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VIZ CITY BLOG: Audio, photos, transcripts & more by Terry Way and Sandy Brown Jensen.Airs every other Wednesday during Morning Edition and Here & Now.

Bets Cole Right Angles & Raw Edges: Buildings in the Landscape at the Karin Clarke Gallery

By permission of the gallery.


  This is Sandy Brown Jensen, and you’re listening to Viz City, KLCC’s arts review program.

Watercolor is NOT an easy medium to master, so when an artist is able to put together a themed show of forty outstanding paintings, I know to stand up and pay close attention. 


Credit By permission of the gallery.
Bets Cole. Big Red Barn. Watercolor.


Right now, the Karin Clarke Gallery has a solo show by landscape painter Bets Cole called Right Angles & Raw Edges: Buildings in the Landscape. In her own words, Bets says that her show “celebrates the beauty of the relationship between nature and architecture.Humans add roofs, garages, and painted doors to the land; nature in turn adds fall colors, creeping vines, and majestic trees, which soften those hard lines.”


Credit By permission of the gallery.
Bets Cole. Ethereal Barn. Watercolor.


It is this vision that makes this show special and worth sinking into. I can tell Bets is “visually fascinated by the introduction of a red car in a driveway, or blackberries climbing a deteriorating barn.” On my first trip to see the show, I seemed to see all the barns first. My favorite is called “Ethereal Barn.” It is a ghostly Gambrel-roofed barn sketched and scraped into existence in a pale dawn light. 


Another is a Dutch barn, red with strong black outlines of the long typical row of eight low windows. I know I’m not alone in loving the array and beauty of our Oregon barns when I see how many Bets included among her Italian towers drenched in gold light. 


Credit By permission of the gallery.
Bets Cole. Beauty of a Barn. Watercolor.


When you get a moment, stand in the middle of the gallery and do a slow panoramic scan in a circle around you: see how the compositions occupy so many different planes, up, down, and sideways? What else do the paintings have in common? What stands out to you that makes individual paintings take on differences from the whole collection?


Among the works in this show is a series of eighteen “mini” vignettes, all painted from inside Bets’ car during the pandemic, when her  travel was limited by personal safety, regulations, and weather. What does the much smaller size of these little paintings say to you about the time and places these were made?


The Bets Cole show will be up through July 10.

This is Sandy Brown Jensen for KLCC.


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