Ori Gallery

VizArts Monthly: Art worth braving the rain to see

The galleries will be dry and there is great art to see inside

Now that January is finally over and we’ve all recovered from the holidays and reacclimated ourselves to the rain, it’s time to get back out into the world! There is a lot going on this month from anniversaries to grand re-openings to just plain great art shows from galleries and artists that work hard to share important ideas and visions with the rest of us. Beloved gallery Nationale has finally opened its doors at their new location off East Burnside, while the equally wonderful Ori celebrates its second birthday with a party and group show. Carnation Contemporary brings work from artist members of Eugene’s Tropical Contemporary to town for a gallery collective crossover event (and vice versa), and PDX Contemporary presents exciting new work from a long-time gallery artist. 

If January first is the “soft opening” of the New Year, the beginning of February is like the official Grand Opening of Earth’s next tour around the sun, when things really get going again after the post-holiday doldrums. But these shows and events don’t come out of nowhere, they are the result of careful planning and a lot of hard work that happens all year round. If you want to show your support to the arts workers who make this town great and help them continue their efforts in a sustainable way, consider donating to the projects linked at the end of this article. 

View of white-wall gallery with colorful quilted works featuring abstracted figures on walls and floor
Aruni Dharmakirthi, No Flowers in Eden, installation view, courtesy Nationale

Aruni Dharmakirthi: No Flowers in Eden
January 18 – February 18
Nationale
15 SE 22nd Ave
Nationale has moved around many times in its more than ten years of operation, but this last move was almost certainly the most trying. After miles of red tape and thousands of dollars spent updating this charming storefront location a half block South of Burnside, Nationale is transformed once again, but still radiates the singular personality of inimitable curator May Barruel. The gallery space is larger and the retail side now includes mini-shops offering items from local vendors Mixed Needs and tone poem. The first show in this space might have easily been overshadowed by the circumstances leading up to it — and in fact, the show was delayed by several months as renovations dragged on — but Aruni Dharmakirthi’s subtly sculptural quilted works are captivating enough to be heard over everything else. Her works’ abstracted figures, off-kilter palette, and casually expert decorative detailing add softness and warmth to the white-walled space. 

Logo featuring gold geometric designs on black background and text reading "Year of Ase 2020, Ori Gallery's Anniversary Fundraiser"
courtesy Ori Gallery

Year of Asé
February 15 – March 22
Opening reception February 15, 6-9pm
Ori Gallery
4038 N Mississippi Ave
Ori Gallery is two years old, and they are marking the occasion with a group show featuring work from a half-dozen artists and a party/fundraiser on opening night. The gallery’s tight-knit community has come together for celebration of the more than a dozen exhibitions and countless events they have produced to date and to get energized for the future. In their words: Year of Asé is “a thank you to all of our artists, volunteers, interns, patrons and staff. Come make connections and foster strength for the liberation work we have ahead of us!” The public is invited to join the party, which will feature opportunities to donate and a chance to win prizes from local vendors. 

Abstract painting with washy texture and small pointillist marks in soft pastel pinks, blues, and yellows on white background.
detail of work by Denise Lutz, image courtesy Carnation Contemporary and the artist

Pink Sheets
February 1 – 23
Carnation Contemporary
8371 N Interstate Ave

If/Then
February 7 – 28
Tropical Contemporary
1120 Bailey Hill #11
Eugene
Carnation Contemporary in Portland and Tropical Contemporary in Eugene pull a Freaky Friday move this month, hosting groups exhibitions of artist members from each other’s gallery. Pink Sheets, at Carnation, features work from members of Tropical focused on the comfort and warmth many of us crave during these winter months. If/Then, at Tropical, features works by Carnation members that share a common theme of the uncertain future versus the anxious present. Both galleries utilize an artist membership model both to share the costs and responsibilities of running an art space and to give artists ownership over their exhibitions. The gallery swap concept is a great way to highlight the hard work and collaborative spirit both of these spaces bring to the Oregon arts landscape, and hopefully will inspire art viewers from Portland and Eugene alike to break out of their usual routines and see what their neighbors are up to.

