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Amanda Snyder: Structures
October 13 - November 25, 2007
The Oregon artist Amanda Snyder (1894-1980) is well known for her paintings of birds and clowns, but her works based on architectural structures are less frequently seen. A small selection of her paintings of houses, farms, boathouses, and other structure-like formations will open on October 13 and continue through November 25, 2007, at the Hallie Ford Museum of Art at Willamette University.
Characterized by a strong sense for geometric form, vigorous brushwork, and rich color, the works in the exhibition reflect the emotional intensity of this self-effacing and reclusive artist. Organized by Willamette University Professor Roger Hull and drawn from public and private collections throughout the region, the exhibition will be accompanied by a full-color article on Amanda Snyder by Professor Hull in the October issue of American Art Review.
Amanda Snyder: Structures has been supported in part by grants from the City of Salem's Transient Occupancy Tax funds and the Oregon Arts Commission.
(above: Amanda Snyder (1894-1980), Al's House, 1951, Oil on Masonite, 24 _ x 29 _ inches. Collection of Brooks and Dorothy Cofield, Portland, Oregon)
(above: Amanda Snyder (1894-1980), City, c. 1962, Oil on burlap mounted on Masonite, 12 _ x 8 _ inches. Collection of Brooks and Dorothy Cofield, Portland, Oregon)
(above: Amanda Snyder (1894-1980), His Dear Old Paint Cans, 1950, Oil on canvas, 20 _ x 21 _inches. Collection of the Hallie Ford Museum of Art, Willamette University, gift of Frances Price Cook)
(above: Amanda Snyder (1894-1980), West Hills,1960, Oil on Masonite, 26 _ x 33 inches. Private Collection, Portland, Oregon)
Essay for the exhibition
Please click here to read the exhibition brochure essay.
Wall text for the exhibition
The Portland artist Amanda Tester Snyder (1894-1980) is well known for her paintings of birds, dolls, clowns, and still life, but her renderings of architectural structures are less frequently seen. This exhibition presents a selection of Snyder's paintings of houses, farm buildings, and other structural formations. Combining vigorous brushwork and rich color, these works reflect the emotional intensity of this self-effacing and reclusive artist. They also link her to a core group of early Oregon modernist painters including her friends C.S. Price, Charles Heaney, and Arthur and Albert Runquist.
Amanda Tester was born near Mountain City, Tennessee. Her memories of childhood remained vivid throughout her life. She recalled that "we lived on a poor little old rocky farm" and that nearby was "the spring-house . . . made of heavy stones with a heavy door of moss-covered wood," which enclosed a natural spring. This combination of nature and architecture can be understood as a primary inspiration for Snyder's paintings of structures, which are often rural and interactive with the landscape that surrounds them.
In 1903, when Amanda Tester was nine years old , she moved with her family to Roseburg, Oregon. She began to draw and paint with such promise that her teacher said, "Amanda, you are going to be an artist." Her brother, Jefferson Tester, was to become one, too.
Amanda Tester married Edmund Snyder in 1916. They settled in Portland, where their son Eugene was born in 1918. She took classes at the Portland Museum Art School in 1917 and in 1925 studied with Sidney Bell, an academic portrait painter from England. Otherwise, she was self-taught, developing her own versions of Impressionist and then Expressionist styles, arriving independently at a mode of painting somewhat similar to the work of the French artist Georges Rouault. When Snyder eventually learned of his work from C.S. Price, she initiated a correspondence with Rouault, whom she recognized as a kindred spirit, that lasted until his death in 1958.
Suffering from spells of dizziness later diagnosed as symptoms of Miniere's disease, Snyder rarely appeared in public. She first exhibited her work in the 1930s, when she was approaching the age of forty. She entered a still life in the Oregon Society of Artists exhibition in 1931 and won a blue ribbon. The next year she was represented in the "Artists in Portland and Vicinity" show at the Portland Art Museum. From then on, she exhibited steadily for the rest of her life -- in thirty-two solo exhibitions and numerous group shows including the Annuals at the Portland and Seattle art museums.
Though primarily a painter, Amanda Snyder also made and exhibited blockprints and sculptures, as well as pottery and collages. In the 1940s she began constructing large, sometimes life-size dolls that she used as models for her paintings. Constantly experimenting, working quietly and privately, she established herself as a key figure in the history of early modernism in Oregon.
About the museum
The Hallie Ford Museum of Art is located at 700 State Street (corner of State and Cottage Streets) in downtown Salem near the campus of Willamette University. Please see the museum's website for hours and admission fees.
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