VISUAL ART

Exquisite Gorge 1: Getting started

Maryhill Museum embarks on a mission to create a giant collaborative print depicting 220 miles along the Columbia River. Part 1 in a series.

STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY FRIDERIKE HEUER

I have on previous occasions written on this or that aspect of Maryhill Museum of Art in Washington, which I like to visit as often as I can. An eclectic collection of paintings, fashion, artifacts of some Eastern European aristocracy (Queen Marie of Romania), chess sets, native American basketry, 80 or so works of art by Rodin, displayed in an old manor house with a fascinating history of its founder, beautiful grounds and a sculpture park, high above the Columbia Gorge – it has all drawn me for many a decade. In fact, I remember when they still had peacocks roaming the manicured lawns and discreetly placed signs, warning you of rattlesnake danger, should you step off the paths…

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The alchemy of photography, sans camera

In a show in Newberg's Chehalem Cultural Center, Rachel Wolf works transformations using paper and film, light and chemicals

Our lives are saturated with photographic images — pictures taken by tens of millions of people daily on phone cameras, photos that are then Facebooked, Instagrammed, and Tweeted into the world, where our eyeballs are bombarded with this digital hail. Those who shoot pictures with a camera that uses film, I have to believe, have become a tiny minority.

In that small company of analog photographic artists, Rachel Wolf stands virtually alone.

“Flight” by Rachel Wolf (chromogenic chemigram - archival digital print)
“Flight” by Rachel Wolf (chromogenic chemigram – archival digital print)

Wolf takes pictures — or perhaps I should say she makes pictures — with lots of film, but no camera. The results of her work (and it’s clearly a lot of work) landed at the Chehalem Cultural Center in Newberg last week in a show titled Unconditional that runs through Aug. 3. Wolf has shown her work in New York, San Francisco, Cincinnati, Seattle, and Portland, where she lives, so once again we have an instance of Chehalem’s curators bringing an urban art experience to rural Yamhill County.

The product of camera-less photography is called a photogram, chemigram, or luminogram, depending on what combination of object, light, and chemicals is used to make it. Photograms use an object on paper to create the image, Wolf said, while the images in chemigrams come from chemical reactions, and in luminograms the images are from light. The images in Unconditional are chemigrams.

There’s no precise date for the invention of photography itself, as precursors go all the way back to ancient times, but the first photo engraving dates to 1822, and about 20 years later a book illustrated with photograms was published. In the 20th century, the number of artists known for this kind of camera-less photography is pretty small; they include: Man Ray, Adam Fuss, Susan Derges, and Christian Marclay.

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Fermenting on South Coast: Live Culture

The 10-day celebration this fall is seeking proposals to build a "culture stand" that will be visitor center, merchandise table and gathering spot all in one

A press release recently landed on my desk seeking proposals to build a “Culture Stand” for the upcoming “Live Culture Coast” to be held on the southern Oregon coast in October. I confess I was duly – and dually – baffled. A Culture Stand? Live Culture Coast? I had no idea, so I put in a call to Amber Peoples, the creative director behind the event. We began with the obvious.  

What exactly is Live Culture Coast?

Peoples: It’s a 10-day celebration of food, art, and place that will travel the entire South Coast from Reedsport to Brookings, over 135 miles, Oct. 18-27. This is the first. We’re calling it the pilot.

And a Culture Stand?

The Culture Stand itself will be on a 5-by-10 trailer. We’ll put it on the back of a truck and haul it. It’s a traveling visitor center; it’s a merchandise table, a gathering spot. Its location will designate where the celebration is, where the Live Culture Coast is focused that day. We’re also creating a map.

Fermentation Fest in Sauk Country, Wis., bills itself as a “celebration of live culture in all its forms, from dance to yogurt, poetry to sauerkraut,” as well as home-grown sausage. The October event is the inspiration for “Live Culture Coast” to be held along 135 miles of the South Oregon Coast this fall. Photo by: Amber Peoples
Fermentation Fest in Sauk Country, Wis., bills itself as a “celebration of live culture in all its forms, from dance to yogurt, poetry to sauerkraut,” as well as home-grown sausage. The October event is the inspiration for “Live Culture Coast” to be held along 135 miles of the South Oregon Coast this fall. Photo by: Amber Peoples

Let’s say the Culture Stand is parked in Coos Bay on Saturday, October 19. The event happening that day could be a brewery demonstration. It could be an art class, or a coffee roasting. We’re hoping people will sign up for one of these experiences, and that will encourage people to travel and explore the South Coast.

