VISUAL ART

The medium is the mask

The Chehalem Cultural Center fills its galleries with masks by Tony Fuemmeler and others depicting human emotions, anthropomorphic animals, and one evil bunny

The Chehalem Cultural Center in Newberg is closing out the year with an extraordinary exhibit (four exhibits, actually, it just feels like one) that virtually anyone – even those who don’t usually visit galleries — will find intriguing.

The subject is the human face and the oceans of meaning the face either reveals or conceals. The medium is the mask — hundreds of them.

Tony Fuemmeler’s Evil Bunny is a character from Grand Guignol, the Paris theater famous for staging horror stories (paper-mache, acrylic, fleece, fabric, wire). Photo by: David Bates
Tony Fuemmeler’s “Evil Bunny” is a character from Grand Guignol, the Paris theater famous for staging horror stories (papier-mâché, acrylic, fleece, fabric, wire). Photo by: David Bates

More than two years in the making, A Universal Feeling is a collaborative effort spearheaded by Portland mask-maker and theater artist Tony Fuemmeler and featuring work by more than 60 artists from around the United States and the world. The intellectual seeds of the project go back to the 1960s, when a group of psychologists suggested that a few universal facial expressions convey emotions understood across the entirety of human culture: fear, joy, surprise, anger, sadness, and disgust.

Fuemmeler, whose masks have appeared on stages up and down the West Coast and around the country, gave around 70 fellow mask-makers a task. He sent them a papier-mâché mask based on one of the six expressions and asked them to complete it, drawing (consciously or otherwise) on whatever identity, styles, experiences, and cultures inform their work.

The results are stunning, fascinating, playful, and occasionally disturbing. “It was an experiment,” he told me as we strolled through the exhibit recently. “I had no idea what would happen. I was very curious how people would respond.”

Respond they did, and alongside three other mask-themed exhibits that fill the center until Jan. 3, the exhibit is a riveting exploration of inner life as conveyed by the simultaneously simple and complex image of the face as rendered by a mask — an art form that goes back to ancient times.

Beth Bondy created Surprise 07: Paper Insect from cardstock scraps. Photo by: David Bates
Beth Bondy created “Surprise 07: Paper Insect” from cardstock scraps. Photo by: David Bates

“I have long admired Tony’s work, and have had the pleasure of playing his masks onstage in several settings,” said Sean Andries, executive director of Chehalem Cultural Center, in the press materials. “The ability of a well-crafted mask, full of life, to reveal the true sense of the performer who wears it has always transfixed me. When I heard about Tony’s vision for A Universal Feeling, coupled with an exhibit of his mask-making journey with Reveal/Conceal, I was immediately intrigued. By collaborating with artists from many cultures and backgrounds to ‘finish’ the masks he created for this special project, Tony has found a new way to reveal the nature of the artist within.”

Andries refers to Fuemmeler’s other exhibit, Reveal/Conceal: The Transformative Masks of Tony Fuemmeler, a selection of his own work, including some of his earliest pieces. Most are human, but some are not, and one is, arguably, both: Bottom from A Midsummer Night’s Dream makes an appearance. All, he points out, were made for and used on the stage. This is the first time Fuemmeler has shown his masks in a gallery exhibit. It is a welcome debut.

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A soldier’s journey

Charles Burt charts a course from military life to an art academy. How the two meet and meld and reflect each other.


STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY FRIDERIKE HEUER


“It is curious that physical courage should be so common in the world and moral courage so rare.”
– Mark Twain; “Mark Twain in Eruption: Hitherto Unpublished Pages About Men and Events.” Edited with an introduction by Bernard DeVoto, 1940

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IF YOU ARE CURIOUS about the world, have the privilege of meeting a lot of different artists, and risk tackling things that are not exactly central to your own expertise, you’ll expand your horizon. When I set out to portray people with my camera and my writing, the encounters are as varied as the artists I meet. Some evolve into friendships; others are puzzling. Some demand hard thinking; many provide nothing but pleasure. The last year alone introduced me to classically trained musicians turned Ukrainian girl-band, puppeteers from Chile, choreographers in wheelchairs, Mexican political theater activists, female conductors of sacred music, and numerous printmakers from around the nation. All offered glimpses into worlds different from my own, and in one way or another challenged the way how I view art or the process of creating art.

