Nim Wunnan

 

Finding humanity at the intersection of contemporary dance and circus

Circa stages West Coast debut of Humans in Portland

Circa, Australia’s leading contemporary circus dance company, has chosen Portland for the West Coast premiere of Humans, which runs through October 13 at the Newmark Theatre. This is a smart show with lots of audience appeal; it’s family-friendly enough that there’s even a Sunday matinee. Artistic director Yaron Lifschitz describes Humans as “a report on what it means to be human. How can you express the very essence of this experience with your body? Where are your limits, what extraordinary things can you achieve and how can you find grace in your inevitable defeat?” This show quickly reveals how contemporary circus arts can help answer these questions about the human experience.

According to dance critic and producer Cindy Sibilsky, contemporary circus performance was “born out of the desire to utilize the exceptional physical vocabulary of acrobats, aerialists, contortionists and other specialty-skilled performers, modernize them and update the expressions bodily, emotionally and visually and transform both audience and critical perception of what circus is and can be.” Circa just as effectively explores what contemporary dance is and can be.

Circa in “Humans.” Photo by Pedro Greig, courtesy White Bird.

Aesthetically, Humans is stripped down. Almost every trapping of traditional circus is missing: there’s no knife-thrower flinging sharp objects around an assistant’s body, no clowns, makeup, animals, ringmasters, juggling, or really any props at all, save the few that can support performers (trapeze and aerial straps do appear at points). There are touches of slapstick in some of the performers’ interactions, but no dedicated passages of physical humor, as would appear in a traditional variety-style circus performance. Acrobatic movement is the major part of circus heritage that Circa brings to the stage, along with intense collaboration, coordination, and trust among the performers as they display world-class acrobatic prowess. The physical stakes are high enough to elicit gasps from the audience many times throughout the evening.

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VizArts Monthly: Big shows on tap

Around the galleries this month: James Lavadour, Judy Cooke, Chris Rauschenberg, Terry Toedtemeier

October is here, and the arts calendar isn’t slowing down. The Portland Biennial has announced its curatorial team, featuring Portlanders Yaelle S. Amir and Ashley Stull Meyers, and Seattlite Elisheba Johnson. Meanwhile, Nationale has added Francesca Capone to its stable of artists, and the Stumptown artist fellowship (curated by Nationale director May Barruel) has opened a new show (see below).

If you’re thinking that fall is a great time to review what the Portland art scene has to offer, you’re in luck – the latest edition of the Grapefruit Juice Artist Resource guide has just been released. This un-editorialized compendium of local venues, organizations and other resources for and by artists is available for free at many locations, including Passages Bookshop, Nationale, Ampersand, and Monograph Bookwerks. A noteworthy addition to the shows listed below is a group show opening at PCC’s North View Gallery. The Work Continues features six Portland artists including OCAC Dean Jiseon Lee and the prolific and talented Samantha Wall.

As Far as I Can See From Here, James Lavadour

James Lavadour: All That I Can See From Here

October 3 – 27
PDX Contemporary, 925 NW Flanders

New paintings by Northwest favorite James Lavadour. Lavadour’s trademark style – wild, rich, and full of precise accidents – plays with material and representation to capture some of the mystery and majesty of landscape while never denying their paintfulness. If you’ve somehow never seen Lavadour’s work, this is a good chance to see some fresh samples. If you’re familiar, you’re sure not to be disappointed.

Waterpark Second Thoughts, Ralph Pugay

Stuck on the Ride

October 6 – November 30
Open Signal, 2766 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd

If you’ve ever felt that the subject matter of exhibitions in Portland is hard to figure out or repetitive or vague, then you can’t miss this show full of waterparks and rollercoasters. Ryan Woodring, an interdisciplinary artist and former special effects instructor at Open Signal, has curated an exhibition that examines amusement parks place in American culture and media. Artists Ralph Pugay, Erin Mallea, Kristin Lucas, Claire Hentschker and Yaloo explore the subject matter through projection art, virtual reality, video and painting.

Painting by Anya Roberts Toney, photo by Mario Gallucci

Anya Roberts Toney

Through November 26
Downtown Stumptown, 128 SW 3rd

The show marking Anya Roberts-Toney’s awarding of the Stumptown Artists Fellowship features an arresting and beautiful set of détourned still-lives. Roberts-Toney “play[s] with this idea of flowers representing the female body, and by incorporating moments of rupture and fantasy, I seek to consider a counter-femininity that is powerful, self-possessed, and disregarding of the viewer’s satisfaction.” These impressive, self-possessed paintings command the space of the flagship Stumptown location downtown. If you go to see them, pick a quieter time for the cafe so you can spend some time with them.

