(Above: Detail from Suttle Lake, OR, a reduction linocut print by Connie Mueller; the full print is on display at the White Lotus Gallery in downtown Eugene.)

By Randi Bjornstad

Mt. Jefferson from Timberline is the title of this print by Connie Mueller

To step in the door of the White Lotus Gallery in downtown Eugene, with its century-old red used-brick walls, high ceilings, soft light, and walls full of tasteful art, is to be enveloped instantly by an oasis of serenity no matter what chaos may be going on outside its walls or in the mind.

It’s never been truer than during this year of overwhelming global pandemic and domestic political rancor, even though for much of the time until recently the gallery has been open only by appointment, in order to protect its staff and the public from the dangers of coronavirus infection.

Now, a newly opened exhibit of new work by Connie Mueller and Dale Mueller, not only fellow artists but also a married couple, offers its own respite from the tension of these times.

Connie Mueller’s prints of farms, trees, mountains, and valleys occupy the wall space, while Dale Mueller’s soft green, redwood-clad-in-copper sculptures beckon from floors and ledges.

Contemplation, an abstract copper-clad redwood sculpture by Dale Mueller; photo by Randi Bjornstad

What makes Connie Mueller’s work extraordinary is her method, called reduction linocut printing, because it involves carving away one layer at a time from a piece of linoleum, usually moving from lightest to darkest colors, printing each layer separately before going onto the next.

“It’s like working backward,” gallery owner H.P. Lin said. “It is something that is hard to imagine, much less to do.”

Mueller’s skill allows her to create deeply saturated prints that include as many as 25 layers of color, Lin said. And while many artists create separate linoleum blocks for each color they use, in case they make a mistake, Mueller works only with one linoleum block, which means that the number of prints in an edition is determined by the number of colors she is using.

Her subject matter is influenced by her lifelong residency in the Willamette Valley and her love for the varied landscapes that she has experienced in those decades.

Dale Mueller’s three-dimensional sculptures, although they may seem simpler, also incorporate hidden elements that belie their outward appearance.

“He starts with blocks of redwood and fastens them together to form the shapes that he wants, and then he takes strips of copper of all different sizes and nails it onto the surface,” Lin said.

His work also has been shown multiple times at the White Lotus Gallery, and it draws on his career working for the Moshofsky Truss Co., a fabricator of large wooden roof supports for construction projects.

Some of Dale Mueller’s wood-and-copper sculptures reflect his years in the building industry

During a previous White Lotus show that included his work, Mueller said he initially had been influenced by sculptor Melvin Schuler, whose redwood-and-copper pieces have been shown in California as well as on the Oregon coast.

“I thought I would like to do something like that, with my background in wood,” Mueller said at the time. He has applied his own version of the “reduction” process to carving large works of art out of single pieces of wood, as well as combining copper-clad wood pieces into single assemblages.

In this show, he has examples of both, from smaller architectural forms that resemble grain elevators of the prairies or side-by-side urban buildings to large, more free-form “figures” that can be interpreted differently depending on the angle or point-of-view from which they are seen.


Block Play: Reduction Linocuts  by Connie Mueller & Wood Sculptures by Dale Mueller

When: Through Nov. 14, 2020

Where: White Lotus Gallery, 767 Willamette St., Eugene

Hours: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday

Information: 541-345-3276 or online at http://wlotus.com


During a previous show at the White Lotus Gallery that also included work by artist Connie Mueller, owner HP Lin holds a book that illustrates the reduction linocut process that Mueller uses; the method involves carving as many as 25 layers into a sheet of linoleum, of which each is printed separately in one color; photo by Randi Bjornstad