Observing people, their actions, movements and intentions are a central subject to many artists. Humanity is so diverse that such examination gives endless possibilities for artmaking, that can lead to very different outcomes.
During the annual selection process, The Arts Center’s Exhibition Committee encountered the people-focused artworks of Tim Timmerman (Newberg) and Tatyana Ostapenko (Portland). Committee members were struck by their mutual love and appreciation for humanity and their particular communities, while also marveling at the differences of their backgrounds and working styles. Sharing Timmermans and Ostapenko’s artwork with our community resonates with Embracing Brave, The Arts Center’s program theme for 2022.
Timmerman comes from the Quaker and Episcopal faith tradition. Art that is based in (Christian) faith has a long tradition of utilizing symbolism in stories and artworks, and Timmerman fully employs symbolism in his work. His paintings and assemblages are created with elements and objects he has collected over many years, infusing a high level of storytelling and references that are obvious to him, for which viewers may interpret quite differently. Of his work he says: “I would take the risk and create artwork that is terribly honest, but holds steady in expectation: truth-telling work that doesn’t shy from naming the pain and hurt, but also sees the good of this moment, and works from that place. All this artwork is such an attempt.
On these walls of the Corvallis Art Center are works that are a naming, acts of honesty. Other works act as blessings for the many that go unseen, and lastly I offer for your perusal, a set of oil paintings that are simply an act of hope in our troubled, divided and broken times.“
Tatyana Ostapenko spent her formative years in post-Soviet Ukraine before immigrating to the United States. Her choice of subject matter are babushkas, Russian for “grandmother”, scarf-wearing women, their placement and movement, in the field of the picture, and a sense of composition rooted in Socialist Realism. The link to Soviet-era artwork stops there. Her painting style is also very far removed from Soviet art. Instead of hyperrealism Ostapenko works in fast, bold brushstrokes, abstract figures and surroundings, and quite often leaves the faces without any detail. She expands on this in a previous gallery talk at Pacific University.
“My paintings are in equal measure a wistful childhood memory and critical inquiry into the recent history of the former Soviet Union and the daily lives of people who will never make it to the official historical records.”
Recently Ostapenko’s art practice has been turned upside down with the invasion of Ukraine by Russia. Her artmaking is a courageous act.
“My work is directly focused on historical atrocities in that part of the world, as perpetuated by the few who hold the power, against the many who suffer. I feel powerless, but I don’t want to feel powerless.”
The Arts Center’s Public Programs are supported by Oregon Arts Commission, National Endowment for the Arts, City of Corvallis Parks & Recreation, and through member, donor and The Arts Center Endowment Fund support.