By Randi Bjornstad
Silhouettes of butterflies and leaves abound in Eugene artist Tallmadge Doyle’s latest show, “Shifting Migrations,” on display at the Karin Clarke Gallery through Nov. 26.
The gallery will be open until 7:30 p.m. during the First Friday ArtWalk on Nov. 4. Doyle will give a gallery talk during a two-hour reception that begins at noon on Nov. 5.
Much of the master printmaker’s work reflects her fascination with the natural world. This grouping focuses specifically on alterations to delicate ecosystems occasioned by changing climate, captured in what might be glimpsed in the split-second fluttering of a butterfly wing or the wafting of an autumn leaf.
The proliferation of butterflies in the show is Doyle’s homage to the Fender’s Blue butterfly, which was declared to be extinct in 1937 but was rediscovered in 1989. Its population has been restored in wetlands in four western Oregon Counties — Lane, Benton, Polk and Yamhill — with one of the largest occurring at the Willow Creek Main Preserve in west Eugene, managed by The Nature Conservancy.
Nearly half of the 14 prints in the show are one-of-a-kind mono prints, and the rest are etching editions she made in limited editions of 12 or fewer. Each print is marked with its number and “ed var,” to indicate that each print in the edition has its own small variations.
The newer pieces in the show reflect the influence of an artist’s residency that Doyle spent at Playa, near Summer Lake in eastern Oregon, several months ago.
To begin with, she was astounded at the terrain and climate in the area, located about two hours southeast of Bend.
“It was really foreign to me — I’m originally an East Coaster, so when I travel I usually head that direction,” Doyle said. “But this was incredible. You come over the mountains, and then over this ridge, and you look down and if you didn’t know where you were, you would think it’s the ocean.
“You see this huge body of water about 15 miles by 15 miles with all this mist coming off it, and later when you go down to it you learn it’s very shallow,” she said, holding her hand about knee level.
The unusual panorama definitely stretched her subsequent artwork in new directions, Doyle said.
“When I make prints, I don’t start with a concrete idea, but as the print progresses, I sense what is missing and add it” to the next run through the press, Doyle said. “In the work I did from Playa, I thought, ‘Oh, yeah, I need the strong horizontal sense of the landscape — I was realizing how that area has evolved over millions of years and wanted to capture that idea.”
Doyle pursued a similar butterfly-and-plant theme in a large courtyard enclosure she has created for the Lane Transit District’s new EmX bus rapid transit route, which ends near Willow Creek at a relief station for the drivers on the route.
“There are eight panels, each 5 feet wide, and the fence is 6 feet high,” she said. “They’re all laser-cut aluminum, powder-coated, and the images are plants and butterflies that flow from one panel to the next.”
While she’s a dedicated printmaker, metalsmithing actually was Doyle’s first emphasis in art school.
“I love working with metal, but I also love the process of printmaking that leads to unsuspected results,” she said. “There’s a lot of delayed gratification in printmaking because of the layering process — sometimes you end up with a challenge, and sometimes you have a happy accident.”
Printmaker Tallmadge Doyle’s new show will be on display through Nov. 26, with a gallery talk and reception from noon to 2 p.m. on Nov. 5.
Where: Karin Clarke Gallery, 760 Willamette St. in downtown Eugene
Gallery hours: Noon to 5:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday
Information: 541-684-7963 or karinclarkegallery.com