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Talk at White Bird explores ‘visceral’ new show

Christopher Mathie discusses ‘Seeking Balance’ exhibit Sept. 15

Published on September 11, 2018 10:15AM

Christopher Mathie’s ‘Sailing Into Trust.’

Courtesy White Bird Gallery

Christopher Mathie’s ‘Sailing Into Trust.’

Christopher Mathie’s ‘We’re Here to Heal Each Other.’

Courtesy White Bird Gallery

Christopher Mathie’s ‘We’re Here to Heal Each Other.’

CANNON BEACH — Christopher Mathie, of Washington, whose exhibition “Seeking Balance” is on display at Cannon Beach’s White Bird Gallery, will give an artist talk at 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 15. A reception takes place 4 to 6 p.m.

The studio had always been a personal refuge for Mathie, a place he painted by and for himself. But after 20-plus years as a professional artist, he began feeling he’d hit a creative wall.

He broke through by inviting others in.

The watershed moment came in the creation of a piece titled “A Strong Man,” inspired by a friend of Mathie’s in the midst of Stage 4 cancer.

“He’s this incredibly resilient person,” Mathie said of his friend. “He’s upbeat. His attitude is incredible.” Mathie invited his friend into the studio to explore that resilience.

“He came and sat with me and we talked and talked and talked,” Mathie remembered. “And I was taking notes, but directly on the canvas. He would say something, and I would scribble.”

Mathie wasn’t just transcribing what his friend said but how it made him feel. “More than an interview,” Mathie said, “it was a dialogue.”

And then he started painting — on the same canvas where he’d scribbled the notes. Some of that text remains visible. Along with direct outside inspiration, writing on the canvas was another first for Mathie. Suddenly his process had evolved. The creative floodgates re-opened.

“Bringing people into the studio and interviewing them, I was bringing new energy and integrating their stories into my stories,” Mathie said.

Mathie used the dialogue method for another piece in response to an ailing friend.

“I had this feeling what we were doing was healing each other,” Mathie said. “Her pain and my pain were being addressed at the same time.”

“I realized what I was painting wasn’t just about her, and not just about me,” he added. “Pain and healing are universal. These would have a broader reach.”

These pieces form the center and the spark of “Seeking Balance.”

Mathie’s talk will delve deeper into the methods and stories that revitalized his work. “‘We’re Here to Heal Each Other,’” Mathie said, “is a piece that combines all my skills: subject, color theory, balance, abstraction, symbols, emotion. Everything I’ve amassed in my toolbox is in this piece.”

But really, “Seeking Balance” is about an amplification of connection in Mathie’s work.

“It became more visceral,” Mathie said. “This body of work was coming more from my gut, more from my heart, than ever before.”

White Bird Gallery is located at 251 N. Hemlock St. For more info, visit whitebirdgallery.com or call 503-436-2681.


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