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  • Permalink for 'David Hockney's The Arrival of Spring '

    David Hockney's The Arrival of Spring

    Posted: 31-October-2014, 11:04am EDT by Jeff Jahn
    David Hockney's The Arrival of Spring, (far right) 4 May, 2011 [photos Jeff Jahn]

    For painters interested in alternative methods there are a few must see hyper sensual shows in New York like Chris Ofili's Night and Day at the New Museum and the heavy weight Matisse Cut Outs at MoMA. Both present painters with a tantalizing ability to reinvent themselves but perhaps the most exciting reinvention exhibition is David Hockney's The Arrival of Spring at Pace, which ends this Saturday.

    (at right) The Arrival of Spring in Woldgate, East Yorkshire in 2011

    Consisting of prints made using an iPad, a 9 channel aggregate video and a series of drawing completed after Hockney suffered a mild stroke, all of the works depict a kind of homecoming as Woldgate is an ancient Roman road that Hockney first encountered at age 15. The repeated revisiting of a road is likely an oblique reference to Cezanne's roads and trees. I may also resemble the regular and revisited practice most painters with a tenth of Hockney's ability engage in as a practice. In a way painting as a discipline is an old road, which is why using an iPad is so loaded here.

    The prints he created using the iPad are indeed paintings, excellent ones... and in England in particular there was a lot of blow back when Hockney went off the reservation and traded a brush for a touchscreen. It is an old fashioned response and this second round of works at Pace (first displayed at the de Young Museum) are stronger than those he debuted in the British Isles. Partly, it is because of the way it brings his career full circle back to his pop works where at the time the brushwork was anything but traditional.

    Personally, I've always had reservations about Hockney because I loved those early works, mostly painted with a roller from the late 60's to 70's so much. For example, works like A Bigger Splash whose flat crisp expanses of color and sharp graphic content are rightly seen as highly influential upon modern animation. I can't imagine South Park, Anime, Aqua Teen Hunger Force or numerous other shows on Cartoon Network without his influence and it extends far beyond cartoons as the design industry also drew inspiration. Then came a long period of ultra colorful road and hill paintings. Many friends whose taste I respect just love those works but I find them lacking in the terse/tense nuance of the previous era. This is a reprise but it is far more personal in tone.

    (detail) The Arrival of Spring in Woldgate, East Yorkshire in 2011

    Works like The Arrival of Spring in Woldgate, East Yorkshire in 2011 have that same tour de force in graphic flatness, only now they seem to move as we get closer. Like the old pointillist trick from far away the work seems solid and whole but as we approach each squiggle and mark linger like sunspots on retina. For me it takes me out of time and place the way one loses time while playing video games. Two minutes or two hours it feels the same and this contemporary sense of time (or lack thereof) is remarkable.

    (detail) 4 May, 2011

    The same goes for my favorite work in the show titled 4 May, 2011. It features a central tree that fills nearly the complete picture plane, not unlike Robert Adams' famous series of trees... where the limbs and trunk become both roads and ganglia for the eyes. With Hockney though we step closer and come face to face with internet graffiti.


    The viewer is ushered into the exhibition by the 9 channel video work titled Woldgate Woods, November 26th (2010). Fittingly it is the earliest work in the show and its slow insistent creep through the snow lets us great each scraggled tree like member of the community on a morning walk. The sometimes jerky transition of the scene in each scene which proceeds to the next one gives us somewhat of the air of expectation Hockney must feel for this place. The fact that most of it is a winter scene only further sets the stage. As someone who has grown up around a lot of trees lined roads and snow this is immediately familiar to me.


