Nim Wunnan

 

Dance review: Reggie Wilson’s got the POWER

White Bird brought Reggie Wilson to town and he brought a lesson about black Shakers

The world premiere of POWER in July of 2019 was an evening-length work, yet Reggie Wilson was generous enough with his energy to give a post-show interview after the second performance. When asked how he envisioned the world that the piece so fully occupies, he replied, “I tend not to envision—or project.” Instead, he said, he works with “found stuff” and with his many like-minded collaborators. He feeds their shared curiosity with deep research.

Dancers in Reggie Wilson's Fist and Heel Dance Troupe
Dancers in Reggie Wilson’s Fist and Heel Dance Troupe perform a duet to Solon Bushi by the Staples Singers. Photo by Christopher Duggan

Commissioned by Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, Wilson developed POWER in part during a residency at the Berkshire-based Hancock Shaker Village. He had been led there by his research into the history and experience of Rebecca Cox Jackson, a black woman who became a prominent figure in Shaker history. “I had heard about black Quakers because of their involvement with the Underground Railroad and abolition, but it hadn’t occurred to me that there might be black Shakers,” Wilson said, voicing a realization shared by many in the audience on Thursday night at the Portland premiere of POWER.

At Hancock, Wilson discovered how much more there was to the Shaker tradition than “just furniture and celibacy.” Dance and movement held a special place in Shaker religion and society as a direct way to liberate the soul and invite temporary possession by spirits.

Wilson knew that Rebecca Jackson, also known as Mother Rebecca, had her own singing and prayer group whose members were mainly black women. In his talk after the premiere, Wilson mused, “wouldn’t they carry over some of that … physicality and practice that they already had in their African, Afro-baptist, Afro-methodist kind of worship? If Shakers are moving, and moving into Spirit, and Africanist traditions are shaking and moving into spirit…so…Yeah!” At that point he spread his hands and gave the audience a look.

The dance takes that feeling and runs with it. Wilson sees the deep-running conduits connecting seemingly different cultures through the universal experience of groups of people coming together to dance, worship, and build a community. And of course, collaborating with math advisor Jesse Wolfeson to incorporate African fractal geometry into the work makes sense. Indigo batik-printed fabric, in the hands of Japanese biochemist-turned-costume-designer Naoko Nagata does in fact blend well with traditional Shaker dress. In fact, it all comes together so solidly on stage, one has to wonder why more avowedly-postmodern dance companies haven’t paid attention to this kind of collective, untrained group folk dance that has supported communities in nearly every country throughout history.

In the kaleidoscope of inspiration and references in the show, two items — a fabric and a song —  exemplify the intersection of traditions, crafts, identities, and materials that comprise POWER

The show opens with Wilson intoning a Shaker hymn and cradling a bolt of cloth dyed indigo with batik patterning. The fabric originally came from a collaboration, Call and Response, with textile artist Arianne King Comer, and is still stiff with wax from the batik process. Wilson first brought it back to the company simply because they needed more material for the beautiful, historically-inspired costuming that takes such a prominent role in POWER. However, a closer look revealed complexities in the fabric that mirror those explored in the show.

Originally from Asia and deeply rooted in the textile traditions of that region, indigo became a cash crop in the Southern Colonies, up there with tobacco and cotton. The Batik patterns call to mind vibrant African patterned fabric, but that history is complicated too. When Dutch colonists imported Asian batik techniques and patterns to their African colonies, they crowded existing resistance-dye traditions out of the market, casting a shadow of cultural influence that still lingers today. And in the hands of Nagata and her fellow costume designer Enver Chakartash, they became a gorgeous complement to the old-fashioned lines of demure Shaker dress. Full skirts with multiple layers of flounces and swags, mini-capes called “berthas”, head wraps, and overalls alike sported patterned indigo in the place of the famous Shaker Blue, and it worked.

Costume designer Nagota found herself at the intersection of another formal choice that, while not obviously related to the historical material in question, makes perfect sense in the world conjured in the show. A beautiful duet between two of the male dancers is performed to the Staple Singer’s 1970 version of Solon Bushi, a traditional Japanese sea shanty. Wilson remembers that version, while Nagota remembers it as a ubiquitous folk song. Wilson first played the Staples version during a rehearsal almost as a prank on Nagota. Unsure if it was “really Japanese,” Wilson figured that if he put it on and it got Nagota’s attention, there might be something to talk about. And, in fact, a Delta gospel group, deeply involved in the labor movement of the 1960s, singing a work song about fishing, with a driving rhythm, made sense. Looking deeper into it, the song and its history fit quite snugly with the Shaker idea of sacred labor, of labor being a way to connect with spirits.