This has never been more true than for my most recent conversation with a man who has lived in worlds so distant from mine that they might as well exist in a different universe. I met him by chance in a museum cafe. He had come to Maryhill Museum of Art to pick up paintings that had been on display in a group exhibition of, among others, student work of the Seattle-based Gage Academy of Art, his included. I was there because of my interest in the Exquisite Gorge Project that was in progress across the summer months. We started to talk and agreed to a studio visit, something I finally managed to set up last week.

Charles Burt, artist

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Art on the Road: Transparency in Tacoma

An LGBTQ+ glass art exhibition at the Museum of Glass is a celebration, a memorial, and an unveiling


STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY FRIDERIKE HEUER


“One can resist [oppression] only in terms of the identity that is under attack.” – Hannah Arendt Men in Dark Times, 1968.

The title alone made me curious. Was Transparency a less than original descriptor of works made of glass? Was it an absolutely clever pointer redressing the invisibility of members of the LGBTQ+ community, who were the sole artistic contributors to the current exhibition of that name at the Museum of Glass (MOG) in Tacoma? Was it an invitation to shine the light on preoccupations and concerns of this particular community, only to reveal that these are often shared by us all, no matter what community we identify with? Was it a play on the fact that transparency is successfully used for purposes of camouflage in nature, as exquisitely demonstrated by jellyfish, South American glass frogs and clear wing butterflies?

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The “humble regality” of Lauren Hare’s portraits

Sebastian Zinn considers the artist's work and win in the triennial Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition

by SEBASTIAN ZINN

An immaculate glass windowpane separates us from a woman in a flaxen dress, seated in a small diner at a booth with lemon-yellow upholstery. Her dress gives the brown veneer of the table a golden tinge. Reflections play across the windowpane, challenging our ability to establish what’s inside or outside the diner. A sliver of baby-blue sky in the upper left-hand corner signals that it is a bright, cloudless day. Five glazed, American-style donuts are stacked in a tower of confection on the table in front of her. She is taking the first bite from a sixth donut with her right hand. Her left forearm rests on the table, shielding her meal from the other diner-goers whose backs are turned at the bar behind her. Her eyes are focused on the window sill. If she were to raise them 45 degrees she would be looking into the camera’s lens. This is, after all, a photograph, created by the Portland-based portrait photographer, Lauren Hare. This photograph, entitled Secrets, was awarded a prize in the National Portrait Gallery’s triennial Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition. The competition received 2675 entries for the 2019 cycle, and 46 finalists were selected from that pool. Two of this cycle’s six prize winners, including Hare, are women.

Lauren Hare, Secrets (2017). Courtesy of the artist.

 
The goal of the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition is to “celebrate excellence in the art of portraiture.” The competition pairs three National Portrait Gallery curators with four guest jurors, who are tasked with selecting artworks which “reflect the compelling and diverse approaches contemporary artists are using to tell the American story through portraiture.” This year’s prize winners and finalists submitted work in an eclectic range of media, including stop-motion drawing animation, inkjet prints, oil paint, video, acrylic, and ceramic.

Hare’s Secrets captures more than an individual likeness; it speaks to the contemporary American story. The image has a subtle allegorical quality to it, rendering a sober vision of consumerism. Portrait traditions ranging from Egyptian sarcophagi to Baroque portraits have long served to memorialize members of the social elite. Many of the works in the National Portrait Gallery’s collection, such as portraits of contemporary celebrities including Lin-Manuel Miranda, Spike Lee, and Jeff Bezos, fulfill precisely this role. Secrets, however, captures not the likeness of a known or revered cultural figure, but the ennui, desire, dissatisfaction, and isolation familiar to many young Americans. The figure in the diner booth is an “everyman;” anyone living in 21st century America, trapped in the cycle of binge and ‘self-care’ consumerism can identify with this situation. By synthesizing these complex feelings into a single image, Hare, and her fantastically expressive model, Madison, allow viewers to confront them head on.

