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Artist's pencil exhibit appeals to inner child

The Harwood Art Center's presentation of Oregon artist NanDei McAnally's "Enter-Action: Pencils" is an exhibit that any educational community can appreciate.

The exhibit, which runs through April 27 in the main gallery of the Harwood Art Center, 1114 Seventh St. N.W., is an installation that consists of a roomful of pencils and 1,000 pounds of paper scattered about the gallery in disarray.

"If there is a rule to be broken, I tend to be the one who, well, let's just say I tend to believe in the idea that I have," said McAnally, who received her bachelor's degree from UNM in 1994.

The art that McAnally is currently exhibiting was inspired in 1997 when she found a stash of unclaimed pencils in a storeroom at Portland State University, where she received her master's degree. The pencils were at least 20 years old when McAnally discovered them.

"I wondered, how long can just one pencil go, much less thousands of them?," she said. "Then I heard somewhere that one pencil can draw a continuous line for 30 miles."

The installation is showing at the Harwood Art Center for the first time since its debut exhibition in Portland in 1997. McAnally said the space at the Harwood Art Center seemed perfect for it.

"I came (to the Harwood Art Center) to discuss showing some photographs, and then I saw the room and said, `I have the perfect thing for this place,'" McAnally said.

The room needed some adjustments before it could serve McAnally's purpose, which is to inspire participants to access feelings they had as children. The five windows in the gallery were covered with gels, each a different color, to help give inspiration to exhibit-goers.

"Red can be intensity and drama, blue can be reflection, but different people have told me the colors inspire a wide range of feelings in them," said McAnally, who studied with an interior designer, took an environmental psychology class and did an independent study in theater to learn more about how spaces affect people.

Another modification to the gallery was the addition of carpet, which McAnally said makes participants feel comfortable enough to sit on the floor while they are creating.

The first impression one gets upon entering the gallery might be confusion - there are no art pieces hanging or sculptures to view - but eventually, the urge to grab a pencil and choose a piece of paper takes over, and it's anyone's guess what will come out.

The scrawlings are left as part of the exhibit. In reality, sometimes the pencils and paper are not used for drawing or writing, but as pencil and paper sculptures. McAnally and The Harwood Art Center invite anyone to come play, and, as McAnally says, to find the divinity in everyday life.

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"I'm giving the gift of `stop and smell the roses,'" she said.

McAnally also speaks at the Harwood Art Center every Wednesday from 2-4 p.m. For more information, call 242-6367.

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