Wilson says it got him “thinking about different workers, across the planet, they just have to keep going, keep going…sometimes they find a meditative way to do it, sometimes it’s survival.” The song became a way for him to get “a bigger reach” to the Shakers’ ideas, beyond the common conception that they are restricted to a “very New England, very white” world. 

Wilson is labeled as a postmodern choreographer, which is true in the technical sense. Among the many popular misconceptions that accompany that term, perhaps the most interruptive is the idea that anyone working under postmodernism is doing so willfully, in an attempt to forge a new school of arbitrary pastiche, like the Impressionists fought for their place on the gallery walls. It is more of a situation now than a movement, and it is important to know how that situation affects what we are looking at. What Wilson is looking for in POWER wouldn’t be better served by an attempt at historical recreation, yet he’s not finding it by being willfully postmodernist. Rather, in the postmodern situation, he is searching, omnivorously and omnidirectionally, for a way to be true to the spirit of a lived history that can’t be explicitly known, and the deep ideas that informed that experience. 

The movement, costuming, and music in the show have far more energy, variety and color when compared to traditional Shaker dance. But the point isn’t to create some sort of of bumped-up Shaker remix, rather to show how all the disparate elements brought together here are rooted in something more shared. By working to create something that holds together so well despite its fusion of diverse traditions and aesthetics, Wilson has revealed those deeper currents. 

The faithfulness to his “reconstruction” is to those deeper inspirations and ambitions of the material, and to what his dancers bring to the show from their many, individual backgrounds. That’s what the show is true to, to the extent that the dancers do not look like professional dancers at times, but like people moving their bodies for an ecstatic, spiritual purpose, supporting a tight-knit community. 

Dancers in Reggie Wilson's Fist and Heel Dance Troupe
Fist and Heel Performance Group members in custom Shaker-inspired costumes. Photo by Christopher Duggan

Specific, symbolic elements from Shaker dance do appear in the show—shaking out the hands, raising them to hearts and the heavens. Modern dance techniques intersect with the almost trance-like wheeling and repetition of spiritual group dances. At times it is hard to decide whether the foundation comes from the Shakers or from the other areas of Wilson’s broad interest, such as African ring-shout dances.

Perhaps the most striking quality to the movement in POWER was its realism. While the dancers in Fist and Heel clearly have all the skills one would expect of a professional troupe of their caliber, their choreography seemed to intentionally forgo polish in the service of presence. For lack of better words, they just seemed to be dancing the way their bodies wanted to move—like the people who created these dances would move.

As the Shakers’ black members are an overlooked and important part of their history, so is the role of spiritual movement in why we, as an audience, watch dancers. They do something very human—get together, clap, move together in a group. This ritual has served a purpose, which sometimes seems lost in modern society. POWER makes it easier to see that purpose and the humble beauty that drives it.

Sasha Waltz’s KÖRPER: Bodies meet wall, artfully

White Bird's first foray into contemporary German choreography runs into a wall—and the bodies that run into it

Dancers took the stage at the Portland premiere of Sasha Waltz’s KÖRPER before the audience had finished taking their seats. While all the lights in the Newmark Theatre were still on, the industrial sounds of Hans-Peter Kuhn’s multi-channel soundtrack blurted from speakers around the theater. Two dancers approached the the massive wall that bisected the stage diagonally (think Richard Serra’s Tilted Arc), and at the same time individual body parts—a foot here, some fingers there—emerged from two small holes in the weatherbeaten, blue-grey surface of the enormous monolith.

This was not going to be an ordinary show.

Designed by Thomas Schenk and Heike Schuppelius, both of whom studied architecture, the wall is unlike any set seen before in a White Bird performance. The first German company ever presented by White Bird, the presence of Waltz and her amazing wall in Portland owes much to the assistance of the organizations collaborating in the Year of German American Friendship 2018/19. With all that in mind—and considering that the dancers alone represent more than a dozen countries—the show crackles with a sense of a great converging of effort and ideas into a singular experience, marked by a monumental wall.

Sasha Waltz and Guests brought a strong dose of experimental German dance to White Bird this weekend./Photo courtesy of White Bird

Continues…

Vizarts Monthly: Cozy autumn edition

October offers textiles, botanical prints, and painted memories

Summer has left us, but the colors and coziness of autumn have begun to show up while there are still leaves on the trees and some sunny days. Whether you break out your fall jacket to browse the First Thursday openings or you take a meditative stroll through the Lan Su Chinese Garden to see their exhibition of beautiful flower paintings, this October offers up a rich variety of group exhibitions, solo shows, and even a textile symposium!

