Works by acclaimed Newport oil painter Sandra Roumagoux will be on display in a retrospective exhibit opening this Friday, Oct. 4, at the Newport Visual Arts Center.
The exhibit, which features oil paintings dating back as far as 1973 as well as collage, drawings and mixed-media works, will open with a public reception from 5 to 7 pm, featuring a talk from the artist at 5:45 pm.
Roumagoux was born in Yakima, Washington, in 1940 and raised on a farm near Camp Adair in the Willamette Valley. After earning her BA and MFA from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, she returned to Oregon and Newport in 1985. From that time forward, Roumagoux has grown into one of Oregon’s most established and recognized oil painters. Others know her from her three terms as Newport’s mayor, which ended in 2018.
“I’ve been called political, but I don’t know how to separate politics from art,” Roumagoux said. “Both ask something of us, something that challenges us to a responsibility. Painter or politician, we come as candidates. We want our message to resonate with the body politic, with the voters. We make promises.”
Roumagoux has shown her work in juried exhibitions such as the 1995 Oregon Biennial at the Portland Art Museum, the 1992 Drawn West: Third Biennial exhibition at Utah State University Museum of Art, the 2010 Art Around Oregon Annual at the Corvallis Art Center, and the 1997 N.W. Women Artists, 3rd Annual, at the Littman Gallery at Portland State University. She has had solo exhibits at Blackfish Gallery, Michael Parsons Fine Art Gallery, Mount Hood Community College, Quartersaw Gallery, Mark Wooley Gallery and Worksound Gallery in Portland, as well as Gallery 110 in Seattle, LaSells Stewart Center in Corvallis, Triad Gallery in Seal Rock and the Newport Visual Arts Center.
“Roumagoux paints what she sees, what grabs her, as she drives the back roads of Lincoln County,” wrote LC Smith for Hipfish Monthly in 2013. “She inserts human-made beauty — the classic form of a Conde McCullough bridge in cerulean blue, for example — into the wild. Some of the paintings are joyful or hopeful. Other reflect, simultaneously, deep serenity and profound loneliness. Still others are subtle-yet-biting commentaries on modern rural life. Every one of the paintings is strikingly beautiful, even those of discarded tires in the landscape. The tires become part of the flora, hauntingly appealing in much the same way the Ashcan School of the early 20th Century turned the squalor of the New York’s Lower East Side into a thing of aching beauty.”
“I see the human form and landscape in relation to social and environmental issues,” Roumagoux said. “I have never had the ability to completely lose reference to real-world subject matter, like my hero, Oregon painter CS Price. I love the abstract expressionists, particularly De Kooning, as well as Clifford Still and the Northwest mystics.”
Roumagoux’s paintings are part of the permanent collections at Oregon Health Sciences University, the Microsoft Corporate Art Collection, the University of Arkansas, the VA Medical Center in Portland, Indiana’s Center for Diaconal Ministry, the Clarence Bates Collection in Corvallis and the City of Newport.
“The Runyan Gallery at the Newport Visual Arts Center is the appropriate place for Sandy’s first retrospective,” said Oregon Coast Council for the Arts Executive Director Catherine Rickbone. “This is the home from which she has established her statewide and regional reputation as one of the finest oil painters of her generation.”
The retrospective will be on display through December 1, available to view from 11 am to 6 pm (5 pm in November), Tuesday through Sunday in the Runyan Gallery of the center, located at 777 NW Beach Drive.