The woman in Secrets looks like she is engaging in (or resigning herself to), a deeply personal ritual, and her downcast expression and slumped shoulders tell us that she isn’t much enjoying it. Her body language seems guarded, subsumed within her own interiority. Perhaps she is dissatisfied with her reflection in the glass in front of her (an experience anyone with a front-facing camera can relate to). Secrets is almost an anti-advertisement for a donut chain. Rather than a jovial, American nuclear family indulging in a spontaneous trip to the donut shop on a sunny afternoon (“Daddy likes bear-claws, but mommy prefers chocolate with sprinkles”) we see one woman, alone in a public space, outnumbered by consumer goods without anyone to share them with. Somehow, Secrets seems to parody this experience without diminishing it.

Lauren Hare, Portrait of my Mother from Still Life Portraits (2017). Courtesy of the artist.

Donuts are by no means the first props to appear in Hare’s portrait photographs. In one series (Still Life Portraits, 2017) she captured her models striking unnatural poses in surreal environments, surrounded by bizarre props, including fruits, vegetables, flowers, and glassware. The arrangements elicit the impression that the human subjects in her photographs are part of an elaborate still life, establishing an equivocation between animate and inanimate matter. “A lot of times my models will have to be very patient while I figure out where I want to put my props,” she tells me.

Hare thinks of her approach to portrait photography as being situated “somewhere between the biographical and the fictional.” Preferring to create honest representations of bodies, she never photoshops her subjects. The people in her portraits typically look at ease, as if we are encountering them on their own terms. It’s worth noting that smart-phones and references to the internet or social media––key drivers of contemporary culture’s obsession with images and our proclivity towards carefully curating online, image-based identities––are completely absent from her photographs.

Lauren Hare, Grandbaby 1 (2018). Courtesy of the artist.

Hare feels that her ability to coach her subjects is one of her greatest strengths as a photographer: “I like taking photos of people when their faces are relaxed. I try to portray my subjects with what I like to call humble regality––both humility and honor,” says Hare. This approach is particularly successful in her portrait series, “See Her,” which highlights the beauty, confidence, and vulnerability of women “50 years and wiser.” Her sets can also be extravagant, and the poses she has some models assume are meticulous––they aren’t always engaging in banal activities, like navigating the aisles at the grocery store. Still other photographs (like Secrets) possess a cinematic quality, weaving together micro-narratives on the basis of coincident materials and events, such as props, location, and context (See “The Long Drive Home”).

Hare realized that the tone or mood of Secrets has been a through line in her body of work. The ambiguity inherent in portraiture appeals to her: “A portrait doesn’t have to provide an answer, or tell the audience what to think, but perhaps alludes to a new perspective.” She used to travel across North America, working as an art model, and enjoyed discovering the suburbs and micro-communities of the American landscape, because it helped her realize how many different lives there are to be lived. Secrets carries forward and manifests this voyeuristic gaze. It enacts portrait photography’s capacity to open a window into another person’s reality, as if we were passing a restaurant on the street, our attention temporarily drawn to the characters inside. The photographer’s relationship to the woman in the window booth mimics our relationship to the subjects we can discover through portrait photography, especially those of photographers like Henri Cartier-Bresson, August Sander, and Vivian Maier. As a medium, it provides a window into the life of another person, allowing us to speculate about the extent to which they may be “different from [us] in ways big or small, a lot or only the littlest bit like [us]” (Peter Schjeldahl, The New Yorker).

Lauren Hare, Laura from See Her (2018). Courtesy of the artist.

It’s difficult to exaggerate the significance of Hare’s achievement as a prizewinner. In 2016, the painter Amy Sherald became the first woman to be awarded first prize in the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition. That same year, she was commissioned by Michelle Obama to paint the former First Lady’s official portrait for the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery. The prize initiated her “rise to fame,” and Sherald and Kehinde Wiley’s portraits of Michelle and Barack Obama have been credited with doubling the National Portrait Gallery’s annual attendance and putting the Gallery “on the international map.

Lauren Hare, Untitled (2018). Courtesy of the artist.

