160 10th St
Astoria, OR 97103
This month McVarish gallery will host “America is Beautiful“
a provocative series of paintings and installation by Astoria artist, Morrison Pierce. The 30 piece show looks back at World War II to illustrate the tragedy of war, drawing imagery from photos of real people and children who lived and died in effects of the biggest and bloodiest conflict in history.
Morrison painted this series of scenes in his unique expressionist style, playing ironically with candy colors associated with childhood and innocence, while capturing the sadness and devastation of war. Within the show is a story of two brothers for whom a sad fate is determined when one is sent to war. Works starting on the left entrance area of the gallery represent innocence and childhood under the foreshadow of the imminent war leading into the main exhibit room where the imagery became far more devastating as the conflict rages. He juxtaposes innocence and the presence of evil in a thought provoking way. Its a theme he’s been returning to in various mediums over 20 years. While it’s a reflection on the past it’s also meant to reflect the potential for history to repeat itself in our present political climate.
In Morrison’s words, “‘America is Beautiful’ is a return to the past events in history that can remind us of how far we have come as a society,
or how quickly we could find ourselves right back where we started. It’s a sad reminder of where we have been and how families can be ripped apart just for the color of skin… Love defeats hate and these paintings, although dark in content, seem to show there is light at the end of the tunnel”
It’s certainly not an easy subject, but a noble one to undertake. “How to uncover evil with a mirror for all to see is never an easy task, but one worth the time, if anything is going to change.”
Morrison has been painting and traveling for over twenty years and it shows in his fluidity of ideas and execution. Originally a film major, the cinematic element is still very present in his work and presentation. It can be seen in the way his show is designed to tell a story, even bringing back certain characters in more than on piece. Another unusual characteristic is the linear order of the show. The story begins on the left side of the gallery and then walks the viewer through the scenes. The final piece attempts to show light through darkness, bringing not a happy ending, but maybe an optimistic one. Then adding more drama to the spectacle, the show will also include an installation fraught with morbid symbolism.
His decision to come to Astoria in 2017 was based on a coin flip. Having traveled to most other cities in the US, this was one he had not seen yet. This will be his first show in Astoria, which he now calls home. “I like the tight knit community of working artists, musicians and free thinkers… and the moody rainy winters.” He brings interesting and vibrant addition to the wealth of art here and has more theatric shows planned at McVarish Gallery in the coming years.
“America is Beautiful” opens with a reception from 5:00- 8:30pm Sat. September 8th and runs until November 11th at McVarish Gallery 160 Tenth Street. mcvarishgallery.com