Adams and Ollman

VizArts Monthly: Personal reflections, collective inquiries, and space rocks

May's art offerings are bountiful with everything from tambourine collages to altered communist propaganda to meditations on line.

Dogwoods and breezy days have set the stage for a month of sunlit art-viewing, with precautions continuing in place—be sure to check the visiting guidelines for each gallery! This month’s round-up centers exhibitions that fuse the personal and the collective. Some artists are looking inward, reflecting on their past year’s experiences, while others are focusing on wider topics of colonialism and racism toward AAPI communities. In true PNW fashion, references to the natural world are woven throughout this month’s art offerings, too. Standouts in this group include petrographic photography at the High Desert Museum and Emily Counts’ botanical sculptures at Nationale. Many galleries are offering viewings by appointment, and there are still plenty of ways to engage without leaving the house. Keep up with the digital programming offered by Eugene-based Tropical Contemporary’s 2021 Transformation Residents on their Instagram page, or tune in for performance and visual artist Baseera Khan’s Zoom talk as part of Converge 45 programming.

Work by Emily Counts, image courtesy Nationale

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VizArts Monthly: Day trips, local favorites, and virtual viewings

April's art offerings brim with the potential of spring embracing topics from collaboration to cultural heritage to much-needed laughter

The cherry blossom trees are blooming! It can only mean one thing: the slow ascent into spring has begun. Let’s brighten our days with some fresh art, shall we? Galleries are remaining COVID-safe, with ample opportunity to set private viewing appointments. For Portlanders itching to ditch the city for the day, this month’s round-up includes must-see shows in Astoria, Eugene, and Newberg. Those who prefer to stay home can still enjoy new virtual exhibitions at Upfor Gallery and Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art. Common exhibition themes this month include identity, cultural heritage, and shifts in landscape. There’s plenty of opportunity to challenge your perspectives, but Well Well Projects’ What’s So Funny? promises some long-overdue laughter, too. Enjoy, and don’t forget your mask.

Work by James Castle, image courtesy Adams and Ollman

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Making music, symphonic & Black

ArtsWatch Weekly: Oregon Symphony picks a new leader; we begin a Black-music column; finale for Fertile Ground

THE BIG NEWS IN OREGON ARTS THIS WEEK WAS VERY BIG: The Oregon Symphony has picked its new music director. The Austrian conductor David Dansmayr will assume the artistic post at Oregon’s largest musical organization for the 2021/22 season, becoming only the third musical director for the symphony since 1980. He’ll replace Carlos Kalmar, who led the orchestra from 2003 until this season; Kalmar replaced James DePriest, who had held the top job for 23 years. 
 

The Austrian conductor David Dansmayr takes over the top artistic spot at the Oregon Symphony. Photo courtesy Oregon Symphony Orchestra.

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Story fragments in paint and collage

Bill Traylor and Billy White may seem like an odd exhibition pairing at first blush but both artists captivate viewers with keenly observed figures that beg imagined narratives.

Billy White, Untitled (2018). Acrylic on canvas. 30″ x 28″. Image courtesy Adams and Ollman.

Some artists are natural storytellers. Their works transcend the gallery space; one can imagine their painted figures swaying in an 80s nightclub or strolling to the market hundreds of years ago. Storytelling artworks prompt questions about the figures’ time and space. Who are these people? What do they love? What problems do they face? 

Billy White and Bill Traylor are both artist-storytellers, building distinctive narratives through their prolific art practices. Billy White takes a bold and emotional approach, using thick planes of acrylic paint to form raw portraits of isolated characters. Bill Traylor works smaller, using discarded materials to create a visual record of his surroundings in Jim Crow-era America. Both artists pulled from radically different life experiences to inform their works shown at Adams and Ollman, but they find common ground in their uniquely honest depictions of the human experience.

Works by Bill Traylor and Billy White. Image courtesy Adams and Ollman.

