"William Matheson’s Nocturnes: What You See You Also Don’t See" by Paul Maziar (commissioned essay)


The night is long and poor in council. — Samuel Beckett (Malone Dies)

An absorbing solitude runs through William Matheson’s Antigen exhibition, evoking the remoteness, the chill, silence, and revelry of deep night. There’s also a hint of subversion in the way each painting registers as mind-image: that noiseless moving picture ever playing behind the eyelids. And it’s the social content behind Matheson’s new body of work that causes this. Here, the personal and the public merge in ways that allow Matheson to readily connect through his medium. He does so with the innovative hand of an adept painter, the mind of an occultist, upping the ante of what painting can communicate. 

Matheson’s content—addiction and Big Pharma; memory, loss, and the desire to preserve life in the face of societal and environmental collapse—is self-evident (as the doomy palette of the nocturne is wont to be) and yet discreet, never treacly. He successfully employs his medium to show instead of tell. In one painting, Phone (Fentanyl) (2019), a foil dispenser for the opioid Fentanyl mimics the petal-and-sepal formation of a flower. This is a reminder that direct observation can blend seamlessly with intellectual and emotional positions. The fact of death looms, making Antigen both attractive and repellent, not to mention Matheson’s turns of radar-green and what they invoke. Each person faces death in life while fearing it, unable to grasp it completely, while art is there to provide innocuous inklings. Just a little drop of poison casts light on the universal: curtains, darkness, the end.

Phone (Fentanyl) , 2019, oil on panel, 12 x 9 inches

Phone (Fentanyl), 2019, oil on panel, 12 x 9 inches

Paintings are so attractive, in part, because they’re often readily accessible, easy to take in as it’s all there on the flat canvas, pleasing to the eye and to the mind. “What you see is what you see” as the Frank Stella adage goes (or rather, went). Paintings are also in service to question surrounding social realities as related to one’s own. Matheson’s nocturnes draw the mind into recessed, shadowy spaces, encouraging (if not requiring) long-looking. Because of his painterly ingenuity, what you see you also don’t see. As I walked through Nationale to look at Matheson’s latest works, each painting literally changed before me. This is a trait that I look for in any art form, the dynamic ability to surprise as time passes; when a representational painting has this quality, it disorients in a good way. 

In Night Computer (Preserved Shark) (2019), a green glow bears the image of, you guessed it, a shark, preserved in a jar as a scientific specimen. Despite the fact of the apparent formal frankness of the composition—a computer turned on in the dark—a hidden image sits waiting for the viewer’s changed perspective. Standing beside the painting to gaze across its surface edgewise, the grid formation of a keyboard magically appears, black-on-black, baffling the eye and the mind. The surface and depth of the painting vibrate in apparent flatness that made me question what paintings are. 

Night Computer (Preserved Shark) , 2019, oil on canvas, 26 x 40 inches

Night Computer (Preserved Shark), 2019, oil on canvas, 26 x 40 inches

Having seen and walked away from the exhibition, I began to wonder what other hidden optical nuances were being transferred, subliminally dispatching things to which the eye might latently attend. In another painting (spoiler alert), Night Window with Ghosts (2019)—this one a still life of a reed in a bottle in front of a photograph taped to a wall—figure and ground (and thus perception) are destabilized by a “sudden” apparition, putting in a vapory appearance somehow behind the dark background of a wall. The dim pallor of a face below dark brushstrokes that communicate “hair” is enough to make the whole exhibition worthy of return visits, deeper consideration, maybe a nightmare or two. I thought to myself, if such optical tricks can be played in paint, why don’t artists play them more often? The answer is that to do so at all means to risk relating to the hoary tradition of parlor games. 

Night Window with Ghosts , 2019, oil on canvas, 26 x 40 inches

Night Window with Ghosts, 2019, oil on canvas, 26 x 40 inches

With Antigen, however, Matheson successfully activates the visual field (i.e. it’s specifically not static) making the case for the medium of painting at a time when it seems anything is possible when it comes to image rendering and communication (I’m thinking VR, holograph, video, and everything else). Surface and depth fluctuate, hover and sink, and emphasize the fact of the unseen relative to the image. The exchanges, juxtapositions between the glow and pitch from within these paintings, make for an engaging, memorable experience. In the art historical tradition of the nocturne, Matheson is working within and commenting on the objective rendering that is in service of evoking subjective states, memories, fears, longings, emotions—in short, the unseen. To put this style into practice now, by way of subjects that refer to the often banal trappings of contemporary life (iPhones, laptops and the endless “content and information” they project), Matheson’s work satisfies; his occupation takes note of our period. It encourages change in how to see the world, calling for an engrossed consideration of the image, what we use to see and process it: the screen, the eye, the mind. 

This commissioned essay is supported in part by a Project Grant from the Regional Arts & Culture Council. 


Paul Maziar is a writer and editor. His art writings can be read at ArtPractical, ArtCritical, The Los Angeles Review of Books, Oregon ArtsWatch, WhiteHot Magazine, and Rrealism.

William Matheson lives and works in Portland, OR. He has exhibited nationally at galleries in Richmond, VA, Washington, DC, and New York. Internationally, his work has been shown in Switzerland, South Korea, Japan, and the Czech Republic. Matheson is the recipient of a Milton and Sally Avery Fellowship Award from the Vermont Studio Center in Johnson, VT, an Artist Grant from The Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation in Montreal, and a recent Project Grant from the Regional Arts and Culture Council in Portland, OR. He has been an artist-in-residence at the Örö Residency Programme in Finland, Mass MoCA in North Adams, MA, AIRY in Kofu, Japan, and the Vermont Studio Center. Matheson received his MFA from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA, in 2016 and his BFA from Portland’s Pacific Northwest College of Art in 2013. He is represented by Nationale in Portland, OR.

Le Book Club!


Hoping to encourage community conversations across disciplines, Nationale now has a book club. Once a month, we will meet to chat about a selected book that relates thematically to our exhibition. User Not Found, an essay in tiny book form by Felicity Fenton, is the selection for our June group show, Assembly, which addresses the necessity of community and real life interactions for art spaces to survive.