Indian Cove, Terry Toedtemeier

Terry Toedtemeier: Sun, Shadows, Stone

October 20, 2018 – February 17, 2019
Tacoma Art Museum
1701 Pacific Avenue, Tacoma WA 98402

Self-taught photographer and curator Terry Toedtemeier (1947–2008) is best known for his monumental, haunting photographs of Oregon’s iconic natural features – the coast, the Columbia River Gorge, and the high desert. Beginning with snapshots from a moving car, he went on to become an accomplished photographic craftsman, influenced by the photographic traditions of the American West and the evidence of its geographic history. TAM remarks that “Toedtemeier often sought to capture the most dramatic images of places that have been shaped first by catastrophic geological events, then by the imprint of humans.” Part of the Northwest Perspective Series, this exhibition runs through mid-February, with a members celebration event on Saturday, November 17.

Hoi An – by Chris Rauschenberg

Chris Rauschenberg Photographs

October 4 – 28
Nine Gallery, 122 NW 8th St

A new set of photographs taken in Vietnam by Rauschenberg will be on display in the Nine Gallery space in the back of Blue Sky Gallery.

 

Painting by Judy Cooke

Judy Cooke: Conversation: Aluminum, Oil, Rubber

Through October 27
Elizabeth Leach Gallery, 417 NW 9th Ave

Subject of a recent Artswatch interview, Judy Cooke has become one of the Pacific Northwest’s most established abstract painters. For the past 30 years, she has explored abstraction and the structures of painting, working with formalism, color fields, and specific materiality.“ Her new series ”Conversation: Aluminum, Oil, Rubber” verges on the sculptural, embracing rubber and aluminum as both painting supports and materials.

Also opening at Elizabeth Leach this month are Portland-based artist Mark Palmen’s small, intricate embroideries, “influenced by his diverse interests ranging from art history and fashion to metaphysical investigations surrounding the cosmos.” An exhibit of Malia Jensen’s sculptural works, which opened last month, will also be on display, including a re-firing of a sculpture started decades ago.

 

Stills from Post Analog

Post Analog: Paloma Kop and Sara Goodman

Through October 21
Grapefruits Art Space, 2119 N Kerby, Suite D

New media artist, poet, curator, VJ, and teacher Sara Goodman and electronic media artist Paloma Kop have packed a remarkable amount of analog video synthesis and glitch art into the small warehouse Grapefruits gallery. This is a show for anyone who gets excited when they see a Sony Trinitron in a gallery. These pieces of original video synthesis come out of a community of artists working with technology that was once considered cutting edge but now refers to a very specific – and fading – moment in technological history. Citing “an increased resurgence of analog tools to create and distribute newly created video content,” this movement is drawn to pre-digital means of making video precisely because of its imperfections and technical demands on the creator. Bonus: some work was created using a device called a Wobbulator.

Venus, Mars – Paul X. Rutz

Paul X. Rutz and Amanda Hampton Wray: Into A Study

October 27
Ford Gallery, 2505 SE 11th Ave

The opening for this show is a one-night event that the artists refer to as “both an art installation and a carefully planned neuroscience study.” An ambitious and unusual project for the Ford Gallery, which has curated the atrium of the Ford Building since Gallery Homeland left, this exhibition is a collaboration between painter Paul X. Rutz and neuroscientist Amanda Hampton Wray. Sparked by Rutz’s questions about how people view new paintings, they have created an interactive exhibit in which viewers neural activity will be measured by Wray while they view Rutz’s paintings, which interrogate the history of the “female” and “male” symbols seen everywhere from bathroom doors to tarot cards.

VizArts Monthly: The past lingers, the future beckons

A month's worth of possibilities at local galleries and museums

September is upon us, with programs for TBA descending like early, unusually chunky autumn leaves. This year’s lineup looks as exciting as ever, but don’t forget the visual arts, whether they’ve snuck into TBA or not. Of note this month, new independent gallery Carnation Contemporary opens its inaugural exhibition in one of the small street-facing spaces in Disjecta. Besides these new events, the last days of a few good shows linger on like the occasional remaining warm days. Ann Hamilton’s Habitus will be open through September 16, as the final part of Converge 45. Amy Bay’s lovely painting show will be hanging at Melanie Flood Projects until September 8, and while you’re downtown you can still catch or Richard Diebenkorn at PAM until the 23rd and R.B. Kitaj at the Oregon Jewish Museum until the 30th.

