On View:  October 6 – December 16, 2017

Clifford Wilton

Artist Statement

The work you see around you is the evidence of a man, my father, Clifford Wilton who, at the age of about 50 rediscovered his passion for art making. Painting was a pursuit that he had postponed since the age of 19. In the interim, Cliff’s creativity was evident in his professional life in the creation of print, radio and television ad campaigns done in tandem with the advertising agency, Wilton Coombs and Colnett that Cliff founded when first moving to San Francisco in 1960. However about 30 years later what began as a curiosity became a reality when during a Christmas break from the 9–5 work week of his agency, Cliff attended an art workshop taught by figurative painter, Dan McCaw.

His earlier work was of still lifes and models from painting classes he voraciously attended. Cliff’s work was loose and interpretive in style from the start, an admission he explained by saying he was not interested in painting what “was” before him but rather the “feeling” of what was before him. As his work progressed, he moved out of the classroom into Nature. He further developed his impromptu use of color en plein air, standing for many hours before a Julian easel working in oil paint on small boards in the pastoral landscapes of Northern California and Colorado.

His work, like the man, has always had a sense of urgency. The mark making became more and more uninhibited, bold and risky. Before long, Cliff’s small landscape studies grew in scale, so much so that he returned to painting in a studio. He used photographs, small painted studies and primarily memory to continue on with his paintings of landscapes that now, were becoming more abstract.

The chance discovery of new subject matter, in the form of an old abandoned car in a Colorado field catalyzed Cliff’s break from realism to abstraction. “Junker cars” as he named them, abandoned and decomposing, freed him from the tyranny as he described it, of painting recognizable things from life. The smashed automobile bodies were compressed and distorted so much that they became more an abstraction of a car than an actual car. It was for him, an easy segue into abstraction. It was this kind of thinking that Cliff then pursued in almost all his later work.

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Artist Bio

A Londoner by birth, the late Clifford Wilton had been a painter since the sixties. His career as an art director, graphic designer and teacher of design took precedent over painting for many years. His body of work explored landscape, still life, the figure and at the end of his career, the limitless expanse of abstraction. Wilton’s work has been shown at the Aspen Art Museum, numerous exhibitions in Denver, CO, Friesen Gallery (Seattle, WA) Hanson Howard Gallery (Ashland, OR) and other locations around Oregon and is included in numerous private collections.