Rick Bartow


Luckily I’m giving you plenty of time…Rick Bartow’s show “Things You Know But Cannot Explain” is on view at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art on the University of Oregon campus through August.  If you love painting, if you love sculpture and construction, if you love Oregon, if you love the authentic point of view, if you understand aging and illness and the compulsion to work–or if you don’t…this show is a must see.  Put it on the top of your “to do” list.

I look at a lot of art work, and have been doing so for many years…decades, even.  It becomes clear after awhile that there is such a thing as an “authentic voice.”  Much work is “good” and “nice” and even “terrific.”  But really, only a few artists have an “authentic voice.”  For me this means the work transcends style or trend or movement…it is work about one eye and how it sees…one life and how it is being lived.  When we look at such work, we  FEEL it.  If the artist has died, we still feel it.  It is visceral.

The absolutely compelling work that is included in the current Rick Bartow show at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum in Eugene is such work.  As we move through the gallery we become certain that it is the artist’s eyes that are looking out at us through Bear or Crow.  The screeching pain and wail is familiar.  We know it to be true…two things always abiding in the same moment, and they are both here: the inward person/the outward person.

Though I wish I knew Rick Bartow, I don’t, and yet I do.  I’ve sat at the table he painted at Cafe Mundo, I’ve heard his words and chants…seen videos of the beautiful carved totems, and this work…now on view.  Please go.

On the evening of the opening, a beautiful sunny evening, we stood for a while looking at the beautiful Ellis Lawrence building now known as the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at the University of Oregon in Eugene…

Schnitzer Museum, U of O

tree on Schnitz

and finally the moment arrived…words were spoken, songs were sung…

Rick Bartow

and then we all flooded in.  At least a third of the show is new work and pretty amazing work it is…

Anxiety, 2014

Deer Magic, detail

Deer Magic, 2014

Crow Post, detail, 2014

Bear Medicine, 2014

Frog in Orange Britches

You won’t be sorry.


  1. Once again a beautifully written and photographed piece. I am looking forward to seeing his show. I have been a fan for a long time.

  2. I’m not sure these pieces speak to me, but Bonnie was raving about them

    Sylvia Dorney


  3. All you said regarding this amazing artist-in-spite-of-because-of everything echos my heart in seeing his work, in hearing him speak. He speaks with terrifying truth in all his mediums. Thank you. In plenty of time, too.

  4. oh my– bartow’s work is a lightning bolt to the heart and brain–and i dig your comments, bon, about the authentic voice, bringing the up and out onto the paper or wood or guitar or stage or canvas–wow.

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