Olivia Kincaid – San Diego Zoo

Olivia Kincaid: Perpetuating Family Systems
Through October 25
White Gallery
Portland State University
1825 SW Broadway

Portland State University MFA candidate Olivia Kincaid’s mixed-media paintings appropriate familiar forms of contemporary portraiture, like the family snapshot or the senior portrait, and transform them into explorations of the concept of “family” itself. PSU’s White Gallery presents Kincaid’s latest work in a show curated by Safiyah Maurice that should be both an opportunity to reflect on the ties that bind us to our kin as well as a great chance to see brand new painting by one of Portland’s emerging talents. 


Image by Nora Sherwood

Mums & More Botanical Art Exhibition
October-November
Lan Su Chinese Garden
239 NW Everett St.

As part of the American Society of Botanical Artists’ 25th anniversary, local chapter Oregon Botanical Artists presents an exhibition of contemporary botanical illustration at Portland’s Lan Su Chinese Garden. The show will focus on chrysanthemums and other plants that evoke autumn or that have significance in Asian cultures. In contrast to the usual “white cube” typical of most contemporary art galleries, this will be a chance to see the work of 17 Oregon artists in a unique setting that complements and contextualizes their subjects.

Jenene Nagy: Banner, 2019

Jenene Nagy: Box Breathing
October 2-November 2
PDX Contemporary
925 NW Flanders

Jenene Nagy’s poetic compositions are made with monochromatic graphite and  folded paper, arranged in grids and nesting squares that are simple in conception but contain surprising depths of light and texture. PDX Contemporary presents some of her latest pieces in box breathing, which will please those who are into process-based and post-minimalist artwork as well as anyone who appreciates the beauty of subtlety. 

Ancestral Connections
October 4-October 29
Multnomah Art Center
7688 SW Capitol Hwy

This multimedia group show, curated by Bobby Fouther, envisions the African Diaspora residing in Portland as an extended family, or a village, complete with elders, students, parents, and peers. At the same time, Fouther’s curation celebrates the diversity of this community by featuring artists of varying age, medium, and style. Works ranging from paintings to quilts to spoken word share individual stories that contribute to a larger picture of a shared ancestral heritage. Look for muralist Jamaali Roberts’ unique collages and the precocious paintings of Hobbs Waters.


Image via Tropical Contemporary

Somethings Together
October 4, 6-9 pm; October 5 & 12, 1-4 pm
Tropical Contemporary
1120 Bailey Hill #11
Eugene, OR

Tropical Contemporary’s October show, “Somethings Together,” is only open for a short time but is definitely worth a visit if you happen to be in Eugene during gallery hours. The artist-run space has been a platform for emerging Oregon artists since 2015 and their latest show features four artists whose work plays off each other visually and conceptually. The mediums they use vary and range from colorfully painted and shaped canvases to architecturally-informed sculpture and even fabric constructions. Surreal humor ties them all together.

Mark Flores and William E. Jones: Collaboration 3

Mark Flores and William E. Jones: Perverted By Language
October 5-November 8
Opening Reception: Saturday, October 5, 5-7 pm
Private Places
2400 NE Holladay St.

Private Places will host Los Angeles artists Mark Flores and William E. Jones for their second collaborative show. Both artists have multi-decade careers under their belts already but have departed from their usual mediums and methods to create new works that incorporate collage, painting, and 1970s pop culture icons like David Bowie and Blondie’s Debbie Harry. The result is vivid and cool. The show is accompanied by a screening of Jones’ films at Yale Union on Sunday, October 6, at 7pm.

Takuichi Fujii: Self Portrait

Witness to Wartime: The Painted Diary of Takuichi Fujii
October 19, 2019 through January 5, 2020
High Desert Museum
58900 US-97
Bend, OR

The illustrated diary of the late Washington artist Takuichi Fujii, on display this month at Bend’s High Desert Museum, is a moving personal document of the Japanese-American experience during World War II. Fujii was one of the many Americans who were imprisoned in internment camps by the United States government without charge simply because of their heritage. During his three years in the camps he wrote and painted over 400 pages that detail both despair and strength. This exhibition also includes examples of Fujii’s surreal and abstract paintings from both before and after his time in the camps, providing a fuller picture of this talented artist whose life was profoundly affected by the mistakes of those in power at the time. 

example of textile work by Feryal Abbasi-Ghnaim, featured speaker at the Symposium

Textile Connections Symposium
October 26, 10am-6pm; October 27, 12-4 pm
Pacific Northwest College of Art
511 NW Broadway

October is Textile Month in Portland, and the festivities come to a close with the Textile Connections Symposium, a gathering of international fiber artists and makers. The first day features panel discussions and keynote speakers, including Palestinian embroidery experts Feryal Abbasi-Ghnaim and Wafa Ghnaim. Sunday is “community day” which means a makers market with dozens of local and visiting vendors, demonstrations of textile tools and techniques, and plenty of opportunities to meet fellow fiber-arts lovers. This event aims to bring the regional textile community together to celebrate their achievements while fostering innovation and collaboration in the future.

