The Rex Amos Papers in the Willamette Archives

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Photo by Pete Beattie

Collage artist Rex Amos was born on August 13, 1935 in Wallace, Idaho to Frenche Harland “Bud” Amos and Jean (Johnstone) Amos. Amos was raised in Burke, Idaho, moving with his parents and brother, Clinton, to Portland, Oregon around the age of seven. Amos graduated from Washington High School in 1953 and was drafted into the U.S. Army shortly thereafter. Having grown up near Mt. Hood, Amos’s first choice would have been to be on the Army ski patrol, but instead he served as a machine gunner in the infantry from 1954 to 1956 because of his excellent marksmanship. Upon Amos’s return from the Army, his father made two attempts on Amos’s life. These assaults by his father continued a pattern of abuse, which had been prevalent throughout Amos’s childhood. To break the cycle of violence that had been visited upon the family, Amos moved his mother to a flat in Southeast Portland. It was there he met his future wife, Diane Smith.

In around 1960 Amos, Diane, and his mother Jean moved to The Village, a neighborhood in Southwest Portland full of musicians, writers, and artists. There Amos’s creativity blossomed. A jazz drummer at this time, he broke the world record for marathon drumming, playing for 82 hours. When the musicians union revoked his union card for playing this unsanctioned job, Amos moved to Big Sur, California, with friend Ron Marcus. He and Marcus worked at the Big Sur Inn and lived in a shack under a bridge. It was there Amos found his passion for creating art. Having little money for supplies, Amos began creating assemblages from materials he found in the area. At the time, Amos considered his work more an expression of political and social critique than an aesthetic creation.

Prior to this, Amos had begun studying at Portland State University (PSU) majoring in philosophy and literature and was awarded his B. S. in 1969. In the midst of his study, he befriended PSU philosophy professor Dr. Graham P. Conroy. While a student, Amos conceived and named the philosophy of Preliminism in the early 1960s. He then gave Preliminism to Conroy because Conroy deemed the giving of philosophy impossible.

After moving to a large house behind a dry cleaners on S. W. 11th and Montgomery near Portland State, Amos was able to obtain a dump license which made it possible for him to collect materials for assemblages. On a trip to New York City with friend Greg Stone in 1961, Amos visited the Museum of Modern Art and saw “The Art of Assemblage” exhibit where he was amazed to discover that he had been creating works similar to those on display.

When the city stopped issuing dump licenses, Amos turned to paper as a medium of expression. He gained much of his artistic training and inspiration through practice and by studying other artists. Meeting the painter Matt Glavin, who was teaching at UC Berkeley, transformed Amos’s vision. Glavin introduced him to the process of chine collé and made it possible for him to use the facilities at Magnolia Editions. Amos has continued to work in assemblage as well as in various forms of collage.

A signature of Amos’s collages are the images he uses, which are meticulously cut from published materials using scissors intended for eye surgery – a process that has earned him the moniker “The Cutter.” Amos then carefully selects from thousands of these images to create detailed collages infused with literary, historical, religious, and philosophical allusions. Amos’s collages have been featured in galleries and museums such as the Portland Art Museum, Magnolia Editions, the Corvallis Art Center, the 12×16 Gallery, and the Hallie Ford Museum of Art. Many of these are in the style of chine collé, which is a combination of collage and print-making techniques.

After more than 50 years in Portland, Amos and Diane, a retired secondary school English teacher, now live in Cannon Beach, Oregon. For more information on Amos, visit his website.


