VISUAL ART

Carola Penn, longtime Portland artist, dies

Wide-ranging subjects and provocative arrangements captured urban life, landscapes, politics, abstracts, and childhood memories

Carola Penn, a leading Pacific Northwest artist whose paintings were rooted in landscapes both political and personal, has died. She was 74.

Penn, who was raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, spent most of her life in Portland, where she lived quietly, dedicating her days to her work. She was laconic by nature; prolific and disciplined.

Carola Penn artist

Carola Penn in her studio. Undated.

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‘It started with poetry’: A conversation with Darnell McAdams

The Portland-area photographer talks about his "Black Santa Project" and the storytelling link between poetry and photography

Those of us who write about the arts at some point trot out “visual poetry” to describe something other than actual verse — a painting, a film, even a tour de force staging of a dance or scene in a play. Though we’d likely stumble in trying to define what we mean, “visual poetry” seemed like the obvious descriptor for Black Santa, Darnell McAdams’ remarkable photography that was included in Photo Club PDX’s Photographic Intentions exhibit in Newberg earlier this year. Next month, The Black Santa Project will take up residence in Photo Club PDX’s Community Drawer at Portland’s Blue Sky Gallery, from May 14 through June 11.

While it may seem a stretch to fold his work into my series of interviews with poets this month, I wanted to circle back to McAdams because of a line from his bio that stayed with me: “It started with poetry.” Soaking up the sensual black-and-white imagery of Black Santa, one recalls the plainly self-congratulatory but nevertheless apropos remark by Orson Welles that “a film is never really good unless the camera is an eye in the head of a poet.” McAdams brings a poet’s sensibility to his work, which I sensed even before learning that “it started with poetry.”

"Be Calm and Keep Breathing" is part of Darnell McAdams’ “Black Santa Project,” selections from which were part of a photography show at the Chehalem Cultural Center in Newberg this winter. It will be exhibited May 14-June 11 at the Blue Sky Gallery in downtown Portland.

“Be Calm and Keep Breathing” is part of Darnell McAdams’ “Black Santa Project,” selections from which were part of a photography show at the Chehalem Cultural Center in Newberg this winter. It will be exhibited May 14-June 11 at the Blue Sky Gallery in downtown Portland.

So I asked him about this.

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VizArts Monthly: Art blossoms all over town

The local art scene bursts into action as we mark the last graduating class at OCAC

Spring is upon us, and the art scene is blooming like the cherry blossoms downtown. In the same month, you can see the thesis shows by the 112th and final graduating class from OCAC and PNCA’s first year of MFA students to study in their new location, The Glass Building. If you’re walking around for First Thursday you can catch a high-concept group show at PDX Contemporary or a set of handmade quilts showing the ravages of climate change at Erickson Gallery. Then there’s the massive range of events during Design Week. However you want to divide art from design, you can sort events by either discipline on the festival’s site. If you’re looking for a party, PICA has its Meta Gala at the end of the month.

Takasaki at Nationale

Where did you sleep last night?: Shohei Takasaki

Through April 23
Nationale
3360 SE Division
Portland-based painter Shohei Takasaki’s first solo show at Nationale cast a colorful, abstracted eye on domestic scenes. Geometric forms and color fields intersect with recognizable objects found in the home, like a sock or a cracked egg. A playful intimacy pervades the bright colors of these canvases, filled with impressions of time Takasaki spent with loved ones.

via The White Gallery

When is a bowl of fruit just a bowl of fruit? Hiromi Lee and Prithvi Chauhan

Through April 12, 2019
Reception: Thursday, April 4, 6–8 PM
Littman + White Galleries
1825 Southwest Broadway
This two-person exhibition was curated by Jeremy Husserl borne out of frustration with the expectations thrust upon artists of color to “only create with a social justice meaning,” in the words of the press release. The title comes from a saying favored by the mother of one of the artists, which suggests that sometimes the art can speak for itself. Lee and Chuahan choose to cut loose and express themselves in this show that focuses on “the fantastic, the colorful, the controversial, and most of all the human condition.”

