I have been wanting to write for some time about my experience seeing this exhibit but am still unsure I can find the language to describe it. I first learned of Rick Bartow when I read a review of this show about a year ago, on Hyperallergic. I immediately ordered the book because the images shown in the review transfixed me. I was not disappointed. I have sat with this book a lot – sometimes for just a couple of minutes, sometimes for an hour – and the power of Bartow’s work just knocks me out. It is primal, textured, visceral, heady, instinctual, dark, and beautiful. It is tuned in, to the self and to the natural world, to history and memory, to presence.

I was thrilled to find out that I would have an opportunity to see this exhibit when it came to the High Desert Museum here. Bartow was born and lived in Oregon and is represented by a Portland, Oregon gallery. These Oregon connections, I am sure, are what brought the exhibit to this more remote location. The exhibit here included paintings, drawings, prints, and maybe a half dozen sculptures. To stand before and among this work magnified my experience on a very physical level. I found myself consciously taking long, deep breaths, I gasped, I lost time. Ultimately, I took a break and walked the grounds of the museum – including outside in the rain – and then came back in to be with the work again. Wow. His work speaks to me on so many levels and to have the great good fortune to experience it live was extraordinary.

4 comments on “THINGS YOU KNOW BUT CANNOT EXPLAIN Rick Bartow”

  1. I love learning about your layered experience with Bartow and I think I have seen a few things (maybe from hi fructose?) But have to check out his work based on your words 🙂 thanks for sharing –

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I’m so glad you shared your experience with this work, JNaz. What more could an artist hope for? The art happens in the space between the creation and the viewer. I’m told that the average amount of time spent in front of a work of art in a museum is 17 seconds. We are oh-so-busy, but busyness is a shallow business. Our souls need more than that.

    I would recommend that those who can’t see Bartow’s work in person pick around on the internet. I quickly found a website with a series of short videos of him discussing some of his pieces. Very cool.

    Liked by 2 people

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