Working all the angles
drawing, photography, music, collage Eva Lake keeps
her versatile fingers in all kinds of places. Her new NW Portland
art space opens next month, she recently was heard speaking out
about art on KBOO-FM and shes starting up her own radio
program (KPSU-AM 1450; Sundays at 1 p.m.). Eva also loves to write,
maintaining an online diary and freelancing even finding
the occasional time to contribute to this e-zine.
All about Eva
Eva Lake's art is an obsessive, compulsive, metaphorical habit
she needs to paint angles.
Secret S," oil
"I try to stretch it out, make it move, make
it regenerate," she said. "I repeat shapes that are
alike, but of course are all painted by hand and are therefore
all different. I take man-made elements, such as architecture,
strip them down and show them as nature."
"The Secret S" is Eva's own humble approach
to a renovation of the swastika. It's actually a counter-swastika,
running in the opposite direction from the one that cannot be
erased from 20th-century consciousness.
"Long before this last century, the swastika
was and still is a symbol of unity and endless,
positive force," she said. "It was only after much drawing
that I saw what I was doing, but I was compelled to do it anyway.
It's not any attempt at negativity or shock, which would devalue
what I am doing, and is unnecessary anyway."
History in general fascinates Eva, and she enjoys reading about
"I started out studying ancient art and still
love the Minoans and the art of the Cyclades the most," she
said. "There's a connection between the aesthetics of ancient
times and Modernism.
"And I love Modernism without apology: Brancusi,
Malevic and Mondrian. Jean Arp is an all-time favorite
his simplicity and concern for the organic. In my own way I am
on a similar track. I'm also in awe of Yves Klein and his ideas
of the endless void."
The first abstract art Eva was in contact with was
the Indian art and rugs her grandfather owned.
"All those triangles dancing in a field of
color is not all that different from what I am doing today,"
"It's the kind of thing you forget about for
many years as you are absorbing so much of Western art history.
And then one day you look at your work and realize it resembles
things you looked at a lot when you were two."
Eva is greatly influenced by Warhol and Richard Hamilton collages
from the 1950s. Dada, especially the Berlin Dada of John Heartfield
and Hannah Hoch, meant the most to her, along with the Russian
"But all of that came to me around the same
time as punk," she said, "which was cutting up all kinds
of words and images in a similar way, so it's very hard to say
which means more, history or my contemporaries."
For Eva, collage is an art of intuition and a found
journey and letting the pictures do the talking.
"I'm moving along and as I find a moon that
glows so beautifully next to George Harrison's face, I think yes,"
she said, "but a sun might be better, since he wrote about
it. And while you're at it, what about a dark horse somewhere
for Mr. Harrison?
"But it just never works that way for me. The
images find me, they talk to me, not the other way around. You
can search all day for that sun, but you're never gonna find it.
Because the moon already looked at you and told you it was perfect."
An old, flattened Bloomingdale's bag is the waiting room for all
of Eva's cuttings. Everything with potential gets funneled through
"Sometimes I'm just working on feeding that
bag, and the collection in that bag is very important," she
said. "I've got stuff in that holding area that I've had
for at least 20 years. You never know when it will be the right
time to use it.
"Every image, no matter what it is, means something
to me, even if it is just a bit of a blue line from a cut-up sky.
In fact, often I am working from leftovers of cutouts," she
said. "If it meant something once, it might mean something
again in a different setting, of course."
That's why Eva thinks of her collage work as not
only extremely personal and private, but also priceless.
"How do you put a price on things you've carried
from coast to coast," she said, "things that cannot
be repeated once they're glued down? A painting I might be able
to repeat, but a collage ... never. It's a strange situation,
because I know they are only pieces of paper."
Over the last 20 years, Eva has shown her work in
galleries on both coasts from the AVA Gallery in Astoria,
Ore., to the "Reaction" Exit Art show in New York, plus
many shows in San Francisco and Portland.
Her paintings can be seen July 2-28 in a show called
"Axis" at Portland's Ogle Gallery, 310 NW Broadway.
With a mother who co-owned a gallery in the 1960s, had a potter's
wheel and kiln, and did mosaics and sculpture, art was a part
of Eva's everyday life.
"I was exposed to all kinds of media, and was
painting and drawing when quite young," she said. "And
I liked images from previous times movie stars, nostalgia,
golden-age documentary photographs.
"I collected old magazines, but as it was the
images I treasured and not really the magazines, I started to
cut them out and do my own thing with them."
Eva enrolled at the University of Oregon as an art
student, but couldn't stand people telling her how to make
art. After her first trip to Europe, at age 18, she realized that
looking at great art was just as instructive, so she changed her
major to art history.
Eva never graduated from the U of O, however. She
dropped out to join the punk-rock revolution in 1977 London.
"By the time I ran into punk I was already
not like the rest of the kids in Eugene," she said. "I
was way over stuff like Fleetwood Mac and the laid-back attitude
of Oregon. I was so ready for punk!
"I liked school a lot and did well, but Eugene
could not contain me. I felt there was something going on in London
that was a lot more important than my ancient art-history studies."
After living in London for most of '78, Eva moved
to Portland. She stayed three years, then moved to San Francisco,
then New York, then back to Portland.
"In all of these places, it was never just
about an art career," she said. "It was the people and
the mix of cultures. And that mix is something I miss here in
Portland, though it sure is changing.
"But art is my first love, plus writing. I
got into music because it was something we all did forming
bands. Later I sang and danced in New York at off-off-off-Broadway
"I like maybe too many things," she said,
"which makes for a very interesting life and maybe out of
that, can come some good art."
Eva also studied painting for two years at the Art
Student's League in New York. She's now in pursuit of her degree
at Portland State University.
Eva will soon have her own exhibition space where she'll show
her friends' artwork. Lovelake named after a Gilbert and
George piece and Eva's online diary will be at 1720 NW
Lovejoy, Suite 107, Portland.
"Lovelake will officially open in August with
a show of mouth paintings by Cecilia Hallinan," she said.
"This fall I'll show Randy Moe and John Callahan.
"I know so many people who do interesting work
and do not fit into the gallery system here. Years ago I hung
my own shows and I had a lot of fun. I want to get back to that.
I'd also like to do a poetry reading sometime this summer."
Lovelake will celebrate art and the artist, not
necessarily "the art world, it's critics, curators, dealers,
etc." Eva does not want to become an art dealer nor try to
"The best art is about life," she said,
"not about itself."