ForeverScape, a mixed media drawing under construction since 2009 and measuring more than three football fields long, receives its first major Portland gallery showing at Blackfish in January. It’s creator, Vance Feldman, began this immense work eight years ago on a single sheet of 8 ½ x ll-inch card stock. Since then, the work has grown at a rate of a page every three days to over 1,000 pages, with imagery that connects seamlessly in a bodacious riot of imaginative narrative and sly social commentary. Feldman, who earned a BA in studio art from Reed College, has devised a taco-shaped substrate in order to present the largest section of ForeverScape ever exhibited. The drawing, displayed in a grid form, hugs the length of the gallery ceiling and curves down to extend an equal distance on the floor. On view alongside the drawing is a “paper winding machine” Feldman invented to scroll through a facsimile of ForeverScape printed on a 20lb drum of paper. Several other multi-panel puzzle pieces will be exhibited.
Inspired by Chinese hand scroll paintings and especially the masterpiece1000 Li of Rivers and Mountains by Wang Ximen (1113 A.D.), Feldman uses changing vantage points to depict an alien landscape, inhabited by men and women in space suits, a variety of animals and much more. In one section, a trove of Buddhas stands in as proxy for big oil, with Buddhas tumbling everywhere in veiled reference to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Elsewhere, an upside down prisoner is waterboarded with a bucket that is also a fast food container.
Feldman will be auctioning a series of outtakes from ForeverScape via Ebay, with the link for purchase listed on the gallery wall. These drawings on wooden panels sprang from the artist’s material experiments during year seven of the project. Ultimately, he returned to paper panels, cycling through ballpoint pen, watercolor, brushed ink, colored marker and acrylic phases. The drawing project will continue, Feldman says, “as long as I do.”
Feldman, who works as a software engineer by day, has designed animation for the Beastie Boys, created an interactive media wall for the Library of Congress, and installations for the Grammy Museum and Disney Walt Disney Family Museum.