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Barry Mack
  • Male
  • Lake Oswego, OR
  • United States
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"Natural Forces" - Catalog Essay by ARTnews contributor Richard Speer -

“Letting the River Flow”
Essay by Richard Speer

With tenacity and invention, artist Barry Mack has built a career on the quest to capture transcendent states. The moment of glorious, blinding epiphany—whether mystical or psychological—intrigues Mack and has long fueled his creative explorations. Working in photography, digital media, and, most prominently, acrylic paint, he has deployed symbolist imagery and motifs culled from myth, geometry, and the collective unconscious, all in the search to visually approximate the inapproximable.

In the line of Caravaggio, Rembrandt, and Turner, Mack uses the drama of light to reach out and touch unknowable realms of Platonic ether.

Despite his agility in pivoting between media and modes, never before has Barry Mack given himself over so completely to the spontaneous interaction of materials with the intuition of the painterly gesture. In Natural Forces he allows these elements to play their own duet, with himself an unseen conductor, marrying muse and mind in dynamic harmony. The painter’s friend, artist Astrid Fitzgerald, recently remarked on the new series with spot-on insight. In loosening his grip but retaining his focus, she intuited, Mack has embraced an age-old dictum: “Don’t push the river—it flows by itself.”

—Richard Speer is a contributing critic at ARTnews and is Visual Arts Critic at Willamette Week, the Pulitzer Prize-winning alternative newsweekly in Portland, Oregon. The author of the biography “Matt Lamb: The Art of Success” (John Wiley & Sons, 2005), he is also a contributor to Newsweek, The Los Angeles Times, The Sacramento News & Review, Salon, and Opera News. For more information, visit

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Barry Mack's Blog

Embrace the Hidden Strength of Positive Emotions

Positivity: Groundbreaking Research Reveals How to Embrace the Hidden Strength of Positive Emotions, Overcome Negativity, and Thrive by Barbara Fredrickson

Positive psychology pioneer Fredrickson introduces readers to the power of harnessing happiness to transform their lives, backed up by impressive lab research. The author lays out the core truths and 10 forms of positivity—joy, gratitude, serenity, interest, hope, pride, amusement,… Continue

Posted on May 11, 2009 at 11:31pm — 2 Comments

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication

Lin Yutang

Simplicity is the outward sign and symbol of depth of thought.

Clement Mok

Very often, people confuse simple with simplistic. The nuance is lost on most.

Vernon Howard

You have succeeded in life when all you really want is only what you really need.

Elizabeth Seaton

Live simply that others might simply live.


Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.

Hans Hofmann

The… Continue

Posted on May 10, 2009 at 3:55pm — 1 Comment

Loving-Kindness Prayer Practice From Buddhism

Metta or Loving-Kindness Prayer Practice From Buddhism

Sit down, quiet your mind, and beginning with yourself, say:

May I be free from fear.

May I be free from suffering.

May I be happy.

May I be filled with loving-kindness.

Next, focus on someone you love and say the same prayer on that person's behalf.

Then pray in the same way for a neutral person, someone you don't know.

Finally, pray for someone you dislike. In… Continue

Posted on May 10, 2009 at 3:46pm — 1 Comment

Living in Our Right Brain is The Key to Bliss

If you haven't watched Jill Bolte Taylor's amazing presentation on TED.......I feel it's one of the most interesting, profound, relevant and important speeches i have ever seen. I know we're all super busy but I believe this will be more than worth your time. It's about 18 minutes, but is the key to being happy. Truly happy ALL THE TIME. I think it's life changing stuff.

It's based on her book My Stroke of Insight.

I couldn't get the hyper link to work, but if you Google… Continue

Posted on May 2, 2009 at 8:30am — 1 Comment


"The idea of "Eve" is so totally captured in the colors and the lines. You have a lot of daVinci. This is macro cosmic and microcosmic at once. I can see the dust of the astrological worlds while feeling the pulse of that tiniest of worlds our consciousness is not privy to. Again, so feminine, while almost aggressively "showing it all", in a masculine manner. And, that is a loud pronouncement of something so archetypal and unconscious, it makes us each think we are the single discoverer of such… Continue

Posted on April 20, 2009 at 10:56pm — 1 Comment

Comment Wall (3 comments)

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At 11:37pm on September 23, 2010, Michele Shumay said…
Your paintings are absolutley amazing...
Affected me right to the core.
Much, much gratitude for posting your work on the members' art page.
At 12:07am on September 7, 2009, Ron Tocknell said…
Barry, Erin mentioned your work (I must thank her for that) so I checked you out.
I feel I want to comment on each of your paintings but that could take a while so I'll content myself for the time being to making an overall comment here.

I'm absolutely blown away! Having confined myself to digital illustration for many years, I had been wanting to return to actual painting for some time as I've missed the scale of large canvasses and even the smell of the medium. You might just have booted an old procrastinator in that direction.

Erin was right. You are inspiring.
At 2:29am on August 30, 2009, lori said…
hello,what advice do you have for artist who paint from their soul?
warm willow of autumn...




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