Shows at Hallie Ford

Exhibitions reveal artist Gary Westford’s newest work and passion for collecting art 

The Hallie Ford Museum of Art (HFMA) at Willamette University is pleased to present two new exhibitions, “Gary Westford: Lifeline (phases of the moon),” and “The Artist’s Eye: Selections from the Gary Westford Collection,” opening May 4 and continuing through November 16, in the Study Gallery and Print Study Center, respectively. These paired exhibitions offer visitors an intriguing look into the artist’s recent work as well as an opportunity to explore his passion for collecting art, and his ongoing contribution to the museum’s permanent collection.
Westford is a Salem narrative painter and conceptual artist who explores environmental, social justice, and amendment rights issues throughout his work. In the late 1970s, Westford moved from California to Oregon, where he worked as an arts educator at the Oregon State Penitentiary in Salem and at Linn-Benton Community College in Albany. Over the years, he has been featured in solo exhibitions throughout the region and the United States. In addition, his work can be found in public and private collections in Oregon and California, including Chabot Community College, Linfield College, Linn-Benton Community College, and the HFMA. 

Gary Westford (American, born 1947), A Dream (silver moon), 2023, oil on canvas, 48 x 72 inches, collection of the artist
Gary Westford (American, born 1947), Horizon (harvest moon), 2022, oil on canvas, 72 x 60 inches, collection of the artist

In recent years, Westford has focused on creating visual narratives that are both timeless and universal in their meaning while at the same time intersecting with current and ongoing social and political issues. “Gary Westford: Lifeline (phases of the moon)” features eight paintings created during the past six years. In these paintings, the moon represents a significant compositional and metaphorical component of Westford’s narratives. The social and political events that unfold take place under harvest, silver, blue, or full moons—the presence of the moon being a universal experience shared by nearly everyone on Earth. Special complementary events accompanying this exhibition include a lecture with Westford on Thursday, June 20, at 7:30 p.m. in the Paulus Lecture Hall at the Willamette University College of Law at 245 Winter St. SE, as well as a gallery talk with Westford on Tuesday, July 9 at 12:30 p.m. at the HFMA. The exhibition also includes a brochure written by David Bates. 

“The Artist’s Eye: Selections from the Gary Westford Collection” showcases close to 30 of the works that Westford has donated, or promised, to the HFMA. The exhibition includes regional artists as well as psychedelic posters. Westford began donating art to the museum in 2001, which included a notable donation of 37 objects in 2021, and 27 more in 2022. Most of these last two donations were psychedelic posters from the late 1960s and early ’70s from his world-class collection. Westford has also been collecting regional art since arriving in Oregon in the late 1970s, and “The Artist’s Eye” includes pieces by Rick Bergeman, Robert Bibler, Louis Bunce, Claudia Cave, Suzanne Tellez Campbell, Constance Fowler, Gregory Grenon, Carl Hall, Carol Hausser, Sandra Loy (sloy), Arthur Rundquist, and Nelson Sandgren.

These exhibitions have been supported with funds from the HFMA Exhibition Fund and Maribeth Collins Art Exhibition Fund; by advertising support from The Oregonian/Here Is Oregon; and by general operating support grants from the City of Salem’s Transient Occupancy funds and the Oregon Arts Commission.

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