Gabriel Liston returns to Froelick Gallery with his second solo exhibit with us, tilted Get All That Is Coming To You. Based on more than a year of research, Liston brings us a piece of forgotten Portland history- a massive water reclamation project enacted by Lafe Pence (1857-1923), a Colorado lawyer, miner and one-term Congressman. As Liston says, “a man with too much charm, optimism, and hubris for the good of the community”, Pence staked a controversial claim to water rights in Northwest Portland and between 1905 to 1908 attempted a grandiose development scheme by sluicing Tualatin Mountain in to Guild's Lake. Disastrous both environmentally and economically, the project was abandoned, and Pence skipped town. There was also a peripherally-related case of murder which Liston touches on.
These events are presented by Liston in three forms: As a narrative series of black and white oil panels which relate this history; several panels painted at the present-day sites he's located of Pence's activities; as well as larger canvases based on drawings made while he was searching for these sites. Reductively scraping an initial underpainting down to the point of just barely tinting his surface, Liston then adds thick strokes of impasto, hazy areas of half-rendered vistas and illustrative touches of fine-brush detail. All are lushly rendered; his colors and grays are equally evocative of the forests, urban waterways, structures and characters of this story and its' contemporary remnants.
The artist gratefully acknowledges the assistance of a Regional Arts and Culture Council project grant in the completion of this work.