In his latest exhibition, Portland artist Matthew Dennison paints scenes of humans and animals encountering one another on the increasingly ambiguous frontiers of their respective territories. These interactions between displaced animals and recreation-seeking people are presented as curious, tenuously amicable, sometimes bizarre. A family on a boat meets a narwhal, who points at them with its long tusk; children play with a model airplane in a field while a fox frolics at their feet, doglike; a stag furtively observes people in colorful, layered clothing and and a bright umbrella in a grove of trees, as a naked man clings to a grassy slope.
Other works suggest a more ominous aspect to crossing the community/habitat barrier. Titles such as Bonneville and Sisters refer to recent regional encounters. In one large painting, a cougar looms in the foreground, dwarfing a house behind him. In another, oil rig workers prepare a large drill, calling attention to our often destructive relationship with the natural world. With shining, lacquered surfaces and bright graphic edges, Dennison's delicate figures inhabit an attractive world of provocative social observation.