    (detail) 6-7 May, 2013

    The latest works are a series of drawings completed after Hockney suffered a mild stroke, leaving his speech impaired but not his drawing. His hand is so sure and remarkable as he attempts to capture some of the scene and his own pensive yet incredibly familiar catalog of his observations without using color. There is no wonder why he returned to this place after such a jarring incident and the minute shifts in shade angle and foliage density remind me of the familiarity a hunter, woodsman or farmer has for his own land. The fact that he can translate it for us into 2d is as astonishing as it is unpretentious. The entire exhibition feels like a muscle memory from the collective unconscious or the joy of seeing the wondrous minute changes in one's own neighborhood after being away for a while. Every inch of this show is a sublime discovery.

    Show ends Saturday November 1, 2014
  • Permalink for 'I'm Afraid, Will I Dream? at HQHQ'

    I'm Afraid, Will I Dream? at HQHQ

    Posted: 29-October-2014, 10:15pm EDT by Jeff Jahn

    HQHQ Project Space presents I'm Afraid, Will I Dream? Featuring; Matt Leavitt, Izidora Leber, Justin K. Moore + John Tage Johnson and Anastasia Tuazon. Taken from the famous line in Kubrick's 2001 this exhibition looks to sidestep the more sensational aspects of the Halloween season to explore the transcendental by tuning out the existential mitigation that reliance on automation and computers brings.

    I'm Afraid, Will I Dream? | October 30 - November 17
    Opening Reception: October 30 6-9PM
    HQHQ Project Space
    232 SE Oak St #108
  • Permalink for 'Monday Links'

    Monday Links

    Posted: 27-October-2014, 11:04pm EDT by Jeff Jahn
    I've been on the road so finishing the Guenther post has been a challenge but I'm in the coding phase now and should be done soon. Till then here are a few links:

    Hans Haacke takes on the Koch Brothers.

    Paul McCarthy's naughty Chocolate factory in Paris.

    Prospect 3 opened in New Orleans last week... PORT sent someone and will have coverage shortly.
  • Permalink for 'Weekend Picks'

    Weekend Picks

    Posted: 23-October-2014, 7:56pm EDT by Jeff Jahn
    Kazumi Murose

    Portland's Japanese Garden has been doing the strongest craft-based shows in Portland for several years now, though it helps that the Japanese craft tradition is fully appreciated with their top practitioners being revered as "National Living Treasures." The Portland Japanese Garden's latest exhibition Urushi: Masterpieces of Lacquerware by Kazumi Murose, Living National Treasure of Japan (October 25?November 16) brings one of these national treasures to us. Lacquer has been undergoing a resurgence in innovations of late avoiding the relicquery assigned to any form that purely looks to the past. Kazumi Murose will also be giving a talk on the 26th (at PAM), which should be inspiring to anyone who appreciates skill, design and Japanese culture.

    Urushi: Masterpieces of Lacquerware by Kazumi Murose, Living National Treasure of Japan | October 25 - November 16, 2014
    Artist Lecture: October 26, 2-4PM at Portland Art Museum (free but RSVP)
    Portland Japanese Garden in the Pavilion Gallery
    611 SW Kingston Avenue


    It's taken a very long time but a Portland alternative space is finally doing a punk rock show titled, "I'm Against It." The presenter, Surplus Space dubs it a, "Group show about punk rock as attractive nuisance. The artists involved worry and celebrate their fascination with an ethos of diminishing relevance and an indefatigable aesthetic." The show features, Jodie Cavalier, Stephen Slappe, Thomas Gamble's tatoo's and "YAH-EEF-AY will perform with audio cassettes, blenders, and the weather to supplement the venn of authenticity, revolt, and appropriation." Sounds pretty art school (which is where they may wish punk rock's ethos stayed alive, but NO) go anyways.

