is an Academician of the National Academy of Art and Design, NY. Gale’s work has been shown in galleries and museums across the United States including solo exhibitions at the Portland Art Museum, Portland, Oregon and the Weatherspoon Art Museum at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Her work is represented by the Dolby Chadwick gallery, San Francisco, Prographica gallery,Seattle and Steven Harvey Fine Art Projects, New York. Gale is a professor of painting and drawing at the University of Washington School of Art, Seattle.


Emily Gherard

Emily Gherard is represented by Bridge Productions in Seattle. She received a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design (2002) and MFA from the University of Washington (2004). Her exhibition record includes Francine Seders Gallery, 4Culture in Seattle, Henry Art Gallery, and Museum of Northwest Art. Emily has taught for the last 10 years throughout the Puget Sound area.




Ron Graff

Ron Graff is Associate Professor of painting at the University of Oregon since 1980 following six years teaching at the University of Iowa. He has exhibited his work nationally in museums and galleries, has work in numerous private and public collections, has received several awards including the Oregon Arts Commission and a Ford Foundation Grant, as well as lecturing on his work at numerous distinguished universities and art institutes. He received his BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute and his MFA from Yale University. Professor Graff teaches all levels of painting and drawing.


Jan Reaves

Eugene, Oregon based artist Jan Reaves received her MFA from the University of  Oregon in 1983. She paints primarily large-scale works with an interest in gesture and the formal relationships of shapes and signs. Her work has been selected for the Oregon Biennial four times since 1985. She has won various awards including the Juror's award for the 2001 Oregon Biennial at the Portland Art Museum. Her work is in many public and private collections. She has taught at Western Michigan University, the University of Iowa and is currently teaching painting and drawing at the University of Oregon. She is represented by the Russo-Lee Gallery in Portland, Oregon.


5:00-6:30         After reception:  Mingling and Libations!


Exhibit Brochures

Colloquium Organizers

Contact Information

Elise Richman, University of Puget Sound

Cara Tomlinson, Lewis and Clark College