Hare took her first art class––a series of three dark room classes at Portland Community College (PCC)––at age 21, in 2006. It changed her life, and she retook the class four times. “I was never swept away with something before photography, and it helped me develop more of an identity,” she says. She obtained an undergraduate degree in Interdisciplinary Studies at Marylhurst College in 2013, focusing on the therapeutic benefits of photography and Imagery-Sustained Healing. Although she enjoyed her psychology courses, she always felt that there was more that she could contribute, but she never knew how or with what.

Lauren Hare, Rodeo Queen from See Her (2017). Courtesy of the artist.

Initially, Hare’s photography took as its subject rural settings, particularly ghost towns and building structures in a state of decay––prominent features of early 20th century American life which had been consigned to the fringes of contemporary society and reabsorbed by the natural landscape. In her latest series, Hare has once again trained her lens on rural America, attending rodeos in Oregon where she photographs strangers. She catches many of her subjects in the golden light of late afternoon. Most striking among these is an image of a cowboy seated in the first row overlooking a rodeo ring, cradling a sleeping baby against his chest. The cowboy’s tenderness is focalized, and the chaos of the proceedings around him blur into the background. Like Secrets, this portrait successfully translates the emotional life of its subject in a snapshot, giving voice not to late-capitalist disenchantment, but the bone-deep bond between parent and child.

Lauren Hare, Grandbaby 2 (2019). Courtesy of the artist.

Hare began to value photography as a non-verbal mode of self-expression while experimenting with self-portraiture early in her career. Today, she aspires to empower her subjects to explore their aspirations and identities through a visual medium. She believes that good portrait photography encourages its subjects to reflect back on their inherent strengths. “Eventually,” she tells me, “you learn that it’s not always about self-discovery, but about self-acceptance.”

Sebastian Zinn has a B.A. in Comparative Literature with an allied field in Art History from Reed College. Since graduating in the Spring of 2018, he has been working as a freelance writer and editor covering a diverse range of topics, including economics, medicine, food, music, literature, film, fashion and visual and performance art.

‘Their art is my work now’

Jennifer DeCarlo, owner of a new gallery at Salishan, talks about transitioning from artist to art dealer, the rise of art fairs, and the place of visual art

Art dealer Jennifer DeCarlo hadn’t planned to move to the Oregon Coast, but when a job in the hospitality industry beckoned her husband north from California, DeCarlo packed up her gallery in San Diego and moved with him. She’s opened a new gallery specializing in photography, jdc Fine Art, in the Marketplace at Salishan. DeCarlo calls it an “offbeat spot” for art, but not without its unique merits — sort of like the “Hamptons of the Pacific Northwest,” she said. I talked with DeCarlo about art, her move, and her future in Gleneden Beach.

How difficult is it to move an art gallery?

DeCarlo: I’ve owned a gallery for about 10 years and have worked in Chicago and San Diego.  No doubt it is challenging to uproot, especially considering how the typical gallery model is anchored to place. I’m trying to see the positives and benefits of these family moves.  With the advent of the internet and rise of art fairs, the desire of reaching everyone, everywhere has never been more true, or more difficult.  There is so much intangibility and noise, contact without connection.

Though atypical, I’m trying to see our transience more like ephemerality. Here or there, I’m always working, and these moves put me in a unique position to make more connections and more discoveries.  I have the unique opportunity to engage new communities in meaningful ways, find new patrons and artists, and carry and cross-pollinate contacts. 

Jennifer DeCarlo launches jdc Fine Art in San Diego in 2011.  She recently moved her gallery, dedicated to content-driven contemporary art by photographers, to the Marketplace at Salishan. Photo courtesy: Jennifer DeCarlo
Jennifer DeCarlo launched jdc Fine Art in San Diego in 2011. She recently moved her gallery, dedicated to content-driven contemporary art by photographers, to the Marketplace at Salishan. Photo courtesy: Jennifer DeCarlo

What led you to a career as an art dealer?

I am trained as an artist. When I got out of grad school, I started working at an art gallery and really liked the work. I realized the work by the artists represented in the gallery was better than mine. This was better suited to my skill set, so I decided, I’m going to be an art dealer. You get to be creative; you get to work with the artists and their ideas. You get to help shape the ideas and explore the ideas with them.

Do you still create your own art?

