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  • Permalink for 'Thursday Topics'

    Thursday Topics

    Posted: 18-December-2014, 3:12pm EST by Jeff Jahn
    It's a slow time of year and I'm making my final "avalanche push" on the mountainous Guenther piece with several other interviews, a year end piece and reviews also already in the works. Here are some excellent posts to consider:

    Brian Libby has done a great job covering this early part of Snohetta's James Beard Public Market design process. The egalitarian spirit seems to fit Portland... and it needs to because this is going to be a public space... perhaps the most significant one to be designed in the Northwest since Seattle's Olympic Sculpture Park. Hopefully the mandated public art will be of similar caliber as Jorge Pardo's streetcar stop on the other side of the river? Instead of just plonking down some moderately ingenious metal form in front of the building the art should be a kind of brilliant amenity (a Portland sentiment).

    8 museum directors choose their favorite art... fine idea but honestly why not ask curators? Perhaps because they are more specialized they would choose from their department?

    Police killings lead to a more overtly political art? Well, yes but I believe there is a deeper wave of discontent moving through the art world that comes from the real world. It put Obama in the White House with one word, Change. I feel like the Occupy Movement, police killings, continued violence/silence towards women and broadening income inequality are all just indicators of a tempestuous 2015. Art should be a part of the discussion not just an island floating on a buoyant market and games of certainty. These themes are so pervasive that Art can address them without losing its ability to speak to the ages.

    Art by Dan Webb and Christine Bourdette deinstalled from Seattle's tallest building.

    The Portland Art Museum has announced the winners of the 2015 Contemporary Northwest Art Awards: Victoria Haven (Seattle), Lead Pencil Studio (Seattle),Dana Lynn Louis (Portland), Helen O'Toole (Seattle), Akio Takamori (Seattle),Willem Volkersz (Bozeman), Samantha Wall, (Portland). Congrats to all, quality solid artists. I especially like the the inclusion of LPS and Volkersz because the award has had difficulty being truly contemporary and generally being more "Northwest" (wood, figuration and fog... or simply more material/craft than conceptually oriented). Those two selections might give the exhibition a slightly different complexion. Still, is there enough shock of the new that we see in Portland spaces all of the time? This is a solid but very familiar list in many ways. Remember just this week a Nike executive recently left because Portland wasn't exciting enough (they clearly wanted more ego-stoking pandering and Portland thankfully doesn't do that, still Portland is drowning in interesting). PAM can be both solid and provocative like Richard Mosse and Folkert de Jonge but I'm not certain this list has a similar effect and it is absolutely what the CNAA's could do because its format reaches out into the region. Obviously, we have to wait to see the show... the curatorial install/work choices alone could tip it from routine to something exciting. The main criticism of all of the CNAA's so far is that they have been too safe. The first one was the most adventurous and had a lot of installation/new media work and even that had major (cluttered) install problems, which quashed its effect somewhat.

    RACC's latest individual and institutional grant lists are out as well.
  • Permalink for 'Monday Links'

    Monday Links

    Posted: 15-December-2014, 7:00pm EST by Jeff Jahn
    Getting to know the artists that make other artist's work.

    The 2014 year end best of lists have started here in the New York Times. Yes to Robert Gober, but somehow no Hockey and Matisse cutouts because they originated outside NYC venues. (I always like to wait with PORT's lists).

    The Guggenheim and other museums are set to start "big data" gathering on you as you move around the museum.
  • Permalink for 'El Greco at PAM'

    El Greco at PAM

    Posted: 12-December-2014, 5:30pm EST by Jeff Jahn
    On view at PAM, El Greco, The Holy Family with Saint Mary Magdalen, 1590-1595, oil on canvas, The Cleveland Museum of Art, Gift of Friends of the Cleveland Museum of Art in memory of J.H. Wade (all photos Jeff Jahn)

    As the latest of the Portland Art Museum's very successful Masterworks series, El Greco's The Holy Family with Saint Mary Magdalen, is now on display a few days early.

    It is difficult to stylistically pigeon hole the Spanish Baroque painter El Greco (Domenikos Theotokopoulos) but his incredibly stylized elongations of the human body connect him to Italian Mannerists though his explosively empathetic compositions even remind me a little of the Carracci school (Ludovico in particular). Still, perhaps only the later Rembrandt can be considered his rival for supernatural presence and curator Dawson Carr has done a great job in bringing this truly stunning painting to Portland on loan from the Cleveland Museum of Art. Religious or not, it is a must for all lovers of painting and is nothing short of remarkable as all of these Masterwork Series works have been.

