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Deborah Spanton 

West Coast Jazz 

November 30, 2018 - January 4, 2019

Born in Oakland, California and raised in Lodi, Deborah Spanton has been based in Portland, Oregon for more than twenty years and, aside from showing in London, England, West Coast Jazz is her first exhibition east of the Rocky Mountains. A painter and a printmaker, Spanton is a west coast artist through and through; her influences include the pop-art themes and candied hues of Wayne Thiebaud, the wild southern California landscapes of David Hockney, as well as the decidedly not-west-coast body-related work of Kiki Smith and Louise Bourgeois. Now in her eighth decade, she has entered perhaps the most experimental phase of her career. Spanton recently moved house and studio and acquired her own printing press, which she has been utilizing to make etchings that explore experimentation, variation and improvisation, as well as reflecting upon the strange and unsettling mood in which those of us who call the United States home find ourselves living. 

As both an adoptee and an adoptive parent herself, the complicated idea of home and its related notions - which so many of us take for granted -  are themes that have been present in her work since its genesis; works such as The House and Housemother explore those themes anew. Late last year, Spanton began making work for this exhibition thinking generally about what it has meant to be a woman, but as events unfolded in 2018, her focus became more specifically concerned with the #metoo movement and her own experiences navigating through the world of dangerous men. Also included are two works completed in 1980, Dogs of War (He) and (She), which remind us that sadly, while the global disquiet of the last few years is nothing new, it is as infuriating as ever, and something we ignore at our own peril.


                                    - John Brooks