 

Joe Feddersen, Aggressive Attitude, 2018. Image Courtesy of Froelick Gallery; Photo by Rebekah Johnson

 

CCNA: Not Fragile

September 1-June 9, 2019
Portland Art Museum, 1219 SW Park Avenue

Presented by the Center for Contemporary Native Art at the Portland Art Museum, a fantastic range of glass work by contemporary Native artists. The Northwest is lucky to have such a thriving scene of glass art. Artists such as Joe Feddersen and Dan Friday are distinctive employ innovative techniques and Native imagery in their glass objects that, far from the fragile associations most of us have with glass, radiate strength, resilience and resistance.

 

Unwalking the West

September 6-October 20
Pacific Northwest College of Art, Center for Contemporary Art & Culture, 511 NW Broadway

Curated by Signal Fire co-director Ka’ila Farrell-Smith, this annual project is based on “the symbolic act of retracing segments of European settler exploration and conquest in the reverse direction, as a way of interrogating assumed histories and connecting the legacy of colonialism to the present day challenges in the American West,” including climate Change. Signal Fire is a non-profit organization that connects artists with wildlands through programs like expeditions and residencies, which this exhibition draws from. Artists include Sarah Farahat, Tanja Geis, Joe Hedges, Garrick Imatani, Emmy Lingscheit, Rachelle Reichert, Rick Silva, and Ilvs Strauss.

 

Render capture from 3D environment

Utopia Without You – Tabitha Nikolai

September 6 – October 13
Williamson Knight, 916 NW Flanders St

This solo show by local artist and curator Tabitha Nikolai promises futuristic visions as disquieting as they are beguiling. Nikolai, who describes herself as a “trashgender gutter elf and low-level cybermage” will show a variety of new sculptural works including a custom gaming PC with a custom controller made in collaboration with Matt Leavitt, a wargaming diorama borrowing materials from the show at Killjoy that Nikolai curated earlier this year, and digital 3d environments with original score by Rook. Nikolai will also lead a conversation about the exhibition at the closing on October 13 at 1:00 pm.

 

RiverRouge, Christian Mickovic

Summer forever

Through October 7, 2018
Dust to Dust, 3636 N Mississippi Ave

A colorfully-intense group show that takes a close look at the complexity of that thing we love so much in Portland, summer. The show combines love, escapism, dread, freedom, and malaise “in a celebration of summer’s excess and the collective fear of a future, smoke-filled, everlasting summer,” according to the press release. Local painter Bruce Conkle’s painting of skeletons on a boat hangs in counterpoint to the 3D renderings of LA artist Paul Rosas and the sculptural recreations of party drugs by Beverly Fishman (Bloomfield Hills, Michigan). Also from Bloomfield Hills, Christian Mickovic’s optically-dizzying paintings are the stars of the show, rewarding however much time you can spend staring into them.

Gregg Bordowitz: I Wanna Be Well
Through October 21
Reed College, Douglas F. Cooley Memorial Art Gallery, 3203 SE Woodstock Boulevard

This exhibition marks the first retrospective of American artist, activist, writer, and educator Gregg Bordowitz. An early survivor of the HIV virus, Bordowitz created important films in the early days of AIDS activism, working with the direct action group ACT UP and the video collective, Testing the Limits. These films will join rarely-seen sculptures and drawings in this retrospective, as well a books, essays, poetry, personal ephemera, and films of recent performances by Bordowitz.

TBA Picks

Film still from Cocteau’s Beauty and the Best

Fin de Cinema—Jean Cocteau’s Beauty and the Beast

Mon Sept 10, 10 pm
The Works, 15 NE Hancock, $5–15

Returning for a second year after its popular TBA debut in 2017, this ongoing series curated by Holocene’s Gina Altamura hand-picks local musicians to compose and perform a newly imagined score to a classic movie. If TBA feels a little overwhelming to you, Fin de Cinema is guaranteed to be a satisfying, soothing break in all the intensity. Cinephiles and experimental music lovers alike can relax and enjoy the combination of an old, subtitled film and live performance of new compositions by local musicians. Well-known improvisors Like a Villain, John Niekrasz, Jonathan Sielaff (the bass clarinet in Golden Retriever), Patricia Wolf (of Soft Metals), Amenta Abioto, and Noah Bernstein perform a new score to Cocteau’s classic, highly-influential masterpiece.

