Nationale Gallery

Portland artist John Gnorski’s exhibition Like a Train in the Sky at Stumptown Coffee celebrates the Portland artist’s Stumptown Artist Fellowship award. It was curated by May Barruel, the proprietor of Nationale, and features a suite of woodblock prints and tenuously representational sculptures-as-drawings that readily communicate forms without being didactic. The forms aren’t fixed; they don’t always represent, say, humans, herons, or trains—but they’re also not nothing, far from it. In fact, “far from nothing” would be a good subtitle for a show that announces its attachment to, among other things, dusk and clouds. The fourteen works all involve wood, a material with which Gnorski, a carpenter by trade, is intimately familiar and they refer loosely to the visual world. 

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Viz Arts Monthly: July looks deliciously scrappy

July features some tasty group shows, a DIY flavor and much more than anyone could possibly see!

The summer vibes have brought another set of lively shows to Portland! If the news has got you down, visit the strange, raucous utopian visions of the future from Killjoy Collective at the Littman Gallery at PSU. If that doesn’t do it for you, you could try to DIY scrappiness of the Germination photo show in the partner White gallery at the same location. Elizabeth Leach and Ori gallery also offer some lively group shows, highlighting the work of two different, vibrant artistic communities. For a more singular vision, try Sarah Mikenis at Nationale or Glenn Brown’s collection of works at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art in Eugene. And finally, if you want to confront the state of the world head on, National Geographic photographer Randy Olson’s talk at his new show at Camerawork gallery will give you some action items. Stay sunny, Portland!

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On a scale of more

Emily Counts at Carl & Sloan Contemporary

The positioning of Emily Counts’ sculpture, “Moves Moves,” in the front gallery of Carl & Sloan Contemporary suitably makes it the focal point for her current exhibit. A good four feet out from a corner, it necessitates that two walls remain blank. At 82 inches tall and comprised of an array of stacked components made of stoneware, porcelain, platinum luster, concrete, wood, epoxy clay, copper wire and bronze, it initially brings to mind the cairn-like stone balancing acts that one sees on rocky beaches. Similarly, it stands as a monument, if not to excess, then an unapologetic variety of treatments.

Emily Counts, Moves Moves/Carl & Sloan Contemporary

Emily Counts, Moves Moves/Carl & Sloan Contemporary

Still, the title seems to suggest a self-conscious awareness that asks if the accumulation of materials and designs might be a little too much (include in this the verb/noun double-duty of “moves”). Both a question of excess (More More) and a concern for balance, if asked, I would assure the artist that her use of black, white and grays lends a cohesiveness to the work. Yet, there is more to consider.

A little more than halfway up “Moves Moves,” one of its ceramic components is made to appear as if it has been forcibly pierced through and through. A cord of ceramic tubes (large beads) strings through the holes and hangs like dead, uneven appendages, which makes the tower become a nearly seven-foot tall figure; and as a figure, the many treatments and designs on the ceramics become adornments as they echo ritual scarification, tattoos and head gear.

Cords of ceramics are evident in the three larger pieces in the gallery’s main room, while two smaller pieces contain a similar gesture with chains made of bronze. This stringing was also in evidence in her exhibit last year at Nationale. It would not be a surprise to discover she also makes jewelry, specifically necklaces. I mention this not to close down the reading of Counts’ endeavors but to open it up. After all, it is the interplay between the jewelry-like structures—along with their role in creating the human form—that leads us to consider the implications of a decorated body.

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