First of all, this book is only six dollars. Second of all, it’s a quick and easy read. Third of all, it’s REALLY GOOD. And it is published locally by Future Tense Books!

Does anyone really enjoy Instagram at this point? Is Twitter something positive and constructive that adds to our lives? What percentage of people using social media do it for reasons other than addictive dependence and/or necessity? How many of us need periodic breaks in order to maintain our sanity? And, if we decide we want to loosen the grip of social media on our lives someday, what will the alternative be?

In User Not Found, Felicity Fenton opens up the discussion for us by describing her attempt to step away from “The Walls” of social media. The result is simultaneously comforting, challenging, heartbreaking, and funny. It’s a natural conversation starter. So please, pick up a copy of this little treasure and join us for book club on Tuesday, June 25 at 6:30pm. Fenton herself will lead our meeting.
—Jess Mcfadden

Michelle Blade X Le Oui

Michelle X Le Oui , 2019, limited edition 3 color silkscreen print, 20 x 16”, $50

Michelle X Le Oui, 2019, limited edition 3 color silkscreen print, 20 x 16”, $50

Today is the last day of Michelle Blade's exhibition, Pansy. Fortunately, Blade collaborated with Le Oui on a new silkscreen print, which we will continue to have on view at Nationale.

The 20 x 16” print was adapted from a rainbow colored pencil drawing in which five androgynous figures explore a watery oasis. Something about it is magical, perhaps the unconventional use of color, or the way a floral border adds to the atmosphere of the scene.

Taken from the pages of Blade’s sketchbook, LEOUI—011 features a drawing inspired by the tide pools of the Solana Beach, CA, an area Blade endlessly explored throughout her childhood. Within the drawing Blade encapsulates her love for the natural world through the unexpected color trajectory of a rainbow pencil. The figures and burgeoning landscape are joined through undulating and psychedelic lines, ultimately highlighting the spirit of their oneness. 

Throughout the year, Le Oui (an offshoot of Nationale) commissions work by artists to produce limited edition silkscreen prints. Each participating artists chooses an organization to receive 10% of proceeds. Michelle Blade chose Planned Parenthood to benefit from the sales of her print. And if $50 isn’t enough of a bargain for this gem, know that your purchase will give a little support to one of our community's vital health providers.
—Jess Mcfadden

In the Garden of Beauty and Mystery I Michelle Blade's "Pansy"

A short review by Lusi Lukova

Cocoon Dance , 2019, acrylic ink and paint on satin, 27 x 28 inches

Cocoon Dance, 2019, acrylic ink and paint on satin, 27 x 28 inches

With her debut solo show Pansy at Nationale, painter and installation artist Michelle Blade melds iconic imagery and unruly mediums to demonstrate the unpredictability of painting. Pulling from the biblical narrative of Adam and Eve in the Garden, Blade focuses her artistic energies on Eve, and other feminine mediations of her spirit in these new works. In an attempt to explore the feminine relationship to the land, to knowledge, and to a sense of community, these pieces evoke an almost illustrative and magical quality. Each of these paintings depict large-scale scenes of the garden and the earth in dreamy shades of pinks, blues, and yellows. In the traditional narrative, Eve is scorned for her defiance. However, in Pansy, the expectations are reversed and the unforeseen beauty and strength of the feminine are revered. Just as humans are unpredictable and far from foolproof, in each of these paintings Blade explores a personal coming to terms with how perhaps it was a woman’s doing that set the path forward to everything else but perfection. As a result, Blade navigates our attention to the particular synchronicity humans share in the creation of everything in our immediate and tangible worlds.

Tree of Knowledge , 2019, acrylic ink and paint on satin, 31 x 27.25

Tree of Knowledge, 2019, acrylic ink and paint on satin, 31 x 27.25

The works presented are all painted on satin, a new format of expression both for Blade and for this historical imagery. The artist deems the material “alive” in that it shifts with each stroke of the brush. Unruly and independent, much like Eve herself, the satin allows the paint to bleed in unprecedented ways, the acrylic ink becoming so fluid that it resembles watercolors over anything else. Due to its sheer nature, it also allows for light to leak through in a similar fashion, adding an ethereal, almost divine luminosity to the works. In the bleeding of the ink, there form abstractions which we can liken to a physical representation of the mysteries of the universe. Presented as meditations on beauty and the natural world, works like Pansies, in which a woman is communing with a snake, are overt in their symbolism while coyly presenting a duality of the female. She may give in to speaking with the snake, but she is also fearless for doing so. As a whole, this exhibition questions these historically gendered tropes and ultimately comes to the conclusion that perfection is not to be neither expected, nor exalted.

Moon Twin , 2019, acrylic ink and paint on satin, 42.5 x 27 inches

Moon Twin, 2019, acrylic ink and paint on satin, 42.5 x 27 inches

Michelle Blade’s Pansy is on view through June 4th, with a print release and closing reception on June 2nd, from 12-2pm.

Michelle Blade | "Pansy"

A short review by Jess Mcfadden

I'm just going to say it: Michelle Blade's current show at Nationale is the most mystifying thing ever. How did she do it? Every painting in Pansy is endlessly fascinating, endlessly beautiful. For every two square inches of satin, there are twenty times I ask myself what process -- spiritually, mentally, and physically-- took place in the formation of this work. As if the paintings weren't enough, Blade includes four stellar drawings which translate the allegorical nature of Pansy into a more straightforward, graphic medium.

Touching Balance , 2019, rainbow pencil on paper, 11 x 9 inches

Touching Balance, 2019, rainbow pencil on paper, 11 x 9 inches

The title of the show, Pansy, appropriately describes many aspects of the work. It is proudly feminine, both visually and conceptually. Ripply, floral textures of acrylic ink bleed into satin, resembling 'wet into wet' watercolor painting, or calling back to Helen Frankenthaler's legendary soak-stain technique. Flowers, fruit trees, full moons, and other symbolic images work their way into dreamlike scenes where naked women dance and ponder peacefully. The speckled presence of nighttime alludes to a willful exploration of the unknown. Nothing is concrete except the paintings' beautiful maple frames.

