By Jesse Sanchez
Upon entering the Hallie Ford Museum of Art, visitors encounter a desk with an attendant sitting behind it. Students can show their ID cards to prove their University affiliation in order to get the free admission available to all Willamette students.
The Hallie Ford is the third largest art museum in the state of Oregon and an often under-appreciated resource among students. Beyond the many permanent holdings that span a number of regions and cultures, the museum displays borrowed or traveling exhibitions often featuring Pacific Northwest artists.
Currently on display are works by Louis Bunce, a painter, and Anne Hirondelle, sculptor.
Bunce’s works have appeared in two parts at the Hallie Ford. From Nov. 5 to Jan. 29, the museum featured “Works on Paper” in the second floor Print Study Center. Now on display is the painting exhibit titled “Dialogue with Modernism.” The show is on display until March 26.
Just across from the visitor desk, one finds three of Bunce’s works mounted adjacent to the coat closet. With them appears a text introducing viewers to the exhibit. The text describes “Louie” Bunce as being an artist who fits well into 20th century modernism but also as one who bounces into a variety of schools and styles including Postmodernism, Cubism, Surrealism and Abstract Expressionism, terms all too familiar to an art history major.
The Bunce exhibit is a retrospective spanning many years and a broad array of traditions in which Bunce painted. Bunce’s work defies consistency with his adventures into various schools of thought.
Bunce was based in Portland, but kept closely in touch with the New York School and artist friends such as Jackson Pollock. Some of the work featured abstract depictions of the Northwest such as “Boy Composition No. 2,” painted in 1950.
The modernist resided in Salem during the Depression era where he met his wife, Eda Hult. He was an instructor and assistant director in the Works Progress Administration, working out of the old Salem High School (now the downtown Macy’s). Two of the murals painted during his time here are now on display at North Salem High School’s auditorium.
One can access a broad view of the Bunce exhibit from the second floor balcony, adjacent to the Japanese works on display from the permanent collection.
Housed on the second floor is “Small Revolutions.” Tacoma-based Anne Hirondelle’s exhibit features small sculptures including the signature pink-colored work titled “Partners 4,” as many community members will recognize from the exhibit’s promotional materials.
The other works include “Seasons,” “Flight/Red-Winged Blackbirds,” “Apertures” and “Wave Cradles.” The titles evoke theoretical implication and the works themselves resemble utilitarian crafts or even technology. The titles also suggest nature and organicism, or in the case of “Apertures,” photography.
Hirondelle is on display until April 30.
For upcoming exhibitions, the museum will feature some of the work produced by our own faculty and students as is a rite of passage for Willamette art majors.
April 15 will mark the opening of exhibits featuring thesis work by the senior art majors as well as Assistant Professor Cayla Skillin-Brauchle’s “Super Speed.” Also on display will be local Salem artist David George Andersen’s exhibition titled “Word Play.”
There will be a celebratory opening at the museum on April 14 that all are invited to attend.