Tom Prochaska: Music for Ghosts

June 6 – August 26, 2023

Melvin Henderson-Rubio Gallery


Photo of Tom Prochaska taken by Aaron Johnson in 2018.

Tom Prochaska, 2018. Photo by Aaron Johanson.

Tom Prochaska: Music for Ghosts presents a retrospective look at the career of this longtime Portland artist — well known for his open-ended narrative work created through a variety of media, including painting, drawing, prints, and glass. Organized by curator Jonathan Bucci, the exhibition features 70 works spanning over 50 years.

Prochaska's work presents a cast of characters populating small villages, cafes, industrial or desolate landscapes, domestic interiors, and creative spaces like studios or stages. The narratives created among these figures and places generate a mix of gravity, humor, menace, satire, and a range of art historical references. Known primarily as a painter, printmaker, and draftsman, Prochaska has, over his long career, explored a range of materials, including figurative sculptures created from papier-mâché and an extensive body of work created in kiln-formed glass. This exhibition traces the course of his career, beginning with early prints and drawings that have rarely been seen and continuing into his mature work of the past 20 years. There will also be new paintings on view for the first time.

Exhibition curator Jonathan Bucci says, "With a wry smile, Tom tells stories that feel simultaneously vague and specific, walking a line between abstraction and representation. His imagery and compositions emerge from the interplay between material and process, lending themselves to the different mediums he effortlessly shifts between."

Photo of Tom Prochaska in his studio, taken by Aaron Johnson in 2018.

Tom Prochaska in his studio in 2018. Photo by Aaron Johanson.

Born in Chicago, Prochaska arrived in Portland in 1979. As a printmaker with experience working in fine art print shops in New York and Switzerland, he quickly became enmeshed in the burgeoning artist-driven scene of Portland in the early 1980s. He was a founder of two Portland print shops, Inkling Studio (1981) and Atelier Mars (1990). Prochaska taught for 29 years at the Pacific Northwest College of Art, and in the early 1980s at Oregon School of Arts and Craft and Portland State University. He influenced a generation of artists as both a teacher and artist and has played an important role in the city's cultural growth.

Prochaska earned his BA from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and his MFA from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. Since 2001, he has been represented by the Froelick Gallery in Portland. Additionally, he has exhibited extensively throughout the United States and the world. His work can be found in museum collections internationally, including the Gilkey Center for the Graphic Arts, Portland Art Museum, OR; the Hallie Ford Museum of Art, Salem, OR; Tacoma Art Museum, Tacoma, WA; Ha China National Academy of Fine Arts, Hangzhou, China and New York Public Library, NY. In 2015, he was named one of five Hallie Ford Fellows in the Visual Arts by the Ford Family Foundation. In September 2018, he exhibited a series of etchings in Lugano, Switzerland.

Upcoming Publication

Tom Prochaska: Music for Ghosts by Jonathan Bucci will be available later this summer. Please check back for more information. 

Exhibition Related Events

Panel Discussion

Jonathan Bucci, moderator
Laurie Danial, Laurel Reed Pavic, Tom Prochaska, and Morgan Walker, panelists
Saturday, June 3, 2023  | 5 -6 p.m.
Paulus Lecture Hall, Willamette University College of Law
Free and open to the public


Preview Reception

Celebrating: Tom Prochaska: Music for Ghosts
Saturday, June 3, 2023  |  6 - 8 p.m.
Hallie Ford Museum of Art
New Members are welcome to join at the event or online

rsvp By May 26

Or by phone at 503-370-6855 or by email at 


Gallery Talks

Join exhibition curator Jonathan Bucci for complimentary guided gallery talks.

  • Tuesday, June 13 at 12:30 p.m.
  • Tuesday, August 8 at 12:30 p.m.

Please meet in the Maribeth Collins Lobby
Reservations are not necessary

360° Virtual Exhibition Experience

Although nothing replaces seeing this exhibition in person, we invite you to enjoy the following virtaul exhibition experiences. Part I features the first part of the exhibition in the Maribeth Collins Lobby, while Part II features the main exhibition space in the Henderson-Rubio Gallery.

Link to virtual exhibition experience lobby

Link to virtual exhibition tour

Financial Support

This exhibition has been made possible with funds from the HFMA Exhibition Fund; by advertising support from The Oregonian/Oregon Live; and by general operating support grants from the City of Salem's Transient Occupancy Tax funds and the Oregon Arts Commission

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