Pansies , 2019, acrylic ink and paint on satin, 30.5 x 27 inches

Pansies, 2019, acrylic ink and paint on satin, 30.5 x 27 inches

Throughout the work is a feeling of protection. Blade's characters appear in search of something magical (which always involves a bit of risk), but they have the support of each other and of their nonhuman friends. In Springtime Devotional, two people walk together with a dog and owl watching over them, under the light of a full moon. One of Blade's influences for this work is the Biblical story of Adam and Eve, which depicts women as divisive and basically evil. Blade, however, depicts women as collaborative and strong in their pursuit of knowledge. Her work is like an affirmation to viewers, saying "Don't be ashamed. You're on the right path."

Springtime Devotional , 2019, acrylic ink and paint on satin, 32 x 27.5 inches

Springtime Devotional, 2019, acrylic ink and paint on satin, 32 x 27.5 inches

Pansy will be on display through June 4, 2019

Springtime at Nationale

The flowers are blooming! The sun is out! Dogs and babies are all over the place, making us smile whether we want to or not. SPRING IS HERE! 

For the past few months our blog has been in hibernation mode, watching documentaries and brewing plans for the future like everybody else. We've been having a good time here at the gallery, though.

In February, Lilian Martinez brought her beautiful pastel portraits up from L.A. Her show Soft Shades portrayed women of color, relaxed yet powerful, in comfortable domestic settings.

Lilian Martinez,  Woman Reclined,  2018, acrylic on canvas, 30 x 24 inches.

Lilian Martinez, Woman Reclined, 2018, acrylic on canvas, 30 x 24 inches.

From March 15 to April 23, Shohei Taksaki shared with us a collection of colorful, bold, abstracted domestic scenes in his show Where did you sleep last night? He installed an 11 ft. tall painting diagonally, leaning from the floor to the ceiling. It completely changed the shape of the gallery, and provided a comparison to think about: loved ones are kind of like huge, amazing, complex paintings that we can only see from a slanted angle. Living with a partner, even sleeping beside them each night, we can never fully understand their experience because we are limited by our own perspectives. In addition to the large painting, Shohei delighted us with a variety of smaller works, including one piece that was half sculpture, half painting.

Shoehei Takasaki’s exhibition,  Where did you sleep last night?  First installation.

Shoehei Takasaki’s exhibition, Where did you sleep last night? First installation.

For the last week of Takasaki's show, we reinstalled his work in a more "traditional" manner. The giant painting hung straight on the wall, and some of the smaller paintings changed positions in the gallery. 

Shoehei Takasaki’s exhibition,  Where did you sleep last night?  Second installation.

Shoehei Takasaki’s exhibition, Where did you sleep last night? Second installation.

This past week, we've enjoyed a pop-up by local artist John Petrucelli: A kid from Chicago. John has been a warm presence in the Portland art scene for decades. He's worked as a teacher, explored wonders of the world, and worked in an art warehouse where he began experimenting with unusual materials. We wanted to honor his lifelong practice of experimentation, as well as his love for storytelling. For every day of the pop-up, John has come to co-host happy hour and visit with the community. 

John Petrucelli with the largest piece in his pop-up,  A kid from Chicago.

John Petrucelli with the largest piece in his pop-up, A kid from Chicago.

Coming up next: Michelle Blade! This artist works in painting, illustration, sculpture and installation, with a dreamy style. (If you'd like a preview of her work, click here!) We're excited to share her work with you all, May 3 through June 4. Please join us for her opening reception Sunday, May 5 (3–5pm).

Michelle Blade,  Springtime Devotional,  2019, acrylic ink and paint on satin, 32.75 x 28.25 inches

Michelle Blade, Springtime Devotional, 2019, acrylic ink and paint on satin, 32.75 x 28.25 inches

If it's been awhile since you stopped in Nationale, we hope to see you soon. We've got new books, a new issue of Apartamento, and smiles infused with the finest Vitamin D. 


Nationale for ALL the senses! by Jess Mcfadden

When you’re looking at art, is the experience all in your head? Thoughts, memories, questions and analysis are often associated with the mind rather than the body. However, the experience of standing in front of a painting has a unique way of reminding us that the body and mind are not separate.

Nationale may be a small place, but it has something for all the senses. When you first walk in, Marseille soaps and Olo fragrances offer a gentle scented welcome. Most people navigate the gallery counterclockwise, and the first thing they want to do in Nationale is flip through some of our books. The activity of flipping through books is a sensory treat for the hands, allowing us to touch and physically play with information as we read it. Plus, books make really nice sounds if you’ll listen. Even if you bring a friend to Nationale who doesn’t like socially relevant poetry, fiction and essays, they can enjoy the sound of paper’s friction.

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This month, we’ve been exhibiting Soft Shades by Lilian Martinez. In addition to the show’s ideological and formal strengths, it is a visceral delight. The paintings’ sunny pastel colors are delicious, transporting us like a weekend getaway to LA, where Martinez resides. Something about her style of painting sends ASMR-style tingles down my back. The soft, luxurious texture of her acrylic on linen is amplified by large, blocky color fields and harmonious compositions. Delicately painted lines and the intimate, reverent depiction of strong women at rest induce a physical sensation of ease. In a weird way, the experience of looking at these paintings feels like having my hair brushed by my mother or friend. Did you have this type of experience with Soft Shades, too? If you haven’t been able to see the exhibition it will be up one more day: through March 11.

Lilian Martinez,  Woman Reclined , 2018, acrylic on canvas, 30 x 24 inches

Lilian Martinez, Woman Reclined, 2018, acrylic on canvas, 30 x 24 inches

In the hallway near Martinez’s paintings, there are stacks of woven blankets and pillows from her line of everyday objects, BFGF.  Due to the variety of blankets, we get to unfold them one at a time to see what’s inside, then refold. They bring out the softness in her paintings and transform it into something you can snuggle.

Double Figure  throw, courtesy of BFGF

Double Figure throw, courtesy of BFGF

To conclude a sensory tour of Nationale, you can find two kinds of French lozenge candies at the desk. “Sève de Pin” and “Anise” may be unfamiliar flavors, but don’t worry. They are both delicious!