    I'm Against It | October 25 - November 14
    Opening Reception: October 25, 6 - 9PM
    Surplus Space
    3726 NE 7th Ave
  • Permalink for 'Friday Links'

    Friday Links

    Posted: 24-October-2014, 6:32pm EDT by Jeff Jahn
    The WSJ asks what if everyone is a curator? Obviously they aren't (a true curator isn't making one time choices, they consider a programmatic/object arc of meaning). I get into this issue in depth in my Bruce Guenther piece (which is is long) but the article raises the question of the type of institutions that don't have full time curators developing programming. In a way it makes the programmatic arc flexible but also schizophrenic, trite & flirty and therefore hard to fund long term. For example, Jeffrey Deitch is an excellent gallerist/gadfly but as a museum director his approach didn't work, creating massive backlash (the Fry is widely considered to be losing its reputation and MoMA is on the brink). Overall, I'm of the belief that museums need to own the long game yet do an occasionally porous event that challenges the typical museum authority. PAM does this with Shine A Light and New For The Wall events but not having a chief Curator would be a problem as The museum is really a 3 house system, the executive (fundraising), curatorial (collections and programming) and education (outreach).

    Brian Libby with Michael Graves on keeping Portland's architecture wierd... and nothing is weirder than Graves' Portland Building.

    Amir Nikravan's accretion paintings reviewed.

    Richard Prince unintentionally gives a young artist a Chelsea debut.

    Jerry Saltz on Marina Abramovich... he gets it. The work is a tease and for some that is enough. Others, not so much. I loved her Great Wall piece but lately it is a bit too much like Downton Abbey to take seriously.
  • Permalink for 'Monday Links'

    Monday Links

    Posted: 20-October-2014, 3:08pm EDT by Jeff Jahn
    Ok it is Bruce Guenther's last day at PAM and I'm finishing off my long piece on his career just as, "Elvis has left the building." It will be ready soon and its important to have it right because ity is very comprehensive and a good moment to think about where this leaves PAM both in terms of challenges and opportunities. Till then here are a few links:

    Lots of stories on Jeff Koons including a documentary of a crucial career moment and vandalism. I truly doubt that he doesn't want people to see the film... just doesn't want to foreground it (silly press, Jeff Koons not want attention?).

    Europe's first carpenters.

    More art vandalism. It's never good for the specific installation but it does draw attention to the piece and artist... there's a fine line and should never be condoned, but stronger work survives and even gains more relevance through the indignity.

    Christopher Knight reviews Ai Weiwei's Alcatraz project.
  • Permalink for 'Weekend Wanderer'

    Weekend Wanderer

    Posted: 17-October-2014, 7:12pm EDT by Jeff Jahn
    Yes, PORT will have my Bruce Guenther piece for you after the weekend (it is as complicated, personal and historically versed as its subject matter and I want to let it marinate a little more). Still, you should get out and see some art this weekend (shows that opened last weekend, Lumber Room and Abigail Newbold at PNCA are all still up) and these three new additions might just make your weekend.

    (L to R) Homage to Delacroix: Liberty Leading The People (1976) Robert Colescott, Trinitarian (2007) Mark di Suvero, Brazilian Screamer (1931) Morris Graves, By the River (1927) C.S. Price, Chu Culture deer funerary guardian (Late 5th early 4th Century BCE)

    In Passionate Pursuit (The Arlene and Harold Schnitzer Collection and Legacy) is retiring Chief Curator Bruce Guenther's final exhibition at the Portland Art Museum and it is a massive undertaking where the subtext itself is the act of collecting as sustaining patronage. True collectors like Arlene and Harold Schnitzer share their lives with the objects they relentlessly acquire, creating an anthropological biography in a way that others can experience. Curatorially, sifting through the over 2000 objects in the collection in a cogent, focused and yet representative way comes full circle for the Schnitzers, PAM and Bruce all in one fell swoop. It is clearly very emotional for PAM's staff and the Schnitzers. Also, what I like about Bruce's approach to the show is he didn't group by genre or even chronology. Instead, it laid out as clustered objects in conversation and therefore truer to the way the collection has operated in Harold and Arlene Schnitzer's lives.