    Born Crete in 1541 (and likely not Catholic) El Greco originally sought his place in history in Venice, only to find greater acceptance in Toledo Spain, where his greatest paintings are most most frequently connected with his studio there. A painter's painter if ever there was, El Greco is famous for his effect on Picasso and the German Expressionists of die Brucke Group like Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Erich Heckel or even Oskar Kokoshka's The Bride of the Wind. The reason for his influence is the way El Greco's somehow physically slightly awkward but spiritually poised figures predate Manet and photography's influence. His intensity of influence on Cezanne, Van Gogh and Gauguin is also similarly palpable.



    Giving me a tour yesterday, curator Dawson Carr made particular note how Mary is painted at three quarters face and not looking down as all of El Greco's other fully attributed Holy Family pictures had been. This gives the picture a more directed empathetic engagement where the viewer seeks her gaze first, though still slightly indirect before the other figures present themselves. As with Most El Greco's this one was such a mood, with Mary's shawl forming a ghostly defacto halo that keys us into all of the other lighter spots of the canvas... for that reason we could almost think of it as an almost all over composition with figures that seem to cluster within the phantasmagorical force that animates the clothing and swirling clouds.

    On view at PAM through April 5th
  • Permalink for 'Precipice Fund II'

    Precipice Fund II

    Posted: 11-December-2014, 10:26pm EST by Jeff Jahn
    Just some of the crowd at the PICA's Precipice Fund announcements

    Now in its second year The Precipice Fund was designed to foster the otherwise difficult to fund projects and alternative spaces that have become a major hallmark of Portland's very active art scene through a regranting program administered by PICA. Overall, it is good to see so many in round II that PORT have pointed out in our previous 3 New Faces segments here, here, and here.

    19 artist/collaborations/spaces will receive a share of $75,000. What is incredibly valuable is the way it funds somewhat unproven/experimental projects that broaden the programming scope of projects that in most cases would have taken place even without this aid. This is all very important as it is essentially an exploratory progressive grant rather than one that is backloaded on previous history (though progressive Portlands funding sources tend to be safer rather than risk taking). Congratulations everyone. Here's the list as described by PICA:

    At the Drive-IN $3,000
    William Rihel, Jeffry Richardson, Casey Keasler, Amy Fredericks A series of outdoor events in the summer of 2015 that will present locally made video, film, performances and installations from various local curators. Programming will be presented in a 27-car parking lot in Northeast Portland, adjacent to a two-story building that serves as a projection screen.

    Bcc: BrownHall $5,000
    Collaborators: Sharita Towne, Joy Davis, Diamond Ferguson, sidony o?neal, keyon gaskin, Alex Riedlinger A collective of Black artists who will present interdisciplinary art programming to address the dearth of Black Art and creative spaces in Portland. This programming includes art and performance related gatherings, workshops, and an annual printed publication highlighting the works of artists and members of the largely marginalized Black community in Portland.

    Composition $3,000
    Collaborators: Kayleigh Nelson, Grace Hwang An alternative space in Chinatown, whose intimate setting presents a backdrop for exhibitions, performances, projects, workshops and lectures by local and national artists. Composition focuses on bringing together mediums to create a dialogue between visual art, performance, video, music, and writing.

    Free Spirit News $5,000
    Collaborators: Joshua Kermiet, Corey Lunn, Raf Spielman, Jeffery Kriksciun A free, local community newspaper that presents irreverent and engaging content, including comics, puzzles, poetry, jokes, doodles, and generally untethered expression by local artists. Inspired by early Mad Magazine, Zap Comics, and Mothers News, Free Spirit News presents irreverence and creativity as the "news of the spirit."

    I;d Rather Goya Robbed Me of my Sleep than Some Other Son of a Bitch $2,400
    Collaborators: Ruth Wikler-Luker, Jude Christian, Molly Gardner A presentation of Rodrigo García's performance text, Prefiero que me quite el sueño Goya a que lo haga cualquier hijo de puta, in the space of a visual art gallery. Curated by Ruth Wikler-Luker of Boom Arts and directed by London-based Jude Christian.

