This exhibition brings together a selection of work by Jay Backstrand ranging from 1968 to 2008. Throughout that 40 year span, it is clear that Backstrand's energetic mind and passion for looking at the worlds of history and art resulted in works that capture the complexity of living and painting in contemporary times. His enigmatic imagery pulls the viewer into a unique mapping of diverse times, people, and experience. Some of these paintings possess a Pop Art vividness, while others are more subdued and elegiac. In everything, he creates with a master’s interest in beauty and artistic precision. Playing with color and scale, juxtaposing the familiar with the strange, Backstrand engages the viewer with a complexity of subject matter.
Jay Backstrand studied at the Pacific Northwest College of Art, where he later taught art from 1975-1986. He also studied at the Slade School in London as a Fulbright fellow. He has exhibited his work since the 1960s, and in the 1970s was a co-founder of the Portland Center for Visual Arts. In 1984, he was honored with a 10-year retrospective at Marylhurst College, OR, and more recently in the Eighth Northwest Biennial at the Tacoma Art Museum in 2007. His work is included in the collections of the National Gallery, Washington, DC; the Oxford University Press Print Collection, England; the Portland Art Museum; the Seattle Art Museum; the Tacoma Art Museum; the Henry Gallery at University of Washington; and Hallie Ford Museum of Art at Willamette University, Salem, OR. Awards include an NEA grant, an Oregon Arts Foundation grant, and a Smithsonian Institute purchase award.