Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Apotheosis of the Bike Reflector: Primal Op at Hallie Ford

Know what these are made of? You might not recognize them in a pattern like this, but you have at least a couple of them on your bike. Maybe on your mailbox or to mark your driveway, too.

Four Color Variations, circa 2005
Richard C. Elliott
They're one-, two-, and three-inch reflectors, that's what!

If you've been by Hallie Ford they might look familiar.

Hallie Ford North Exterior from State Street

Set in the marble second story are similar windows.

Detail of "Portals Through Time" on Exterior
They're by the same artist, Richard C. Elliott. And he's got a great big show at Willamette University's Hallie Ford Museum of Art right now.

And it is the most fabulous thing in the world! Glorious excess. It's the absolute highest expression of the bike reflector, it has to be.

Connoisseurs of Op Art might have something to say about the particular geometric and coloristic wizardry Elliott displays. But who cares about that!

The show all about whiz-bang, hypnotic pattern and light.

Make sure you pick up a flashlight from the bin at the entry and hold it at your eye in line with your gaze. The retroreflection transforms the flat shapes in gallery lighting to prismatic expressions of translucence and depth.

If you aren't too serious at the gallery, and just give in to visual play, this is straight-up stupid, giddy delight.

Take the kids? Excellent idea! They'll love to play with the different looks, enjoy the colors, and some will respond especially to the geometric precision and optical illusions. The difference in lighting effects will also bring home ways that reflectors work at night for night time and low-light visibility for trips on foot or on bike.

(No kids? Those who make trips to Washington or Colorado might think of other ways to enjoy the show as well.)

From the show description:
During the 1970s, [Richard Elliott] made meticulous drawings of his friends and other subjects, weaving light and form together to capture a particular moment in time. By the early 1980s, however, he no longer felt that he could express what he wanted to about light and natural structure in drawing. He began to explore primary colors and light active materials, and by 1987, decided to focus on the safety reflector as his medium of choice.

During the 1990s and early 2000s, Elliott created a broad range of work that combined safety reflectors with two-dimensional geometric designs: site specific installations, reflectors mounted onto wood and canvas, and numerous public art commissions, including the Hallie Ford Museum of Art...
The show closes August 24th.

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