    For example, my favorite corner features a socio-politically challenging Robert Colescott (image above) that has never been exhibited publicly (it typically resides in the conference room) and a similarly banner raising Mark di Suvero... juxtaposed with a stoic C.S. Price horse painting and a poised Warring States period Jing deer holding court together with a mysterious and noteworthy early Morris Graves titled Brazilian Screamer. The effect is dizzying with a boisterous Western style humanism contrasted against a a more quiet Eastern appreciation of the sublime and it takes a lot of unpacking. But that's the thrill of collecting... it isn't harmonious so much as a commitment to being challenged by objects and the inherent conversations that arises amongst them. Some of the important regional artists like Louis Bunce, Michele Russo, Hilda Morris and Mel Katz, who are all in the show... simply would not have had the same careers they had as a community without the Schnitzers' activities as patrons of the arts.

    In fact, one particular moment is crucial to understanding the Schnitzers as collectors, the tragic 1977 fire that claimed a large part of their collection as well as the works of many artist from the Fountain Gallery (which Arlene Schnitzer operated at the time). One work on display, Donald Wilson's sculpture Seated Figure (1977) was one of the works saved by attentive fire fighters. Other surprises include an excellent Luis Tomasello, Native American beaded bags and two rather feisty Robert Arnesons. In so many ways it is a crucial biography of art in Portland.

    In Passionate Pursuit | October 18 2014 - January 11 2015
    Portland Art Museum
    1219 SW Park

    Bluesky at PAM, Nan Goldin (L)

    Another anthropological survey at PAM, Bluesky (The Oregon Center for the Photographic Arts at 40) is an equally crucial history of photography in Portland. Highlights include Nan Goldin, Robert Frank, John Divola, Mark Klett and Larry Sultan along with many others. Bluesky along with its founders Christopher Rauschenberg, Ann Hughes, Robert DiFranco, Craig Hickman and Terry Toedtemeier ...and like the Schnitzers have been a crucial patron in Portland and this exhaustive show helps survey an institution in the way Bluesky themselves could not.

    Bluesky | October 18 2014 - January 11 2015
    Portland Art Museum
    1219 SW Park

    Anthony McCall's You and I Horizontal

    Curated by Sandra Percival, Zena Zezza will be bringing us two shows this weekend by Brian's Anthony McCall and Laura Heit at the Hallock & McMillan building, Portland's oldest commercial structure built in 1857 (FYI Statehood was in 1859). McCall will present one of his signature light and space works, You and I Horizontal and Heit will inaugurate the 1857 series of projects, which will look back at the 1800's, "from the mundane to cataclysmic." At PORT we love idiomatic uses of space, especially if the space is idiomatic itself.

    Anthony McCall and Laura Heit | October 19 - December 13 2014
    Opening Reception: Sunday, October 19, 2-5PM
    Presented by Zena Zezza
    Hallock & McMillan building
    237 SW Naito Parkway (at SW Oak Street)
  • Permalink for 'Abigail Anne Newbold at PNCA's Feldman Gallery'

    Abigail Anne Newbold at PNCA's Feldman Gallery

    Posted: 16-October-2014, 7:18pm EDT by Jeff Jahn
    Portland's art scene is having a very strong month this October (mostly in painting and photography... much of the installation has been undercooked), but of all the shows the one that I keep returning to is Abigail Anne Newbold's installation, Borderlander's Outfitter at PNCA's Feldman Gallery.

    Borderlander's Outfitter

    The exhibition presents itself as a hipsterish quartermaster's gear dispensary or a tool library with an anthropological array of artifacts from a summer survival weekend in the project room. Everything is clothed in fairly recognizable purpose except that everything is a hair off. For example the dome tent on a cot is too narrow for anyone weighing over 90 lbs, there's a whimsical deer hoof tent stake hanger, a sheepskin glove has only 3 finger lobes... perhaps an oven mitt for Trekkies doing the "Live Long and Prosper" sign? ...and the bow and arrow seem less dangerous than a table knife. This gear doesn't seem actually available for use as much as it is suggestive of some extensive outdoor enterprise, which could happen. It's a show inherently about the potential of humans when mobilized. Good idea, but the problem is it is just too cute and adorable for its own good. Though it does make great programmatic sense for an art school beginning its school year. At least the exhibition is installed rather well (a complaint often levied on Museum of Contemporary Craft exhibitions).