VizArts Monthly: September Frenzy

TBA Picks and September gallery shows

September lands with a bang in Portland – PICA’s TBA (Time Based Art) Festival is always a highlight and this year we also have Portland2019, the biennial run by Disjecta. Elsewhere, Nationale has closed their Division location but promises to re-open soon with more exhibition space at 15 SE 22nd, Adams and Ollman will reopen on September 26 after their short vacation, and the Japanese Garden will be hosting their popular Moonviewing Festival. As always, our fine local galleries will be showing some new, interesting work. Here are some highlights, so get out there!

Rodrigo Valenzuela – Road 1, Courtesy of Upfor

RODRIGO VALENZUELA: PAST | PRESENT

Through September 28
Upfor Gallery
929 NW Flanders St 

Valenzuela’s third solo exhibition at Upfor consists of two separate shows, in September and October. Opening on First Thursday in September, Past will feature selected videos and photos from Valenzuela’s major series, made between 2013 and 2018, some of which are concurrently displayed at at the Philips Collection in Washington DC. If you’re unfamiliar with Valenzuela’s work, this show will be an excellent chance to get to know his multi-media approach to observing and documenting our current world, from videos sharing the stories of Latino immigrants to monochromatic photos of urban decay. In October, return to see brand new work that plays with perspective and scale to further interrogate the artist’s subjects.

Courtesy of Ori Gallery

2nd Annual Youth exhibition

Through September 29
Ori Gallery
4038 N Mississippi Ave

This group exhibition of a diverse collection of local youth artists aims to “facilitate & continue the dialogue in what it means for young folks to cultivate an artistic practice,” according to Ori Gallery. Artists include Markayla Ballard, Kayla Brock, Htet Htet Soe, Christian Orellana Bauer, Tania Jaramillo, Kennedy Boswell, and Aiyana McClinton as well as Hobbs Waters, an ambitious, multi-disciplinary artist and dancer already thinking big at the age of 10. A welcome new tradition, this annual show gives viewers a glimpse of the next generation of artistic voices out of Portland.

Maya Vivas, courtesy of the artist

i have no choice but to suck the juice out, and who am i to blame: Maya Vivas

September 4 – 20
Reception: Thursday, September 5, 6-8 PM
Littman + White Galleries 
1825 Southwest Broadway

Ceramic sculptor, performance artist, and co-owner of Ori Gallery Maya Vivas presents a new set of evocative, sculptural work in this show at Littman + White. The flowing forms spring from Vivas’s interest in “absurdity, elegance, carnality, speculative fiction, and body horror” (from their statement). These beguiling objects often feel strangely organic or on the verge of moving.

Installation View of For the Seventh Generation

For the Seventh Generation

Sept 28th and 29th, 2019, 12–6:30 pm
U.S. Post Office on NW Lovejoy and 8th, Portland, OR
Outdoor exhibition by Elizabeth Jones Art Center

This unique project aims to create a mile-long “panomural” of seascapes by dozens of artists that will allow viewers to walk the entirety of the US Pacific coastline, from Mexico to Canada. Seeking to raise awareness of the environmental issues facing our nearest ocean, the project aims to be “conceptually continuous” meaning that West Coast artists will represent every mile of the California, Oregon, and Washington coasts in one way or another, on canvases two by four feet, arranged sequentially until they stretch for a mile. For the final weekend in September, you can catch one third of the mile mural right in the Pearl District as an outdoor exhibition. 

Image by Lynn Yarne

Portland2019

Through November 3
Disjecta
8371 N Interstate Avenue

The fifth biennnial in Disjecta’s tenure of running the Portland Biennial, this survey, co-curated by Yaelle S. Amir, Elisheba Johnson, and Ashley Stull Meyers, highlights visual and performing artists who are “defining and advancing Oregon’s contemporary art landscape,” according to Disjecta. Unlike some previous years, all of the Biennial events this year will be held at Disjecta’s North Portland headquarters, making it a convenient way to see a lot of art in a single space. Artists include Sara Siestreem, Vanessa Renwick, Dru Donovan, Ka’ila Farrell-Smith, the Harriet Tubman Center for Expanded Curatorial Practice, and Lynn Yarne.

