Looking With the Eyes of Memory: Margaret Prentice at the White Lotus

Mar 24, 2021

(Note: Press firmly on the play button if you have trouble activating the audio.)

Margaret Prentice. The Devil's Churn on the Oregon Coast.
Credit By permission of the gallery

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

In my last broadcast, I talked about how to look at abstract art through the eyes of dream and responses of the heart. Today, I’m looking at Margaret Prentice’s fine new show at the White Lotus Gallery at 767 Willamette in Eugene.

These oil paintings are at the opposite end of the spectrum of abstraction--what is called realism. Each painting is of a place very likely any one of us would recognize: Smith Rocks, Heceta Head Beach, desert monuments and big skies.

Margaret Prentice. A Visit to the Rio Grande River.
Credit By permission of the gallery

Each painting is clearly and beautifully painted, as if you could walk into the scene, but when viewing realistic art, it’s important to fight the urge to do an Instagram stroll through the gallery. These are not digital snapshots. This is the place to slow down and use your eyes of memory.

For example, I stood still and let myself enter a painting of the Devil’s Churn. There is the bottle-green water, the dangerous rocks covered with layers of seaweed, the green cliff behind.

 

On my way to memory, I pause to appreciate the brushwork. Any small section of this composition could be enlarged as an abstract; it is only viewed as a whole that it becomes a scene we know and love.

 

Margaret Prentice. A Visit to Elephant Rock.
Credit By permission of the gallery

  

I remember a story my husband told me about rescuing a woman who threw herself off the cliff into the Devil’s Churn, and surprised to still be alive and pounded against the rocks, was ready to give life a second chance.

 

I remember a picnic at the foot of that green hill when we were courting.

 

I remember bringing our amazed Danish relatives down the steep stairs, and that reminds me that we may never see them again. This realistic painting has opened my layers of emotional response because I am using my eyes of memory.

This is a rich, new show by one of Oregon’s most accomplished painters. Margaret Prentice has given it everything she’s got. Now, it’s up to us to bring our eyes of memory and our open, responsive hearts into the gentle quiet of the White Lotus Gallery.

Margaret Prentice. Voiceless Fog.
Credit By permission of the gallery

This is Sandy Brown Jensen for KLCC.