Patrick Pryor reshapes memories through painting


Patrick Pryor pushes a plastic wedge against the surface of a shining canvas. A streak of paint slips underneath the arc of his moving arm. The fresh coat of blue is semi-transparent, and the landscape underneath it bleeds through like sea foam. His studio is organized chaos. Movable carts have a disarray of paints and tools. Rain patters on large windows that frame concrete slabs of gray clouds. He steps back.

“See, I don’t like that,” Pryor says. He grabs a dampened rag and starts removing his mark.

“Shifting Horizons” is Patrick Pryor’s latest exhibition, and it exemplifies impermanence and change. His newest body of work has a looseness that counterbalances the more mathematical approach of "Tablets,” Pryor’s series of abstract paintings built upon geometry lurking underneath the surface. Peeking through layers and seeing a deep well of marks is critical to his process, and mistakes are a welcome addition.

“I’m interested in the errant mark. I’m interested in the innocent naivete mark making rather than deliberate, virtuous mark making,” he says. “I’m doing that here. It’s an important facet of the work. Paintings often get too stuck and too rigid if I’m too precise.”

Pryor is constantly battling with the rigidity of reality. He works from panoramic photos of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, and filters the photos through his own memories of visiting the Lake Michigan area as a child. A recent trip to Ludington, Michigan, aboard the SS Badger gave him a chance to revisit and capture some of his most potent memories. “Shifting Horizons” is based on the photos he took during this trip.

“I almost resent the photographs, to be honest,” he says. One photo features a bunch shoreline snapshots stitched together using an iPhone app. “I almost resent it. That’s so beautiful, I can’t possibly recreate that. I find myself trying to recreate that, and it’s very rigid.”


The abstraction of Pryor’s images ends up being his way of grappling with the ever-changing dunes. The landscapes shift in his memory as much as they shift geographically. As a kid, he would return to the dunes year after year and notice that landmarks were moving.

“People’s homes were being encroached upon by the sands, and sometimes buried. That was a powerful metaphor for me as a child; to see this world that seems rather permanent being shifted and changed dramatically,” he says.

“Shifting Horizons” speaks to malleable remembrances and the acceptance of moments where our perspectives have been unwillingly tilted. Each canvas is a capsule holding false memories made up of real incidents. Watching Pryor’s wedge change the architecture of his landscapes instantaneously, it’s easy to see that everything is subject to change.


“Shifting Horizons”

No through November 28

There will be an opening reception Saturday, November 7, from 6 to 8 p.m.

Kolman & Pryor Gallery

Gallery hours are Saturday from noon to 4 p.m., and the first Thursday of the month from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Studio 395, Northrup King Building

1500 Jackson St. NE, Minneapolis