If you work in an environment that requires a lot of brain power, it can be easy to forget about the five senses. Especially during winter, it sometimes feels like the mind and body are two separate entities. As our clocks turn forward and the sun comes out, now is a great time to bring them back together. So come see us at Nationale! We even have floor-to-ceiling windows, for maximum sunshine and minimum pre-spring chills.



We are thrilled to welcome Gabi back to the Interview Series with a brand new feature. This week, she conversed with Los Angeles based artist Lilian Martinez in anticipation of Martinez’ first solo exhibition in Portland, OR. Soft Shades opens at Nationale this Sunday, February 3.

In Bed,  2018, acrylic on linen, 38 x 32 inches.

In Bed, 2018, acrylic on linen, 38 x 32 inches.

Gabi Lewton-Lepold: I'd like to start by asking you about the figures in your paintings. You paint women of color in a strong and tender way. These figures take up space, often filling the frame as if they are about to burst beyond the confines of the painting (thinking in particular of In Bed). What do these figures mean to you—do you envision their bodies to be claiming space? 

Lilian Martinez: In Bed and Pastel Caves are based on newer sketches / ideas. I do feel like lately I have been thinking about occupying space more. Particularly in spaces that were not designed for me. Like many people of color, I experience nuances of racism on an everyday basis. Occupying space feels empowering and delightful to me. Possibly these personal feelings are being projected on to my work. It is important to me that the subjects I paint emanate a sense of comfort even if they occupy the whole frame. I think for me that has to do with the composition of the frame and the colors surrounding the subjects. 

GLL: The scale and purposely off proportions of your figures are really intriguing and unexpected. For me, it removes the impulse to fetishize the female form (as so much of western painting has done), and instead brings out a sense of celebration, joy, and even humor. Can you share your thinking behind pairing small heads with robust bodies? 

Portrait  (for   Le Oui  ), 2018, 4 color silkscreen print, 24 x 18 inches.

Portrait (for Le Oui), 2018, 4 color silkscreen print, 24 x 18 inches.

LM: I paint large figures because I think they look beautiful and strong. I proportion the heads to be smaller because I feel like it emphasis the strength in the shoulders. There is something playful and visually beautiful about these proportions to me. I do intentionally de-sexualize the subjects that I paint. Woman are sexualized a majority of their lives starting at a very young age. I don't want to contribute to the normalization of that culture. That being said, I don't paint with those intentions in mind. I make images that I think are beautiful and joyful. I only really start to think about why I am choosing to make this type of work after the work is completed. I paint because it's fun for me and it improves my quality of life. I feel very fortunate that the images resonate with other people, especially women.   

GLL: The fact that you paint because you enjoy it and it enriches your life resonates with me, and I'm sure with many people. I'm not a painter, but I find that if I have any kind of creative project going I feel more alive. Can you share a bit about your background and how you came to painting? 

LM: I studied photography in college. I really struggled with it because I could never capture the image as I imagined it. When I started drawing and painting it was very liberating. I felt more in control and it was really fun. I realize now that I studied photography because I had a strong desire to make images. Photography seemed like the most accessible medium at that point in my life. 

GLL: I've only been to LA once, but I can still see the light of LA—the pinks, browns, tans, and the greens of the cacti and succulents—in your paintings. How does place inform your work? 

Woman Reclined,  2018, acrylic on canvas, 30 x 24 inches.

Woman Reclined, 2018, acrylic on canvas, 30 x 24 inches.

LM: The sun is really strong here. It can make colors look washed out and bright. I read that Matisse's palette changed when he moved to the south of France. I was really excited to get the opportunity to visit Nice, France last summer. I do feel like I could see the colors and settings reflected in Matisse's work. I think location can play a role in inspiration if you allow it. I try to find inspiration wherever I go. It's something I am always thinking about. 

GLL: In your BESE feature you speak about being a kid and feeling like didn't belong fully to being American or Mexican, that you didn't fit in completely to either identity, but as you got older you discovered that there's a "new type of American" that can take things from each culture that speaks to them. Can you talk about how your art practice combines these two identities?

LM: In the images I make I like to combine elements that make sense to me visually. These things can seem unrelated but they are relevant to my experience and my interests. I think in this same way immigrants and children of immigrants like myself integrate things into their lives that resonate with them. 

GLL: In addition to your art practice you also run a small business, BFGF, where you make and sell woven versions of your work. When did you start BFGF and can you tell us about the process of making these pieces? How do you select what images will become part of BFGF? 

Tropical Shadows , woven blanket 71 x 53 inches.

Tropical Shadows, woven blanket 71 x 53 inches.

LM: My objective with BFGF is to make functional art objects that people can integrate into their home and their everyday life. I started BFGF about 5-6 years ago. I wanted to make tactile objects. Things that you could touch and use. The images I use for BFGF pieces are digital illustrations. I started drawing digitally before I started painting. It was a good transitional medium from photography to painting. 

GLL: In both your paintings and your BFGF pieces, you often juxtapose figures with symbols and imagery that recall 90s pop culture—characters from The Simpsons, Nike swooshes, basketballs. In some works the Nike swishes are on vases or pots, which feels like a playful melding of eras—Greco-Roman influences with contemporary culture. Can you share a bit about your use of this imagery in your work? 

LM: Nike, basketball and The Simpsons are things from my childhood that I feel like still occupy space in contemporary culture. They still feel relevant to me.  I like to pair them with classical architectural elements because there is something humorous and interesting about it to me. Maybe that is part of the first generation experience. It is a remix of my experiences and my interests. 

Thank you, Lilian and Gabi!

HOT TAKE ON HOOPS by Jess Mcfadden

Curiosity lives in the artist, who walks through life asking questions. The artist cultivates sensitivity and patience, turning curiosity into projects. A gallery presents the projects of artists, for anyone who is willing to come spend some time with the art. What happens next? The art lives in those who have considered it, and enriches their curiosity as they walk through life.

Kate Towers brings curiosity full circle in her current show Hoops, a pop-up at Nationale. What used to be basketball hoops are now explosive woven sculptures. Wild combinations of fabric, cords, synthetic plants, yarn, and natural materials transform a commonly overlooked public fixture into something new.