No, I don’t. Their art is my work now. I get to help them position it. I get to help them frame it. Visual art is the first language I understood. Visual language. That’s what I mean, too, when I say being an art dealer brings all of my skills together. I am dyslexic. It was hard for me to learn language. It’s very tricky. Written language is weird. It reduces things. Visual language is very palpable, emotional, immediate. It hits you and you think about it. I like the ability to have this long looking with people. Look at things, think about them together.

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‘Caught up in the riptide’: ‘Sweat’ at Linfield Theatre

Lynn Nottage's drama of working-class life is difficult and ambitious -- and Linfield College is putting on a production that leaves the audience gobsmacked

You might be forgiven lowered expectations when a college theater launches a production of a work as ambitious and difficult as Lynn Nottage’s Sweat, which opened last week at Linfield College in McMinnville and continues this weekend. Actors lack the experience generally seen on a professional stage; some may not have had theater training beyond the rehearsals. Young people who perhaps haven’t even thought of having children play parents, etc. It’s not ideal.

All that said, Linfield’s Sweat, which I saw on opening night, is a triumph and reminder that local theater can leave you as gobsmacked as anything you might see in Portland or Ashland. After the heartbreaking final scene, there were tears in the audience. During a talkback session, one audience member quietly noted that she couldn’t talk about it; she needed some time. One man said, “I’ve lived that.” I saw the play in 2015 at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, so I knew how it ends. And I was gobsmacked all over again.

I found myself sitting almost dead center, next to Ronni LaCroute, whose sponsorship helped make the production — and the hiring of guest director Adleane Hunter — possible. Behind me was Miles Davis, the college’s president. He’d brought with him a young man from McMinnville High School who had, apparently, never seen a play before. I can’t even. Talk about setting the bar high! Who knows what seed that experience planted? All told, it was a memorable evening.

Nicole Tigner (left) plays Jessie and Elise Martin plays Tracey in a scene from Lynn Nottage's Pulitzer Prize-winning “Sweat,” which continues its run at Linfield College Theater in McMinnville 7 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. Photo courtesy: Linfield College Theatre
Nicole Tigner (left) plays Jessie and Elise Martin plays Tracey in a scene from Lynn Nottage’s Pulitzer Prize-winning “Sweat,” which continues at 7 p.m. Thursday through Saturday at Linfield College Theatre. Photo courtesy: Linfield College Theatre

Sweat opens with two tense exchanges. A parole officer (Linfield junior Robert Santos, lending solid credibility to the play’s smallest role) interviews two parolees: Jason (Sam Hannigan, a junior from Hood River) is an angry young man sporting white supremacist tattoos who seems coiled to strike at any moment, and Chris, a young black man (played by Isaiah Alexander, one of three guest artists featured in the cast) who is more subdued and defeated. We learn that they’ve been in prison several years and recently met for the first time since an incident that got them locked up. Yes, the audience eventually sees what the incident was, and yes, it’s horrible.

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VizArts Monthly: Antidotes for anxiety

Martha Daghlian's round-up of shows to see this November

According to some scientific research, viewing art can help alleviate anxiety and stress. With the news of various scandals, catastrophes, and political gridlock rolling in daily, who couldn’t use a bit of stress relief? But November’s art offerings are more than just a pretty escape. These shows contain visions of a more peaceful world, radical calls for action, reclamations of discarded materials, and sensitive reconsiderations of collective and personal histories. Some are subtle and meditative while others embrace dissonance and forcefulness. A few galleries will also present artist talks or performances on opening nights, which are great ways to soak up some positive art-community vibes. Seeing some (or all) of these shows could make it easier to brave the craziness of our times, and may result in feelings of profound inspiration and motivation. 

Intricate ink drawing of women dressed in patterned gowns with masks and crowns, walking around trees and houses, in black and white with pale blue and gold accents.
Erika Rier, Pageant (photo courtesy Wolff Gallery)

Erika Rier: Pageant
November 1 -December 22
Wolff Gallery
2804 SE Ankeny Ave

Wolff Gallery is closing out the year, and sadly closing for good, with a show from “folk surrealist” Erika Rier. These charming ink drawings feature intricate patterns and baroque compositions whose central subjects, “an army of womxn,” march together in Medieval and Renaissance inspired ceremonies. Rier was a writer before she shifted her focus to visual art, a fact that her illustrative style makes apparent. Wolff Gallery has been showing the work of emerging Portland artists since 2015 and their focus on women artists and underrepresented groups has been a valuable addition to the arts scene. Don’t miss this chance to visit the gallery one last time before it’s gone. 