Three picks for TBA

Eiko Otake courtesy of PICA

A Body in Places: Eiko Otake

Sept 5th 6–8pm – Performance
Sept 5 – Oct 24
PNCA’s Center for Contemporary Art & Culture 511 NW Broadway

A Body in Fukushima: Reflections on the Nuclear in Everyday Life

Mon Sept 9, 7 pm
Northwest Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium
1219 SW Park, $8–10

Eiko Otake’s return to TBA is one of the most notable performances in the festival this year (she’s on the cover of the guide). Starting in 2014, she has performed variations of her solo project, A Body in Places, at more than 40 locations including some affected by the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster. She will be performing work from A Body on opening night of TBA at PNCA’s Center for Contemporary Art & Culture. A screening of the artist’s film A Body in Fukushima will be at the Northwest Film Center and then later in the festival she will reveal new work as part of her The Duet Project. With the anticipation swirling around these performances, it could be easy to miss that there are visual art components to her presence at the festival as well as the film and performative elements. PICA hosts multi-channel video of site-specific performances while PNCA’s 511 gallery will show new print and video work, made in collaboration at a residency at the Institute for Electronic Arts. 

Myles De Bastion, courtesy of PICA

CymaSpace: Myles De Bastion

September 12, 10:30pm
PICA
15 NE Hancock St

If you’re questioning whether this musical performance can be considered visual art, then you’re asking the right questions. Founder of Cymaspace, deaf musician, artist, and activist Myles de Bastion wants us to examine our notion of what music is, and expand our sensory experience. The press release describes their performance as using “visual, vibrational, light-based, and other immersive and multi-sensory interpretations and displays of sound.” The light-based apprach includes big, very bright LED panels that blast frequencies we can enjoy with our eyes to complement the soundwaves from the speakers. TBA goes on to say that “this night of performances will create multiple modes and nodes of access for Deaf and Hearing audiences alike…” Viewers with sensitive eyes take note: consider this a visual version of a rock show, so sunglasses could be both fashionable and practical.

Costume from The Dope Elf, courtesy of PICA

The Dope Elf

September 14–22: Public viewing of “The Dope Elf” performance environment
September 14: “The Dope Elf” premier performance, 8pm–10pm, September 15: “The Dope Elf” performance, 8pm–10pm
Yale Union (YU), 800 SE 10th Ave.
$10 suggested donation

Los Angeles playwright Asher Hartman and his company, Gawdafful National Theater, have come to Portland to occupy the Yale Union as part of TBA – literally. Building a makeshift trailer park, the company will live in their creation for the duration of the show while using it as a stage and film set. The YU describes the experience (and it is more of an experience than a performance) as a “whirlwind” and a “multitude of voices, sensorial phenomena, and slippery points-of-view, the play becomes a space to experience an American landscape of aching laughter and psychic pain.” One of the most ambitious shows at the Yale Union to date, and the YU’s first collaboration with TBA, The Dope Elf is sure to be a highlight of the festival.

The hot days, long nights, and spontaneous trips to the river are here. It’s summer in Portland, no doubt about it. As is tradition, everything happens all at once and there’s no time for anything. First Thursday falls on the first of the month, so why not start your busy summer schedule with an art crawl? If you can’t make it out then, there are a few good shows opening later this month, particularly Stephanie Simek at Melanie Flood.

image courtesy of Private Places

Eclipse: Kelly Akashi and Cayetano Ferrer

July 26 2019 – September 14 2019
Private Places
2400 NE Holladay Street Portland OR 97232

Private Places, a small gallery in the Broadway district known for innovative shows featuring early and mid-career contemporary artists from beyond Portland as well as local talent, describes this show with a sort of poetic materials list:

Terrestrial epiphyte sprouts, screen negative. Steel roots, planular log, silicate stems.
Interlocked breath and pressure—molten glass conformed to a heat-shocked mold of sand and lime. Fissures recomposed under weight of a reclining bell bubble.
Folded furniture and mimetic prosthetic. Compartments and platforms for pattern-impressed vessels, located and rotated, inset and offset.
Orbiting lights, bell body lens, refracting an envelope of rays.

All the pieces in the show are collaborations between artists Kelly Akashi and Cayetano Ferrer. An undisclosed, offsite location houses the second, appointment-only half of the show. Eclipse looks to be both intriguing and cerebral.

