The energetic Darren Orange spent late summer in a blur of productivity.
"Homework!" Orange said, on a recent afternoon in his Astoria studio. "Research! Road trips!"
A prolific painter whose bold abstract landscapes are collected inside and outside Oregon, Orange says works in his latest exhibition, "Cascadian Slipstream," erupted between late August and late October — what he calls "a short period of just getting after it."
It's not immediately clear how Orange finds time to crank out as much work as he does. He's been deeply involved in getting the advocacy group, Astoria Visual Arts off the ground; AVA works on finding affordable studio space for regional artists. (You might remember we tapped Orange for
in a discussion about the balance between livability and prosperity in Astoria.) Orange lobbied hard to launch AVA's first studio residency. He says more space might open up in the new year.
"Cascadian Slipstream" has been on view for about a month at Lower Columbia College in Longview, Washington. In the closing weeks of the show, Orange said he got a rare opportunity to re-hang the works in a pop-up gallery owned by Astoria Coffee House owner and arts booster Jimbo Defeo. Moving the works closer to home was gratifying, Orange says. Even better, the space will allow him to expand the show, adding a few canvases that did not fit in the College's space.
Making hops around Northwest Oregon, he took in some spots beyond the Columbia River scenes that have figured in many of his works during his 15 years in Astoria.
"I'm changing it up a little bit," he says. "Taking several trips into the Gorge. You'll see riverfront ruins, Gorge mountains and pilings in the water." Orange has also been experimenting with a different color palette, although his technique is a variation on his usual method, "continuing with a quick fast process of scraping and applying paint and scraping it back off." Orange says he's most comfortable with quick gestural motions that are automatic and intuitive.
Orange says the trick to creating anepiphany in each landscape is staying attuned to how each painting develops.
"I think the surprise is when you come to completion. You don't know when that's going to be. Maybe the process is aesthetic chess, and you're moving those pieces around. Some marks stay, some are eviscerated by other marks."
"Cascadian Slipstream, part 2, Downstream" will be on view at 1198 Commercial St. in Astoria Dec. 12 through Jan. 3. The opening reception is Dec. 12 during the Second Saturday Art Walk from 5–9 pm.
For more on his work, check out Oregon Art Beat's 2014 profile.