Greg Pfarr      

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I grew up in southwestern Ohio on a farm that has been in my family for three generations. I did drawings and paintings of the woods, field, and creek near my house from a very early age. Growing up, I was influenced by my father (a landscape artist who earned his living doing commercial art), by trips to the Cincinnati Art Museum, and also by Grailville, a lay organization of Catholic women who owned a large farm next door, which the women farmed as part of their spiritual practice. My father, my immediate family and community, and the women of Grailville all felt a powerful spiritual connection with nature. My early experiences backpacking in the Appalachian and later the Rocky Mountains confirmed and deepened my own spiritual commitment to the land and, especially, to wilderness areas. This love of nature and of wilderness continues to influence my artwork today.

I took my first art classes at the Cincinnati Art Academy in 1966. My study was interrupted when I was drafted into the U.S. Army during the Vietnam war. (Fortunately, I was deployed to Korea rather than to Vietnam.) After being discharged from the army in 1968, I studied art at Ohio State University. I received my BFA in painting, drawing and printmaking from Ohio State in 1972 and my MFA in printmaking and painting from that same university in 1975.

After graduate school, my wife Lisa Ede and I lived in Brockport, New York for four years, while she taught in the English department at SUNY Brockport, and I worked in my studio. While living in Columbus and, later, in Brockport, my wife and I drove to the Rocky Mountains many summers to backpack, so we were thrilled when Lisa was offered a position teaching at Oregon State University in Corvallis in 1980. We have lived in Corvallis since that time and enjoy backpacking and hiking in the Pacific Northwest. My family was a family of gardeners, and I have been fortunate to be able to live and garden on two acres outside of Corvallis since 1992.

During the years that I have lived in Oregon I have taught at a variety of post-secondary institutions, including Chemeketa Community College and Oregon State University. My primary commitment, however, has been to my art. I am fortunate to own (or rather to be a caretaker of) a Ray Trayle press and thus am able to print in my home studio. Please see my resume for my exhibition record, awards and honors, collections, professional affiliations, and gallery representation.

Ever since moving to Oregon, my work has primarily been involved with the landscape of the west, which I find both visually and spiritually stimulating. I am particularly interested in landscapes of rugged wilderness areas that offer a unique sense of place and a broad field of vision. I am also interested in landscapes where the urban and rural mix, as is the case with the rural property where my wife and I currently live.

I am drawn to painting, drawing, and printmaking media because I enjoy the cross fertilization of ideas and techniques that working with diverse media entails. In all three media I work directly on the surface using methods that are spontaneous and kinesthetic. I often employ gestalt, randomness, and unusual points of view. I also frequently minimize the conventional spatial cues of foreground, middle ground and distance that are common in more conventional landscapes in favor of patterns that have elements of abstraction but that can nevertheless accomodate realism.

With my large etchings of mountain landscapes, I focus on the high elevation terrain where habitat zones mix-where rocks, tundra, glaciers, and the tree line come together allowing for unusual combinations of forms and habitats. The first step in creating these etching typically involves backpacking into a remote site, so I can be completely immersed in the environment. My days are spent drawing and taking photos on site. Later in my studio I reinvent these landscapes through the use of memory, studies, and photographs. I use printmaking methods that allow me to work directly and spontaneously on the plate. My plates are often worked extensively to take advantage of the rich subtle colors, values, and textures that the etching medium is capable of. To make my color etchings, I use surface rolled colors, multiple plates, and stencils; I also hand ink separate areas (a la poupee) with intaglio color.

My drawings of burned forest, glaciated valleys, and expansive skies employ many of the same techniques that I use when composing on an etching plate. I look for unusual combinations of forms, while also attending closely to abstract patterns that the eye and brain can read meanings into. My drawings are either done on site or are a distillation of studies, photographs, and memory. They are more direct in execution than my etchings, in that with drawing materials, such as pastels and charcoal, I am pushing the pigment directly into the paper, which allows for very direct kinesthetic control. The drawings differ from the etchings in that many use natural light to illuminate the landscape. Though the light may be natural, the forms are created by selective definition and do not correspond closely to the actual scene. In other words, as is the case with my etchings, they are interior expressions of the exterior world that I see.

I also have a series of paintings of mountain landscapes. As is the case with my drawings, I finish some on site and complete others in the studio working from memory, photographs, and studies.

Since moving to the country outside of Corvallis in 1992, I have developed a series of what I think of as urban/rural paintings. With these paintings, I am interested in the landscapes that develop over time-sometimes intentionally and sometimes haphazardly-in rural environments. I am also interested in how the landscapes I paint might inform painterly conventions used to depict the rural environment. In my urban/rural paintings, for instance, I call attention to, rather than deemphasize, the power lines that are a part of the local environment, finding a potential beauty in them-just as there is potential beauty in representations of a burned forest.

Thinking about the place where I now live reminds me again how important it was to grow up in the house that my father and grandfather grew up in, to spend my time as a child and teenager roaming (and drawing) the area around my fanily's farm. At times when I was growing up, my father would talk hopefully about "moving out west." My family still lives on our family farm, and I am grateful for that. But I am also grateful for the years that I have spent in Corvallis and in the Pacific Northwest. It has been a good environment for me, and for my art.