Brandi Kruse, File Bluff White

Flat Out: Brandi Kruse

July 20 – August 10
Book launch + poetry reading August 10, 2019 from 6 – 8 PM
Fuller / Rosen Gallery
2505 SE 11th Ave Suite 106

Brandi Kruse’s exhibition is preoccupied with imagined spaces, physical absence, and a unique observation: very few things are actually, truly, flat. Her sculpture and poetry are filled with “compressed and expanded” light, memory, and reflections. Kruse says:

I flatten things every day: my face in mirror images, my body in the shadows, the world through photographs. I have flattened ideas by recording them on pages, in words made of letters, made of lines, shapes without form; seemingly non-dimensional. But they are not formless and they are not without dimension.

The exhibition includes the launch of Kruse’s book of poetry from the show, flat out. You can pre-order the book from Fuller/Rosen now or get a copy at the launch where Kruse will be reading on August 10 from 6 – 8 pm.

Ryan Whelan, Life the Sky soft pastel, acrylic, and casein, 20 x 24 inches

Summer Collective Group Exhibit

July 27 – August 24
Stephanie Chefas Projects
305 SE 3rd Avenue, Suite 202

This group exhibition features new work from nine contemporary artists: Ben Willis, Carissa Potter, Jeffrey Cheung, Laura Berger, Leslie Vigeant, Mako Miyamoto, Maxwell McMaster, Mia Farrington, and Ryan Whelan. Vibrant, sometimes breezy, sometimes funny pieces that overlap with the sensibilities of the design world fill this show. Mako Miyamoto’s photos of a dirtbiker wearing a wookie mask play well with Maxwell McMaster’s LA-sunset-pallette acrylic paintings on found record covers. Meanwhile, Laura Berger’s cut-out style figures and Carissa Potter’s sumi ink paintings accompany the humbly small but beautiful paintings by Ryan Whelan and minimalist abstractions by Mia Farrington.

Tangle by Myra Clark

My Word is Hard to Hear: Mami Takahashi | Pilgrimage: Myra Clark 

July 30 – August 31
Blackfish Gallery
420 NW 9th Ave

Takahashi describes her current project as part of an “ongoing investigation of veiled communication within public space.” “Listening circles” on the floor delinate spaces where listeners to can hear a voice reading poetry in hushed tones that might otherwise be lost among the hubub of a busy gallery. Two different voices read the same poem in different listening circles inviting careful attention from the listeners.

New Blackfish Member Myra Clark will be exhibiting work at the same time. Clark draws on Byzantine icon painting methods, contemporary styles, and found objects to engage with the stories her mother has recounted as she develops dementia. This intimate show reflects on family, spirituality, and aging through its eclectic materials and methods.

One Afternoon in Your Next Reincarnation

Aug 1 6:00 PM – Aug 16 4:00 PM
Pacific Northwest College of Art (PNCA)
511 NW Broadway

PNCA’s low-residency MFA program is something of a hybrid between a residency program and a traditional MFA. Combining distance-learning and a flexible schedule with intensive residency periods, the program is a different take on the often-costly Master in Fine Arts programs (MFAs) that drive the art world today. Portland artist and curator Srijon Chowdhury has curated the thesis work of the 2019 class for this show. It should be an interesting chance to see work made with Portland in mind while carrying the imprint of sensibilities from beyond the city.

Anne W. Brigman, Infinitude, (1915) platinum print

Toughened to Wind and Sun: Women Photographing the Landscape

Aug 10, 2019 – Mar 8, 2020
Portland Art Museum
1219 SW Park Avenue

Drawn almost entirely from the Museum’s permanent collection, this exhibition celebrates an exceptional and underrepresented part of photographic history: nature photography by early-twentieth century women. Pictoralist Anne Brigman regularly hiked into the Sierra Nevada mountain range with her medium-format camera to produce some of the most haunting images of the show. “I slowly found my power with the camera among the junipers and tamarack pines of the high, storm-swept altitudes,” said Brigman.
PAM notes that “although women were active in photography from the medium’s earliest period, the terrain beyond the home was the purview of male photographers. Images of hard-to-reach scenic wonders made by men continue to influence our understanding of landscape photography and punctuate its history.” The photographs in this show reveal an important, broader history of outdoor photography. Sara Cwynar, Wendy Red Star, and Penelope Umbrico’s contributions to the exhibition show how women continue to push the boundaries in this field.

