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Sketch Pad

Alena Hennessy
Sound painting
by Kathy Anderson

lena Hennessy and her husband thought Portland sounded like the perfect place to live – then, in 2000, they made the move from Florida to Oregon and found it to be true. Now, living in the Southeast Clinton neighborhood, Alena believes the city is an especially great place for artists because of all the support she's received.

Hear today
Alena Hennessy works to get the feel of her paintings just right, so their sound will come across.

"The sweet hunt," mixed media

"By the sound of a painting, I mean the feeling of movement, cyclical pattern or rhythm," she said. "The linear patterns and geometric balances of my work often remind me of music.

"They're abstract, with repetitive, geometric forms, but with fluid movements as well."

Alena likes to paint representational objects, especially if she's attracted to their shape. Seeds, cells, pears and birds are all intertwined into her pieces.

Using acrylic paints and mixed media, she favors muted tones with "rhythmic and restrained" deep color.

"My paintings are less about emotions and more about experiences," she said.

Local motion
Sunny mornings and the feel and smell of warm nights both inspire Alena. So do the birds that hop around her yard.

"I can even be inspired just by watching people dance," she said. "Then there's traveling, getting to know other cultures and definitely the furniture my husband, Andrew Bowers, makes."

"Infintisimal," mixed media

Alena believes friends and Portland artists influence her work more than any famous artists.

"I do like Henri Rousseau, Francisco Clemente and Jean Arp, but I don't think their work actually influences mine," she said.

Alena's favorites include London artists Gary Hume and Angela Bulloch, Portland artist Trish Grantham, along with Alena's mom, Jane Hennessy.

"My mom paints a lot of murals," she said. "Her style is more realistic and figurative than mine."

Alena has shown her art both in solo and group exhibits. In November her work will hang at Shift Gallery in Portland's Everett Station Lofts. An installation at Holocene, Southeast Tenth and Morrison, is still in the planning stage.

Follow-up act
Art was always a big part of Alena's childhood. She would sit and draw for hours at a time, usually with nothing more than a regular ballpoint pen.

"Cell witness," mixed media

"All my building blocks were covered with little pen sketches," she said. "I also painted a bit."

Alena filled her high-school days with drama classes, then majored in fine arts in college.

"Drama was just something I stumbled upon," she said. "I did really enjoy it and have always secretly wanted to get more involved in film, maybe even stage acting."

Furnishing a dream
Alena's ambition is simply to continue making her art; her goal is to earn a living with it.

"My husband makes incredible furniture," she said. "Eventually, we're going to create a line where I paint on his pieces. I'm really excited about that!"

E-mail Alena at sogni_dora@hotmail.com. Find Kathy at kanderson138@attbi.com, and draw on other Sketch Pads.

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