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See Elk Rock Island through artist's eyes


Milwaukie resident Gary Michael to have solo show at In Bocca al Lupo

Photo Credit: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Gary Michael works on a painting of Elk Rock Island; 23 of his interpretations of that site will be on display during the month of August.For local residents who are familiar with Elk Rock Island, or for those who never have seen it, painter Gary Michael’s upcoming exhibit will show what the island “looks like through the eyes of an artist.”

Michael’s 23 paintings of Elk Rock Island, located in the Willamette River not far from the Milwaukie boat ramp, will be on display starting July 31 at In Bocca al Lupo Fine Art in downtown Milwaukie.

The gallery, which just celebrated its first anniversary, is located at 2025 S.E. Jefferson St., Suite 107.

Owner Roxanne Colyer Clingman said she was attracted to “the clarity and personal integrity” in Michael’s work.

She asked him to do the solo show after visiting the recent Pastel Society of America show in Vancouver, Wash., where Michael’s work was among those on display.

“I stood in front of his pieces, and they emanated such an energy of tranquility,” Colyer Clingman said.

Michael works in four different mediums — acrylic, pastels, oil pastels and oil. Most of his paintings on display are 8 inches by 10 inches or 18 inches by 24 inches, and all are for sale.

The public is welcome to attend a reception from 5 to 8 p.m. on Aug. 1 at the gallery, as part of Milwaukie’s First Friday celebration.

It is unique to have an art show focusing on paintings of one specific place, Michael said, adding that he and his wife, Rep. Carolyn Tomei (D- Milwaukie), have lived near the island for 30 years.

“A lot of my paintings are inspired by looking out from my yard, with the river in the foreground.” Elk Rock Island is “so special — it's like a little piece of wilderness within the city,” he said, adding that the rocks on the island are the oldest in the region, according to geology professors at Portland State University.

It is such a diverse place, Michael said, barren and rocky on the southwestern side; with a lagoon on the east side; and with a forest that has a stand of Oregon white oaks on the north end of the island.

“It's of such interest to our neighborhood. Carolyn started the Friends of Elk Rock Island, and since then we have seen work parties improving trails, removing invasive species, and picking up trash,” Michael said. "I love living here in Milwaukie. It's an amazing place and so beautiful.”