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I got stuck for ten minutes with nothing to read but the PADA brochure for the upcoming month. I knew as my fingers brushed its deary surface I would be both sad and forlorn within three of those ten minutes. But this is Portland and I can pick up a wifi connection and complain about it to you.

The twelve art galleries which make up the Portland Art Dealers Association are, in alphabetical order, Augen, Blackfish, Bullseye, Butters, Froelick, Elizabeth Leach, PDX Contemporary, Pulliam Deffenbaugh, Quintana, Laura Russo, Mark Woolley, New American Art Union. A carefully maintained variety, collegial I imagine, and usually somewhat dull. Each has a specialty area, I guess, and market to the well-divorced Pearl District matrons with more wall space than brains.

But the walls of Laura Russo were made for the big watercolors of Henk Pander and a new show of Pander’s work will open January 3. Dutch-born, Dutch-trained, Pander came to Oregon in the early 70s, just as the late 60s were arriving, with young family in tow and a feverish mind for paint.

Pander’s vision for things-on-the-precipice has maintained through his career. His subjects are anticipating imminent death, a ship aground, a crumpled wall, flowers askew, fire on the horizon, the stare of a lone bombardier and his looming fate. Beautifully rendered, alternately wide and detailed, teabag colors moist and penetrating.

At that moment, Portland was still one of those dark places of the earth. Imagine the feelings of finely trained artist, such as a Childe Hassam of 1904, Imagine him here – the very end of the world, a sea the color of lead, a sky the color of smoke, a kind of ship about as rigid as a concertina–and going up this river with stores, or orders, or what you like. Sand-banks, marshes, forests, savages – precious little to eat fit for a civilized man, nothing but Willamette water to drink.


The slide show above is poor – my apologies. A better, larger version from the newish Viewbook is HERE.

If you have a beautiful Pearl District wall – a large large off white wall and a good high ceiling where excellent strip of lighting instruments can be installed, and you would like to live with a powerful, complex, feverish image – a still life of dahlias or terra cotta bricks – you’re in real luck. In recent years Pander has shown just once a year, and this is it.