VISUAL ART

Exquisite Gorge 5: The Alchemist

Snippets of words, sounds, slivers, shreds, scraps, slices, morsels and fragments: Artist Mike McGovern transforms a stretch of the Columbia


STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY FRIDERIKE HEUER




Alchemy – noun : a power or process that changes or transforms something in a mysterious or impressive way.” (Merriam-Webster) 

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THE ENGLISH WORD ALCHEMY has its historical roots in the Greek term chēmeia (the Arabic article al was added later when the word traveled across the Mediterranean world), referring to fluids and pouring. Long before the science of chemistry entered the scene, alchemists mixed liquids to create gold or cure diseases, seeking some sort of transformative power.

Mike McGovern, printmaker and professor in the art department at PCC Rock Creek Campus.

The term came to mind when I visited with Mike McGovern, yet another artist selected by the curatorial committee at Maryhill Museum for the Exquisite Gorge project, tasked with providing a wood block print representing a particular part of the Columbia Gorge. He will be among all those who gather on August 24 at the museum for the public printing of the aligned 8×6-foot blocks by means of a steamroller.

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‘It takes a lot of patience and a good seam ripper’

The 29th annual Quilts by the Sea show will draw nearly 300 quilts -- and some of the best quilters in Oregon -- to Newport

Twenty-odd years ago, Cindy McEntee found herself with a sewing machine she had no interest in, but that a well-meaning aunt thought she should have. There it sat in its cabinet, unwanted and taking up space in McEntee’s living room.

One gray Sunday, McEntee fell asleep in that room and awoke just as OPB’s Sewing With Nancy was going off the air. Not long after, McEntee found herself in the local craft store looking for something that might occupy her hands. She left with two quilt projects.

“Heading Home,” a joint effort by members of the Oregon Coastal Quilters Guild, will be raffled off at the Quilts by the Sea show.
“Heading Home,” a joint effort by members of the Oregon Coastal Quilters Guild, will be raffled off at the Quilts by the Sea show.

“I ripped them right out,” McEntee recalled. “I made two large quilts in like two weeks. I thought, this is really fun. I took them to Craft Warehouse and I said, ‘Did I do this right?’ She said, ‘You finished them already?’

“That’s how it started. It was just a fluke. Nancy was talking to me in my sleep. I was just glad I wasn’t sleeping to This Old House; I’d have a pickup truck with a  bunch of tools.”

These days, McEntee is one of two certified professional Quiltworx instructors in Oregon, past president of the Oregon Coastal Quilters Guild and winner of 18 ribbons – including two best of show – at the annual Quilts by the Sea. McEntee, along with most every other serious quilter in Lincoln County and beyond, is gearing up for the 2019 festival, Aug. 2 and 3.

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Art on the road: Circus in Montréal

From the Big Top to radical, utopian, emancipating dreams, the circus world is on the rise – and this Canadian city's in the center ring


STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY FRIDERIKE HEUER


IN THE STAUNCHLY CONSERVATIVE, predominantly Catholic German village of my childhood, we children eagerly anticipated three occasions each year. Carnival came around in February, an affair that allowed the entire population to break the social rules and party to the point of excess. Kids collected massive amounts of candy thrown during the parade of the few floats the village could muster, and adults knew that all would be forgiven come confession on Ash Wednesday.

In November we jumped around the bonfires of St. Martin’s Day, with paper- lantern processions illuminating the dark streets at night. Your kindergarten teacher, wearing a ratty red velvet cape that the saintly knight was said to have shared with a beggar, handed out hot cross buns to all. Both occasions were goose-bump territory: being around unrecognizable, disinhibited adults at the beginning of the year could be mystifying. Being allowed out into the cold night at the end of the year, with fires reflected in the silver helmet of St. Martin’s apparition, could be overwhelming.

Neither, however, compared to the emotions riled up when the circus arrived each summer. This was in the 1950s, over half a century ago, mind you, and circus was still a rather modest affair. They’d pitch a tent on an empty field between the diocese and the fire station, with bleachers in the round close enough to the small arena that you could see the sweat on the acrobats’ faces and smell the cheap brown stage makeup of grown men playing, I shudder to say, cowboys and Indians while performing tricks on the backs of some exhausted ponies. And always, always, a ravishing maiden with a trained poodle. Poor poodle.

