The Oregon Coast Council for the Arts will present the work of Eugenia Pardue and her exhibit “La Petite Quaintrelle,” from Saturday, Aug. 7, to Sept. 25 in the Runyan Gallery at the Newport Visual Arts Center.
Pardue will present a series of large and small-scale works of hand-sculpted acrylic paint on birch panel. An informal gallery opening for “La Petite Quaintrelle” will be held at the VAC (777 NW Beach Drive) this Saturday, from noon to 4 p.m., with the new exhibiting artists speaking at 2 p.m.
Pardue’s current work developed following her participation in 2006 in her “Milkwood Artist Residency” in Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic. She has left color behind and now focuses solely on the surface of the work. She paints in tonal varieties of white, applying decorative motives and architectural elements. Her works present a tension of forms that allows the viewer to move inside and outside the composition.
“My moment of deepest inspiration came to me while lying on my back in the atelier in the Cesky Krumlov Castle in the Czech Republic,” Pardue writes. “For weeks I had roamed the castle and been dazzled by the colorful frescos, carved relief facades, gilded carriages and other Rococo and Baroque ornaments that infused almost every square foot of the castle’s walls and ceilings. One afternoon, after hours of absorbing this nonstop cascade of visual delight, I lay down on my back on the tarps on my studio floor and closed my eyes to let their multitudinous reports from my days’ wanderings seep in more deeply.
“Opening my eyes. I looked up and saw that the ancient, dark, wooden cross beams that passed over the very space where I had been painting during my artists residency were adorned with fading, barely visible images of sinuously intertwining vines, variegated leaves, and drooping flower blossoms whose swollen heads verged on eruption. I suddenly became alarmed that such beauty teetered towards oblivion. I, and I suppose any artist, mourns when their marks fade into the forgotten past.”
Each of Pardue’s works reflects upon the past of Baroque elegance, where design evoked the majesty of nature and these elements were metaphors for the human condition. She speaks to it as a combination of symbolism and innovation of the medium of paint to speak to a new dialog in painting.
Having grown up in Los Angeles and Minnesota, Pardue moved to New Orleans after high school and then to Miami with the intent to study nutrition. A class in ceramics at Florida International University, however, changed all that, and her artistic career took focus. In 1990, she earned her BFA in painting from Florida International University and then in 1998, she received her MFA from Clemson University in South Carolina, intent on teaching and contributing to academia. Following her MFA, she moved to Portland, where she taught at Portland Community College and Portland State University through 2009.
Pardue has consistently held exhibitions from 1999 through 2021, both regionally and nationally. The “Le Petite Quaintrelle” exhibit at the Newport Visual Arts Center will serve as preview for her larger exhibit, “Quaintrelle,” at the Arllington Museum of Art in Texas this fall.
“We are honored to have Eugenia Pardue’s work and someone of her artistic merit at the Newport Visual Arts Center,” OCCA VAC director Tom Webb said. “This show has been over three years in the making.”
The Runyan Gallery is open Wednesday through Saturday, from noon to 4 p.m.
The Newport Visual Arts Center adheres to all health and safety protocol provided by the governor’s office as well as the city of Newport. OCCA currently recommends that all visitors to the VAC wear masks while in the building.