Content Description

The Rex Amos papers are a collection of artwork, journals and diaries, biographical material, correspondence, photographs, and writings compiled by Amos. The collection also contains an oral history interview conducted with Amos in 2014. A wealth of information about Amos’s life can be found in his correspondence and writings gathered largely from the mid-1950s to the 2010s. He documents his challenging childhood, his feelings about contemporary events, and the trials of friends and family’s diseases, deaths, and suicides. Amos’s oral history provides context to his papers and to his artwork. His correspondence reveals information about his own life as well as of the lives of those with whom he is writing, giving a unique look at life in Oregon and California through the second half of the twentieth century. There is video, newspaper, and Amos’s written documentation of his care for his mother, Jean, while she had Alzheimer’s disease. The Rex Amos papers represent Amos’s lifetime as an artist: as an extra in Paint Your Wagon; as a jazz drummer in Portland; as an assemblage artist of materials near his home in Big Sur, California; as a collage artist creating ‘gutterscapes’ from scraps of used paper; to a collage artist creating chine collé for art galleries and museums in Oregon and California.

These papers also represent Amos’s life as a philosopher. Amos conceived and named the philosophy of Preliminism, the theory and practice of practice. Preliminism is represented throughout Amos’s papers, mentioned in correspondence, in his writing and referenced in news articles related to his work. His papers also reflect his life as a fly fisherman, clammer, and overall outdoorsman.

Along with Amos’s own materials are those that he has gathered about friends and other Pacific Northwest artists. These include artwork, books, photographs, video, and writings of Amos’s family and many area artists. Amos’s wife, Diane, assisted in the organization and appraisal of the materials, adding context to much of the materials and many of the people featured in the papers. The Hallie Ford Museum of Art at Willamette University has a collection of Amos’s artwork.

This information was originally written by Ashley Toutain, Processing Archivist and Records Manager at the Mark O. Hatfield Library for the Rex Amos papers collection. For additional info, visit:
http://libmedia.willamette.edu/cview/archives.html#!doc:page:eads/4231

The source of the images below come from:
http://www.willamette.edu/arts/hfma/exhibitions/library/2012-13/amos_gallery/index.html#0

 

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Echoes of the Folkelig Tradition

Holland-PhillipsPlease join us this Friday, March 6th at 3:00 pm in the Hatfield Room for the fifth Faculty Colloquium of this semester.  Treats will be provided to accompany this talk.

Dr. Holland Phillips, Instructor of Violin & Viola, Department of Music

Echoes of the Folkelig Tradition in Carl Nielsen’s Præludium og Tema med Variationer, Op. 48″

Abstract: By the time Carl Nielsen composed the Præludium og Tema med Variationer, Op. 48in 1923, the composer had been heavily invested in creating Danish folkelige songs. Especially in the wake of the First World War and the recent reunification of northern Slesvig with Denmark, the folkelig song style had become emblematic of national Danish unity, and Nielsen was intimately tied to this heightened symbolism. The Danish folkelig song tradition is readily identifiable in the tema of the Op. 48, and I argue that the composer arranges the melody from his song Je så kun tilbage [I merely looked back]as the basis of the Op. 48’s theme. In stark stylistic contrast, the prelude that precedes this tema is among Nielsen’s most overtly modernist statements. Within the composition, Nielsen explores the virtuosic extremes of the violin and ventures beyond tonality, yet he presents a distinctively Danish folk character in the theme. Finding these two stylistic voices confined within a single opus helps us to more thoroughly explore the nature of Nielsen’s dual musical identity: a composer of international stature, versed in early twentieth-century notions of European musical modernism, and a composer of Danish traditional folkelige songs.

Please feel free to invite students to attend this talk.

We look forward to seeing you there.

Doreen Simonsen and James Miley
Faculty Colloquium Coordinators


2015 EDIBLE BOOK FESTIVAL

The Mark O. Hatfield Library invites you to participate in the fourth annual EDIBLE BOOK FESTIVAL!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015. Hatfield Room.edible-books-2015

In conjunction with the International Edible Book Festival, we are pleased to sponsor this fun and creative event again this year. Use your artistic talents or your punny side to make an edible creation inspired by a literary title, author, or character. Pick your favorite mystery, poem, or character from a children’s book—the only limit is your imagination.

Some of last year’s entries are show below. For additional inspiration and ideas, check out these Edible Book Festival entries from Seattle Public Library and Duke University, or check out flickr. Your entry doesn’t need to be baked or cooked, but it does need to be made of something edible!