Glucose , 2018, mixed media, 23.5 (h) x 12 x 1 15 inches

Glucose, 2018, mixed media, 23.5 (h) x 12 x 1 15 inches

Each hoop puts a unique spin on Towers' concept and materials. Glucose, with its fluorescent yellow and pink knit body, entices viewers' playful inner child. It appears next to Paleo, whose aesthetic is more somber: a single black cord tangled up in itself. Both are deliberate yet expressive. Glucose has a looser body, while Paleo's stiffness resists gravity.

Paleo , 2018, mixed media, 26 (h) x 9 x 12 inches

Paleo, 2018, mixed media, 26 (h) x 9 x 12 inches

Collagen Peptide, with a refined color palette and seductive textural details, speaks to Towers' background as a fashion designer. Her clothing sometimes incorporates elements of sportswear into modern, flowy garments. In her fashion design as well as hoop design, traditionally feminine aesthetics play with rougher athletic vibes. She seems to question the expectations of three worlds: fashion, sport and art.

Collagen Peptide , 2018, mixed media, 25 (h) x 12 x 15 inches

Collagen Peptide, 2018, mixed media, 25 (h) x 12 x 15 inches

Two hoops, Plant Based and Gluten Free weave plant shapes for a more organic vibe. Speaking of organic, did Towers use food and diet-related titles to fortify the corporeal connection between art, sport and fashion? Either way, this body of work is inspiring. It feeds our imagination and invites us to see new possibilities in everyday fixtures. Towers reconsiders something we may normally pass without seeing: the iconic metal rim. She honors creativity in its purest form. She explores a wide variety of materials, abstractly and conceptually, while carefully honoring the desires of each material.

Plant Based , 2018, mixed media, 22 (h) x 17 x 19 inches

Plant Based, 2018, mixed media, 22 (h) x 17 x 19 inches

Hoops has been extended to January 29, so if you haven't made it in yet, now's your chance! The work photographs well, but it's a slam dunk IRL.

Kate Towers' HOOPS pop-up extended!

KT19 HOOPS SE 1000.jpg

Now on view through Tuesday, January 29, 2019! Please email for a checklist (info@nationale.us)


KT 1000. Hoops 1.jpg

Nationale welcomes 2019 with HOOPS, a pop up from designer & artist Kate Towers. With her series of sculptural (and lightly functional) indoor basketball hoops, Towers uniquely merges sport, art, and fashion. Woven and sewn from myriad materials including ropes, textile scraps, paper, and dried reeds, these hoops have an intentionally haphazard and eclectic vibe. They are an extension of Towers’ clothing designs; indeed, she has been experimenting with sport and fashion for years, often sewing athletic stripes down the sides of her garments, and gleaning inspiration from the aesthetics of sports culture.

Come by Nationale on Sunday, January 13 (3–5 p.m.) to toast to the New Year and shoot some hoops—but please, no dunking! :-)

Kate Towers is a Portland-based clothing designer. Self-taught through experimentation, an artist vision, and hands-on execution, her non-seasonal, one-of-a-kind pieces often borrow inspiration from nature, team sports, motherhood, and various themes of life. From 2000 to 2008, Towers was co-founder and co-owner of Seaplane, a renowned specialty shop in Portland featuring local designers and an innovative collection of hand-made clothing. It is there that Towers developed her own line and helped inspire the fashion scene that is now Portland.

On view January 10–January 22, 2019
Opening reception Sunday, January 13 (3–5 p.m.)

In Celebration of the Magazine

By Jess Mcfadden

mcfadden apartamento.jpg

Remember when smartphones were invented? We feared the death of print.
Some people believe that reading from a screen is best, because it is efficient. 
For the rest of us, magazines are a magical treasure. They are not curated by an algorithm, but by people who poured their time into a periodical-- something that will not live forever. Each page is like a love letter, hoping to inspire us. It defies the logic of urban culture, instead encouraging us to linger awhile. To explore with curiosity, instead of rushing from point A to point B.

The soft pages of a magazine like Apartamento combine art and enriching interviews with the unintimidating welcome of a phonebook. $20 to $26, depending on the issue, permits you a rainy afternoon or few to share space with creatives across the world, and hear their stories. Watercolor, photography, drawing and interior design are neighbors in Apartamento, living beside each other with varied degrees of comfort. Their conversations are always worthwhile.

If a magazine inspires you enough, might you break out scissors and cut it up, transforming the work into something else? Collages from an art magazine will naturally turn out better than from those with retouched bodies and flashy advertisements.

If you're shopping for holiday gifts, magazines are good for any budget. Use one magazine to make stacks of greeting cards, or give stacks of magazines to one beloved!

Commissioned essay by Corey Mansfield

Ty Ennis’  The Marble Fountain  is on view through December 30, 2018

Ty Ennis’ The Marble Fountain is on view through December 30, 2018

When we are young, the world appears full of magic. We are the center of our universe- we know of little beyond our guided travels. Time equals now. The past is a vague sentiment alluded to in passing by patronizing adults. Of course, how could we fully grasp our place within history having only been a part of it for such a small time? As we age though, this credulity towards the significance of our present yellows and fades. The once glorified landmarks of our hometown no longer hold the same power. Knowledge broadens our scope and awakens our anxieties, ultimately rousing nostalgia for the innocence and the simplicity of what once appeared to be. 

The paintings of Portland-based artist Ty Ennis on view for his solo exhibition The Marble Fountain at Nationale exist within this reflective tendency. Scenes culled from his recent memory are presented alongside a medley of melancholic dreams, holiday lore, and subtle references to aesthetic predecessors. In this manner, the various facts of Ennis’ biography unravel into a loose interpretation of what once was. 

