Michael C. Spafford: Hercules and Other Greek Legends

February 23 – April 28, 2013

Study Gallery and Print Study Center

Michael C. Spafford is a noted Seattle painter, printmaker and professor emeritus from the University of Washington who focuses on Greek mythology in his work. An exhibition of Spafford’s woodcuts entitled Michael C. Spafford: Hercules and Other Greek Legends will open Feb. 23 and continue through April 28, 2013, in the Study Gallery and Print Study Center at the Hallie Ford Museum of Art at Willamette University.

Organized by Hallie Ford Museum of Art Faculty Curator and Art History Professor Ann M. Nicgorski, the exhibition features a range of woodcut prints created by the artist during the past 30 years and includes his 12 Labors of Hercules, as well as other popular Greek legends and myths.

Since the early 1960s, Spafford’s artistic themes have focused on Greek and Roman mythology. Strength, conflict, force, and domination are just a few of the provocative issues that are explored throughout Spafford’s art. Using the diptych and triptych format, Spafford simplifies his work to its bare essentials: space is compressed to two dimensions, and figures and forms are stripped away of any unessential elements so that they often appear as abstract shapes on the picture plane. Moreover, color is often limited to black and white to emphasize the narrative elements of the theme.

Nicgorski says, “The figures of Greek mythology become a timeless vehicle in Spafford’s art for his exploration of human relationships and spiritual values in the contemporary world.”

Born in Palm Springs, California and raised in southern California, Spafford received his B.A. degree from Pomona College in 1959 and his M.A. degree from Harvard University in 1960, where he studied the history of Renaissance art. Although he was invited back to Harvard to start work on his Ph.D., he realized he would not be happy as an art historian and instead, decided to pursue a career as a painter.

Discussion with artist Michael C. Spafford
This event has been rescheduled for April 12

As a special feature, Spafford will give a talk entitled "PINGO ERGO SUM: A Conversation with Painter and Printmaker Michael C. Spafford," on Friday, April 12, 2013 at 5:00 p.m. in the Roger Hull Lecture Hall at the Hallie Ford Museum of Art. Spafford will speak about his career and his artwork, with a focus on his engagement with the themes of Greek mythology. Spafford will then respond to questions prepared by students in Professor Nicgorski's class on Greek Mythology in the Visual Arts and to other questions from the audience. This discussion is co-sponsored by the Center for Ancient Studies and Archaeology at Willamette University and the Hallie Ford Museum of Art. Additional support is provided by the Verda Karen McCracken Young Art Exhibition Fund of the Department of Art History at Willamette University. Admission to the conversation is free.

Support for this exhibition has been provided in part by grants from the Center for Ancient Studies and Archaeology at Willamette University, the City of Salem’s Transient Occupancy Tax funds and the Oregon Arts Commission.

This exhibition contains mature themes.

Michael C. Spafford, [italics]V. Hercules Cleaning the Stables of Augeias[/italics] (detail), 2010, woodcut

Michael C. Spafford, V. Hercules Cleaning the Stables of Augeias (detail), 2010, woodcut

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