Nurturing Independence Through Artistic Development (NIAD), a progressive art studio in Richmond, California, supports the careers of artists with disabilities. Billy White, a Black artist in his mid-50s, has worked in the NIAD studio for 26 years. White’s traumatic brain injury, caused by an automobile accident in childhood, informs his affinity for Van Gogh; he feels they’ve faced comparable hardships. Despite his setbacks, White now has dozens of exhibitions under his belt. That artistic confidence comes across clearly in his series of eight untitled paintings at Adams and Ollman. 

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VizArts Monthly: Invigorate with art

February is gray but there is plenty of art to help you forget the winter gloom.

It’s another gray and rainy February, but this month the Portland art scene is overflowing with new exhibitions, screenings, and lectures to brighten the winter gloom. If you’re more comfortable viewing art from home, be sure to catch Yulia Pinkusevich‘s virtual exhibition at Archer Gallery, and carve out an afternoon to watch PICA’s live stream of We Didn’t Arrive Here Alone, featuring US-based undocumented writers and poets discussing mental health topics. Itching for a safe art outing? Make an appointment to view Hannah Newman’s vibrant Pangea, Shelley Turley’s mysterious Sound of Silence, or any of the other in-person exhibitions listed below.

Work by Hannah Newman, image courtesy Carnation Contemporary

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The allure of interconnection

In "Eartha" at Adams and Ollman seven artists offer interpretations of the natural world and their place within it

When we’re stuck inside, we crave the outdoors. You’ve probably noticed it this year, too. It’s been easy to compartmentalize nature as a singular entity—we’re either in it or we’re not—and it feels quite distant during pandemic times. But perhaps our relationship to nature could become more fluid, more interconnected, more spiritual. Such is the central topic of Adams and Ollman’s group show, Eartha, featuring the works of seven artists grappling with their place in the natural world. The exhibition successfully creates openings and liminal spaces, encouraging deeper thought on human-flora-fauna relationships. 

Ann Craven, Moon (Pink Crescent, Cushing, 8-25-19, 1:30 AM) (2019). Oil on linen. 14 x 14 inches. Image courtesy of Adams and Ollman.

Eartha includes fifteen artworks, primarily paintings with a few pastel works on paper in the mix. The works are split between Adams and Ollman’s back gallery room and their office space. The small gallery room, occupied by a few people comfortably, grants an intimate feel to the viewing experience. One feels enveloped by artworks in a small space. Likewise, the paintings installed in Adams and Ollman’s office area integrate with books, a desk and chair, pottery; these functional objects deepen a sense of relationship between the art on display and daily life.

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Judging by the cover

Bright paintings inspired by library books at Adams and Ollman

The vibrancy of Marlon Mullen’s paintings beckons to every pedestrian who passes the broad windows of Adams and Ollman. The thirteen paintings included in Mullen’s solo exhibition are inspired by advertisements, as well as magazine and book covers running the gamut from Artforum and Art in America to knitting and cooking publications Mullen finds these visual references in the library at Nurturing Independence Through Artistic Development (NIAD), a Richmond, California art studio supporting artists with disabilities. Mullen, who is autistic and primarily nonverbal, has maintained his art practice at NIAD since 1985. His paintings translate the written language and imagery of his references into abstracted forms, creating an inspiring new layer of aesthetic function.

Marlon Mullen, Untitled (2015). Acrylic on canvas. 36 h x 36 w. Image courtesy of Adams and Ollman.

Upon entering the gallery, the viewer finds nine acrylic paintings on comparably-sized canvases lining three walls. Further back, a smaller room contains three additional paintings, and one more hangs behind the gallerist’s desk. Mullen’s references to graphic design, advertisements, language, fine art, and popular culture are swiftly apparent. Organic shapes in a palette of bright blues, pinks, yellows, and oranges make each work feel alive and confident. Key phrases emerge from the canvases: “The World of Rubens;” “Art in America;” “First Steps in Knitting;” “New American Paintings.” Yet no elaboration is provided—Mullen’s paintings are untitled. The words seem to exist primarily as compositional elements of the overall works; legibility and textual meaning is secondary.

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