    Habitat $2,500
    Collaborators: Kello, Emily Wobb, Desiree Mariscal A visual art installation created through collaging video of Pacific Northwest natural scenes as a massive symmetrical mandala. The work will be presented in the Foster-Powell neighborhood and aims to inspire wilderness engagement.

    HQHQ Project Space $4,200
    Collaborators: Andre Filipek, Johnny Ray Alt An artist run exhibition and project space located in inner Southeast Portland, committed to presenting high caliber, multidisciplinary work by local, national, and international artists. The coming year of programming aims to enrich local art and artists? relationships to de-centralized contemporary art ecologies and global networks.

    Moving Out $4,000 Collaborators: Tori Abernathy, Ross Young, Max Smith-Holmes A series of programming organized by RECESS, composed of temporary exhibitions and events in the Portland area. This programming is motivated by a curatorial strategy focusing on the use of public, alternative, and under utilized spaces by West Coast artists who make work using radical aesthetics and thought.

    Muscle Beach $4,500
    Collaborators: Flynn Casey, Tony Chrenka A collaborative, nomadic curatorial project that focuses on exhibiting emerging and established artists from the Portland area and other regions. Working outside of the hierarchical gallery format and centralized space, Muscle Beach encourages the collaboration between artist and curator to create installations in different locations around Portland.

    One Flaming Arrow $5,000
    Collaborators: Demian Diné Yazhi', Kaila Farrell-Smith, Carlee Smith, Thomas GreyEyes, R.I.S.E (Radical Indigenous Survivance & Empowerment) An Intertribal music, art, and film festival dedicated to sustaining the creative practices of Indigenous Peoples of the americas. This two-week art and music festival aims to invigorate a network of Indigenous artists and musicians whose work will push against contemporary notions of Native art by disrupting the narrow categories established by western art institutions.

    Physical Education $5,000
    Collaborators: Allie Hankins, keyon gaskin, Taka Yamamoto, Lucy Lee Yim Artist-run workshops offering visual, contemporary performance artists, audiences, and curious individuals immersive modes to engage with performance work and their bodies. PE will organize and host reading groups, lectures, curated performances, aerobics classes and dance parties in an effort to inspire critical dialogues between artists of varying disciplines and practices while deepening their sense of embodiment.

    Portland 'Pataphysical Society $3,000

    Collaborators: Josephine Zarkovich, David Huff, Crystal June Rome, Lionel DiGiacomo A domestic alternative arts space located in Old Town, offering exhibitions and events that take intelligent risks in the pursuit of the absurd and unachievable. The ?Pataphysical Society will present programming over the course of 2015 bringing national and local artists together to present challenging, non-commercial works.

    PREQUEL Professional Development Program For Artists $4,000
    Collaborators: Ryan Woodring, Alexis Roberto A four-month artist incubator program consisting of workshops and guest critiques that aims to educate local artists in a practicum of professional development skills. PREQUEL includes a mentorship program between the participants and established members of the arts community, and will culminate in a group exhibition of the participants? work.

    Radical Imagination Gymnasium $3,000
    Collaborators: Travis Neel, Erin Charpentier, Patricia Vazquez, Zachary Gough A multi-phase project presenting a series of public workshops and presentations, accompanied by a research based publication, that will examine, strengthen and articulate the radical imagination. Through their programming, the Radical Imagination Gymnasium will delve into how art, artists, and creatives from other disciplines reimagine and reproduce new political and social systems.

    Surplus Space $4,500
    Collaborators: Gabe Flores, Maggie Heath An alternative, artist run project space located in a residential home, offering interdisciplinary artists an opportunity to produce and show work that is in direct dialogue with current unfolding issues of social and political significance.

    TakerLab $4,000
    Collaborators: Liam Drain, Beth Wooten, Brian Mumford, Jeff Clenaghen, Zareen Price, Sara Daegling A series of public workshop and performance events organized by the IT503 collective intending to facilitate site-specific discussions that relate a critical text to a location in Portland. Through presentation, lecture, open conversation and entertainment, TakerLab will support an open dialogue about social and political issues. they said don't bring her home $3,400
    Collaborators: Sidony O?Neal, Ariella Tai A month-long film and performance series that transgresses genre and illuminates performative avenues through which Black women navigate, assert and translate respect and respectability across location, medium, and memory. they said don?t bring her home will present multimedia programming, including film, dance and performance, to create a space for Black artists, educators and performers in the Portland area to discuss the issues of agency, respect and respectability.

