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(Tacoma, WA) – Portland artist Michael Brophy is often recognized as a storyteller, who illustrates the history of the Northwest landscape through dramatic large-scale paintings. This fall, Tacoma Art Museum presents an insightful retrospective exhibition of works from the past ten years of Brophy’s career, on view October 8, 2005 through January 1, 2006. The Romantic Vision of Michael Brophy is the artist’s first one-person museum exhibition organized by Tacoma Art Museum and the Hallie Ford Museum of Art, Willamette University, in Salem, Oregon.
This scholarly survey features twenty-five remarkable paintings rich with colorful Northwest imagery and powerful depictions of rivers, mountains, and forests that have been altered by the effects of human interaction. These works examine the complex relationship between environmental preservation and economic development by confronting the paradox of the American relationship with Western landscape.
Brophy’s images portray historical events and practices such as logging, fishing, and fur trading that have impacted the American landscape over the course of the last two centuries. Additionally, many of the artist’s works illustrate the historical myths and legends that have served to define the “Northwest character” and simplify the complex and often contradictory realities of environmental policies, trade, and industry.
”Michael Brophy does not see his art as an indictment against development and resource extraction,” explains the exhibition curator Rock Hushka, of Tacoma Art Museum. “Rather, he seeks to expand a meaningful dialogue that reconsiders the relationship between humans and the natural world.”
Brophy’s works are often seen as stories that inspire viewers to re-evaluate the beliefs and assumptions that have impacted our past and current environmental circumstances in the Pacific Northwest. Brophy advocates a sustainable approach to managing the Northwest’s natural resources and his paintings serve as tools for discussion about manageable opportunities for shaping the future.
Michael Brophy will participate in a free public discussion titled “How Do We See the West? Reverberations of the American Landscape Tradition” at Tacoma Art Museum on Saturday, November 19 from 11 am to 3:30 pm. Patricia Junker, Curator of American Art at Seattle Art Museum, opens this half-day program with a discussion about the West in nineteenth-century landscape painting. Then, Douglas Sackman, Assistant Professor of History at University of Puget Sound, will provide a historical overview of the impact of logging and other industries on the Northwest landscape. Finally, Brophy and writer Matthew Stadler will close with a discussion on the rise of “serial space” in the built environment of the American West and the ways it has erased the categories of city, country and nature, forever changing our notion of landscapes – artistic and otherwise. Visit the events calendar for more information about upcoming education programs and events at Tacoma Art Museum.
The Romantic Vision of Michael Brophy was developed and organized by Rock Hushka in collaboration with the Hallie Ford Museum of Art, in Salem, Oregon. The exhibition is part of Tacoma Art Museum’s Northwest Perspective series of regional one-person exhibitions and is accompanied by a full-color catalogue written by Tacoma Art Museum Curator Rock Hushka and published by University of Washington Press.
Michael Brophy was born in 1960 in Portland, Oregon, and is often labeled as the prototypical Northwest artist due to his choice of subject matter and painting style. A life-long resident of Portland, he earned his bachelor’s degree of fine art from Pacific Northwest College of Art in 1985 and has been represented extensively throughout the Northwest. Brophy has been honored with numerous one-person exhibitions in Seattle and Portland galleries and has also been a frequent contributor to group exhibitions at Portland Art Museum and Tacoma Art Museum.
Among his numerous awards, he received a Western States Arts Federation NEA Fellowship in 1990, a Pollock/Krasner Foundation Grant in 1995, and the prestigious Artist Fellowship from Portland, Oregon’s Metropolitan Arts Commission’s Regional Arts and Culture Council in 2003. He was included in the important overview by Lois Allen Contemporary Art in the Northwest (1995), and his paintings were included in two nationally touring exhibitions: Lewis and Clark Territory: Contemporary Artists Revisit Place, Race, and Memory and Baja to Vancouver: The West Coast and Contemporary Art.