Still from digital animation showing red rock arch with cut interior revealing black and white digital pattern
still from CORES by Nick Sassoon and Rick Silva, courtesy Holding Contemporary

CORES: Nick Sassoon and Rick Silva
January 23 – February 29
Holding Contemporary
916 NW Flanders
The two artists featured in Holding Contemporary’s CORES, Nick Sassoon and Rick Silva, both make work connecting the digital and the physical in material ways. Rocks figure prominently – think digital animations of geode-like objects whose interiors are trippy LED screens, or an actual rock with an actual LED screen sprouting from an armature buried in the stone. Part of the aim is to evoke the ways in which humans have affected the natural world, even down to geological processes, and it would seem there are few perspectives that oppose anthropocentrism quite as effectively as lithocentrism — the rock’s eye view. 

shredded and layered blue and green flags hanging on white wall
Work by Brittany Vega, courtsey Fuller Rosen

American Hex: Christine Miller and Brittany Vega
February 1 – March 14
Fuller Rosen
2505 SE 11th Ave Suite 106
Christine Miller and Brittany Vega come together in their show, American Hex, to explore the problems and revelations contained within their own eccentric personal collections. Vega’s flag collection grew from her practical experience in the flag industry. The flags on view at Fuller Rosen are shredded and remixed to break down their original significance and question their role as cultural and political tools. Miller’s collection of racist Americana is a more direct statement on the trouble with American-ness and patriotism. These items reflect the racial violence and oppression that infuses so much of the history that has also informed a certain concept of national identity. Miller collects them as ”teaching tools” in the hope that their careful presentation and context might begin to neutralize their power as symbols of bigotry. Miller has published a book to accompany the show titled My Black is the Color of the Sun, in collaboration with the gallery. There will be a release event on February 22.

Green, blue, and yellow painting of large rocky mountain with cascading white waterfall and yellow sky in background
Adam Sorenson, Tetuan, courtesy PDX Contemporary

Skeleton: Adam Sorenson
January 15 – February 29
PDX Contemporary
925 NW Flanders
Portland artist Adam Sorenson gained national attention for his psychedelic neon landscapes ten years ago, and this month he returns to PDX Contemporary with paintings that find something new to say about the fantasy worlds that have become his signature. Like his past work, the pieces in Skeleton are replete with gumdrop-like rocks, cascading waterfalls, and glowing colors. But they are looser, more relaxed, and more painterly. In contrast to his earlier works, a little more is left to the imagination, and it feels like the mysterious places Sorenson conjures have a bit more room to breathe.

Photo of bearded man with yellow-painted face and purple lace shroud over head, holding hand to cheek and looking upwards with mouth open and eyes rolled back as if in agony or ecstasy. alpine scene in background
image courtesy Disjecta

Nierika: Santuario Somático: Edgar Fabián Frías
February 2 – March 8
Disjecta
8371 N Interstate Ave
Disjecta curator-in-residence Justin Hoover presents artist Edgar Fabián Frías in the second show of a series titled ungodly: the spiritual medium (Coco Dolle’s PUNKDEISM was the first). Frías is a licensed psychotherapist in addition to their interdisciplinary art practice, and their exhibition Nierika touts itself as an opportunity for viewers to take refuge and undertake a voyage of self-discovery through creative workshops, videos, and objects infused with spirituality inspired by Wixarika traditions of Western Mexico. How this transformative process is meant to unfold is hazy, but pursuit of a goal as utopian as the “binding together” of individuals through facilitation and nurturance of the collective psyche is certainly worth diving headfirst into the unknown. 