Impressionistic oil painting of mustard yellow factory building with red train cars in front and green water tower in background, with bright blue sky and trees.
Bill Sharp, Centennial Mills with Train (photo courtesy Waterstone Gallery)

Bill Sharp: Sacred Spaces
November 5 – December 1
Waterstone Gallery
124 NW 9th Ave

Waterstone Gallery debuts work by their newest member, Bill Sharp, this November in a show of contemplative cityscapes in oils. Sharp’s fractured brushwork and saturated colors bring unexpected drama to otherwise quotidian scenes, and reflect his interest in the writings of Beat poet Alan Ginsberg as well as his own search for existential validation in the beauty of the everyday.

Sections of white cloth firehose with black ends, layered and gathered in a bow-shaped formation, mounted on gallery wall.
Brenda Mallory, Firehose Experiment #3 (photo courtesy Upfor Gallery)

Brenda Mallory: Gather Back
November 6 – December 21
Upfor Gallery
929 NW Flanders St

Brenda Mallory (Cherokee Nation) presents works created during residencies at Bullseye Glass and Sitka Center for the Arts in her first solo show at Upfor. Mallory’s low-relief compositions could be viewed as either paintings or sculptures, and recall the work of Postminimalists like Eva Hesse. But Mallory goes beyond the purely formal, using found and reclaimed materials in complex processes of destruction, recreation, and repetition to invoke larger patterns of natural and social order and upheaval. The results blur the boundary between organic and synthetic, coaxing rich textures and delicate patterns from unexpected elements. 

Painting in orange and black gouache on off-white paper of newspaper-print sweater design, rendered in tiny dots in a large grid; design reads "newspaper" and "stop war", and contains images of broken bombs adorned with peace signs.
Ellen Lesperance, Stop War 1st Priority, (photo courtesy Adams and Ollman)

Ellen Lesperance: Flowers Wrapped in Newspaper
November 7 – December 21
Adams and Ollman
418 NW 9th Ave

Adams and Ollman’s second exhibition at its new location on the North Park Blocks is a solo show of new paintings and sculpture by Ellen Lesperance. Lesperance is a local artist who has gained international acclaim over the past few years for her gouache-on-paper representations of sweaters worn by second-wave feminist activists. Here she expands upon her repertoire with a number of paintings that depict a unique garment worn by a participant in the Berkshire, England Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp (1981-1999). The original sweater played with the format of newspaper headlines to convey a radical message in yarn, complete with columns of knitted “text” and photos in an imitation of a broadsheet’s front-page layout. Lesperance’s versions translate the stitches of handmade garments into gridded maps of their construction with each dot of color standing in for a knit or purl. The symbolic clash between the traditionally gendered realms of public speech and domestic life encapsulated within the sweater’s design becomes iconic in the artist’s reverent documentations. 

Can of FOCO brand soursop juice with a lit pink tallow candle emerging from the top, on a gallery shelf.
manuel arturo abreu, Herramienta (image courtesy the artist and AA|LA Gallery)

Not Total
November 8 – December 14
Paragon Arts Gallery at PCC Cascade
815 N Killingsworth St

The three artists featured in Not Total are truly radical in their practices – not only do they offer uncompromising analyses of historical narratives and singular visions of future existence, but their work often takes forms that defy easy description within the existing contexts of contemporary art. Rindon Johnson is a multidisciplinary artist who has made videos, VR experiences, and sculptures from cowhide, Vaseline, and mold among other unconventional materials. Jonathan Gonzalez’s improvisational and collaborative choreography aims to bridge the distances between disciplines. manuel arturo abreu tackles the causes and symptoms of systemic injustice using found objects in their sculptures and contemporary art pedagogy in their art-education program called home school. All this may sound like a recipe for a densely intellectual exhibition, and it most likely will be, but judging by the artists’ previous work, it will also be beautiful and deeply poetic. Not Total continues Paragon Arts’ run of fantastic shows by some of Portland’s most exciting emerging artists and curators and should not be missed.

