Where Drawing Meets Sculpture

The Register Guard (Eugene, OR), July 17, 2005 | Go to article overview
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Where Drawing Meets Sculpture

Byline: Bob Keefer The Register-Guard

Art tends to be either two dimensional or three - drawing and painting, on the one hand, or sculpture, on the other. Miriam Kley's work is both.

The Eugene artist, whose art will be featured at a Jacobs Gallery show that opens Friday, creates unusual combinations of bas-relief sculpture and drawing, exploiting the tension between form and line in a single portrait or landscape.

Her large cast panels - she works them in clay and then casts them in Hydrocal, a strong plasterlike substance - have a look that's both ancient and contemporary.

Some of her most striking pieces result from a recent collaboration with a young man she met while working out at a gym. Young, black and paraplegic - by contrast, Kley describes herself as ``an old Jewish woman from New York'' - her model sat for a number of Hydrocal portraits, which lately she's been decorating with bright pastels, giving him red lipstick and a fright wig.

"I bumped into him on the street one day," she explained. "He said he's doing a movie about a paraplegic drag queen."

Kley came to Eugene in 1990, an unlikely emigrant west. Smarting from the breakup of a 30-year marriage, she had applied, almost on a whim, to come to the University of Oregon as a visiting artist. She was accepted and, to her great surprise, has never left Eugene.

`If someone had told me I would be living in a little college town in Oregon, I would have said, `How bleak!,' ' she said. `` `How depressing!' And I love it here.''

Kley grew up a consummate Manhattanite in Greenwich Village, looking down on even the outer boroughs as provincial hinterlands.

"I refused to live in Queens. I always had to live in Manhattan. Of course Queens is chic now," she said, laughing. "So is Brooklyn. No one can afford to live in Manhattan anymore."

She was struck, on her arrival in Oregon, with the state's greenery and gentle, wet climate. Unlike some newcomers - and some natives - she doesn't dislike the rain.

"It's soft," she says. "It reminds me of Paris."

Kley studied art at Brooklyn College and later worked in Paris with cubist sculptor Ossip Zadkine. She has long been fascinated by the interplay of two- and three-dimensional art, which she often refers to as "illusionistic" and "literal," respectively.

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