I’ve known Jeffrey Mitchell for about 22 years, going back to Tyler School of Art days, drinking tea and making art. His personality and his work have always intrigued me. Since moving to Portland in 1990, I haven’t missed one of his shows at Pulliam Deffenbaugh Gallery, the gallery in town that represents him and where he currently has a show this month. The playfulness, whimsy and childlike personality of his work is like an airy confection and always a pleasure to view.
Friday, September 7, PICA’s Kristan Kennedy introduced Jeffrey. It was a good sized crowd for his 3pm Salon talk; a mix of collectors, Jeffrey Mitchell fans, art dealers, PICA personnel, the grand dame of art writers, Lois Allen, and even a brief walk on from the mail carrier. Dressed in a white shirt and tan pants he seemed to have just stepped out of one of his pieces.
Jeffrey is an artist who works like a scientist. He weaves together the cut outs that appear in his works and spoke of how they relate to his interests of flowers and botany. His imagery is camouflaged and requires a viewer to look and look again. He spoke of his selective imagery, how he revisits the beautiful and intricate drawings with ballpoint pens, graphite pencils, and watercolors. Discussing his fondness for literature, the image of butterflies and how they radiate light, the use of the elephants and memory in his works and he shared with us what’s under the surface of his work––the underlying layers that explores “a liberation from my own tightness about sexuality”. With a background in printmaking Jeffrey continues to work in sculpture, drawing and clay. His interest in decorative folk art, and the Native American influences in his works channels his own highly personal fascination that brings about a unique flamboyancy into the world that he has created in his work. So put down that newspaper, get your mind off the chaos that is happening all around us, and go see his show before the end of the month. You’ll be glad you did.
Posted by Ben Killen Rosenberg