Close-up photograph of scruffy dog's face in profile, looking up as if at trainer.
Sari Carel, Iris (image courtesy Melanie Flood Projects)

Sari Carel: The Coyote Afterschool Program
November 15 – December 21
Melanie Flood Projects
420 SW Washington, #301

This month Melanie Flood presents Israel-born, Brooklyn-based artist Sari Carel’s welcome rethinking of Joseph Beuys’ infamous 1974 work, I Like America and America Likes Me, in which Beuys spent several days locked in a New York gallery with a wild coyote, protected by little more than a blanket and a stick. Carel combines a feminist lens with her own experience as a force-free dog trainer in her video with canine collaborator Iris. The artist will also discuss the project in a talk at c3:initiative on November 14. The pair proceed through a series of actions linked to the lines of a poem, their partnership a counterpoint to the “masculine” mastery over “feminine” nature implied by the original performance. The conceptual underpinnings of the Coyote Afterschool Program seem especially poignant in light of what we now know about the consequences of anthropocentrism.

Photograph of artist performing in gallery, sitting on floor, emerging from cushioned fabric sculpture made of light and dark purple fabrics and yarn that match the artist's dress.
Amanda Triplett performing (photo courtesy Gallery 1122)

Amanda Triplett: Body Is
November 15 – through December
1122 Gallery
1122 SE 88th Ave

Portland artist Amanda Triplett stitches, folds, and twists fabric into fleshy sculptural objects that resonate in their simultaneous resemblances to what makes up our insides and what we put on our outsides. Her installation and performance works have taken that uncanniness further, as she “molts” her own wearable textile creations in front of her audience. Triplett brings her biologically-inspired fiber art to Montavilla’s 1122 Gallery this November in her second solo exhibition in Portland. 

Photo of artist during performance, looking at viewer from behind wood decorated with  scrap of silver metallic netting and pink yarn, with turquoise squares projected over all.
Performance by curator Vinh Pham (photo courtesy Erickson Gallery)

Curio
November 8 – December 20
Erickson Gallery
9 NW 2nd Ave

This multimedia group show features six artists from the local group blacksheepcollective, with works in video, performance, installation, and various other media. The exhibition was curated by Safiyah Maurice and Vinh Pham, members of the Portland State University Artists of Color Collective, and although there are few details as of yet regarding the works on display, it is likely they will be experimental, possibly challenging, and definitely worth seeing. Make sure to catch performances by Olivia Pace and Christian Orellana Bauer at the opening reception, Friday November 8 from 6-8pm. 

Four photographs of parts of a sound art installation: small speakers placed on gallery floor with seedpods inside them, speakers and cassette tape loops hanging on gallery wall, half circles of gray patterned material, a small speaker on a plinth with seed pods inside and a glass cover on top.
Marcus Fischer (photo courtesy Sou’Wester Arts)

Marcus Fischer: Shore/Lines
November 8 – January 12
Sou’Wester Art Trailer Gallery
3728 J Place
Seaview, WA

Although Marcus Fischer’s Shore/Lines isn’t strictly visual art, nor is it technically in Oregon, it still merits a spot on this list thanks to the Sou’Wester Lodge’s intimate connections and valuable contributions to the Portland art scene. Just over the state line from Astoria, Seaview is a sleepy beach town that has become a haven for artists from all over the Pacific Northwest, but Portlanders in particular have been a large factor in building the hip resort’s reputation as a creative retreat. The lodge established a nonprofit organization, dubbed Sou’Wester Arts, in 2017 and now operates a tiny gallery housed in a vintage trailer. This winter’s exhibit features Portland installation artist Marcus Fischer, whose work has been shown around the country (including at the 2019 Whitney Biennial and at Portland’s own Variform Gallery). Fisher creates haunting sound environments from cassette tape loops and unconventional musical sources.  But his work is sculptural as much as it is sonic, and watching the delicate filaments of magnetic tape traverse their elaborate course throughout the room can be a hypnotic experience.