Museum Hosts Retrospective by Seattle Painter

A major retrospective exhibition of work by Michael Dailey, a Seattle painter and influential professor emeritus at the University of Washington, opens June 7 and continues through Aug. 31 at the Hallie Ford Museum of Art at Willamette University.

Michael Dailey: Color, Light, Time, and Place was organized by museum Director John Olbrantz and features 20 paintings and 24 works on paper spanning a 45-year period. Works have been selected from public and private collections throughout the region.

Dailey and Olbrantz will discuss the artist's life and work Friday, June 6, from 5 to 6 p.m. in the Roger Hull Lecture Hall at the museum, followed by a preview reception from 6 to 8 p.m. in the lobby and galleries downstairs. The exhibition will include a full-color, 48-page hardcover monograph, distributed by the University of Washington Press, with an essay by Robin Updike, former art critic for The Seattle Times.

Born and raised in Iowa, Dailey received his bachelor of arts and master of fine arts degrees from the University of Iowa and taught at the University of Washington from 1963 until his retirement in 1998. An abstract painter of tremendous skill and prowess who focuses on landscapes, Dailey has been featured in numerous one-person and group exhibitions during the past five decades.

Dailey's early landscapes from the 1960s are big, expressionistic compositions of towering mountain peaks, dark forests and chiseled slabs of rock. By the early 1970s, his work became increasingly refined and abstracted as he sought to reduce the landscape to its basic elements of horizon, color, light and atmosphere. "By suggesting rather than defining," he has written, "much is left for the viewer to imagine."

His early work is reminiscent of the abstract expressionist painters Franz Kline and Willem de Kooning, but his work of the past 35 years reflects a number of diverse art historical sources: Chinese landscapes; Mark Rothko's luminous, saturated color; and Piero della Francesca's glowing light. Color and light are important elements of Dailey's mature work.

Diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in the early 1970s, Dailey switched from oil to acrylic and gradually began to reduce the size of his canvases as it became increasingly difficult for him to paint on a large scale. In spite of his physical challenges, he has continued to make lush, sensuous and evocative landscapes that, in his words, "create the mood and presence of the landscape by means of atmospheric color and abstract form."

The exhibition is supported in part by grants from the City of Salem's Transient Occupancy Tax funds and the Oregon Arts Commission.

The Hallie Ford Museum of Art is located at 700 State St. (corner of State and Cottage streets) in downtown Salem near the campus of Willamette University. Hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. The galleries are closed Monday. Admission is $3 for adults and $2 for seniors and students. Children younger than 12 are admitted free, and Tuesday is an admission-free day. For more information, call (503) 370-6855 or visit