Honoring The Vibrant Life And Work Of Carola Penn (1945-2019)

The PDX Rotating Art Program is honored to present a dynamic new exhibition aptly titled Woodlands by the important and prolific Portland, Oregon painter Carola Penn (1945-2019). Penn passed earlier this year at the age of 74 and her significant contributions and voice within and beyond the regional creative community will be celebrated and cherished for many years to come.

Consisting of five dynamic, lustrous, painterly landscapes of the region, Penn’s Woodlands will be on view pre-security within North Baggage Claim through June 30th of 2020 at Portland International Airport.

Carola Penn was a leading NW artist whose paintings were rooted in landscapes both personal and political. Educated in the 1960s at UC Berkeley, Penn was involved in the Free Speech and Civil Rights Movements and studied art under leading mid-century artist Elmer Bischoff. She was influenced by German Expressionism, Paul Klee, and Van Gogh, and absorbed the artwork happening around her at the time, most notably Bay Area Figurative Movement artists David Park, Richard Diebenkorn, and Joan Brown.

Photograph by Pat Tippett

In 1969, Penn and her husband, Dennis Anderson, decided to move to Canada. En route, they stopped in Portland where they took up residence and never left. She graduated from Pacific NW College of Art (PNCA) in 1986 and spent the rest of her life dedicating her days to painting. She was laconic by nature, prolific and disciplined.

Sunlit Hill, 2007, Acrylic on wood, 48 x 32 inches

Penn worked tirelessly, creating multiple series of paintings with subjects ranging from Portland neighborhoods to Washington State’s Yale Valley forest; from abstract to surreal; from politics to the inner landscapes of childhood. Her paintings of Portland depict the city’s development over the years: the incongruities, cruelty, and unexpected moments of tranquility in a rapidly growing city. The paintings currently on view at Portland International Airport depict quiet places in this region: the pond at Laurelhurst Park, the Lacamas Lake trail and intimate scenes of the Yale Valley Forest.

Lacamas Lake Trail, 2010, Acrylic on wood, 48 x 60 inches

Art Critic Randy Gragg wrote in 1994: Penn’s “thick, energetic brushwork builds to a climax…as so many other landscape painters keep the lawns orderly… [Penn] is digging at the uneasy beauty of the weeds.”

Creek, 2005, Acrylic on wood, 48 x 36 inches

Writer Carol Mazer wrote in 2018: “Penn’s connection to place—Portland and its environs, where she has lived for some fifty years—is palpable. She is respectful, perhaps awed by the power of the forest and paints natural beauty lovingly.”

Vancouveria, 2005, Acrylic on wood, 48 x 36 inches

Carola Penn’s work will be exhibited and celebrated at different venues in the years to come. For information about upcoming shows and events, please visit:

Website: carolapenn.com

Instagram: @carolapennart

For inquiries about the works currently on view at PDX, please contact:


Featured image: Laurelhurst Pond Fall, 2010, Acrylic on wood, 48 x 60 inches