    Many other artists like Andrea Zittel, Fritz Haeg, Inigo Manglano-Ovalle and even Ai Wei Wei use familiar design vernaculars to ingratiate themselves with viewers (often in novel environments) but there is something different at work here. Instead of Andrea Zittel's fetish and commentary on modernist design and human efficiency/self reliance... this show exercises itself like some massive millennial Civilian Conservation Corps, recalling the Boy Scouts and numerous other quasi utopian paramilitary wilderness expedition organizations but with a dash of an REI shopping experience thrown in. Thus, its net effect is closer to Jeff Koon's assiduously crafted Pop than Zittell's brutal jet age survivalism (which has cold war era nuclear armageddon lurking somewhere deep underneath its orderly desert dwelling self sufficiency). Instead, this exhibition is delightful and charming by comarison. Newbold's penchant for "delight" isn't a bad thing, but like Koons it means it relies on craft's wow factor and ultimately it seems like an amusing distraction from something deeper and potentially more consequential.


    For example, there's pegboard galore festooned with curiously tweaked tools with functions like grabbing, cutting, pounding or cutting... a bit like what the Occupy Movement might require if they were in a logging camp rather than on Wall Steet. Perhaps some could be used as interesting existential money extraction tools? At least the pegboard tools aren't trying as hard to be charming as the rest of the exhibition and I can forgive the nifty holster for a pair of shears where the stitching mimics the device it encloses because that particular tool seems to understand its own potential threat and ability to do work.

    Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss in The Hunger Games

    I bring all this up because Americans have been recently beset with numerous young adult fictions like the Hunger Games series.... even the resurrection of the X-men mutants as a school scenario in mainstream pop culture. Sure, Borderlander's Outfitter is different of course but somehow Katniss' bow as wielded by Jennifer Lawrence in the movies with a soundtrack by Taylor Swift seems infinitely more potent than Abigail Newbold's archery set.


    Other art camp scenarios like Fritz Haeg's various projects or even the local Signal Fire residencies (who contributed to Newbold's survival weekend part of the project) are more experience oriented and less diffused by a charm offensive that this exhibition engages in. Still, I did enjoy the nostalgia it all induced, reminding me of my youth as a scout camp staff councilor but somehow this felt too twee, especially compared to Andrea Zittell, whose work seems to be similarly fashionable but oh so tough in the end. Maybe I'm just being a cynical Gen X-er or it is the fact that Im very experienced outdoors but I think the problem isn't truly generational... it's the way the art world at the middle levels rewards quirky and cute over seriousness. I think Abigail Anne Newbold can do better, though I'm certain the students who took part in the survival weekend got something worthwhile out of it... the exhibition itself feels parochial and light.

    Academy for survival

    Still, in the end I wonder, was there truly a "survival" weekend or just weekend warriors without the nasty lord of the flies type survival situation? Mostly this exhibition left me with a feeling of a "My Summer Vacation" report given to parents... which perhaps is too similar to many art school's prolonged adolescence? Still, I don't want to dismiss it completely, Newbold has a deft way with altering the meaning of objects, especially tools. Perhaps if there were a more consequential target for her activity to underpin this whole enterprise it wouldn't come off as darling escapism. These are serious times and exhibiting hipster survivalism just doesn't quite step up to the task at hand.

