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Circular paintings run rings around captured motion
The Oregonian, January 4, 1980

by: Beth Fagan

There's more than meets the eye to a series of enchanting, circular paintings that will be previewed from 11:30 a.m, to 1 p.m. Sunday in the West fills Unitarian Fellowship, 8470 S.W Oleson Road.

A missing pair of the lively, colorful dancers alreadv is in London, well cm its way to becoming a limited edition collectors' plate for international distribution.

Other encircled dancers from the painting series by Portland artist Sara Harwin, who will be honored at the Sunday reception, are scheduled to follow in the first pair's footsteps.

There is a Matisse-like joy and vitality in the mood and movement of Mrs. Harwin's dancers. and in the play of spacious, flat areas against exquisitely detailed sections of costume that adorn the figures.

Among the pairs are r Amish men and women, Bedouins Navajos, Yugoslavia an and Dutch folk dancers, and Northwest Coast Indian dancers inspired by a visit to the Indian carver, Dan Lelooska, in Ariel. Wash.

"1'm very interested in folk costume, travel, fabrics, quilts - all kinds of folk traditions," said Mrs. Harwin.

"Folk artists are not always recognized as artists who are expressing something from within themselves, maybe to someone who is very special to them."

There is a real "life blood" flowing both through work that has been created and through time, she said, "whether it is a toy created far a child, or a dress or quilt, passed down and cherished through generations."

When she embarked on the current series less than two years ago, Mrs, Harwin said she had become interested n using folk costumes, and in developng patterns through both the movement of dancing figures and their costumes.

Near the end of a previous series called "Rainbow Dancers," which were shown by a Portland gallery, she had also started introducing more complex patterned areas into the painting surfaces.

The artist said some of the patterns in her current series are pure imagination n, while others have been inspired by costumes seen during travels to other countries.

The richness of design is developed both through acrylic paint and areas of gold and silver leaf. Dancers are often enclosed in a lustrous gold circle, with gold also accenting intricate patterns. The jewelry Navajo dancers wear is composed with silver

Mrs Harwin said the trip her dancers are taking from paintings to plates was initiated last spring when she visited the Judah Magnes Museum. in Berkeley Calif., which had given her a major printmaking show it: 1975.

"I had completed about 10 circles then, and I thought the museum might be interested in them. "The museum does contemporary painting and printmaking shows, and they are also an ethnographic museum, with rich collections of historic costume."

Mrs Harwin said the museum was interested, and sent photos of her work to its consultant in Los Angeles The consultant contacted John Brindle of John Brindle Fine Arts, a producer of limited edition, multiple collectibles that not only include original prints but collector plates.

Brindle told the museum's consultant that he would like to engage Mrs. Harwin as one of the artists doing work for his firm.

The result was a five-year contract with Mrs. Harwin that gives the Los Angeles producer of multiples the right first refusal on her work, and which ves the artist both ownership of orinals and copyrights.

Brindle already has sent the first sign in her dancer series to London, here a decal is being produced to fire a limited edition of plates. Instead of the gold leaf she has used with her painting, Mrs. Hariwn said the multiples firm intend.; to use raised old

The firm also has sent her a china ',I for which they would like a design at can be produced in a limited edition.

Mrs. Harwin is happy to be associatwith the company "They were in - gallery business with prints before expansion she said. "They believe in --C edition quality work and they

Mrs. Harwin is no stranger to art she took her degree in printmaking at The University of Michigan -- she is now concentrating re said the large press from England in her studio at temporarily idle. When she began painting in circular -r. - a very comfortable type of exposed space that seems !o lend itself -i. to dancing" - Mrs. Harwin said - certainly had no thought of their adapatability to plates.

"But I like the idea of moving into three-dimensional work," she said. "It's so a challenge to move from one medithem to another. It opens up all kinds of avenues for other explorations." Mrs. Harwin said the projects which the Los Angeles company undertakes for limited edition, multiple collectibles re primarily ones that would be finanally unfeasible for an artist Some of her circles are now moving from the figurative into landscape that is simultaneously abstract and represen- tational. A circular painting also is incorpo- rated in her recent, annual wedding anniversary present to her husband, Fred, also an artist Between the figures of herself and husband there is a portrayal of daughter Lise in a painting that also encloses images of the seasons and mm The anniversary gift may be includ- ed in the Sunday exhibition

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Harwin Studios   |   9101 SW 15th Ave.   |   Portland, Oregon 97219   |   Phone (503) 246-7479   |   Fax (503) 246-7479   |