Free to enter– no registration required. Drop off your entry in the Hatfield Room on March 11 from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. If you have a copy of the book that inspired your creation, bring it along and we will include it in the display. Come in to cast a vote for your favorite edible book until 4:00 p.m. Light refreshments will be provided!

All entries will be on display from 8:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. and from 2:00 p.m.-4:30 p.m. Even if you don’t enter, you can cast a vote for your favorite edible book. At 4:30 p.m., our esteemed panel of judges– Mike Chasar (English), Karen Wood (University Chaplain), and Kaitlen McPherson (CLA student) — will announce the prizes for:

Best Student Entry

Most Literary

Most Creative

Punniest

People’s Choice

Bistro gift cards will be given to this year’s winners. To view all photos of last year’s entries, go to:

http://library.willamette.edu/wordpress/blog/2014/03/20/edible-book-festival-results-2014/

For questions, contact Carol Drost, x6715, cdrost@willamette.edu

Last year’s winners:

Award Winners
war-and-peas2 “War and Peas”

Created by Alice French
Inspired by Leo Tolstoy’s
“War and Peace”
People’s Choice
pitcher-dory-gray “Pitcher of Dory in Gray

Created by Emily Wetherford
Inspired by Oscar Wilde’s
Portrait of Dorian Gray”
Best Student Entry
dune He Who Controls the
Spice Controls the Universe

Created by Christopher McFetridge
Inspired by Frank Herbert’s
“Dune”
Most Creative
war-and-peas War and Peas

Created by Alice French
Inspired by Leo Tolstoy’s
“War and Peace”
Most Literary
wholey-bible2 The Hole-y Bible

Created by Anna Corner
Inspired by “The Holy Bible”
Punniest

New to the Archives

page050We received a wonderful piece of Willamette History last month – a bag and memorabilia given to Alumni Relations from Marian Pope.
Marian entered Willamette University in 1932 living in Lausanne Hall. She meticulously calculated her every purchase into a notebook and saved each receipt. It is a wonderful look into the life of a Willamette freshman in 1932.

 

In addition to living in Lausanne, Marian was a member of the Daleth Teth Gimel Hebrew letter society. Daleth Teth Gimel, organized at Willamette in 1929, was Willamette’s first national social organization for undergraduate women. In 1939 the name was changed to Dalda Dau Gamma.

Come to the Archives to find other pieces of the Willamette student experience.

(Originally posted on Tuesday, February 17th, 2015 at 6:05 pm by on the archives blog).

Pope2
The Willamette Bearcat towers over campus on Marian’s bag.

Kelley Strawn Faculty Colloquium

strawnPlease join us Friday, February 27th at 3:00 pm in the Hatfield Room for the third Faculty Colloquium of this semester.  Treats will be provided to accompany this talk.

Kelley Strawn, Associate Professor of Sociology

What’s Behind All This ‘Nones’-Sense? – Examining Religious Non-Affiliation in the United States Over Time”

Abstract: In this talk, I will present the results of my recent research examining whether predictors – or “causes” – of religious non-affiliation in the United States have changed over the last forty years.  While the popular media and political “messagers” like to latch onto particular explanations for the rise of religious non-affiliation, evidence suggests that (a) it is very difficult  to characterize or predict who does or does not self-describe as “non-affiliated”; and (b) that those factors that do provide some degree of explanation have changed over time.

Please feel free to invite students to attend this talk.

We look forward to seeing you there.

