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Pastoral Views: The Graphic Work of Melville T. Wire


Melville T. Wire was both an accomplished artist and an active minister in the Methodist church, known for his plein air impressionist paintings and his etchings. Relocated throughout the state every two years, Wire moved to Albany, Oregon, in 1933, where he preached at the same church attended by Gordon Gilkey, who was then studying art at the University of Oregon. Gilkey introduced Wire to Eyler Brown, a professor of architecture, who first taught Wire to etch. Wire continued to make prints for the next 20 years and Gilkey, who later founded the Portland Art Museum's Center for Graphic Arts, served as Wire's printer. Charles White of New York, who also printed for Winslow Homer, was Wire's printer in later years.

A gifted draftsman, Wire's plates reveal a skillful control of line and value. His subject matter is almost exclusively the landscape, particularly trees. The 13 prints on view in this exhibition highlight the pastoral scenes favored by Wire, from the banks of the Columbia River and high desert of his home state to California's Mojave Desert. Like his impressionist paintings that evoke the West of pre-modern development, Wire's prints reflect his fondness for the sparsely populated countryside and the geographical features that distinguish the region.

Wire exhibited widely and gained equal recognition as an etcher and a painter. The Associated American Artists of New York City represented his prints and between 1944 and 1948 purchased eight of his etchings for national distribution. His work is in the collections of the Cleveland Art Museum, the Achenbach Foundation of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, the Hallie Ford Museum of Art in Salem, the Portland Art Museum, and the Oregon Historical Society.

Curated by Jennifer Gately; Ingrid Berger

Exhibition Title

Pastoral Views: The Graphic Work of Melville T. Wire



Curated by

Jennifer Gately; Ingrid Berger

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