    The Visual Quality Objectives and Sound Management Collective $5,000
    Collaborators: Lisa Schonberg, Amy Wheeler Harwood, Leif J Lee An arts collective that will create collaborative work drawing attention to pressing conservation issues affecting the Mt Hood National Forest. The collective will focus on sites that are being considered for logging and whose ecological importance warrants conservation, creating work in response that will be presented online, in print media, and several public exhibits.

    Worksound International $4,500 Collaborators: Modou Dieng, Jesse Siegal
    A space in Southeast Portland whose exhibition programming focuses on diverse international practices. Worksound International's programs will be accompanied by an online component and video series, aiming to place local and international communities in conversation with one another.

    Precipice Fund is supported by: the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and the Calligram Foundation/Allie Furlotti, as part of the Regional Regranting Program of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts
  • Permalink for 'Weekend Picks'

    Weekend Picks

    Posted: 12-December-2014, 3:04pm EST by Jeff Jahn
    Though the year is winding down with lots of year end parties and held over group shows there are still a few openings this weekend.

    It is the giving season so artist Jesse Hayward is doing a kind of autobiographical exhibition, showing many of the works that were given to him over the years at galleryHomeland tonight. Exhibition includes; Olivia Brown, Elias Crouch, Sally Finch, Bryan Friel, Nathan Gibson, Bill Hayward, Midori Hirose, Byron Kurtz, Hannah Lockhart,Mark Moore, Lisa Mir, Jarrett Mitchell, TJ Norris, Tim Schwartz, Sibel Sunar, Liz Walsh.

    Givers | Opens December 12 6-9PM
    galleryHomeland Portland
    2505 SE 11th Ave

    Thomas J. Gamble's latest show at S1 titled "It's Really Cool To Be Here" focuses on the here and now. The the show title is taken from an interview the night the Eric Garner protests started.

    Opening 6:00PM
    4148 NE Hancock
  • Permalink for 'Monday Links'

    Monday Links

    Posted: 8-December-2014, 3:31pm EST by Jeff Jahn
    I and other PORTsters are still working on half a dozen major pieces for you (I know, Guenther its coming... it is very close and it is some of my best work but I want it to be done right and we covered so many of his shows that PORT constitutes an important archive of his tenure). Till then:

    I just Love this story about a dieing Japanese town where a woman has made scarecrows to repopulate it.

    The Art Newspaper reports that curators really don't discover new artists at the fairs. I've found this to be true, the art fair experience generally doesn't provide enough information. Though I did find Hank Willis Thomas' video work at a fair before he became big (video work that needs just a screen or two does work).

    Here's the best and most comprehensive collection of Miami art fair images.

    Yes the Greeks are incensed about disputed pieces of the Parthenon being lent to Russia.
  • Permalink for 'Kerry James Marshall at PAM'

    Kerry James Marshall at PAM

    Posted: 7-December-2014, 12:03am EST by Jeff Jahn

    With all of the racially driven strife bringing people across the US out into the streets, perhaps Kerry James Marshall's talk at PAM is the most contemplative thing Portlanders can do on a cultural level to address this moment in history. Afterwards, catch the Richard Mosse Enclave show for an unimaginable humanistic perspective on a situation with far fewer solutions.

    Kerry James Marshall | Critical Voices
    Artist Talk: December 7, 2-3PM (free to members, $15 non, $12 seniors and students)
    Portland Art Museum
    1219 SW Park

    *Update, for those who could not attend
  • Permalink for 'First Weekend Picks'

    First Weekend Picks

    Posted: 5-December-2014, 4:49pm EST by Jeff Jahn
    Lots of interesting things going on this weekend in the Portland art scene. Here are my picks:


    Worksound International presents Spiderland an installation by Mitsu Okubo. Hailing from San Francisco the work mimics the cacophony of numerous voices all speaking at the same time with no real comprehension. Okubo then translates this universalized disconnect onto canvas.

