The Royal Nebeker show at OSU’s Fairbanks Gallery is a must-see for the art enthusiast. The strength of Nebeker’s work is its genuineness. Based on dreams, memories, and literature, his pieces tell intriguing stories by whatever means necessary. Thus he incorporates a diverse range of aesthetics from traditional to avant-garde that bring to mind countless artists and movements yet imitates none.
The current show Dreams and Memories displays 18 prints, mostly monotype but including intaglio processes, lithography, and collage. Compared to his paintings, these prints feel like a look into the mechanics behind his art making. The figurative work includes recurring themes, collage, text, beautiful landscapes or interiors, and richly colored backgrounds. Some of these are drawn in a haphazard style that invokes an effort to record a dream immediately upon awakening. They all hold the deep introspection prevalent in Nebeker’s work.
There are also floral still lifes that use odd color schemes, awkward compositions, and the mysterious collage and text elements that fit more obviously in the narrative pieces. Though not as compelling, they are delightful, puzzling, and will invoke deep conversations for the art aficionado.
Nebeker was born in San Francisco. He studied art at the Claremont College and Otis Art Institute in California, Brigham Young University where he earned his MFA in 1970, and the National School of Fine Arts in Oslo, Norway where he was awarded a fellowship to live and work in Edvard Munch’s studio. He now lives in Astoria, Oregon.
Dream and Memories runs through Wednesday, May 28; the gallery is free and open to the public Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Be sure to check out the student gallery across the hall while you are there.