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The Arts Scene: Leo Adams, then and now

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When Leo Adams was 30, he said in an interview: “I hope to be a really complete artist. … I don’t want to be just a painter. I want to be an artist that does everything, as much as possible … to have new challenges around every corner … a constant kind of stimulation for the imagination to work with.

“I think that is what I really want of my life: a completeness.”

The interview, by LaMar Harrington of the University of Washington Libraries’ University Archives and Manuscripts Division of the Archives of Northwest Art, was in 1978.

The BOXX gallery is featuring an exhibit of Adams’ work that will show never-before-seen paintings that have been rolled up since the late 1970s. He will also be showing paintings created recently.

Because of the pandemic, the Larson Gallery Guild’s annual Tour of Artists’ Homes & Studios was canceled. Adams’ home was to be featured on the tour, and he had many new works to share. The BOXX gallery website at boxxgallery.com will have photographs of those works and a video showing their scale.

Visitors to the online exhibit can see a brief commentary by Adams about his work. To view the works in person, BOXX can be opened by appointment with careful distancing and masking.

This show comes exactly seven years after his major dual exhibitions in 2013 at the Yakima Valley Museum and Larson Gallery that coincided with the release of “Leo Adams: Art • Home,” by Sheila Farr and Linda Brady Tesner. The museum hosted a retrospective covering his range of work over the years and the Larson Gallery exhibited his recent work, giving him well-earned recognition for his body of work of art and interiors.

Barbara Matilsky, curator of the Whatcom Museum, writes: “In Adams’ work, the shifting line between earth and sky defines the composition, which comes alive with bright desert light saturating colors and casting forms in deep shadows. Attuned to its many nuances, Adams captures both the geometric and organic aspects of the land. Leo Adams also looks East to Asia. Many of his paintings have a Zen-like minimalism characterized by a stark palette of grey, beiges, white and black that reflects the desert ecosystem.

“For Adams, painting is ultimately about texture and pattern applied in flourishing brushstrokes to a canvas resting directly on the floor. The artist animates these surfaces with the qualities of Eastern light that reveals a unique vision of nature.”

“Leo Adams Paintings” will be on exhibit in September and October.

• David Lynx is executive director of the Larson Gallery at Yakima Valley College. His weekly column runs in Thursday’s SCENE. Learn more at www.larsongallery.org.

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