Show Your Appreciation: Contribute to the Art(ist)s

The Portland Art Museum just announced a $10 million gift from Arlene Schnitzer, and Disjecta was recently awarded $80,000 in funding from the Andy Warhol Foundation. These donations are wonderful for the institutions receiving them and the artists they support, and for Portland’s arts community. But not everybody can be (or show at) the museum. Many of the venues in this month’s listings are artist run, and it’s no small feat to organize exhibitions on a monthly basis while trying to juggle an art practice and the inevitable day jobs and side hustles that come along with the “creative lifestyle.” Here are some small ways you can contribute to the artists and curators who are working hard to make Portland as cool and interesting as everyone expects it to be:

Ink & Drink PDX
@inkanddrinkpdx
Last Wednesdays 7-10pm
Dig a Pony 
Ink & Drink is a monthly event held at the Inner Southeast bar Dig a Pony: a dozen artists sit at a big table and draw as spectators look on with beers in hand. Finished drawings are hung in a makeshift salon-style gallery for patrons to purchase and take home (at very reasonable prices!), and 50% of the proceeds benefit rotating local nonprofits and activist organizations. Check their website and Instagram for details about upcoming events.

Holding Contemporary’s Shareholder Program
Holding Contemporary runs on a unique “shareholder” model, in which an investment in the gallery yields quarterly returns, discounts on art, exclusive invitations to special events, and other perks. Buying a share in a gallery may sound unusual, but it’s a great way for the business to attract support in a town whose art market is still developing compared to other cities. The initial investment can be as little as $100, but the impact is significant for the gallery and its artists.

The Nat Turner Project
The organizers of the Nat Turner Project call it a “fugitive gallery space” that aims to give artists of color the literal and metaphorical space to create their work. Their projects include exhibitions and performances, as well as the Drinking Gourd Fellowships, which provide material support to emerging artists of color. Now NTP also has a podcast, called who all gon be there?, and you can support all of their activities by donating to their Patreon. An ongoing contribution entitles donors to benefits like exclusive podcast episodes, a NTP zine, and custom-made buttons. With enough support, the organization hopes to eventually rent exhibition space and pay future artists-in-residence. 

Nationale
Reborn gallery Nationale has raised an impressive amount so far through its grassroots fundraising campaign, but it still has a little ways to go to make up for the high costs of renovating its new space. Owner and curator May Barruel is known for her continued support of young emerging artists, and her gallery is by some measures the quintessential Portland art space. Over the years she has borne much of the cost of running the space herself, and it has been heartwarming to see the community she helped build gather its resources to keep Nationale going.

Oregon Artswatch
It would be remiss not to include ourselves! Oregon Artswatch has been covering the state’s arts community and news since 2011. As a nonprofit organization, we rely in part on donations to fund our reporting. If you are enjoying this column, think about contributing a little bit if you can so that we can continue sharing our journalism with you!

Vision 2020: Maya Vivas and Leila Haile

Pioneering at Ori Gallery: "We often joke about how we would love to not be the only Queer, Black-run art space in town."

North Mississippi Avenue’s Ori Gallery is about to celebrate its two-year anniversary, and founders Maya Vivas and Leila Haile have a lot to show for a relatively short span of time. Ori has had more than a dozen exhibitions featuring work from a wide range of artists who identify as QTPoC (Queer Trans People of Color).  They have held workshops on grant-writing, tattoo history, and methods for direct political action through art; and hosted life drawing classes, artist lectures, and parties. As if all that weren’t enough, Vivas and Haile were recently awarded their second Precipice Fund grant to support Ori’s programming into 2020. The two also maintain their own creative practices – Vivas is a ceramic and performance artist whose work has been shown throughout Portland and across the country, and Haile is a tattoo artist who specializes in working on melanated skin.


VISION 2020: TWENTY VIEWS ON OREGON ARTS


Their collaboration as co-directors of Ori has brought attention to the voices of historically marginalized artists and contributed to the larger conversation surrounding equity, institutional bias, and the arts in Portland. Amidst a jam-packed schedule that included the opening reception for an exhibition of the Nat Turner Project’s Drinking Gourd Artist Fellows and the award ceremony for the Precipice Fund at PICA, Vivas and Haile found a few moments to share their thoughts on what the coming decade has in store for the arts and artists in the Rose City. (Responses without a name preceding them were submitted as joint comments.)

