jeffrey thomas fine art

ArtsWatch Weekly: enemies of the people

Plus: ceramics shows all over town, Brontës and Carnage onstage, Shakespeare on Avenue Q, madrigals and music from the Holocaust

I’ve been thinking about my new status as an enemy of the people, which, because I am a longtime member of the press, the leader of the nation has declared I am. I’m not sure what this means (Adrienne LaFrance in The Atlantic has a few ideas), but I suspect that while we’re all getting hot and bothered about the president’s use of the term “enemy” – a word that, in this construction, implies the harsher “traitor” – we might also be thinking long and hard about what he means when he says “people.”

As I have never considered myself an enemy of the many categories of people who make up this nation (although I have certainly resisted the ideas and actions of some, particularly those of an autocratic, opportunistic, violent, or rigidly ideological bent) I inevitably wonder which people these are to whom I am an enemy. And the conclusion I draw, at least tentatively, is that they must be the people who adamantly declare “my country (or my president) right or wrong,” those whose modes of thought and belief are primarily binary, who see a white and a black in every situation with no recognition of the vast shadings and illuminations between. And although I don’t deny I am not fond of their hard-line ideas, it is less true that I am their enemy than that they consider me theirs.

In Ibsen’s play the newspaper editor is a collaborator and the “enemy” is a whistleblower.

This is a far, far smaller definition of the American people than my own old-fashioned idea of a populace enriched by its multitude of backgrounds, talents, experiences, expressions, and beliefs. The president’s declaration, it seems to me, is a siren song to know-nothing insularity, a constricted, self-defeating, fear-driven, and exclusivist view of the American ideal of what a “people” is (or are). Under its sway a belief in a middle ground of understanding over ideology, even when the understanding must come by asking hard questions and seeking answers from alternative sources when the primary ones hide or lie about what they know, becomes a ground of treason. It is thinking that divides the country into “real” Americans – the true believers – and, well, enemies. Including those members of the press who point such things out.

Continues…

The Ides of March Gallery Guide

Rosemarie Beck takes over Portland, a group show at Gallery 114 and more...

This month I am excited to share with you an exhibition of the multi-disciplinary work of Rosemarie Beck (1923-2003) hosted in venues across the city. Co-organized by the Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education, Portland Community College Rock Creek, and PSU College of the Arts, Lyric Truth: Paintings, Drawings, and Embroideries by Rosemarie Beck includes Beck’s joyous figure drawings, dense and colorful embroideries, and large, rigorously organized paintings inspired by themes from classical mythology and literature.

Rosemarie Beck, Two with Horses, 1964, oil on canvas, 24 x 30in., Collection of Nora Beck, Portland (photo by Loren Nelson)

Rosemarie Beck, Two with Horses, 1964, oil on canvas, 24 x 30in., Collection of Nora Beck, Portland (photo by Loren Nelson)

Beck, the daughter of Hungarian Jewish immigrants, was a painter, needleworker, musician and journal writer with ties to the New York School. While many of her peers opted for abstract expressionism, Beck pursued an independent vision that moved craft traditions out of the domestic sphere and into the artistic. Lyric Truth’s exhibits and PSU symposium bring Rosemarie Beck’s work to the Pacific Northwest audiences for the first time in a widely accessible retrospective at three locations across the city:

Paintings are on display at Lincoln Hall, Portland State University, 1620 SW Park Ave., Portland: February 5 – May 3, 2015.

Embroideries are on display at the Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education, 1953 NW Kearney St., Portland: January 14 – March 22, 2015.

Drawings are on display at the Helzer Art Gallery, Portland Community College Rock Creek, 17705 NW Springville Rd., Portland: February 9 – March 13, 20015

In addition, First Thursday, March 5 will feature an all day multidisciplinary symposium, which will explore themes in art, poetry, music and drama in conjunction with the exhibition. Programming includes a panel that will discuss genre and medium, while another will focus on her literary inspirations, and docent led tours of the PSU exhibit will also provide an informal way of engaging with her paintings.