Utopian Visions Art Fair

Friday, September 14 2018, 5:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Saturday and Sunday September 15 2018, from 11:00 AM – 4:00 PM

Initiated by Srijon Chowdhury, alternative art fair that provides a platform for artists, gallerists, and curators to present projects that work towards possible, alternative futures. Dozens of artists collaborate in an intimate setting, with visual art, performance, installation, and facilitated conversations around the themes of accessibility, community, and the art world’s reliance on capitalist systems. Collaborators include Institute for Interspecies Art and Relations, Chicken Coop Contemporary, Shawn Creeden, Lisa Schonberg, Institute for Queer Ecology, Lila de Magalhaes and Harley Hollenstein, Williamson + Knight, Midori Hirose & Mia Ferm, and many more.

VizArts Monthly: Big news in various forms

Converge 45 returns for its third year, Cathy Wilkes at YU, tarot art at Union Knott

The big, big news in the Portland arts community is that soon-to-be defunct Marylhurst University’s Art Gym isn’t gone forever! According to the press release issued by the Oregon College of Art and Craft, “all Art Gym operations, collections, and upcoming exhibitions will move to the OCAC campus,” effective October 1.

That’s not all. Next, we’ve got Converge 45 entering its third year, with its first site-specific installation and the return of KsMOCA. Cathy Wilkes comes to the YU, and a whole bunch of good shows are opening at smaller galleries. There’s lots to see this hot August–stay hydrated, stay curious, stay cool.

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Viz Arts Monthly: July looks deliciously scrappy

July features some tasty group shows, a DIY flavor and much more than anyone could possibly see!

The summer vibes have brought another set of lively shows to Portland! If the news has got you down, visit the strange, raucous utopian visions of the future from Killjoy Collective at the Littman Gallery at PSU. If that doesn’t do it for you, you could try to DIY scrappiness of the Germination photo show in the partner White gallery at the same location. Elizabeth Leach and Ori gallery also offer some lively group shows, highlighting the work of two different, vibrant artistic communities. For a more singular vision, try Sarah Mikenis at Nationale or Glenn Brown’s collection of works at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art in Eugene. And finally, if you want to confront the state of the world head on, National Geographic photographer Randy Olson’s talk at his new show at Camerawork gallery will give you some action items. Stay sunny, Portland!

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Killjoy Collective makes space for ‘Children of Revulsion’

The Killjoy Collective exhibition is for people who feel marginalized, regardless of the reason

To get to Killjoy Collective, you have to go through what curator and artist Tabitha Nikolai calls the “airlock”—a set of closely-spaced, rattly and slightly-rusty doors on the side of the handsome but mysterious Troy Laundry Building,at 221 SE 11th Avenue in Portland.

It’s a bit of a dance for two people to enter at the same time, but once inside you descend into a basement warren of studios. The established spaces are clearly very active, and the scent of drywall and sawdust and the piles of power tools indicate the building’s attempt to grow and attract new clientele to freshly-partitioned units. Even just five or six years ago, you were likely to hit a space like this if you chucked a rock off any rooftop in inner Southeast Portland. Now, with closures of places like Towne Storage and Recess Gallery, it’s one of the few remaining concentrations of DIY and community art spaces in this fast-changing neighborhood.

children of revulsion – opening night

Killjoy’s space is close to the bottom of the stairs, and with the front doors open, it presents a remarkably spacious world all of its own in what could easily feel like a cramped basement. It’s a fitting home for a show that describes itself as follows:

“Children of Revulsion is about living inside media when you can’t go home again.

It’s about making a house from virtual trash, lashed together with scraps of code, and uploading it to your dear ones, wherever they are. Big enough for everyone, you dwell in it together, replay and reply. Every pixel a good night kiss on the forehead. Every beat a tender hand-squeeze in the dark.”

It’s an ambitious group show featuring more than a dozen artists, musicians, and meme-makers. Multiple large monitors featuring homebrew videogames and digital environments ring a central bench that invites you to sit, don a pair of headphones, and pick up a wireless keyboard where the control keys are indicated by textured flower stickers. In the far corner, a modern LCD screen is housed in the skeleton of a small 1980s CRT TV set, perched atop a dresser. This echoes the homey, inner-sanctum vibes broadcast from the squishy, colorful installation of blankets, stuffed animals, and fabric creations at the front of the room on the same wall.

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VizArts Monthly: Canoes and ice cream are involved

A big Richard Diebenkorn show at the Portland Art Museum, R.B.Kitaj at the Oregon Jewish Museum, and a host of other shows

There’s no denying it—summer is here (well, technically, maybe not)! And what better way to enjoy the precious, fleeting sunny months in Portland than to look at art in small indoor spaces? OK, there might be more appropriate summertime activities, but in between all the biking and lounging in parks and rafting on rivers, the seasonal blooming of events and shows has plenty to offer. In addition to the following list, take note of S1’s anniversary party weekend, June 8—10, with details available at http://s1portland.com/.

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