Rhonda Grudenic and Dwight Caswell: Unexpected Grace
Exhibition and Book Release: November 5, 2011
Artwalk/Reception: November 12, 2011
More About the Artists:
For Immediate Release:
RiverSea Gallery is pleased to host Unexpected Grace, an art exhibition and book release event showcasing the combined work of two local artists who collaborated on a project that spanned continents and was over a year in the making. Unexpected Grace is an exhibition of paintings by Rhonda Grudenic, an installation of prayer flags made from the paint-saturated rags she used to create the paintings, and photographs by Dwight Caswell of those very prayer flags installed in various outdoor locations from the Oregon coast to the mountains of Tibet. A book of the same title is the culmination of Caswell’s photo-documentation of the prayer flags installed in natural settings.
The exhibition will open Saturday, November 5th with a First Night reception from 6:00 to 8:00 pm. The artists will give a presentation on the concept and collaborative process that went into Unexpected Grace, and will sign copies of their book which shares the same title. In addition to the regular bound books, two special renditions of the book will be available, hand-bound by Rhonda Grudenic, with a prayer flag mounted onto each cover. A second reception will be held during Second Saturday Artwalk, and the artwork will remain on display through November 29th.
Buddhist prayer flags have been a long-standing symbol of peace, compassion, strength and wisdom, thought to bring benefit to all, powered by wind to spread good will and compassion. Rhonda Grudenic and Dwight Caswell have spent over a year considering that concept and what it means in our contemporary, fast paced society where things are more likely to be discarded than reused. The process began in Grudenic’s studio where she found herself considering the beauty of her used paint rags, their uniqueness and their role in her own creations. She began to look at them as objects of importance with intrinsic value instead of leftovers to be tossed. She considers the act of painting to be a form of meditation, and in her view, the rags were saturated with her prayers. From the rags, Grudenic fashioned her own set of prayer flags, and then began the journey of sharing.
Dwight Caswell, a talented fine art photographer as well as photo-journalist, has traveled the world to document its beauty. He came to know Grudenic and shared her convictions and thoughts on her artwork’s journey of purpose and its symbology. Together they spent months creating and documenting installations of the prayer paint flags. To this date there have been seven installations of Grudenic’s carefully placed and choreographed flags. Caswell participated in these outdoor installations by capturing the process with his camera as well as by video. The end result is a full color book tracking the travels of this moving artwork, beginning in Clatsop County and culminating high in the Himalayan Mountains of Tibet, where pilgrims not only accepted the offered paint flags, but recognized them in worship.
When discussing the collaborative process Caswell states, "This is one of the few times I have collaborated with another artist; the experience has been a rewarding one. The landscape is what I usually photograph, but it doesn’t have brightly colored paint rag/prayer flags swimming in the water and blowing in the wind. It was almost as though I was taking portraits of fast moving subjects within the landscape. I was photographing not only the world as I saw it, but the world as imagined by Rhonda and as she participated in it."
Besides the books documenting the project, included in this exhibition will be an installation of the prayer paint flags along with Caswell’s color photographs and a new series of Grudenic’s ever evocative oil paintings, the paintings that in turn created the paint flags. This exhibition is a masterfully executed display of continuation of process and connection. For Grudenic it has come to mean “honoring the disregarded, devalued and despised of society; relinquishing control; learning to be present; and sharing all with love.”