Installation view from Charmed

Echo: Joe Feddersen

Through April 20, 2019
The Center for Contemporary Art & Culture at Pacific Northwest College of Art (PNCA)
511 NW Broadway
This exhibition features a new series of prints produced by Feddersen while artist-in-residence at PNCA’s Watershed Center for Fine Art Publishing and Research. Working in collaboration with MFA students and program chair Matthew Letzelter, Feddersen produced new, large-scale prints that connect to his 2014 piece, Charmed. Comprised of more than 400 pieces of fused glass, Charmed will be displayed with the new prints. Together they develop a visual vocabulary that is as informed by ancient, mystical glyphs as it is by modern logos and icons.

Game of Skill by Stephanie Simek

Speculative Frictions

April 3 to April 27
PDX Contemporary
925 NW Flanders

The title for this research-centric group show was inspired by poet Joan Retallack’s idea of a “poethical wager on the Experimental Feminine.” Contrasted with the scientific method’s focus on testable propositions, this wager proceeds according to what Retallack calls “a feminine dyslogic.” Artists 0rphan Drift, Caspar Heinemann, Emily Jones, Ranu Mukherjee, Lisa Radon, and Stephanie Simek draw on artistic techniques, writing, “wrighting”, and diverse presentations including video, sculpture, and installation. A show guaranteed to spark some form of insight, even if it can’t quite be put into words.

PNCA MFA First Year Exhibition

April 4 – April 23
The Glass Building
2139 N. Kerby Ave.
First year graduate students in three disciplines (Visual Studies, Print Media, and Collaborative Design) present their work at PNCA’s newly acquired building in a still under-the-radar North Portland industrial neighborhood. The Glass Building also houses the school’s ceramics facilities and graduate studios, and it seems only fitting that students will share the developments they have made in their first grueling year of a master’s degree program in a brand new space.

Landscape: Opium Poppy

Landscape: About Space and Time, Sang-ah Choi

Northview Gallery
PCC Sylvania Campus
12000 SW 49th Ave.
Opening and Artist Talk
Wednesday, April 10, 2–4 PM
Weekend Reception
Saturday, April 13, 2–5 PM
Bursting with energy, Choi’s graphic work on paper combine accident and precision in dizzying patterns that cover the whole visual field. Carefully rendered in acrylic, felt pen, and graphite, the shapes seem to fly across the paper in an all-over blast while at the same time reading like a decorative pattern. Reminiscent of of Takashi Murakami or Julie Mehretu, there’s a lot going on in Choi’s ultimately unique visual style.

Hillside Burning at Night Above Suburban Neighborhood Park, Woolsey, CA

Unraveling World: Quilts of Flood, Fire, Collapse: Amy Subach

April 4 – 29
Erickson Gallery
9 NW 2nd Avenue
Artist Amy Subach is perhaps most well-known for her series Erotic Selfie Quilts which are exactly what they sound like: handmade quilts depicting erotic selfies – and the oversaturated social media landscape to which they belong – with humor and dignity. For this show she turns her eye and her needle to the deluge of images of the frightening effects of climate change, adorning her quilts with images of flooding, the destructive California wildfires, and melting permafrost. Each piece carries a title with the specifics of the time and place of the event depicted.

Untitled 112: OCAC Graduate Thesis Exhibition

April 19th, 6–9pm
Disjecta Contemporary Art Center
8371 N Interstate Ave
OCAC’s final graduating class will show their thesis work at Disjecta this year. The BFA Class of 2019 posted the following as a collective message from the final graduating class of this local institution on their Facebook page for the event:

Celebrate the culmination of our education and our recent body of work.

We are conceptually driven individuals who strive for excellent craft and innovative solutions. We explore our own identities and experiences beyond ourselves to feed our practice and our future.

