UO Today: Eugene artist talks about Schnitzer exhibition

Danielle Knapp and Margaret Coe

On a new UO Today, artist Margaret Coe and curator Danielle Knapp talk about “Mark Clarke and Margaret Coe: Our Lives in Paint,” a current exhibition at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art. It will be on display until April 1.

The exhibition features paintings of Coe and Clarke, two artists educated at the UO. Clarke died Jan. 11, 2016.

“We just really wanted to honor that fact that there are phenomenal artists who have been making their careers here, looking out the windows that we all look out here in Eugene, looking at that same sky, that same landscape, that same people and responding to that in their incredible, artistic, creative interpretations,” Knapp said.

Knapp is the museum’s McCosh Associate Curator. David McCosh was a UO faculty member from 1934 to 1970, teaching courses in lithography, drawing, oil painting and watercolors. Coe and Clarke were two of his students.

“You absolutely didn’t do what so many people do when they get into art where they try to get an individual style right away,” Coe said of learning under McCosh. “It was very much about observation and kind of jotting down one connection between maybe a point and a point at a time.”

After meeting as students, Coe and Clarke formed a close friendship that lasted the rest of Clarke’s life. For the most part, however, each did not pay much attention to the artistic work of the other.

“As we evolved over the years, it was a value to us both to be very separately painting,” Coe said.

Coe and Clarke developed distinct styles. Clarke was a fifth-generation Oregonian who painted acrylic landscapes capturing the Willamette Valley and the Oregon Coast. He also dipped into portraiture.

“He felt that he could do anything that could be done in oils with acrylic,” Coe said. “He claimed that many of the great older painters, I can’t remember who he cited particularly, but he’d say, ‘If he knew about acrylic, he’d be working with it.’” 

Meanwhile, Coe first committed herself to oil painting while pursuing her master’s degree in the late 1970s.

“I just got to thinking about with oil painting you can really mix a value on that palate, and it’s that value, it’s more stable,” she said. “It’s harder to do that with acrylic.”

Coe also talked about her artistic influences and her time spent traveling and painting around Europe.

For the full interview, go to the UO Today channel.

“UO Today” is a weekly half-hour interview program hosted by Paul Peppis, a UO English professor and director of the Oregon Humanities Center. Each episode features a conversation with UO faculty and administrators, visiting scholars, authors or artists.

It is produced by the Oregon Humanities Center in collaboration with UO Libraries’ Center for Media and Educational Technology. An archive of past interviews is available on the Oregon Humanities Center’s website or on their YouTube channel.