david o. johnson

By Patrick Collier

It may be a coincidence of timing, but at least three galleries in town have exhibits with a San Francisco connection. Jaik Faulk, previously of Portland, now lives there and is showing at Nationale. Modou Dieng and San Francisco-based Jesse Siegel have co-curated “Spatial Personality” at Worksound, which includes both Portland and SF artists. And Rocksbox Contemporary is celebrating its fifth year with a group show consisting entirely of San Francisco  Art Institute graduates. Is there a common thread to be found among these exhibits, something more specific than a shared geographic location? A culture that becomes identifiable and apparent?

Before I attempt answers to those questions, I want to add an additional complication to the inquiry that will further insure that few, if any, get satisfactorily addressed.

It’s rodeo season in Oregon, and down in my neck of the woods the Santiam Stampede is part of the circuit. The cowboy competitors come to town for some bronc bustin’ and bull ridin’ and belt-buckle wearin’. Ranchers, farmers and townies alike come to watch, many  in their own western get-up, even if it’s just pulled out of the closet this one time of the year. More than a spectator sport or competition, it’s a celebration of a culture.

Jaik Faulk, “In His Hair”/Courtesy Nationale

I saw the Stampede organizers (my barber runs the event) setting up the stock pens as I drove north to Portland this week and thought how nice it might be to include in this column some of what stirs the hearts and minds, and bruises the loins of my neighbors. (Next month is the big tractor pull.) The trick, of course, is bringing this around to parallel the rounds I make looking at art. How can these two worlds mesh?

Jaik Faulk’s small paintings at Nationale made my overall thematic task a little easier, as his exhibit is titled “Hello Darlin’,” a line pulled straight out of a Country and Western ballad; and as we all know, cowboys love C&W music.

You’re not going to take that bait, are you?

Continues…