Circus School students and acrobats performing on the streets of Montreal during Montréal Complètement Cirque festival

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Portland artist John Gnorski’s exhibition Like a Train in the Sky at Stumptown Coffee celebrates the Portland artist’s Stumptown Artist Fellowship award. It was curated by May Barruel, the proprietor of Nationale, and features a suite of woodblock prints and tenuously representational sculptures-as-drawings that readily communicate forms without being didactic. The forms aren’t fixed; they don’t always represent, say, humans, herons, or trains—but they’re also not nothing, far from it. In fact, “far from nothing” would be a good subtitle for a show that announces its attachment to, among other things, dusk and clouds. The fourteen works all involve wood, a material with which Gnorski, a carpenter by trade, is intimately familiar and they refer loosely to the visual world. 

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Envisioning the human body — and life itself

Artists Tammy Jo Wilson and Amanda Triplett explore the beauty and metamorphosis of the organic form in a show at the Chehalem Cultural Center

Biological Dissonance, a collection of paintings and sculpture by Portland-area artists Tammy Jo Wilson and Amanda Triplett, is the newest exhibit to take up residence in the Chehalem Cultural Center’s largest gallery. While I was visiting it recently, two other names came to mind: David Cronenberg and Russian art critic Aleksandr Voronsky.

The former, of course, is the Canadian filmmaker who in 1986 gave us a gruesome remake of The Fly and is best known as a pioneer in so-called “body horror” cinema. The lesser known Voronsky wrote in the early 20th-century that art — all art — is, to varying degrees, the “cognition of life” itself.

To cite Cronenberg is perhaps unfair, as there’s nothing in the Newberg-based gallery that is extreme or gross, nothing for shock value, nothing that would be obviously at home in one of his stomach-churning films (although a couple of blob-like textile sculptures, which are beautiful, come close). The key parallel is artistic focus: a sustained and deeply considered exploration of the human body — from the recognizable shape of a single form all the way down to a hair, or even the follicle that contains it. Or an ovum. Life itself.

“Plasmic,” by Amanda Triplett (fiber installation from salvaged textiles, 12 by 60 by 16 inches, 2019) and (in the background) “Bare Bones,” by Tammy Jo Wilson (encaustic on panel, 18 by 24 inches, 2017). Photo by: David Bates
“Plasmic,” by Amanda Triplett (2019, fiber installation from salvaged textiles, 12 x 60 x 16 inches) and (in the background) “Bare Bones,” by Tammy Jo Wilson (2017, encaustic on panel, 18 x 24 inches). Photo by: David Bates

The show is described by Chehalem’s curators as “an exhibition about the irrepressible metamorphosis of the human body and beauty within the organic form.”

According to the statement, Wilson and Triplett “blend their creative expressions in this compelling and tactile exhibit about the biological body, through works of encaustics, paintings, prints, fiber and textile installations. Pairing together their individual approaches to process and medium, they build a visual dialogue expressing the visceral nature of the vessels to which all humans are confined and examining the relationship between flesh and bone; and society, cultural experience and self-awareness.”

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Parisian glamour at the Portland Art Museum

All glitz and no grit at the summer show Paris 1900: City of Entertainment

Paris 1900: City of Entertainment, which runs at the Portland Art Museum through September 8, is a confection, a pastel-shaded macaron that looks great on display and encourages fantasies of sunny afternoons frequenting chic patisseries and warm evenings spent promenade strolling. The exhibition focuses on visual culture in the Belle Époque, the era in France that runs from the end of the Franco-Prussian War in 1871 until the beginning of World War I in 1914.

Gaston Roux. Nighttime festivities at the International Exposition of 1889 under the Eiffel Tower, 1889. Oil on canvas, 25 5/8 x 37 3/8 in., Musée Carnavalet. © Musée Carnavalet / Roger-Viollet

The stories we choose to tell about the past reveal our present interests and fascinations. Paris, especially during the Belle Époque, is a subject that generates great enthusiasm: everyone loves Paris. A focus on the glamour, glitz, fashion of the French capital is bound to be well received by museum audiences in Portland. Portland Art Museum Curator of Prints and Drawings Mary Weaver Chapin delivered the opening lecture about Paris 1900 to a packed house, and the Museum held a Paris 1900 Gala at the end of June.

The objects in the show tell an alluring story introduced in several themes that together lend a richer understanding of the period in question. However, the picture presented is incomplete. In part, this is due to the exhibition’s origins as a packaged exhibition from the Paris Musées consortium. The Portland Art Museum has acknowledged some lapses, including mounting the companion exhibition Color Line: Black Excellence on the World Stage, but the overall presentation is inconsistent with the Museum’s stated mission to “reveal the beauty and complexities of the world.” Paris during the Belle Époque was more complex than Paris 1900 suggests.

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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.