Josh Gates is an Oregon-raised longtime Portlander and current BFA candidate at Portland State University. His recent work is driven by a fascination with fleeting conditions of weather and light, and their interaction with the urban environment. Sunshowers, reflections on wet streets, the glow of golden hour sunlight; the way the vibrant colors of trees, moss and bohemian houses pop against the pervasive greys of drizzle and fog—Josh combines contemporary realism with abstraction and expressive handling to capture these moments, and follow the ever-shifting interplay of water and light through the various neighborhoods and seasons of Portland.
His politically charged pair of large Wall paintings offer a portal by which to look back on Trump's America from an indeterminate future in which "the wall" was built and eventually decommissioned, with pieces left standing as remembrance of an oppressive regime and a monument to equality and acceptance. They include imagery appropriated from the Berlin Wall, American street art and pop culture, as well as from fellow vegan artist and activist Karen Fiorito.
"My art reflects my experiences within my body, the interactions of others with it, and how I feel about living in my own skin. My work is framed by the journey of growing up and growing into myself, and learning to love who and what I am. What started as a coping mechanism is now a cathartic announcement of pride and power. Using a variety of assembled techniques, my work is primarily based in watercolor, and tackles the female nude in a way that is confrontational and direct. By literally putting myself into this work, whether that is via self-portraiture or actual physical parts of my body such as my hair, I am able to take ownership of my image and how I want to be seen."