The Upstairs Gallery at the Newport Visual Arts Center celebrates the New Year and its 30th anniversary with a delightful show titled “Kinetascope: Paintings by David MacGougan.” MacGougan plays upon Thomas Edison’s early motion picture device, a kinetoscope, in which the film was passed behind a peephole for viewing by a single viewer. Many viewers at the VAC will enjoy peeping at MacGougan’s whimsical characters pursuing their peripatetic pitter patter.
The show opens on Friday, Jan. 10, with an opening reception 5 to 7 p.m. A second reception will be held on Sunday, Feb. 9 from 2 to 4pm. The show closes March 1.
Variety seems to be very important to MacGougan’s kinetascopic process, as evidenced by the array of painting styles and subject matter around his studio. An intimate portrait, a colorful text-based piece, a heavily textured landscape, and an enigmatically comical mallard all share wall space, along with other dozen-or-so pieces of eclecticism. The rest of the work, however, jibes with a similar aesthetic—the gestural abstractions which have been his primary focus for the past two years.
“They’re basically about people,” he says of the abstract work. “They’re figures in motion, painted in such a way as to replicate the actions of the subject. It’s a really empathetic relationship I maintain with the subject while I’m working, trying to feel what they feel and translating that into the mark-making.”
When asked if the upcoming show will focus specifically on the abstractions, MacGougan replied, “Oh, no. Featured certainly, but I do like to show all of my other little projects as well. I think it’s fun to share a bit of everything.”
A resident of South Beach for a year, David MacGougan has found the landscape and community of Lincoln County quite amenable to his studio practice. “It’s always raining, so of course I’m gonna be in the studio all day,” he says with a wry grin, quickly adding that even on rainy days he can be found standing on the beach. “The ocean has this amazing feel of ancientness, like you can feel the age of it rolling in with the gusts of wind. It’s a powerful experience, every time.”
Originally from West Hartford, Connecticut, MacGougan has more recently lived in Portland and Vancouver B.C. “Moving around has actually had a really positive effect on my work,” he says. “It forces me to adapt to different working spaces, which in turn spurs new processes of art-making. Now, if I’m not rearranging the furniture or trying out a new material or technique every few months, I’ll feel like I’m in a rut.”
David MacGougan received his BFA (magna cum laude) from Hartford Art School in 2003. His work has been shown nationally and in 2013 was included in shows in Portland, New York City, and Chicago. He will be the speaker at the monthly Exhibition Coffee at the Visual Arts Center, Room 302, on January 16 at 11am. Volunteers and anyone interested in volunteering and hearing about MacGougan’s work are welcome.
The Newport Visual Arts Center, celebrating its 30th year, is located at 777 NW Beach Drive overlooking the ocean on the Nye Beach Turnaround. Gallery hours are 12pm to 4pm, Tuesday through Saturday. The center is managed by Oregon Coast Council for the Arts. Additional events are listed on the OCCA website, www.coastarts.org. For more information, contact Sally Houck, OCCA Director/VAC, at 541-265-6569 or firstname.lastname@example.org