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This June, the arrival of summer isn’t the only big transition on the horizon. Bullseye Projects exhibition space closes after twenty years on NW 13th Ave, Adams and Ollman will relocate to a nearby space on NW 8th Ave, and Nationale announces a relocation back to Burnside where it will share space with Beacon Sound and enjoy a larger, more detached exhibition space. Blue Sky’s Executive Director Lisa DeGrace will step down to become the development director at the Sitka Center for Art and Ecology. DeGrace goes out on a high note with the En Foco Fellowship shows (featured below). Whether you enjoy the late sunset for a First Thursday art crawl in town, hit the Portland Art Museum, or head down to Eugene to check out a set of compelling shows at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, there’s plenty to see this month!

Daniel Robinson – Open Road, 2019
Recent Paintings: Daniel Robinson
Through June 15
Charles A. Hartman Fine Art
134 NW 8th Ave

Robinson’s finely-detailed paintings glow with a love for Oregon scenery and light. From industrial riverside docks to scrubby, golden hills in Eastern Oregon, these paintings capture vistas that balance conjuring an Oregon of the past and rendering it with a modern crispness. Grain elevators, bridges, farms, and boats mark human presence in the natural landscape.


Open During Construction: PSU BFA showcase
Through June 14
Littman + White Galleries
1825 SW Broadway

With a title that captures the current conditions for PSU art students, the Littman Gallery celebrates a new crop of graduates. MK Gallery and the AB Lobby Gallery, in PSU’s Art Building host the other parts of the show not represented by Littman’s selection. Artists this year include: Anastasia Bubenik-Hartley, Coral Cloutman Tabitha Copeland, Courtney Gallardo, Linneah Rose Hanson, Allison Jarman, Jake Johnson, Patricia Kalidonis, Safiyah Maurice, Kira Paragon, Tiffany Adele Peterson, Vinh Pham, Timothy Tran, and Zach Whitworth.


PNCA 2019 MFA Exhibition
Through June 11
PNCA Glass Building 2139 N Kerby Ave.

The first twenty-six PNCA graduate students to study in the new “Glass Building” exhibit their work in the cavernous, beautiful former Bullseye Glass building in the North Industrial district. Thesis and capstone projects from three different programs will be on display. The MFA in Collaborative Design is represented by Amber Marsh and Ophir El-Boher; the MFA in Print Media by Devyn Park, Emma Flick, Heather Coleman, Jaynee Watson, Jessi Presley-Grusin, TK Yoeun, Lauren Goding, Russell Wood; and the MFA in Visual Studies by Julian Adoff, Shokoufeh Alizadeh, Jen Bacon, Kelly Brand, Heather Boyd, Sarah Cabbell, Robin Cone-Murakami, Alexis Day, Josh Hughes, Jess Iams, Diego Morales-Portillo, Lauren Prado, Rhonda Tuholski, Brittany Vega, Brittany Windsor, Yuyang Zhang.


DE May Untitled (Finish a Piece A Day)
 Artworks by D.E. May: Dan May
June 5 - June 29
PDX Contemporary 
925 NW Flanders

Discussing the work in this show, Hallie Ford Fellowship recipient Dan May said “If there are five steps to building something, I am interested in steps two and three.” May passed away in February of this year. Indeed, May’s use of ledger paper, continuous form paper, and used cardboard communicates a sense of mid-project work, issued from some parallel universe office where blocks of color stand in for numbers. The visual language of templates, diagrams, and plans form a peculiar, playful conceptual framework. 