Artist Jessi Queen

La Strada dei Pastelli

Saturday, August 10 and Sunday, August 11 from 11:00 am-6:00 pm
Cedar Hills Crossing Shopping Complex
3205 SW Cedar Hills Blvd, Beaverton, OR 97005

This is the inaugural event in what the 2D4D arts organization plans to be an annual outdoor chalk drawing festival. With a mission statement that specifically calls out the importance of “bridging interaction between the arts and non-arts communities.” The August event, La Strada Dei Pastelli or “Street of Pastels” is named in honor of the 500-year old tradition of Italian street painting and features fifteen professional chalk artists drawn from around the country who were invited to complete large-scale drawings on the street in 48 hours or less. Free and open to the public, the festival also features musical performances including Portland Opera A La Cart. This is sure to be a family-friendly, fun outdoor event full of art and music.

Stephanie Simek

Stephanie Simek, Installation Detail

August 17- September 14
Melanie Flood Projects
420 SW Washington St., #301

Portland- and Seattle-based artist Stephanie Simek brings her multidisciplinary, sculptural, and scientific experimentation to Melanie Flood Projects later this month. Magnetic phenomena, holograms, lasers, growing cystals, and handmade sound devices are just as likely to appear in Simeks’s shows as are intricate sculptures or succulent plants. Astute gallery-goers might recall her delightful urn that held a crystallized key that could only be viewed in hologram via a convex mirror at the recent PDX Contemporary group show, Speculative Frictions. Don’t miss this chance to see more new work by this talented Northwest artist.

Whatever gets your synapses firing, July’s got you covered. This month is packed with shows that run the gamut, from a rare exhibition of the the father of Japanese Conceptual art to the Salem Art Fair and Festival. If you’ve only got one day to peep some art and can’t make it to Salem, the annual open studios at the NW Marine Artworks studio will have the most artists under one roof in Portland. And if you’re hungry, head on down to Carnation Contemporary on July 6 for their opening that features a Culinaria event at Disjecta – sandwiches and art together! Honorable mentions for this month are the Paris 1900:City of Entertainment exhibit at PAM and the Recent Grads show at Blackfish.

Psi, the glyph used by Yutaka Matsuzawa as a calling card
Yutaka Matsuzawa: Curated by Alan Longino and Reiko Tomii

Through August 18, 2019
Thursday – Sunday, 12–6pm
Yale Union
800 SE 10th Ave

Considered the father of Japanese conceptual art, Yutaka Matsuzawa was born in 1922 in Shimo Suwa in central Japan. Matsuzawa studied architecture during World War II; the devastation caused by the firebombing of Tokyo in March of 1945 made a significant impression on him. Proclaiming that he wished “to create an architecture of invisibility,” he gave up architecture and became a poet an a painter. His desire to express the invisible brought him to the realm of conceptual art, but he “transcended” it in ways that were not fully appreciated by Western audiences. Influential in his time, he was rarely exhibited in the West. This will be the first major exhibition for Matsuzawa in the US, accompanied by an edition of 500 copies of his QUANTUM ART MANIFESTO. This exhibition was curated by art historian Alan Longino and Reiko Tomii, a scholar and curator who worked with Matsuzawa before his death in 2006.

Joe Rudko, Rising Tide, 2019, found photographs on paper, 30” x 22”
It’s Summer

Through August 31
PDX Contemporary
925 NW Flanders

This two-month long group show is a veritable who’s-who of the Portland contemporary art scene. Eschewing a theme, PDX Contemporary has instead asked the participating 28 artists to submit work that reflects the current moment in their studio – what they’re thinking and making in the summer of 2019. Expect a wide range of ideas and approaches from the following artists: Anna Gray + Ryan Wilson Paulsen, Natalie Ball, Tina Beebe, Nick Blosser, Iván Carmona, Amjad Faur, Bean Finneran, Jacques Flechemuller, Ellen George, Peter Gronquist, Victoria Haven, Elizabeth Knight, James Lavadour, Nancy Lorenz, Jeffry Mitchell, Megan Murphy, Jenene Nagy, Georgina Reskala, Joe Rudko, Tad Savinar, Adam Sorensen, Barbara Stafford, Andy Stout, Storm Tharp, Molly Vidor, Nell Warren, and Heather Watkins.

Robert Pokorny, Note to Self (Orange), 2019, Acrylic on linen, 36 x 28 in.
Dialogue: Robert Pokorny

Through August 11
Ampersand
2916 NE Alberta Street

These 24 new paintings by Robert Pokorny pop with color and energy while retaining a sharp sense of control. The show’s title, “Dialogue,” refers in part to the relationship between these paintings and Pokorny’s book, Drawings. Raw linen takes the place of his signature Kraft Muscletone paper. This show means to “glimpse the flow of creative energy, the conversation between a book of sketches made over the better part of a year and the paintings that refine their message.” Beyond that, the show represents the dialogue of collaboration between the artist and the gallery – exploring how the books published through Ampersand’s imprint can stir new creation, not just record existing work.

