For those that follow the budding Corvallis art scene, you may already be familiar with the name Chris Adams and Corvidopolis. And if not, persevere and that’ll surely change. Adams, born and raised right next door in good ol’ Albany, works in a studio space that he set up for screen printing in 2009. It’s in the basement of the Madison Avenue Collective, downtown on 5th Street.
Prior to that, Adams earned a degree in architecture from the University of Oregon. Oh yes, he is also an architect, as well as a carpenter… and probably more things that he didn’t tell me about. Talents abound. As a primary focus, his love of screen printing developed during his college years after taking classes at UO’s craft center.
Touring the Corvidopolis studio (named for a type of bird, not our fair burg), Adams gave me a detailed explanation of his screen printing process. Several layers of color and images—some hand-drawn and some digital—are involved as well as an abundance of patience and a keen eye and steady hand. Honestly, it’s over my head but it was all very formulaic and impressive. Adams built his own printing press and he explained that it was not quite as accurate as commonly used commercial contraptions, but that its familiarity produces a “certain amount of looseness that I like and want to keep in my art… in trying to make things perfect, my brain just stops working.” Ultimately, Adams goes with the flow and lets the lines and colors fall where they may. It certainly seems to be working for him.
Current Corvidopolis collections are inspired not only by the natural world and a large handful of mid-century writers from the beat period, but also by what Adams calls “the absurd.” The beat movement allowed for absurdity and even encouraged it in the art and literature of the time, paving the way for the future creative flexibility of the Flower Power generation. “Weirdness was acceptable,” said Adams. “I continue to be inspired by these giant, popular figures of weirdness.” He further describes the complexity that many artists face in choosing between creating for oneself or for others: “I feel like I ride some sort of line between commercial work and being a fine artist.”
As for the future? Adams is preparing to launch a Kickstarter campaign in hopes of raising enough money to create a children’s book from his Esoteric Animal Alphabet series. Said collection will be up for two months at Portland’s hip kids boutique, Black Wagon; the display started April 9. He also continues to support and be involved monthly in the Corvallis Arts Walk.