Mark Aghatise, What Men Do We Know, 2017
2018 En Foco Fellowship Exhibitions: Study One: Mark Aghatise 
and The Soft Fence: Gioncarlo Valentine
June 6-30
Blue Sky Gallery
122 NW 8th Ave

Blue Sky hosts two arresting, personal solo exhibitions by Mark Aghatise and Gioncarlo Valentine. Both artists are recipients of the prestigious En Foco fellowship. Founded in 1974, En Foco’s mission is to support photographers of color and diverse cultures working in contemporary, fine art, and documentary photography. Aghatise’s manipulated and collaged photographs take on the “bifurcation of self that occurs in contemporary urban life,” according to the artist. After moving to New York City, he developed a keen awareness of the tendency of cities to split an individual’s persona into public and private versions. The work in Study One is the result of working with his subjects to capture reflections of how they present in public and at home. Gioncarlo Valentine’s show, The Soft Fence, seeks to explore the performance of masculinity in Black culture. Valentine, who grew up queer and femme-presenting, calls the photographs “a series of questions about access, performance, proximity, Black manhood, and Black brotherhood.” Aghatise will give an artist talk before the main opening at 5pm on Thursday, June 6. Valentine will speak at 3pm on Saturday, June 8. 


Assessed valuation of of all taxable property owned by Georgia Negroes, from W. E. B. Du Bois’s The Georgia Negro: A Study (1900). Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.
Color Line
June 15 - October 27
Portland Art Museum
1219 SW Park Ave

Activist, sociologist, historian and overall polymath W.E.B. Du Bois created an incredible exhibition for the 1900 Paris Exposition to communicate the conditions of race in America in systemic, poetic, and personal terms. The exhibit won a gold medal in 1900 and later became part of the Library of Congress’s permanent collection. It will be shown at the Portland Art Museum in June along with the Paris 1900 City of Entertainment exhibition. Color Line includes more than 300 photographs of African-American citizens along with exceptional charts and graphs – what we would now call data visualizations or infographics. The colorful diagrams and charts communicated statistics and other measurements of the stark inequalities and injustices of the racial divide in post-Civil-War America. The photographs, taken in collaboration with Booker T. Washington and Thomas Calloway, show the strength and humanity of African-Americans at the time. Defying stereotypes, the photographs show the businesses, universities, homes and professions of the first generation of African Americans to rise after abolition. This multi-faceted exhibit is both historically significant and personally affecting, and should not be missed.


Exhibitions at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art
University of Oregon Campus
1420 Johnson Lane
Eugene, OR

Phillip Haas
Sculpture Breathes Life Into Painting & Music: Philip Haas
Through June 9

Philip Haas’s new work will have its world premiere at the JSMA before it embarks on a year-long tour in the U.S. and abroad. For two weeks, an series of eclectic performances will intersect with the life-size sculptures representing the arts of painting, music, and sculpture. Motorized sculptures, totems, found objects, film, spoken work and other strategies form Haas’s unique artistic vocabulary, which he describes as “sculpting by thinking.” During the performances at JSMA, Haas will wear his sculpture while delivering a commentary to the audience. This promises to be a unique experience!

Jonathan Roensch, Braxton Williams, 2019, Photogaph, 11 x 14 inches. 
Common Thread: Reflections on Aesthetic Culture
Through September 8

Following on the success of 2018’s student-organized show Don’t Touch My Hair, this revealing, personal exhibition addresses many of the same themes. This time the conversation centers on clothing and other wearable expressions of identity and aesthetics. Organized by the UO student curatorial team of Taite Stull, Cassidy Shaffer, and Kristen Clayton, this exhibition aims to provide a glimpse into the diverse culture of the University of Oregon’s student body.

Video Still from “Passage”
Passage: Mohau Modisakeng
Through August 4

Previously shown as South Africa’s entry in the 2017 Venice Biennale, this affecting, three-channel video meditates on two different meanings of the term “passage.” In Setswana, the experience of being alive is referred to as a passage, with the Setswana word for life, botshelo, meaning to “cross over.” Then there is the far more tragic history of the word, referring to the legacy of enslavement that caused a “dismemberment of African identity,” in the words of Modisakang. Dreamlike, a birds-eye view of a passenger in a small wooden boat on a vast black body of water fills each projection as the water begins to rise.

Bonnie Hull’s ‘Little Me’: Memories of a life

A sympathetic curator helps connect the dots for the Salem artist's Minthorne Gallery show in Newberg

Not to be hyperbolic about it, but my first impression stepping into the Roger and Mildred Minthorne Gallery at George Fox University in Newberg was one of visual perfection.

Occasionally, one walks into a show where a cavernous space swallows up everything — installed, perhaps, by a curator who wants the pieces to “breathe.” The other end of the spectrum, of course, is to cram too much in.