Ty Ennis,  Mardi Gras , 2018, acrylic on canvas, 24 x 18 inches

Ty Ennis, Mardi Gras, 2018, acrylic on canvas, 24 x 18 inches

Unable to replicate the naive enchantment of his youth, Ennis’ work instead focuses on the indeterminacy of aging—the space between then and now, them and us, here and there. There is a pervasive feeling of looking in. We are rarely situated within the canvas but remain slightly disconnected by borders like a window or even a faint green frame. In Cinéma (Paris) and Cinéma No. 2, for example, Ennis recreates a simple scene that he encountered during a recent trip to France. Instead of freezing the moment’s objective particulars through a photograph, Ennis attempts to capture its aura, its subjective allure, through two paintings based solely on his now-faded recollection of the encounter. Perhaps mirroring this distance between the time of the scene’s occurrence and his painting of it, the work exudes a feeling of haziness. From across a pathway of hoary brushstrokes and through the outlines of a building’s façade, we glimpse the fuzzy silhouettes of two women at a local cinema. This physical remove, however, allows us little else in terms of interpretation. From such a distance, we remain lost in the unknown—do the two figures recognize one another’s presence? Are they friends conversing or separate individuals lost within their own quotidian reveries? We, as outsiders, can only speculate. 

Ty Ennis,  Cinéma No. 2 , 2018, acrylic on canvas, 11 x 14 inches

Ty Ennis, Cinéma No. 2, 2018, acrylic on canvas, 11 x 14 inches

Analogous to this specific utilization of space, Ennis’ scenes often depict only the aftereffects of an action. In And so It Goes, he depicts two large, white pills left next to a half-empty glass of water and an overstuffed pink ashtray on a small table. A chair pushed away from the table suggests someone having recently gotten up. Outside of these minute indicators, there is nothing else within the frame for us to decipher. A window, for example, looks out only onto an opaque mass of white paint and the surrounding walls appear, meanwhile, like a void of a shadowy grey brushstrokes. Yet, despite this minimalism, the scene effectively evokes a familiar, forlorn impression of departure. Ennis seems to suggest that, like memories, the particulars matter less than the overall sensation. 

Ty Ennis,  And so It goes , 2018, acrylic on canvas, 12 x 16 inches

Ty Ennis, And so It goes, 2018, acrylic on canvas, 12 x 16 inches

In Yur’s, a man stands with one hand resting on a jukebox. His pose suggests that of someone waiting for their photo to be taken, thereby echoing the painted portrait that hangs by his head on a nearby wall. Through this visual parallel, Ennis evokes a larger conception of lineage—of the shift in time from ancestor to predecessor, from painting to photography, from fact to fiction.

Ty Ennis,  Yur’s , 2018, acrylic on canvas, 16 x 12 inches

Ty Ennis, Yur’s, 2018, acrylic on canvas, 16 x 12 inches

Ennis further encourages this historicizing process throughout the exhibition by both his frequent use of a black and white palette and his loose painterly style. Viewed together in this manner, Ennis’ work, like adulthood, lacks a fixed center. It is nothing but an entropic, yet, deep down, still unbelievably magical force. 
—Corey Mansfield, Los Angeles, CA

This commissioned essay is made possible by Career Opportunity Grants from both the Oregon Arts Commission and The Ford Family Foundation.


Creative writing on Ty Ennis' solo exhibition, "The Marble Fountain"

Fountain of Time by Jess Mcfadden

Summer Candle (Méaudre) , 2018, acrylic on canvas, 14 x 11 inches

Summer Candle (Méaudre), 2018, acrylic on canvas, 14 x 11 inches

A painter sits at his desk, quietly gazing into a candle's flame. Between working full-time and raising a daughter, it's rare to arrive at such a moment of solitude. Memories come back, from his younger days in a small town. He remembers mischievous schoolboys, pressuring him to be more masculine. He remembers a monologue in someone's living room. A face... an expression... The memories are not formatted; some of them are missing pieces. Faces fade into one another. Occasionally the straight vertical line of a nose will almost return the artist to his seat at the desk, in front of that long, straight candle. Time continues to pass.

Shadow People , 2018, acrylic on canvas, 14 x 11 inches

Shadow People, 2018, acrylic on canvas, 14 x 11 inches

With his current show at Nationale, The Marble Fountain, Ty Ennis invites viewers into formative memories and dreams. Many of his paintings contain a quiet sense of horror, amplified by a lack of color.

Netta Fornario , 2018, acrylic on canvas, 16 x 12 inches

Netta Fornario, 2018, acrylic on canvas, 16 x 12 inches

Above any one narrative, they express something specific to paint: the way textures communicate on a flat canvas. From aggressive and thick to diluted and watery, Ennis explores the possibilities of combination freely. A fuzzy quality unites the medium with its content. In Orlando, the largest painting on display, an androgynous bride gazes out, far into the distance.

Orlando , 2018, acrylic on canvas, 40 x 30 inches

Orlando, 2018, acrylic on canvas, 40 x 30 inches

Around the back corner of the gallery, one scene is repeated in two paintings: a mysterious observation of two doorways. Depending where you stand, both of these grayscale paintings are visible at the same time. Cinema No. 2 hangs on a wall directly behind Cinema (Paris) with slightly less contrast, feeling like a ghost of the original memory. 

Although this body of work is extremely personal, it isn't narcissistic. Instead, Ennis encourages viewers to enter into his memories, as themselves, to form their own interpretations, and remember their own stories. With these works, he seems to have relinquished personal ego in favor of a common experience.


Francesca Capone  Night Fog (As the object grows, it curves around the forms of its surrounding shapes)  2018, Lostine long wool, poly netting line, and cotton on oak board, 24 x 22 inches

Francesca Capone
Night Fog (As the object grows, it curves around the forms of its surrounding shapes)
2018, Lostine long wool, poly netting line, and cotton on oak board, 24 x 22 inches

Nestled in the backroom between an Amy Bernstein painting and an Emily Counts sculpture is Francesca Capone’s Night Fog, part of her solo exhibition at Nationale entitled Think of Seashells.