    Spiderland | December 5 - January 23
    Opening reception: December 5, 6-9PM
    820 SE Alder St

    Nearby Worksound is the annual Troy Studios Open House
    Friday, Dec. 5, 5-9 PM; Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 6 and 7, 12-5PM
    Troy Studios

    221 SE 11th Ave (between Ash and Pine) + more studios at entrance on 10th)

    Matt Jacobs (L) and Calvin Ross Carl (R)

    HQ Objective is one of the more exciting new alternative spaces in town so check out All Work and No Play, a duo show with new works by Calvin Ross Carl and Matt Jacobs. Calvin has made great strides in his work over the past few years, shaking off the art school look of things while gaining more real world experience. I wasn't taken with Matt Jacobs very art school work recently shown at the Art Gym... generic art joke art (common to art fairs) but it will be interesting to see the two of them together in one place. Nothing gets a second look more quickly than something I instantly dislike. The first time I saw Carl's work it looked like art school twaddle too.

    All Work and No Play | December 5 - January 4
    Opening Reception: December 5, 6-9PM HQ Objective
    232 SE Oak St #108
  • Permalink for 'First Thurday Picks December 2015'

    First Thurday Picks December 2015

    Posted: 4-December-2014, 5:37pm EST by Jeff Jahn
    December is always the oddest month for Portland's art scene since many of the main galleries are showing in Miami, group shows are the default and numerous other venues are holding over shows from last month so you can check our picks from last month too. Also, check out the Gabriel Liston show we just reviewed. It is held over as well. Here's what is new:

    Sandra Rouxmagoux

    Sandra Rouxmagoux is one of the very best paint handlers in the Pacific Northwest and her juxsapositions of the man made and nature skewer that often tense conversation with tragicomic zest. Even more surprisingly she is beginning her second term as the Mayor of Newport. Thesecond half of this dual person show Oriana Lewton-Leopold explores intens emotional reactions of women from the Olympics to Arthur Miller's The Crucible. Blackfish should be the place to check out expressionistic brushwork in Portland for the Month of December.

    Sandra Rouxmagoux and Oriana Lewton-Leopold | December 2-27
    Opening: December 4 6-9PM
    Artist's talk: December 6, 11:00 AM
    420 NW 9th Ave

    Brenna Murphy Concept

    Weve seen a lot of Brenna Murphy in the last year+ and overall the debut iteration we saw at Upfor last Fall was by far the best as her penchant for modular techno-occultism felt its freshest and forceful then. Now, hot on the heels of some attention in Art in America she returns and we get to see what's new.

    Central~Lattice Tool Array | December 4 - January 17 Opening reception: December 4 6-8PM
    929 NW Flanders


    It is no secret that New York City has be stalking Portland, more than a lil bit. Thus, it is only fair that we get to stare a little bit at something they have and we don't, a huge # of grandiose bank buildings (we do have a few). To facilitate this odd exchange, Hap Gallery presents Michael Vahrenwald's The People's Trust, an achaelogical "excavation" of Bank edifices in Empire city. Portland is staunchly anti-imperial so I'm curious to see how this goes over. Vahrenwald has shown at the Whitney and the Walker Art Center and Portlanders do love old buildings.

    The People's Trust | December 4 - January 3
    Hap Gallery
    916 NW Flanders
  • Permalink for 'Friday Links'

    Friday Links

    Posted: 5-December-2014, 12:20pm EST by Jeff Jahn
    Read this fascinating review of the Pierre Huyghe retrospective at LACMA. It makes sense that cacophony would improve rather than detract from the experience. Some artists thrive on cognitive dissonance and Huyghe who showed at PAM in 2006 is definitely one of them.

    If you are curious about the cacophony of Art Basel Miami Beach this ridiculous article and these images are good surveys. This year with rioting in the streets and an art market that seems less calibrated to reality than profits it seems intellectually irresponsible to expect Miami to be a true bellwether or leading indicator these days. Seems like everyone is expecting more from the art world in 2015 already. Stunt performances jumped the shark a while back, can we be less vapid now?

    Portland architect James Harrison gets a little love from Architizer for his Land Yacht project. It has a Olafur Eliasson meets conestoga wagon aspect to it.

    Philippe de Montebello former Director of the Met answers questions... including if Museums are really the best place to view art?

    Eligin Marbles to be lent to Russia? Wow... perhaps the most disputed artifacts on earth to be sent to a country that the rest of the world is trying to isolate and pressure into better behavior. The Greeks (or anyone paying attention to this tricky issue) cannot be happy with this. Many major museums seem to be tone deaf these days,. it isn't confidence building and loaning these disputed artifacts is akin to giving Bill Cosby an award while amidst very serious allegations. The Greeks understandably consider these pieces of the Parthenon to be a kind of cultural rape. More here.
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