Culminating the day will be a keynote address by Samantha Baskind, professor of art history at Cleveland State University, who will place Beck in the broader context of American art in the late 20th century. The lecture will be this year’s Sara Glasgow Cogan Endowed Lecture in Judaic Studies.

Additional support for Lyric Truth comes from PSU’s Department of History, Friends of History, School of Art and Design, and from Lewis & Clark College.

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Reminder! Jeffrey Thomas Fine Art – “The Sum of Its Parts, Part 2,” opens Wednesday, March 25.

 

Toast of the Town, Trish Grantham, 2015.

Toast of the Town, Trish Grantham, 2015.

Augen – If you think you’d never see an artist with obvious anime influences in their work at Augen, think again. Trish Grantham: Mystics, Stripes, and Thieves is a show of the artists layered works inspired by animals, kawaii, and the ever-present Portland “put a bird on it” in varying degrees of realism. Also a muralist with an Etsy shop, Grantham is one of those artist-of-all-trades who makes their aesthetic widely accessible.

 

 

 

 

 

David Slader, "Anything Not," digital pigment print, 56 x 56 in.

David Slader, “Anything Not,” digital pigment print, 56 x 56 in.

Gallery 114 – A longstanding, artist run gallery recently celebrating their 20th anniversary, presents the figural oil paintings of Joanie Krug, abstract oil paintings of Nathan Rhoads, and all-digital works of David Slader in an exhibit titled, “Exposure,”  March 5 through 28. There will be a First Thursday opening reception for the artists March 5,from 6 to 9 pm.  Gallery hours are noon to 6 pm Thursday through Sunday and 3 to 9 pm First Thursday.

 

 

 

 

Hedonic Reversal No. 12 by Rodrigo Valenzuela, 2014.

Hedonic Reversal No. 12 by Rodrigo Valenzuela, 2014.

Upfor  – Rodrigo Valenzuela’s work addresses issues of income inequality, class and racism both directly and obliquely. The monochromatic photographs of Hedonic Reversal recreate urban decay and ruins in the artist’s studio. Divorced from the social conditions that typically underlie “beautiful ruins” photography, the images question how our aesthetic response is altered by the absence of poverty and suffering.

 

 

 

 

 

An example of Jeff's investigatory approach to life's layers.

An example of Jeff’s investigatory approach to life’s layers.

Duplex – Jeff Sheridan is fascinated by the interior cyclicality of the universe. Using watercolor and ink washes, and inspired by geologic science texts, he attempts to make sense of this huge spinning reality by depicting microcosms, or space stations, or living petri-dishes that peel away the layers to reveal what really makes everything work. Psychic Heaves will have a reception First Thursday, March 5 from 6 -9pm.

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Finally, here are the links to two great maps of the many galleries and art institutions of Portland that have intriguing shows beyond the scope of this brief guide:

Portland Art Dealers Association Galleries and Alliance Members

Duplex Collective’s Gallery Guide

Don’t forget to mention the shows you’re looking forward to below in the comments!

February Gallery Guide

Skinny Dipping with Hap, Something is Wrong at Hellion, Ok, Cupid? at Upper Playground and more...

Happy Black History Month! This February I’m excited to introduce a new gallery on the scene – Jeffrey Thomas Fine Art – a name that those of you who’ve been in the scene for a while might recognize. But since I fall in the category of people for whom name recognition hasn’t kicked in, I’m not going to vet his local chops here, just give an overview of what it looks like he’s doing with his new space.

Located on Northwest Raleigh Street between 22nd and 23rd avenues, Jeffrey Thomas Fine Art is an “installation-based exhibition space” that will periodically be activated by performance workshops and public talks. The gallery salon (think people chatting philosophy over wine) is a collaboration with Katayama Framing and Murdoch Collections that will present a series of group exhibitions curated around specific concepts.

