Katherine Bradford

ArtsWatch’s hit parade 2018

2018 in Review, Part 1: Readers' choice. A look back at Oregon ArtsWatch's most read and shared stories of the year

When we say “hit parade,” that’s what we mean. In the first of a series of stories looking back on the highlights of 2018, these 25 tales were ArtsWatch’s most popular of the year, by the numbers: the most read, or the most shared on social media, or both. From photo features to artist conversations to reviews to personal essays to news stories, these are the pieces that most resounded with you, our readers. These 25 stories amount to roughly two a month, out of more than 50 in the average month: By New Year’s Eve we’ll have published roughly 650 stories, on all sorts of cultural topics, during the 2018 calendar year.

 



Like ArtsWatch? Help us out.

We couldn’t bring you the stories we bring without your support, which is what keeps us going. Oregon ArtsWatch is a nonprofit journalism publication, with no pay wall: Everything we publish is free for the reading. We can offer this public service thanks to generous gifts from foundations, public cultural organizations, and you, our readers. As the year draws to a close, please help us keep the stories coming. It’s easy:



 

And now, the 25 of 2018, listed chronologically:

 


 

Legendary jazz drummer Mel Brown. Photo: K.B. Dixon

In the Frame: Eleven Men

Jan. 2: Writer and photographer K.B. Dixon’s photo essay looks graphically at a group of men who have helped shape Portland’s cultural and creative life, among them jazz drummer Mel Brown, the late Claymation pioneer Will Vinton, Powell’s Books owner Michael Powell, gallerist Charles Froelick, and the legendary female impersonator Walter Cole, better known as Darcelle. Dixon would later profile eleven woman cultural leaders, a feature that is also among 2018’s most-read.

Continues…

ArtsWatch Weekly: flood & mosaic

A look back, a look ahead: This week, the big news is the Vanport Mosaic Festival

SEVENTY YEARS AGO ON MAY 30 FLOODWATERS SWEPT IN from the Columbia River and burst through a 200-foot section of dike just north of Portland, inundating the city of Vanport, killing 15 people and wiping the city off the face of the Earth. Vanport was Oregon’s second-largest city at the time, with a population of 40,000 at its wartime peak before falling off after the end of World War II.

Henk Pander, “Vanport,” watercolor, 40 x 60 inches, 2018. On view at Cerimon House through Sunday in his Vanport Mosaic exhibition “Artworks of Henk Pander: War Memory, Liberty Ships, Vanport.” It then moves to the White Stag Building May 29-June 12.

Vanport was an “instant city” created primarily to house workers in the Kaiser shipyards and their families. It was for a time the most racially integrated city in the state, with a large African American population and many Asian Americans, too. Many white workers moved out after the war; black workers and their families largely stayed because of exclusionary housing practices in neighborhoods across Portland. The memory of Vanport remains strong in the city’s African American community.

Continues…

Katherine Bradford’s luminous nocturnes

"Magenta Nights" at Adams and Ollman considers atmospheres of air and water and the paint that can create them

“art is the power that causes the night to open.” — Maurice Blanchot, The Gaze of Orpheus

Katherine Bradford is a prolific and imaginative contemporary painter from New York City. Meeting her at the opening reception for her show Magenta Nights at Adams and Ollman gallery (through June 2) was like seeing a friend: Bradford’s social affability is that genuine and infectious. This is in keeping with proprietor Amy Adams, who worked closely with Bradford before the show to select works in her NYC studio. That evening, I got to talk with her a little about her acrylic paintings in that show, and then some more through correspondence. One takeaway from that initial interaction and my first looks at her work was Bradford’s affinity for atmosphere, the play of light and dark that is quintessential to the human experience, abstract and actual.

Katherine Bradford, “Swim at 6:10”, 2018, acrylic on canvas, 24 x 18 inches/Courtesy of Adams and Ollman

In a 2016 interview with Jennifer Samet, Bradford said, “what interests me the most is the language of painting—how people are able to say things using paint.” She then refers to a vernacular forever common to both poets and painters: the sea, the sky and clouds. Having seen two of her exhibitions in person, both at Adams & Ollman, I’ve asked myself, what is it then, that Bradford is saying with her pictures? She’s telling me about revery, buoyancy, fun—all perhaps contingent upon meditation and reflection. And then there’s the mysterious depth of the night that Bradford summons, that and the deep sea, the human mind. It’s all exciting, beyond sense, mystical, and yet utterly clear, approachable.

