Whiting Tennis: My Side of the Mountain
January 18 – March 23, 2014
Melvin Henderson-Rubio Gallery
Whiting Tennis is a nationally recognized mixed media artist who lives and works in Seattle, Washington. A mid-career survey exhibition entitled "Whiting Tennis: My Side of the Mountain" will open on Jan. 18 and continue through March 23 in the Melvin Henderson-Rubio Gallery at the Hallie Ford Museum of Art at Willamette University. Organized by Collection Curator Jonathan Bucci, the exhibition features paintings, sculptures, drawings, and large scale collages.
Tennis’s artworks merge his interest in folk and Pop art with surrealism and postwar American painting. Through a combination of figurative forms, landscapes, and dilapidated buildings, he creates a world of his own with a narrative that evokes the beauty, humor, and loneliness of everyday life. Infused with empathy and personality, his works tell a story that is familiar to the Northwest while at the same time American.
The characters that populate Tennis’s artworks are not direct likenesses but are simplified, architectural forms with human and animal attributes. They are created through the use of repurposed wood or collaged prints made from wood grain. These figures roam through a landscape of time-worn structures where the forgotten and worn objects of the world take on a previously undiscovered beauty.
Bucci says, “Artworks like the large 14 foot long “Bitter Lake Compound” are familiar and relatable while at the same time alone and slightly sad. What could have been viewed as an eyesore transforms into a beautiful array of rhythms, textures and colors.”
Techniques of faux painting and trompe l’oeil are also used in Tennis’s work and blur the line between reality and illusion. Objects in the exhibition created in this manner include “Washer and Dryer” and the enormous 12 foot wide “Blue Tarp.” These works call into question the designation of what art is, and the definition of beauty. Together they reinforce Tennis’s view that beauty can be overlooked and commonplace.
A limited number of “Whiting Tennis" ©2011 Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum & Art Gallery (ISBN: 978-0-9821486-5-5) will be available at the museum for $20.00.
Financial support has been provided by general operating support grants from the City of Salem’s Transient Occupancy Tax funds and the Oregon Arts Commission.