    Through October 24th at PNCA's Feldman Gallery
  • Permalink for 'Tuesday's complicated links'

    Tuesday's complicated links

    Posted: 14-October-2014, 6:29pm EDT by Jeff Jahn
    We will have a review for you shortly and my in depth piece on Bruce Guenther will post on Saturday (the 20th is his last day and many of the most crucial aspects have not been discussed). Till then here are some links:

    The uncontested works (?) from the Gurlitt trove will go to the Bern Kunstmuseum. It is a fact, museums walk an incredibly fine line between ennobling culture and the messy way that sausage gets made but the Gurlitt acquisition is perhaps the most tainted situation to come to light in the 21st century to date. Yes, it looks like Bern is being very cautious, but still... this promises to take another 50-100 years to sort out.

    Look, art fairs are not Ikea for millionaires. There are a lot of class warfare tinged sentiments out there at the moment but I think we need to separate the discussion of high priced masterworks from relatively unproven contemporary art and the living artists that create it. In general, many of the names you see bandied about right now wont be around in 5-10 years. That "other" work that already has been certified great is still great, despite the very impressive price tags. The worst case scenarios are when these great works leave the public view all together. They both have cultural value worth discussing beyond monetary value. That is what museums are for.

    Eric Fischl on art fairs.

    Michael Graves visited Portland last week and Brian Libby recounts the momentous event. Overall, I'm in complete agreement... we should renovate the building, which is of immense historical and cultural significance. Partially this is because the city as a client/patron failed perhaps more than Graves did as an architect. Pictures, as Randy Gragg recently suggested are simply not enough and Portland should double down on the Portland building. Anyone who knows anything about the siting of sculpture would understand how the building very much stages Portlandia as well (and no it is not as important as the building) Overall it is a deft design moment we need to protect).

    Ken Johnson discusses humor in art and its ubiquity as of late. It reminds me that comedy has certain technical aspects to it and what a lot of these artists lack is the way comedians hone their act. They seem content to be mildly humorous. Real comedy is more jarring.
  • Permalink for 'Weekend Wanderer'

    Weekend Wanderer

    Posted: 10-October-2014, 3:16pm EDT by Jeff Jahn
    It is one Very Busy weekend in Portland's art scene since Saturday is the last day for TBA visual art shows, Nationale has a new space and Surplus Space is doing a performance night. Here are my picks:


    Stream Room by Deep White Sound at FalseFront sounds a lot like attending numerous trance raves at the same time with its cacaphonous presentation of multiple sound art pieces at the same time. Everything is streamed to multiple handmade streaming devices. Curated and produced for deepwhitesound by DB Amorin with design and visuals by Dana Paresa + programming and consultation by Matt McVickar.

    Stream Room | October 11 - November 2
    Opening Reception: October 11 6-9PM
    4518 NE 32nd Avenue

    Laura Vandenburgh

    Technically the location is far south of Portland in Eugene/Springfield but Ditch Projects Thick Drawings by Laura Vandenburgh gives us an opportunity to check out an enormous "floor to wall" version of her signature drawings fraught with fragility and precision. With so many performances going on lately it is nice to see a major installation effort.

    Thick Drawings | October 11 - November 2
    Opening Reception: October 11, 6-9 PM
    Ditch Projects
    303 S. 5th Avenue #165
    Springfield OR 97477

    Matthew Leavitt, Desert Mandala Machine (detail) photo Jeff Jahn

    Forgive the self promotion but Anthropometry (curated by yours truly) is a very strong show with some young Portland artists making a big splash. Focused on artists who use design and science in an applied way to perpetrate contemporary art, Anthropometry features newly minted Portlanders; Flynn Casey, Matthew Leavitt and veteran Seattle artist Ephraim Russell. It is a major theme in contemporary art these days and felt it was time to explore it locally. Overall, it is nice to introduce artists to one another and to see the new blood step up and distinguish itself. At reception Leavitt will activate Desert Mandala Machine and install a small but fantastic additional work, Contrivance.

    Anthropometry | October 1 - 31
    Artist Talk & Reception: October 11 | 3:30 - 4:30PM
    Kathrin Cawein Gallery
    Pacific University
    2043 College Way, Forest Grove, OR 97116
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