Continues…

VizArts Monthly: It’s not ALL blossoms and tea ceremonies

This month, as allergens arrive in record numbers, we have some escape routes to recommend

How does the rhyme go? April showers bring… April flowers, May flowers, May showers, occasional heatwaves, and record pollen levels? Something like that. As the city warms and brightens this May, a colorful range of shows are popping up like the unstoppable cascade of blossoms and flowers filling our streets. Celebrate World Collage Day, learn about the life of a wonderful outsider artist, or enjoy a tea ceremony with five world-class artisans from Kyoto. If all the sun and color is overwhelming you, sit back and enjoy the strangeness of Getting to Know You(tube) or the meditative calm of Heather Watkins fabric arts at PDX Contemporary.

Continues…

ArtsWatch Weekly: Triffle on a cloud, a lobster in the tank

A look at the week that was in Oregon arts. A glimpse ahead at the week that's going to be.

Carol Triffle is Portland’s most prominent stage absurdist, a quiet comic renegade who makes a virtue of never connecting the dots. Her theater is whimsical, outrageous, so ordinary that it defies the ordinary, stretching it into cosmic pretzel shapes. It’s an anti-theater, almost, bopping narrative on the nose and then ducking around the corner to put on clown makeup and reappear as something utterly different, yet somehow also just the same. At its worst, it falls apart. At its best, it feels a bit like watching Lucille Ball or Danny Kaye caught inside a spinning clothes dryer and howling to get out. Head-scratching occurs at a Triffle show, and the audience can be divided between those who adore the effect and those who simply scratch their heads.

Source, Fagan, Hale, on a sofa, on a cloud, in a funk. Imago Theatre photo.

Sorce, Fagan, Hale, on a sofa, on a cloud, in a funk. Imago Theatre photo.

Francesca, Isabella, Margarita on a Cloud, Triffle’s newest show at Imago Theatre (where she is co-founder and, with partner Jerry Mouawad, creator of the mask-and-costume phenomenon Frogz), is the story, if that’s the right word, of three sisters who feud inseparably, supporting one another through thin and thin. Margarita (Ann Sorce, an Imago vet who’s utterly internalized Triffle’s madcap expressionist style) is the one who won all the beauty contests. Francesca (Megan Skye Hale) is the one who lost all the same beauty contests. Isabella (Elizabeth Fagan), the baby, is the one who seems to have just accidentally starred in a porno film. Isabella’s boyfriend RayRay (Kyle Delamarter) and Margarita’s fella Bob the Weatherman (Sean Bowie) drop in now and again, eager, somehow, to attach to the sisterly scene.

Continues…

Katherine Bradford: We float and dream

"Katherine Bradford: Divers and Dreamers" at Adams and Ollman loves its medium

Until June 3rd, you have the chance to immerse yourself in a small, luminous set of Katherine Bradford’s acrylic paintings, Divers and Dreamers at Adams and Ollman. While Bradford is a regular at A & O, this show is the first one dedicated to her recent paintings of rough-hewn figures awash in a firmament of some kind. The bathing figure is a well-established theme of figurative painting, but Bradford’s sort of humble mysticism goes somewhere entirely different than any formal study of a body in water. From a recent review in  Art in America: Hers are salt-of-the-earth American swimmers and surfers, not fancy-pants ‘bathers.’” There is humor and a sort of ringing, distant strangeness in the atmosphere and material of these paintings.

Before you picture these paintings, you need to know about the surface. The paint is thick and layered to a degree rarely seen with acrylic. Acrylic has long been characterized by its fast drying time, its water solubility, its capacity for bright synthetic colors, and the literal plasticity of its dozens of mixing media. These qualities, compared to the alchemy of oil paint and its media, are inescapably modern: acrylic is bright, fast, synthetic, and convenient. Bradford works with acrylic in a way that takes advantage of these qualities of the medium in a way almost no one else does. Big names like Warhol, Riley, Kelly, and Lichtenstein got acrylic into museums as an almost ideally-flat medium, a spiritual middle ground between painting and photography. The surface of Bradford’s paintings reads more like a Monet.

Katherine Bradford, Three Swimmer Pool, 2016, acrylic on canvas, 21 x 24 inches/Adams and Ollman

Katherine Bradford, Three Swimmer Pool, 2016, acrylic on canvas,
21 x 24 inches/Adams and Ollman

Bradford’s colors are broken and reassembled over many layers, and they build depth and vibrance through complex relationships of transparency, texture, and accident. Her figures are immersed in this sea of material, and built up from it, with an overall effect of a magical, electrified land populated by lumpy people either enjoying a day at the beach or a spiritual ascension.

Continues…