Stephen Hayes’ latest collection of oil paintings, In the Hour Before, presents a series of landscapes whose subject matter is pulled from maps and the collective awareness of public tragedies. Including locations like the Bataclan Theatre, where terrorist attacks took 90 lives last November, and the AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, where domestic terrorism killed nine African American worshipers, Hayes’ portraits bring an awareness of both place and event to bear in skillful landscape painting.
Using images readily available on Google maps street view, Hayes mixes the everyday nature of these locales with a beauty of color and texture, creating painterly scenes that provoke quiet meditation on the fragility of life. With canvases of the same size, Hayes' vibrant compositions shed light onto disparate locales of tragedy, be they San Bernardino, Paris or Jerusalem. This equal treatment, with skilled hand and attention paid to the tragic events transpired, enacts a collective meditation on the impulse to move past tragedy and into a place of hope.
Stephen Hayes is a painter based in Portland, Oregon. His solo exhibitions include New Paintings at David Richard Gallery (Santa Fe, NM), …dust at Elizabeth Leach Gallery (Portland, OR) and Figure/Ground Stephen Hayes: A Thirty-Year Retrospective at Hoffman Gallery of Contemporary Art (Lewis and Clark College, Portland, OR). His work has also been shown in group exhibitions including Unveiled (Elizabeth Leach Gallery, Portland, OR), We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live (Pendleton Center for the Arts, Pendleton, OR; Shepard Contemporary, University of Nevada, Reno, NV, among others) and More Than a Pretty Face: 150 Years of the Portrait Print (Portland Art Museum, Portland, OR). Hayes received the Hallie Ford Fellowship in Visual Arts in 2011.