The Chessman gallery, inside the Lincoln City Cultural
Bill Shumway and Pam Serra-Wenz have exhibited extensively in the Pacific Northwest. Both painters believe that water is the key to life on this planet and that people should pay heed to conserving and retaining our clean water resources. As artists, they have decided to bring attention to that issue by focusing on the characteristics of water and the beauty that water beholds in its natural setting. Both artists paint with acrylic and manipulate the surfaces in many intriguing ways, sometimes even leaving paintings out in the rain as part of the process!
Water is to a large extent, transparent, except when it is infused with colorants from its environment. They’ve seen slow-moving mud-brown rivers and algae filled ponds and wetlands, not to mention waterways stained various colors around industrial effluents. The transparency allows for light to illuminate colors and forms beneath the surface. Deflected light and color often bounces back on surrounding objects and back again into and onto the water which is always moving. It redesigns itself constantly in value, reflective quality, and movement. It changes from moment to moment and is never the same. It is indeed a very complicated interaction and a real challenge for the artist to interpret with opaque pigments on a static two-dimensional surface. For both painters, painting water is, metaphorically, about as close to the creative act as one can get.
Bill Shumway earned his Master’s Degree in Painting from the University of Massachusetts. He has been an artist, teacher, and arts consultant since 1968. Prior to moving to Corvallis, OR, in the mid-seventies, he operated galleries and frame studios in Amherst, Northampton and Martha’s Vineyard, MA.
When he arrived in Corvallis, he was deeply moved by the wildness of Oregon’s multiple landscapes and decided to open up to new ways of seeing and painting while incorporating the elements of abstraction that he had previously embraced. He shifted towards painting more directly and in the moment with new processes.
He operated Pegasus Gallery for 35 years until his retirement in 2014. The gallery served regional and international artists over the years and generated collaborative events with other galleries. He also helped start and facilitate the Vistas & Vineyards en plein air program and co-chaired the art procurement committee for the Corvallis Arts Center annual Chocolate Fantasy fund raiser for more than a decade.
Some of his art work can be found at Pegasus Gallery; at his studio by appointment; in many ongoing regional exhibits and in personal and corporate collections on both coasts. Other gallery locations are the Clark Studio Gallery in Roseburg, Oregon; the Kevin Clark Gallery in Tokyo; the Yaquina River Museum in Toledo, Oregon; and the Blue Dome Gallery in Silver City, New Mexico.
Today, He continue to paint and teach individual and group workshops.
Bill uses acrylic mostly on sign-board panels because the surface is smooth and resistant to the kinds of pressure he applies with rubber brushes and an assortment of scraping tools. He usually paints en plein air in order to create very visceral connections with his subjects. They are done in under two hours so that he can retain both the light and his perceptions on the subject. At times, he moves to his studio and works from the plein air images and his memory to produce more abstract and, sometimes, larger paintings. Most of the paint is applied wet-on-wet with brushes, then manipulated with brush handles and rubber or metal spatulas to blends, scrape away or texturize the pigments. Sometimes he lets some of the under painted forms and colors dry and the overpaints those areas with darker or lighter colors which may be pulled away to expose some of the preceding layer. That process may be repeated several times. Bill also uses interference pigments (mica) to increase the luminosity and a certain sense of spontaneous surprise in his paintings. Color and light shifts as the viewer moves or the quality of light changes.
After working for more than 25 years and raising two wonderful children, Pam Serra-Wenz retired at 49 years old and become the artist that she’d always wanted to be.
Her paintings embody movement and color intensity. Sometimes her abstract paintings reflect dreams. Being an artist provides the ability to immerse herself in hours of play and creativity. It allows her to share her dreams with others. It is also an opportunity to grow and develop a skill that flows with the richness of life.
She employs two distinct processes to create her aquatic images. One involves the technique of layering colors and iridescent paint in an abstract under painting. Then surface paint is applied (sans brushwork) to the substrate. After the second paint layer dries, she removes (sgraffito) some of the painted areas to expose the illuminated under painting, where light emanates from the core of the surface. Her other process is rain painting. In Oregon, it rains for much of the year, so Pam decided to ask the rain to join her in making water images. She uses acrylic pigments on non-paper supports, then lays them out in the rain for various periods of time with minor manipulation. That process may be repeated several times. The results are truly intriguing and, of course, very fluid.
The Chessman Gallery is inside the Lincoln City Cultural Center at 540 NE Hwy. 101 in Lincoln City.