As a weaver and a poet, Capone approaches her work from a visual as well as a literary mindset. The prose attributed to this particular work by the artist reads as follows: As the object grows, it curves around the forms of its surrounding shapes, and it feels as if this is precisely how Night Fog operates in the context of the show as a whole. Although it may be the final work a visitor may see tucked away as it is, its bold resonance does indeed curve to the viewing experience and serve to form a lasting impression. As a gallery-goer moves through the space, they are gathering growing memories of the body of work in total. Culminating with Night Fog, this particular piece stands somewhat solitary, both due to its location but also to its composition. Mounted on oak board, this is only one of two weavings that is presented in this manner. Yet, this doesn’t detract from its overall relation to the remaining pieces -- the oak nicely completes oceanic visions of seashells and driftwood that Capone brings into the space. The poly netting line similarly compliments other found materials such as the flotsam rope, plastic bags, and beach refuse that are embedded into the fiber of the hangings.

The dark colors of this particular weaving are slightly more drastic than the inviting pastels of the other works, yet they correspond nicely with its placement. If Night Fog were the last work to be seen, it would leave viewers with a cool imagery of things closing, things coming to a rest. Invoking a kind of serenity that can only be found with the setting of the sun on a calm evening, Night Fog creates a comfortable sensory shroud for viewers to come in contact with. The day has come and gone and grown into night, which silently and cooly forms to this nightly ritual. Take a deep breath, let the fog ebb over you, and think of seashells.



Nationale proudly presents a flash exhibition of Emily Counts’s newest work, as well as a special musical event: Party Store performs with Super Mode!

Super Mode is an interactive sound sculpture by Emily Counts recently shown as part of Sonic Arcade at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York City. It consists of a walnut wood box topped with ceramic objects that trigger individual sound samples when pressed downward. Illuminated windows in Super Mode allow the user to view the interior mechanics and wiring of this piece. Programming and circuitry design by Andy Myers and sound samples by Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe. 

Emily Counts was born in Seattle, WA, where she currently lives and works. She studied at the Hochschule der Kunste in Berlin and the California College of the Arts, where she received her BFA. Her work has been exhibited in Portland, OR, at Nationale, Carl & Sloan, and Disject; in New York at the Museum of Arts and Design; in Tokyo at Eitoeiko and Gallery Lara; and in California at the Torrance Art Museum, Garboushian Gallery, and Mark Moore Gallery. Counts was an artist in residence creating work for associated solo exhibitions at Raid Projects in Los Angeles and Plane Space in New York. She has received grants from the Oregon Arts Commission, the Regional Arts & Culture Council, and The Ford Family Foundation. She is a member of SOIL Gallery in Seattle, WA, and is represented by Nationale in Portland, OR. / IG @emilyraecounts

Party Store is a lo-fi ambient project by Seattle musician Josh Machniak. 

On view: April 21–April 22, 2018
Opening reception: Saturday, April 21 (6–8 p.m.) with a 20 mins performance at 7 p.m.


Jake Manning takes us into his creative world, for insight into his first solo show at Nationale, Guests of Space.

Jake Manning's  Guests of Space  is on view through April 17, 2018

Jake Manning's Guests of Space is on view through April 17, 2018

Paul Maziar: In The Myth, the guy with boots seems to disappear/into the weight and powder of the birthday cake. Given the spacey background (nothingness) it's both hilarious and bleak, right? How might tragicomedy figure in your work?

Jake Manning: I’ve always had a dry sense of humor, even a little twisted. I think I’m dealing with serious subject-matter, but it’s kind of hard for me to fully express that sort of thing. Humor, using cartoon imagery, myths, fairytales — those things are a vehicle for me. For instance, it used to be that when a country had been invaded, they would save vital cultural information by storing it away in fairytales. Fairytales are also full of promise, the ugly can become beautiful, the frog can become a prince.

JAKE MANNING,  The Myth , 2018, acrylic and collage on canvas, 24 x 20 in

JAKE MANNING, The Myth, 2018, acrylic and collage on canvas, 24 x 20 in

PM: I wonder about time-travel in your practice: going back to the earlier periods of your youth while you’re painting. 

JM: For these paintings, I’ve been going into a certain mode. I’m prone to periods of preoccupation — when I was young it was sports, playing basketball, spending hours on end at the gym. I’m slow to process whole periods of my life, like ten years behind or something. So I’ll begin to process that period of time, and search for meaning in my life. Like, “I do all that for nothing?” 

In my early-twenties I started watching films, kind of obsessively — multiple films a day, etc. When I started painting, I’d been absorbed in film this way for over ten years. I started asking myself “what am I really doing here?” Feeling like I needed to figure something out, I started painting. Almost immediately, I realized that I was processing all these films from that specific period of my life. I would go through all of my favorite movies, scene by scene and take photos of my favorite scenes. I didn’t think about why they stuck out to me, I just took them. I started doing all these paintings of particular scenes, and it was eery to me because these scenes were so telling the story of where I was in my life during those exact moments. For example, at that time I was feeling pretty isolated, and like I needed to be something that I wasn’t. Through that process, I was able to access things that I’m not able to in ordinary day-to-day life. Intuitively, I’d been selecting imagery that aligned with deeper things I’d been experiencing. Trusting intuition had become super important to me. 

PM: This makes me want to ask about the Butterfly Man — a leitmotif in your paintings, and also the gnome-like figure that recurs. You had said something in the studio about a figure that grants admission to the past, a kind of spirit of the past. Is painting those forms a way to summon these deep subjects and memories?

Jake Manning,  The Shining , 2018, acrylic and oil on canvas, 16 x 12 in

Jake Manning, The Shining, 2018, acrylic and oil on canvas, 16 x 12 in

JM: Kind of. I tell little stories in my paintings. I’ll start intuitively, and imagery will spring up that I don’t really care all that much about, so I’ll paint or scrape over it, repaint, etc. Here’s the interesting thing. Say I start a painting and I’ll want it to be a certain thing — the Butterfly Man is a good example. I’ll begin, and come to a point where it’s just not working for whatever reason. So I’ll get rid of it, painting and repainting… but eventually, I’ll come back to that initial imagery, but in a totally different form that’s more in line with what I’m trying to do aesthetically, in the language of painting. It’s interesting to me that that happens. I’ll also sometimes feel guilty about staying in the past so much. 

Very close-up detail of  The Birthday Party , 2018

Very close-up detail of The Birthday Party, 2018

PM: Why guilt?

