ArtXchange Gallery is honored to present Precision and Freedom, a survey exhibition spanning the six decade career of painter Donald Cole. Beginning with his early career in the creative hotbed of 1970s New York City, through working and traveling abroad in the 90s, to his current life in the woods on Vashon Island, Washington, this exhibition showcases Cole’s unique ability to encompass both precision and exuberant experimentation with balanced tension. While the in-gallery exhibition highlights a selection of Cole’s paintings throughout his career, from matchbox-sized to monumental, the expanded online exhibition presents 60 paintings from six decades and an in-depth look at the artist’s life.


Born in 1930 in New York City, Cole’s work has deep roots in the Abstract Expressionist movement that surrounded him as a youth. As his art career gained momentum in the 1970s amidst the Pop Art and Minimalist movements, Cole explored independent directions in abstraction. Rejecting artwork that responded only to formal concerns or trends, Cole expressed political and cultural content through color, brushstroke, and texture. His work has been covered in publications and papers including Art Forum, Art Magazine, the Seattle Times, and many others.


Exploring the decades of Cole’s work takes the viewer on a journey through the artist’s life against the backdrop of multiple wars, decades of global travel, the continual cycles of political polarization; constant in Cole’s work over the years is enduring respect for the natural world and ancient history. The sinuous beauty of wild rivers is shown in the monumental painting from 1974, Some River, a response to early Congressional acts to protect water systems. Reagan-era politics and nuclear buildup was explored in Cole’s infamous 1980s series of chicken paintings, where chickens symbolized the follies and frailties of humanity, such as 1981’s Fowl Play. The 90s and recent decades are seen through Cole’s highly textured paintings of shapes, symbols, lines and colors aggregated from years of global travel, such as 2006’s Sampad, which reflects the impression of a crumbling, weathered wall covered in decades of graffiti.


Donald Cole is the recipient of multiple awards and grants, including two from the National Endowment for the Arts, and his work has been exhibited abroad through the Art in Embassies program of the U.S. State Department. Throughout his career, he taught painting and design at schools including Auburn University, Alabama; Parsons School of Design, New York; Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), New York; Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, Israel and Kanazawa International Design Institute, Japan. He has shown at galleries and museums around the world and his work is in numerous private and public collections including the Portland Art Museum, the Worcester Art Museum, and the ARCO Center for the Visual Arts in Los Angeles.


OPEN HOUSE WITH DON COLE: Saturday, May 15th from 12-4pm. Please RSVP here


CLOSING RECEPTION WITH DON COLE: Satudray, May 22nd from 12-4pm. Please RSVP here.

Explore the trajectory of Cole's career, beginning in the creative hotbed of 1970s NYC, through working and traveling abroad in the 90s, to his current life painting in the woods on Vashon Island, WA.