Her walks, your trees

Walk into the back of Blue Sky Gallery, in the handsome DeSoto Building in the North Park Blocks, and you will find yourself facing three scenes of extended time. And trees.

Walk into the back of Blue Sky Gallery, in the handsome DeSoto Building in the North Park Blocks, and you will find yourself facing three scenes of extended time. And trees.

The tiny Nine Gallery, a small interior room independently maintained by 10 artists who curate an exhibit of their own or others’ work each month, is a collective space for the artists to display work that needs to exist outside a commercial gallery context.

Ten years ago Maria T. D. Inocencio was asked by her friend Kim Ray (one of Nine’s 10 artists) to take Ray’s place when her month for display came. Inocencio began attaching her hair to a long strip of paper. With six months worth of hair saved up, the single stripe of hair on white paper stretched over all the walls in the room.

“It was one of my favorite pieces,” said Inocencio, whose other works of the time included embedding her hair in small rocks and tree stumps.

Walking, the exhibit Ray invited Inocencio to install this month, is somewhat of a departure in medium from her former work, but a true continuation of the relationship between personal memories and communal thought that it builds.

“I wanted to replicate that feeling that you get when you’re walking through the forest,” said Inocencio. “Walking for me kind of heightens my senses. I feel like I see more,” she added, explaining that she wants people who see the exhibit to start absorbing more of the details in their own regular walks instead of zoning out.

“I like to think of my work as making people see things again.”

The trees in Walking are detailed in three-color collages of photographs Inocencio took on hikes or, in “Branches on the Way to School,” on the morning and afternoon walks she took with her son through their neighborhood.

Arranged on canvases almost 4 feet tall and at least 7 feet wide, the collages create a monumental presence in the room, appearing both as determined and indefinable objects. They have an almost weightless transparency, as if the images are windows into an imperfectly organized, but beautiful, mind.

In “Seven Summers,” to the left of the gallery door, the colors of leafy autumn branches are revealed in waves that change with distance. Brilliant crimson and unnaturally bright blues consume the middle, haltingly flowing toward browns and pinks. Then green and gold come in on the far right, as a more shadowed mix of orange and pale green enters on the left.

The pictures are glued on, but the edges remain slightly in the air, asserting themselves as individual moments instead of remaining placidly in their collective pool. Each photograph details one sight, sometimes out of focus, sometimes washed out, and other times intently focused on a smattering of buds.

Inocencio said the collages were inspired in part by The Tree, an installation she created in the Autzen Gallery at Portland State in 2004 to chronicle a tree her family was forced to remove from their property.

“That’s the first time I really worked with pictures,” she said, “and I really liked it.”

Walking is up through Feb. 3 at Nine Gallery, 122 N.W. Eighth Ave., inside of Blue Sky. Hours are Tuesday through Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. Participate by filling out the survey or coming in to talk to the artist about your walks, on Tuesday, Jan. 22, from noon to 2 p.m., or Saturday, Feb. 2, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.