Ellen Mcfadden was born in 1928 in Portland, and has been working in art and design her entire life, both as an instructor and as a freelance graphic designer in the Northwest and Iowa. Coming of age during the time when WWII veterans were returning from the war, she attended the Museum Art School (now the Pacific Northwest College of Art) in the post-war years and took classes with Doug Lynch and Lloyd Reynolds, among others. At the time she also set up a “cubby-hole” office in downtown where she did pre-press mechanicals for other designers and freelance calligraphy. Influenced in the early 1960s by Constructivist and New Graphic Design movements in Europe, she and her husband, Irwin McFadden, assimilated new styles and typefaces into their own practice at a time when clients were more comfortable with traditional approaches.
Now in her late 80s, she works full-time on paintings that incorporate pattern and vibrant color, their titles alluding to the Northwest geography and native tribes that are so ingrained in her personal history, one that she tends to dismiss by ending a conversation with, “Now back to the drawing board.” She is equally matter-of-fact when describing her work: “I see the two- dimensional surface as the basis for tension and interaction with shape and the four outside edges. Color is a part of that interaction. Perhaps that vision comes from my years of graphic design, working with a defined two-dimensional space and its restrictions.”
Reception: Wednesday, September 7: Artist Talk, 3:30-4:30 (tbc), reception 5-8pm
Gallery Hours: Wed–Sun, 11–5pm
8245 SW Barnes Rd | Portland
Residence: Portland, OR