Daily Art Moment: Rick Bartow

A photo of a rough, oval-shaped mask of a human face with closed eyes, open mouth, and flared nostrils. Closed eyelids are defined by simple scored lines with the eye on the right positioned at the far edge of the mask. The mouth is open creating a gash with the right side drooping lower than the left. Smudged reddish pigment is visible around the mouth especially on the upper lip. The texture of the mask is rough with ragged edges, scattered scoring and markings and varies in color from beige to brown to dark gray. The Roman numerals II and V are seen beside the mouth and on the right cheek. Overall, the mask seems to have a flattened appearance.

“In these recent weeks, I have been thinking about the idea of shedding: such as, the peeling away and casting off of what is no longer useful or functional, but also shedding as in shedding light to illuminate and make clear. Rick Bartow’s After the Fall III is a wonderfully unguarded study in the artist’s own shedding through the subject of the mask. The ability for transformation is a dynamic intention, whether personal or cultural, as a definitive act of determination in hand with hope. In 1989, Bartow wrote about this personal metamorphic journey.”

Grace Kook-Anderson, The Arlene and Harold Schnitzer Curator of Northwest Art

“I work in an expressionistic manner using what I refer to as transformational images…I began drawing figures with masks either being removed or falling off the face. These images, I find, coincide with my having stopped drinking, obviously a cathartic period in my life. It was also this period that I began dealing with personal problems and my Vietnam experience. The effects of these experiences will in some ways probably always have an effect on how I view things. Masks of my own were falling away, which enabled me to begin to see the masks of others and realize for the first time that I was not the only one who had problems; that I no longer had to be afraid. At a time when my peers already had families, I was just learning to look at myself in the mirror and see myself. I was speaking my own name without discomfort. I was beginning to look at others and really see them. The work, though admittedly strange, told many stories that I myself was blind to for quite a few years.”

Rick Bartow

Rick Bartow (American and Wiyot, 1946–2016). After the Fall III, 1975/2006. Paint on clay. Gift of Allan and Lenore Sindler, 2006.54.2 © Courtesy of the artist and Froelick Gallery

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