JM: I think it’s because of all those sayings, you know: “don’t look back,” or “get over it,” etc. But I think there are things to be worked through from the past. Sometimes, I’m just trying to figure out why I’m so pissed off. 

PM: So is that one reason you might invoke happy things from childhood, like the boots that you loved wearing as a kid?

JM: Yeah, I’m always trying to keep a balance. If I start to go too dark, I’ll lean on what’s funny. Or cutesy. 

PM: What about your huge pink painting with the pony, Trojan Horse?

Jake Manning,  Trojan Horse , 2018, acrylic and marble dust on canvas, 60 x 50 in

Jake Manning, Trojan Horse, 2018, acrylic and marble dust on canvas, 60 x 50 in

JM: The paint in that one is applied very gently, with dry brush, and I used marble dust, which is this powdery substance. It’s like I was applying makeup. It created a haze, a kind of softness to it. It’s the same sort of haze as going back in time, and also learning to trust intuition. It’s a hazy process, especially at the beginning. I sort of equate that with digging around in the past, to try and figure things out. It really is when the body comes into the process: learning to trust if something resonates with you, by creating a dialogue with your body. 

PM: Sometimes people will call for representational art, something that’s more obviously from life. But sometimes, I can see life in certain pieces of abstract art, just as readily as a human form or a face. The super abstract element of that painting — there’s so much life in that. In such a way that it’s almost an experience unto itself. 

JM: That’s what I want to. During my BFA, I was painting pretty abstract. It was the first time I was able to work out of a studio, with a lot of space. I knew that I was just going to use a LOT of paint, and I was going to use my body. I wanted to depict space, without the illusion of veils of paint.
It’s embarrassing to say, for some reason, but going to see the Rothko paintings at the museum was one of the most moving experiences. I wanted to hate Rothko — there was that huge exhibit in town and everyone was like “oh, yeah, I went and cried…” But my friend and I went to see the show, and ended up staring at one of his all-black paintings. I locked into the surface of the painting, and all of a sudden it started to move. I was seeing purple and white emerging out of the back of it — it was so trippy. I realized later that it was probably just because it’s a huge black painting and my eyes were adjusting to the darkness. But I felt tricked by that a little bit. At the time, I wanted it to be something else…

One of Mark Rothko's  Black Form Paintings (  No. 8 ), 1964. 

One of Mark Rothko's Black Form Paintings (No. 8), 1964. 

PM: Did you cry? [laughter]

JM: I didn’t cry, but we stood there for half an hour just staring at that one painting. During my BFA, I wanted to make these space paintings. I was telling myself that I didn’t want to create an illusion — I wanted the paint to be thick and loose and messy. 

PM: It’s funny then, that this show is called Guests of Space. Because it’s that space you were working with before — or at least similar — but now with all these figures and forms, landscapes: your “guests.”

JM: Yep. But I think there’s still a part of me that wants to do these large paintings that are more like an experience. Washes of pink light and stuff like that. But I’m also not quite there yet, and I feel like there’s too much imagery floating around in my head. I was a TV kid. My sister says that I would just often be found just sitting, staring at the TV. My mom says that she walked in once to find me kissing the TV. I was really into it. I feel like I have to work through all that imagery.

PM: I think it’s a great idea to obey your mind in that way. Your body, too. It seems like you’re really in touch with yourself and psychic needs.

JM: Painting helps with that. 

PM: I gotta get painting then. To get back, why do you like to go rooting around in the past?

JM: With painting, I think I always feel like I’m trying to get to a place where I connect with people. I’m always running that through. Dealing with emotion through painting has been really interesting to me — it has really anchored my life in a way. It definitely helped me process difficult things. When I went under hypnosis, it was such an interesting experience because I was lucid. The most profound experiences prior to that were more psychedelic. Those experiences were profound but also kind of scary, dealing with lots of primal imagery like serpents and stuff like that. To this day, snakes are a primal fear for me. I grew up close to a lake in Texas with snakes all around. So, I’d gone to get hypnotized to try and quit smoking, and it ended up being, basically, a trip through the past where I revisited certain unnerving events. In hypnosis I was able to enter these kinds of moments and calm my child self down. That’s where the butterfly comes in. It’s like a symbol, it represents a journey to a particular time in my life, like the ghost from christmas past.

Jake Manning,  Waterfall , 2018, acrylic and gouache on canvas, 24 x 20 in

Jake Manning, Waterfall, 2018, acrylic and gouache on canvas, 24 x 20 in

PM: Why do you think that the snake has always been such a prominent symbol? 

JM: I think it’s a really primal thing that appears to be negative, but that needs to be confronted. It’s a transformative kind of thing. I think that’s what's supposed to happen, but doing that is a different story. 

PM: So you believe that fears should be faced, dealt with.

JM:  Yes, for me it is important to try and face my fears, but I always have to remind myself to be patient and gentle and use the tools that I have worked on with my therapist — otherwise it is easy for me to feel overwhelmed.

PM: I’ve been feeling like the times we’re living in really require us to be doing that. I mean, I’ve been feeling that pull in my creative practice. Do you feel that engagement in purely aesthetic exercises is sometimes being replaced by a concern… or work that engages with what’s happening to people, and making connections to that? 

JM: It’s a real cut-the-bullshit kind of time. During recent times of social upheavals, I’ve reflected in my studio, asking myself “what the hell am I doing?” I’ve been stern with myself about my work, kind of saying “in order to make art during this intense time, I’d better be honest and serious about what I’m doing.” There’s no posturing during this time. Brutal honesty, raw. That’s why I’ve been working this way, representationally. Get it all out. In a way, it’s what we have to do.

Painter Jake Manning and co-curator Paul Maziar during the reception for  Guests of Space

Painter Jake Manning and co-curator Paul Maziar during the reception for Guests of Space


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We were thrilled to see (and read!) this in-depth, The Creative Chronicle interview with gallery artist Emily Counts. Counts talks about her creative process, the crossover between her art practice and her jewelry line, St Eloy, and the importance of community. She also presents her latest piece, a sound & light sculpture which will be part of Sonic Arcade: Shaping Space with Sound at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York this fall .