Our community arrives at this point with a 112–year history of ingenuity and discovery as its source of growth, and now as its foundation going forward. We embrace our futures, untitled and endless in their possibilities with a dedication to our craft.

“the map is not the territory”: Whose border is it?

The Portland Art Museum starts a discussion that involves regionalism, authority, and curatorial process.

Appropriately, there is no transition to ease one into the Portland Art Museum’s exhibition the map is not the territory. The viewer is thrown directly into Fernanda D’Agostino’s video installation, Borderline.

The central sculpture court of the museum is often used as a gathering or transitional space to help prepare the viewer for what is to come inside the galleries. Here it is a gallery itself. Multiple projections flash simultaneously on walls, the floor, and suspended screens: entangled bodies and graceful forms present as peaceful or pleasing but then are overshadowed by columns of of trudging figures, showers of red dots, and engulfing flames. Attention is then divided between the rotating bodies and the encroaching calamities—identified as mass migration, government surveillance, and climate change. D’Agostino’s installation sets the tone for the show and confirms that while compelling, it doesn’t shy away from difficult topics.

Fernanda D'Agostino Borderline

Fernanda D’Agostino, Borderline. (2018) video projection, 2 projectors, 13 scenes set up in a software to combine imagery in a 169 combinations.

The title of the show, the map is not the territory, was inspired by a remark by the philosopher Alfred Korzybski and addresses the idea that what is “solidified” in a word or a map is never the full expression of the thing. This may not be the most poetic application of the theory but in the interest of a succinct explanation: you—with your personal history, your anxieties, hopes, and dreams for the present and future—you are more than your driver’s license. Identity is more complex than that, and in the same way, a region is more complicated than its borders and topographic elevations.

Installation View of the map is not the territory, Portland Art Museum (2019)

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Sometimes you can judge a book by its cover

In a Newport exhibition of artists' books, a work by Alaskan Margo Klass tells its story through its structure rather than pages

When Margo Klass boards the plane in Fairbanks bound for Oregon, she’ll be carrying a most unusual book. Open, it stretches 6 feet. It’s a work of art, a memoir in abstract, the story of nine days Klass spent with her writer husband, Frank Soos, as artists-in-residence on Alaska’s Beaver Creek.

Closed, Margo Klass’ "Beaver Creek" is compact enough to carry on an airplane.

Closed, Margo Klass’ “Beaver Creek” is compact enough to carry on an airplane.

Klass will share the story behind the book, Nine Days on Beaver Creek, on April 27 during the 24th annual Newport Paper & Book Arts Festival. The Instructors’ Show held in conjunction with the April festival opens Friday, March 22, in the Newport Visual Arts Center.

Open, "Beaver Creek’s" 11 panels stretch 6 feet.

Open, “Beaver Creek’s” 11 panels stretch 6 feet.

“During the residency, I kept a personal journal, took photos, and made sketches of visual ideas that might capture the essence of traveling 100 miles on a river, camping on gravel bars, and almost never being warm enough for comfort,” Klass said. “During the trip we had rain, snow, smoke, and plenty of cold, but somehow that didn’t matter in the end — it was an amazing experience.”

When the trip, part of a Bureau of Land Management program to promote use of public lands, was over, she began work on the book. “I wanted the structure to reflect the meandering of the river, to contain my images in 3D, and to hold smaller, artists’ books of Frank’s texts.”

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Doing the dance — in 3D design and in ballet

Highlights in Yamhill County include art exhibitions focused on wood, faces, and student work, while Portland Ballet offers a glimpse of life as a dancer

When I’m paying attention, I occasionally catch word about a Yamhill County artist showing his or her stuff at the Bush Barn Art Center in Salem. So let’s kick off this week’s round-up of what’s going on arts-wise with Totem Shriver.