Doreen Simonsen and James Miley
Faculty Colloquium Coordinators


Dining with the Dead

You are invited to join the Center for Ancient Studies and Archaeology and the Salem Society of the Archaeological Institute of America, this coming Thursday, February 19 for DINING WITH THE DEAD New Discoveries in Early Byzantine Sicily.  For additional information, please go to DINING WITH THE DEAD.  This event is free and open to the public.
Please note the location for this event is the Hatfield Room of the Mark O. Hatfield Library at 7:30pm.
dining-with-the-dead

Ecological Restoration at Willamette University’s Zena Forest

arabasFriday February 13th Hatfield Room, 3-4pm

Karen Arabas

Title:  Ecological Restoration at Willamette University’s Zena Forest

Abstract:

Willamette University’s Zena Forest is part of the largest remaining contiguous block of forested land in the Eola Hills of the central Willamette Valley, where Euro-American agriculture, urban and forestry activities have reduced the area of original oak habitat significantly.  The long-term restoration goal at the property is to enhance the fundamentally interrelated and collective function of upland oak habitat at the watershed scale within the context of our conservation easement as well as our educational mission. To that end we initiated habitat restoration activities on 130 acres of upland oak woodland and prairie habitat in 2009.  As an educational institution with rich agency and community partnerships (ODFW, BPA, USFWS, NRCS, TMF and IAE, Salem-Keizer School District, The Forest Guild) we are in a unique position to undertake long-term data collection and analysis in permanent monitoring plots in our restoration units, as well as investigate drivers of landscape and habitat change at a variety of temporal and spatial scales.  In this talk I will discuss preliminary impacts of our restoration treatments.

Additionally, I will summarize the work of a number of Willamette University students, whose research at broader scales has advanced our understanding of past climate and human impacts on the landscape. The synthesis of our monitoring work and broader scale research, in conjunction with the expertise of our community partners, has significantly enhanced our restoration efforts and will help to guide our decision making in the future.


Celebrate African American History Month

February is African American History Month and the Hatfield Library has created a display of books, films, and sound recordings in celebration. In 1976 when President Gerald R. Ford declared February to be African American History Month, he encouraged all Americans to seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” So come take a look at this interesting exhibit on the first floor of the library; all of the items are available for checkout!


“My Friends the Triangles”

Please join us this Friday, January 30th at 3:00 pm in the Hatfield Room for the first Faculty Colloquium of this semester.  Treats will be provided to accompany this talk.
josh-laison

Josh Laison, Associate Professor of Mathematics will be speaking about:

“My Friends the Triangles: The Study of Geometric Networks”

Mathematical networks have a wide variety of applications outside mathematics: components of an electric circuit connected by wires; genetic similarities among species in a phylogenetic tree; social networks among people; airline flights between cities; links between web pages.  My research deals with applications of these networks inside mathematics, to the study of geometric shapes.  This is an exciting new area of study, where the interesting problems outnumber the researchers working on them.  I’ll introduce this field, and then highlight a few problems I’ve worked on, including some projects with Willamette student co-authors.

We look forward to seeing you there.

Doreen Simonsen and James Miley
Faculty Colloquium Coordinators


Student Publications Collection

student-publications-collThe Willamette University Archives has recently released a new collection called the Student Publications collection.  The Student Publications collection includes literary publications, magazines, newsletters, and newspapers created by Willamette University student organizations and groups. Included are the long-running school newspaper The Collegian; the student yearbook, The Wallulah; the Tokyo International University of America yearbook; literary journals; and comedic magazines. Among the newspapers and newsletters are those published at odds with, or in addition to, The Collegian such as Another Voice, The Mill Stream and The Vanguard. In addition to newspapers, Willamette University students have compiled literary magazines, fraternity and sorority publications, and comedic newsletters. The collection ranges between 1850-2014, and has 27.5 linear feet, including files, one oversize box, bound volumes, and digital materials.

A historical note: Individual students, organizations and groups have been gathering and writing since Willamette’s founding. The first known publication, The Experiment, was created in 1850 as a way for students of the Oregon Institute to express themselves. Willamette’s longest running student publication, The Collegian, was begun in 1875. It continues to document the campus climate, events, and students’ reactions to their surroundings.

Contact Ashley Toutain (asharrat@willamette.edu) for more information about this collection, or click here to read more of what she wrote:

http://libmedia.willamette.edu/cview/archives.html#!doc:page:eads/4010/cpd/0/75/0