But with Salem artist Bonnie Hull’s Little Me exhibit, showcased in the Minthorne through July 19, one finds a happy balance. The show comprises about two dozen pieces, mostly paintings and a couple of quilts, which fill the small cube-shaped room, with neither dominating the other. Outside, through floor-to-ceiling windows, you see the greenery of the 134-year-old campus. Perfection.

The Minthorne Gallery strikes a happy balance between space and content in its exhibition of Bonnie Hull’s work.  Photo by: David Bates
The Minthorne Gallery strikes a happy balance between space and content in its exhibition of Bonnie Hull’s work. Photo by: David Bates

Hull is well-known in Oregon artistic circles. A painter, preservationist, gardener and quilter, Hull, with her husband, Roger, is affiliated with Willamette University in Salem. A list of her shows fills several pages of single-spaced type. A few recent, local highlights: In 2010 and again in 2017, Hull was artist-in-residence at Bush Barn Art Center in Salem. This is her second Minthorne show; in 2015, she and fellow Salem artist Kay Worthington showcased quilts here.

We’ll get to the circumstances leading to her return in a moment. First, here’s Hull’s words on the show: 

“Memory and image define my work from the last two years,” she writes. “All the ingredients of the work I’ve been making all my life are here: narrative, pattern and texture, the drawn line. The addition of memory and the interpretation of memory in the process of imagining new work has made this an interesting period for the maker: me.”

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Humans on the move, profoundly

Lauren Carrera's gallery-size art installation at Blackfish is an odditorium of seductive specimens that asks, Where are we going?

Walk into Museo du Profundo Mundo presents: THE ASCENT OF MAN, Lauren Carrera’s remarkable gallery-sized installation at Blackfish Gallery that closes Saturday, and you’ll find yourself in another world – very like the one you’ve just left on the street outside but skewed, reshaped, its ordinary objects out of scale and oddly juxtaposed, as if you’ve entered an odditorium of a natural history museum where time speeds up and implications drip like dew in a primeval forest. You get the sense that you’re someplace ancient and recent and yet to come, a museum of cause and unintended effect. Is this where we were? Is this where we’re going?

The long human voyage: detail from Nuclear Family: Ascent of Man.

It’s an odd sensation, a mixture of dread and delight. Profundo Mundo has an almost steampunkish affection for the antiquarian, extending even to the language in its explanatory statements on the walls. “Museo du Profundo Mundo: The Carrera Expedition,” the opening plaque declares, and then continues:

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Where earth meets sky

Clairissa and Colby Stephens' multimedia exhibit at Chehalem Cultural Center explores horizon lines

This is the late spring lull before Yamhill County’s summer stage productions come to life. The Aquilon Music Festival is still a month away, though the wise would do well to buy tickets now. Tickets are also on sale for the 8th annual Wildwood MusicFest on the beautiful Roshambo ArtFarm in Willamina, like Aquilon, also set for July. A crew started working on the set for The Graduate at Gallery Theater in McMinnville last weekend. We’re still awaiting the final schedule for music downtown in the plaza, and Willamette Shakespeare’s As You Like It, set for August, feels like forever away.

If you’re in quieter, more contemplative mood, here’s a show for you: Stratifying the Unknown, an exhibition and installation by the husband-wife team of Clairissa and Colby Stephens. You’ll find it occupying the Parrish Gallery of the Chehalem Cultural Center in Newberg through June 28. I visited it last week and encountered a Portland TV crew preparing a feature on the place.

Stratifying the Unknown explores “the ways horizon lines shape our understanding of place and space and one’s location within it,” according to the exhibition notes. It’s a collaborative effort by artists who obviously understand what neuroscience and psychology tell us about architecture: that our physical environment, the very space we occupy, affects how we see, think, and feel about the world.

“When Earth Becomes Sky 360° ” by Colby Stephens (photograph on watercolor paper)

The Stephens did a lot of their thinking about 520 miles southeast of Newberg, in the Black Rock Desert — the supposed setting for the 1955 John Sturges thriller Bad Day at Black Rock. (The film actually was shot in California in a “town” that was built for the movie.) The couple was living in Reno in 2011, which gave them an opportunity to explore a physical space completely different from the Willamette Valley, where wooded hills, farmland, and subdivisions mark the outer limits of our field of vision.

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