(Above: Chinese artist Li Tie often celebrates the spirit and history of Native Americans in his work; this large oil-on-canvas painting is titled Hearing the Response from the Sky)

By Randi Bjornstad

It comes as a bit of a surprise before you know the artist’s name, because when you see much of his work, you automatically assume he is a born-and-raised painter from the Pacific Northwest.

Not so, though. His name is Li Tie, and he came originally from China, where he trained at the Central Academy of Fine Art in Beijing before coming to the United States to pursue more education.

Once here, he earned a master’s of fine arts in painting and printmaking at San Diego State University, and since then he has spent much time in the Pacific Northwest, particularly in Eugene, where he became a decades-long close friend of White Lotus Gallery owner Hue-Ping Lin and her late husband, Dick Easley.

Landscape is one of Li’s passions in painting, especially rural landscapes that celebrate wide meadows, rolling hills, distant mountains, and onrushing banks of storm clouds.

He has explained this affinity as a stillness “which brings calmness, tranquility, peace, and sometimes loneliness.”

But Li doesn’t paint what he sees on location, as plein air artists do. Rather, he soaks in the scene, physically and mentally, and then goes back to his studio to reinterpret the landscapes as they impress him in recall.

Another reason to embrace him as an American painter is his respect for portraying the physical nobility and inner spirit of Native Americans whom he meets during his travels and then visually both recreates and reimagines.

Li has a long résumé of exhibitions, both in China and the United States. His work in this country has been shown coast-to-coast, including Oregon and Washington in the west and New Hampshire and Massachusetts in the east. In between, his work is honored in a catalog of contemporary Chinese art at the University of Chicago’s Smart Museum, called Transience: Experimental Art at the End of the Twentieth Century.

Crossing Cultures: Landscapes and Portraits by Li Tie

When: Jan. 19 through Feb. 26; opening reception from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 19, with an artist’s talk at 2:30 p.m.

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

Gallery hours: 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays

Information: 541-345-3276 or wlotus.com

Although he spent much of his early life in his native China, artist Li Tie enjoys painting scenes of rural America; this one is called Blue Mountains and is part of a show of Li’s work at the White Lotus Gallery