Marilyn Murdoch (Murdoch Collections), Peter Murdoch (Katayama Framing) and Jeffrey Thomas (Jeffrey Thomas Fine Art)

Marilyn Murdoch (Murdoch Collections), Peter Murdoch (Katayama Framing) and Jeffrey Thomas (Jeffrey Thomas Fine Art)

Installation can mean several different, but related, things in the art world. First, there’s the fairly straightforward idea of installing a show. Depending on the type and scale of work, this will be more labor intensive that simply hanging a few flat works, and can also include activities such as building display cases and temporary walls depending on what the exhibition design calls for.

Second, there’s installation as artistic practice, which is often considered site-specific. This then turns into a pun about the specificity of seeing the work in the place that it’s designed for or responding to (sight/site). Installation art can respond to a lot of things – architecture, community, landscape, ideas, etc., through materials and practices not traditionally considered part of the visual art. In doing so it’s become an interdisciplinary way to create immersive, interactive exhibitions for public audiences.

Jeffrey Thomas Fine Art’s inaugural show is titled The Sum of Its Parts and is curated around the concept of individual works of art that champion the concept of holism as described by Aristotle. Thirteen artists for whom building a whole or complete visual experience is a central component of their artistic practice will present their approaches to the “parts” of their visual practice. Over the next two months (Part 1, and Part 2) new and different work from each of the artists will be installed, creating an evolving exhibition that encourages return visits for an experience that will be greater than the sum of its parts.

The Sum of Its Parts opens Wednesday, February 11th and runs through Saturday, March 7th at Jeffrey Thomas Fine Art, 2219 NW Raleigh Ave. A reception will be held that evening from 5 to 9 p.m. to celebrate the inaugural show and new space. I look forward to seeing you there!

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Upper Playground – The rapidly advancing landscape of technology has resulted in countless modern conveniences and comforts, including the ease of connecting with others. As a result, dating sites such as Tinder and Ok Cupid have become wildly popular; most everyone either knows someone, or has a story themselves, about their adventures trying to find love online. In fact, when I was on OkC I posted a lot of the messages on Facebook under the headline, ‘Today in Ok Cupid Messages’ and they still are the most popular posts I’ve made. Fifty24PDX Gallery aims to explore the humor and horror of these experiences in the group show Ok, Cupid? from February 4th through February 28th.

 

 

Hellion – Hellion’s first show in their new space is SOMETHING IS WRONG WITH YU SUDA. Descending upon us from Tokyo, Japan, Yu has a unique style that is a mashup of vintage Edo era art and a quirky contemporary view of Japan. For all those Portlanders interested in the clash of history and contemporary, this exhibition promises to be full of visual puns and an exuberant approach to (dis)locating our modern habits with regard to tradition. Basically, if you love those Stephen Chow movies (I’m specifically thinking of Shaolin Soccer) you need to get out from under your blanket and see this show. Opening Thursday, February 5th at 6pm, 15 NW 5th Ave.

 

 

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Hap – While it may seem too cold for it this time of year, Hap gallery’s February show, Skinny Dip, is not full of ice water for you to dunk yourself in, but is in fact an exhibition of sculptures by Lisa Rybovich Crallé. Working with bright colors, organic forms, bold lines and a sense of whimsy, Crallé creates sculptural forms and installations that bring out the theatricality of everyday life. Look forward to works that will engage your sense of play and stop by the opening reception on First Thursday, February 5, from 6 to 8 p.m.

 

 

 

Nationale – From a quaint and steamy babushka’s kitchen, to the elaborate and vast castle of a Norse god, Carson Ellis’s illustrations explore the myriad spaces we call home. In her third exhibition at Nationale, Ellis shares some of the original illustrations featured in her debut book, Home (Candlewick Press). From the practical to the whimsical, Ellis demonstrates that although homes can be very different, they often share a few commonalities: they are places where we spend our nights, eat our meals, and experience our days with friends and family. On view February 11th through March 16th, with an opening reception Sunday, February 15th from 2  to 5 p.m.

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Finally, here are the links to two great maps of the many galleries and art institutions of Portland that have intriguing shows beyond the scope of this brief guide:

Portland Art Dealers Association Galleries and Alliance Members

Duplex Collective’s Gallery Guide

Don’t forget to mention the shows you’re looking forward to below in the comments!