Mel Katz Sculpture, “Receptacle,” Gifted to City of Salem

October 30, 2017

The City of Salem has added a vibrant painted aluminum sculpture by noted Oregon artist Mel Katz of Portland to its public art collection. The gift is a result of the City’s unique partnership with the Oregon Artists Series Foundation and made possible by a generous gift from a Salem donor.  The 2004 piece, titled “Receptacle,” was installed on the southwest corner of Chemeketa and Liberty Streets in downtown Salem on October 19, 2017.

The Salem Public Art Commission approved the addition of the sculpture to the City’s permanent public art collection, which numbers more than X pieces displayed outdoors and in public spaces throughout the city.

“We are pleased to collaborate with the City and its Public Art Commission to bring a work by an important Oregon artist like Mel Katz to Salem,” said Jim Bauer, Oregon Artists Series Foundation board chair. “Our goal is to add vitality to downtown Salem by growing the presence of public art.”

Russo Lee Gallery, which represents Katz, notes that he “continues his exploration of shape and contour using the drawn line. Katz is a 50 year veteran of his craft, yet his work is fresh, clean, and modern, refined by years of technical expertise and aesthetic consideration. Over the years his work has become more and more flattened, addressing the silhouette and positive and negative space. There is a stylistic nod to his father’s career in tailoring, linking the artist’s economy of line and allusion to the figure with the pattern cutouts for men’s suits.”

Originally from Brooklyn, New York, Mel Katz graduated from the Cooper Union Art School in 1953. He moved to Portland in 1963 and became well known in the early 1970s as one of the founders of the nationally reputed Portland Center for the Visual Arts. Katz taught art at Portland State University until retiring in 1998. He has been exhibiting his work since 1956, including a solo show at the Hallie Ford Museum of Art in Salem in 2006, a retrospective at the Portland Art Museum in 1988 and the highly acclaimed traveling exhibition Still Working, in 1994. Selected collections include: the Portland Art Museum, Portland, Oregon ; Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, Washington; Tacoma Art Museum, Tacoma, Washington; City of Seattle; Oregon Health Sciences University, Portland, Oregon; Good Samaritan Hospital, Portland, Oregon; and Safeco Insurance, Seattle, Washington.

“Receptacle” joins several other works by Katz in Salem. He has work in the collection of the Hallie Ford Museum of Art at Willamette and the State of Oregon owns a painted aluminum sculpture installed in the exterior courtyard of the Oregon Department of Transportation building at Capitol and Center Streets.  The Salem Convention Center purchased an anodized aluminum wall sculpture by Katz in 2017.