Shriver is an adjunct professor of 3D design at Linfield College, and he’s showing wooden relief sculptures at Bush Barn, along with pen-and-ink drawings and collages that served as the gestation phase of the ideas that found completion in 3D pieces. According to the program materials: “Totem begins each work with drawings and collages in order to discover new approaches to the carving process. His two-dimensional pieces unfold innovative ideas of positive and negative space and are featured alongside his sculptures.”

Totem Shriver's collection of drawings and wood carvings runs through April 20 at Bush Barn Art Center in Salem.

Totem Shriver’s collection of drawings and wood carvings runs through April 20 at Bush Barn Art Center in Salem.

“Every day I am an artist,” Shriver writes in his artist’s statement. “Decisions about what to make and how to make it are constantly running through my mind. Art and life are the same. Aesthetic decisions, concepts, theory all need to come together. And then there is the work. New skills, old skills, materials. It is indeed a dance of sorts.” His goal is to “do the dance, make the work and put it out into the world as much as possible.”

Also at Bush Barn, there’s time to catch Jennifer Kapnek’s images of tree branches coupled with “serene, color-drenched fields,” and the 10th annual Young Artists’ Showcase, which features work by hundreds of K-12 students from Marion, Polk and Yamhill Counties. Bush Barn is at 600 Mission St. SE in Salem.

THE PORTLAND BALLET IS REACHING OUT TO NEWBERG this Friday with a free Outreach Performance at the Chehalem Cultural Center. The ballet’s “most advanced, pre-professional dancers” will do a 45-minute show featuring a demonstration of a dancer’s daily exercise routine, an opportunity for audience involvement, and performances of various repertoire selections to give folks an idea of ballet’s stylistic possibilities. The program will include selections from Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, and Rip/Tide by Jamey Hampton and Ashley Rowland of BodyVox. Doors open at 7 p.m. March 23, the show starts at 7:30 p.m.

Dancers Maggie Rupp and Peter Deffebach perform a pas de deux from “Swan Lake,” one of several pieces that Portland Ballet dancers will perform Friday in the Chehalem Cultural Center in Newberg. Photo by: Blaine Truitt Covert

Dancers Maggie Rupp and Peter Deffebach perform a pas de deux from “Swan Lake,” one of several pieces that Portland Ballet dancers will perform Friday in the Chehalem Cultural Center in Newberg. Photo by: Blaine Truitt Covert

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Oregon Spotlight: Spring breaks from Shakespeare to Caravaggio

Our sampler of hits and bits from around the state offers music in Covallis and Medford, art in Bend and Roseburg, film on the Coast, and OSF is live in Ashland

We’ve set the clocks ahead, spring is coming, and that means Oregonians are tentatively emerging from their abodes with a mind to hit the road for day and weekend trips. What’s on the state’s cultural menu?

Mark Murphey (holding book) plays William Joad, who meets unexpected relative Martin Jodes, played by Tony Sancho (on ground), in Octavio Solis’ “Mother Road” at Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Photo by: Jenny Graham/Oregon Shakespeare Festival

Mark Murphey (holding book) plays William Joad, who meets unexpected relative Martín Jodes, played by Tony Sancho (on ground), in Octavio Solis’ “Mother Road” at Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Photo by: Jenny Graham/Oregon Shakespeare Festival

For starters, it’s showtime at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland. Right out of the gate, four options: Lauren Yee’s Cambodian Rock Band in the Thomas Theatre, while the Angus Bowmer hosts As You Like It, Hairspray: The Broadway Musical and Mother Road, a new play by Octavio Solis, inspired by John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath and featuring OSF favorite Mark Murphey as William Joad. Solis is an Oregon playwright, and he’s calling this a “sequel” to Steinbeck’s classic, although it continues the story from an immigrant’s perspective. This is a world premiere directed by outgoing artistic director Bill Rauch and likely to be a play you’ll be proud to say, years from now, “I saw it first at OSF in Ashland.” Tickets and more info here.

Meanwhile, a few other options beyond Portlandia:

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