Doll Head William Matheson
Antigen: William Matheson

Through July 30
Nationale
3360 SE Division

William Matheson’s fourth solo exhibition at Nationale meditates on loss, memory, and the desire to preserve aspects of life when faced with personal loss and the threat of societal collapse. After the 2016 death of a close family member, Matheson started collecting photographs and ephemera, gathering objects that went on to inspire this set of paintings. The photos that became subjects remain as images in a larger world, framed by glowing computer screens or the yellowed borders of an old photograph, accompanied by a deep indigo which Nationale likens to the “nocturnal haze of memory.” The show seeks a conversation with deep-seated fears and death, rather than running from them.

Installation Image from Bloom Tomb
Bloom Tomb: Jessie Weitzel Le Grand

Carnation Contemporary
8371 N Interstate Ave

July 6–July 28
Special event July 6 6-9pm

Jessie Weitzel Le Grand presents her work as artifacts imported from the imaginary town Ny By (pronounced knee-bee). As the sole Ny By importer, Le Grand ups her game for this show to include sandwiches and bouquets in the culinary and floral traditions of Ny By. Bloom Tomb coincides with a Culinaria event at Disjecta, with which Carnation Contemporary shares a building. Culinaria is an ongoing series that “pairs artists and chefs to create unique community events, providing opportunities for collaboration, creative risk-taking, and the exchange of new ideas between two very different creative realms.” On July 6, Le Grand’s work will be paired with food and drink in Disjecta’s Gallery 2 space, with both the art and the food centered on themes of layering and stacking (making sandwiches the obvious choice).

Midori Hirose, WSFN1, Recycled Polylactic Acid, 2019.
Trash Hackers

July 17 – August 17, 2019.
Paragon Arts Gallery at PCC Cascade
815 N. Killingsworth St.

Trash Hackers is a collective of local artists who attempt to disrupt the ongoing flow of products and materials into landfills, taking what would otherwise be considered plastic waste and pushing it to form what they call “atmospheric, otherworldly expanses.” Utilitarian and abstract sculptures made entirely from recycled plastic will fill the gallery forcing viewers to reconsider the use of discarded material. Interested in “solution oriented strategies,” the collective will invite the public to collect and donate clean, recyclable plastic to the space. They will also present ShredCore, a demonstration of shredding plastic to prepare it for recycling on Saturday, August 3. The exhibition is presented by the founding members of Trash Hackers Collective: Darcy Neal, Midori Hirose, Emma Prichard, Francesca Frattaroli, and Alice Rotsztain.

re:Presence, a solo exhibition of Portland artist Collin Richard will be happening in conjunction with the Trash Hackers show. Richard’s work centers on what Paragon calls “an exploration of environmental epistemics.” His interdisciplinary approach includes includes sculpture, performance, printmaking, video, photography, and language. The work in this show will address our relationship to nature and what alienates us from it.

Opening Reception
Friday, July 19th, 2019 @ 4 – 7 p.m.

Artists Talk:
Saturday, August 3rd, 2019, at 2 p.m.

Salem Salon 100 installation view
Salem Art Fair and Festival and Salem Salon 100

Friday July 19th–Sunday July 21st
Bush’s Pasture Park
600 Mission St. SE
Salem, OR 97302
$10 for full pass, $5 for single day pass

Salem Salon 100
July 5 – August 24th
Bush Barn Art Center & Annex
600 Mission St. SE Salem, OR 97302
Free Admission

The 70th annual Salem Art Fair will fill our state’s capital with activities, exhibitions, and music later this month. Featuring more than 200 artists and two performance stages, the festival’s ticket price helps support the arts in Salem and beyond. While you’re there, you can also catch the Salem Salon 100 show at the Bush Barn Art Center. A non-juried exhibition, it celebrates the work of artists of all levels working within a 75-mile radius of Salem. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a higher concentration of the arts in Salem at any other time of the year.

NW Marine Artworks Open Studios

2:00 PM – 8:00 PM, Saturday, July 20, 2019
NW Marine Art Works
2516 NW 29th, Portland, Oregon 97210

This is the third annual public event for this large, private studio space occupied by more than 100 local artists working in most any media you can think of including painting, ceramics, photography, sculpture, dance, theatre, jewelry, and textiles. In addition to the resident artists, visiting artists will be present from the North Coast Seed Building, River St. Studios, and the Carton Service Building in an effort to represent a broad selection of Portland’s current fine art community. Family friendly activities will accompany the art-crawl, including live music, minigolf, a kids’ painting table, and food carts.

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.