Michael Clough & John Schaefer
Michael Clough, Greenstone, greenstone and cow bone on slate, 8 x 3.5 x 6", 2023
John Schaefer, Red, oil and wax on canvas, 48 x 48", 2008
i.e. is looking forward to celebrating the legacy of painter John Schaefer along with the carvings of his long time friend and fellow river dweller Michael Clough.
Being a recent transplant (16 years) to the Skagit Valley I have slowly gained familiarity with the particular art history of the region. As rich as the farm fields and as varied as the bird life it sustains and nurtures us. Painters and poets were drawn here for that sustenance and still are.
I remember the names John Schaefer and Michael Clough from Seattle exhibits...Foster White, Manolides,Traver Gallery and more, decades ago. At i.e. we had exhibited Clough's hand carved stones several years ago with Allen Moe's work and it is a pleasure to have his new work with us. The stones are found and held and worked with very rudimentary tools for months at a time. They are a throwback to the primitive, perhaps even Brut concept of art making, close to the land, and true to their integral nature.They certainly invoke that Asian ascetic that was infused in the work of the Mystic Artists of the Northwest.
John Schaefer's paintings are of the same ilk. His canvases glow with the layered oil and cold wax due to the intensely hued under paintings that he would cover with grey tones and pure geometrical structure. They are reminiscent of Rothko and Albers in their luminosity and Stella in the repeated patterns. Schaefer was a color field painter of great sensitivity. It has been a revelation to become acquainted with these paintings.
Provided by Mara Charron
John Wall Schaefer
July 5 1940 - May 18 2019
Born in Olympia, Washington, John Schaefer lived and worked in many places including New York, California, and New Mexico. The majority of John’s life was spent in Washington state, where he had studios in Seattle, Twisp, the Skagit Valley, and finally, Port Townsend where he spent the last twenty years of his life.
John was known by, and friends with, many Northwest artists. John’s close friends included Richard Gilkey, Michael Clough and Leo Kenney.
Especially in the last twenty years, John was a dedicated and prolific painter working from the time he got up, until evening, when he would take a break to walk to a pub for a beer before dinner and sometimes continue painting after dinner. His living room was his studio, and on his table were books of poetry, always one by Charles Bukowski.
John’s method was to first create a loose, expressive underpainting using brushes and palette knife, over which he would apply more (mostly) muted colors, and, finally, primarily done in palette knife, he painted a powerful structure-creating motif such as: color-infused bands of off-white; small circles juxtaposed over larger squares; larger circles—often sectioned, to name a few. These are highly layered works, the under-painting subtly showing through, with intricate surface treatment, all
deceptively flat. While speaking broadly of his work, John mentioned that an aspect of it, an underlying action, is the movement from chaos to order. The numbers of bands, or squares, or circles in each work are not random.
John was survived by his brother Norman Schaefer, daughter Mara Charron whom he deeply loved and cherished, son-in-law Lee and two grandchildren, Cassius and Franke.