Jack Portland on Louis Bunce, Blackfish at 35

To Portland yesterday to see a nice show of work on paper by Louis Bunce (1907-1983) at the Laura Russo Gallery.  R has begun the long and interesting process of researching the life and work of Louis Bunce for a show at the Hallie Ford Museum of Art in January/March of 2017.

There was a wreck on the foggy road slowing us down so we arrived late and the gallery was packed…I couldn’t even get into the room to show you how crowded it was…


Painter Jack Portland curated the show, and talked about his long relationship with Louis Bunce who was his teacher, mentor and friend for many years…

Jack Portland

Portland spoke of Bunce’s chameleon like abilities and enthusiasms, his great love of painting, and his ability to enthusiastically produce a version of everything he saw as he assimilated ideas into his work.  Portland spoke of the many influences Bunce admitted to…Stuart Davis, John D. Graham, Miro, Gorky, Franz Kline, Mark Rothko, Willem de Kooning and on.  Portland said he chose things for this show that had a surrealist tendency.  The work is lively and interesting, and because of the crowd my pictures aren’t good…better go and take a look.  Here are a few, beginning with a cabinet (of curiosities?…to continue a theme?), a print from the 1970’s,


and then further back for the paintings…most of them oil on paper…a Miro inspired yummy red one…

after Miro

This nice black and white that Portland discussed as a possible study for Bunce’s controversial mural of the 1950’s at the Portland airport…(still there but kind of lost in Coffee People signs…worth seeking out next time you’re flying)…


a John D. Graham/Piccaso-esque painting…


Rothko inspired?



Then, while stuck in the back room, I saw one of Henk Pander’s beautiful GIANT watercolors and remembered there is a show of these coming up soon (February 6- March 10) which will be a knockout…


and saw one of Jack Portland’s recent paintings…


We then headed over to Blackfish Gallery to see the first of three 35th anniversary shows Blackfish will feature this spring.  This one included recent work from artists who were members of the co-op gallery initially in 1979, but many no longer show at Blackfish.  The work though is current work from historic members…Fun.

Rob Bibler :

Rob Bibler

Paul Missal:

Paul Missal

Judy Cooke:

Judy Cooke

detail from a Sheryl Funkhouser print:

Sheryl Funkhouser detaIL

Gary Westford:


Jonnel Covault:

Jonnel Covault

Dyann Alkire:

Dyann Alkire

and Christy Wyckoff…just to name a few…

Christy Wykoff

A sunny French lunch with loved ones, a brief visit with the most adorable child on the planet, and we headed home immediately descending into the fog.  Tomorrow, a day of rest!



  1. Some of those early Bunce works are really wonderful. When I was in Spain a year and a half ago, I fell in love with Miro all over again. But Mr. Cutie takes the cake. Doesn’t he look quite a bit like Granny Bonnie??? Sure does to me.

    Finally got me Christmas tree down today!! Still not dropping needles!

  2. My favorite Bunce’s were the two little cardboard drawings in the back room. I remarked to Martha Lee that I bet he would be surprised at the prices place on them, but to me, they were just swell, intimate little gems. Oh to be a millionaire.

  3. That first one, for me, seems seasoned a little with Escher and Roger Brown (who’s whole house was a cabinet of curiosities before they tore it down!).

  4. first learned of Louis from his brother’s Richard and Dale. They are both active arists across the river in Independence at the River Gallery. I was thrilled to see your photos of his work, and the Blackfish artists. And that most adorable boy!

  5. Shirley…Louis isn’t related to Richard and Dale…Louis name Bunce rhymes with dunce…Richard and Dale’s last name is Bunse…rhyming with Muncie…and you are right…they all were/are talented!

  6. Thanks for sharing this Bonnie – I must get into the gallery to see the works. Louis Bunce is one of my early “heros” – I saw his mural at the Portland Airport when it was first installed. Eileen Senner will be included in the Blackfish show as well – she taught at WOU briefly and was a great gift to the students who were fortunate enough study with her. Check out her “torso” paintings on her website — beautiful. Kathy Haydon

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