Maya Vivas and Leila Haile, taking charge. Photo courtesy Ori Gallery

Continues…

The Week: TBA or not TBA?

As the contemporary arts festival surges onto an already bulging September calendar, that is the question.

A NEW CROP OF APPLES IS HITTING THE PRODUCE STANDS. Lush ripe tomatoes are overflowing gardens and markets. Cukes are ready for pickling. America’s schoolchildren, ready or not, are back in the saddle again. And today, for the 17th year, Portland Institute for Contemporary Art’s annual TBA Festival kicks off again. “TBA” stands for “Time-Based Art,” which mainly means performance – art that takes place in a set period of time, in front of an audience – although visual art’s part of the mix, too. And the time is very contemporary: the art of today, for good and sometimes ill. As PICA puts it, the festival, which runs in venues around Portland through Sept. 15, “gathers artists and audiences from around the world” for eleven days of “contemporary performance, music, visual art, film, workshops, lectures, food, drink, conversation, and celebration.” 

Eiko Otake. Photo courtesy Joseph Scheer, IEA at NYSCC, via PICA


Over the years TBA’s had a lot of hits and a lot of misses. Its emphasis on non-traditional and resolutely experimental work can elevate the narcissistic and the sloppy. It can also champion fresh art of astonishing provocation and beauty, as it did in the festival’s very first incarnation, on Sept. 11, 2003, when, on the second anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks, the great butoh-influenced performers Eiko and Koma stunned their Portland audience with an outdoor performance in and around the water at Jamison Square, beneath a darkening sky. That performance, eloquently titled Offering, was sad, deep, ghostlike, hopeful, profound. “It strikes me, on this anniversary of death, that the world’s war-makers would detest this dance, which is about deep truths that can’t be glossed or managed,” I wrote at the time. “One watches an invisible flight of ideas. It is the holy and the profane, inseparable, wrapped into one. A mystery.”

The good news is that Eiko Otake is back at TBA for the first time since that 2003 performance, and she’ll be a busy part of things. You can see her tonight, at TBA’s opening reception, in her evolving piece A Body in Places, based on her return to post-nuclear disaster Fukushima. Prints and video works will also be on view through Oct. 24 at PNCA’s 511 Gallery. There’ll be a screening of her film A Body in Fukushima: Reflections on the Nuclear in Everyday Life, on Sept. 9. She’ll perform her Duet Project: Distance Is Malleable, with several collaborators, Sep. 12-14. And in a free event on Sept. 13, she’ll be in conversation with chroreographer Linda K. Johnson and PICA Artistic Director Kristan Kennedy.

 

Continues…

VizArts Monthly: September Frenzy

TBA Picks and September gallery shows

September lands with a bang in Portland – PICA’s TBA (Time Based Art) Festival is always a highlight and this year we also have Portland2019, the biennial run by Disjecta. Elsewhere, Nationale has closed their Division location but promises to re-open soon with more exhibition space at 15 SE 22nd, Adams and Ollman will reopen on September 26 after their short vacation, and the Japanese Garden will be hosting their popular Moonviewing Festival. As always, our fine local galleries will be showing some new, interesting work. Here are some highlights, so get out there!

Rodrigo Valenzuela – Road 1, Courtesy of Upfor

RODRIGO VALENZUELA: PAST | PRESENT

Through September 28
Upfor Gallery
929 NW Flanders St 

Valenzuela’s third solo exhibition at Upfor consists of two separate shows, in September and October. Opening on First Thursday in September, Past will feature selected videos and photos from Valenzuela’s major series, made between 2013 and 2018, some of which are concurrently displayed at at the Philips Collection in Washington DC. If you’re unfamiliar with Valenzuela’s work, this show will be an excellent chance to get to know his multi-media approach to observing and documenting our current world, from videos sharing the stories of Latino immigrants to monochromatic photos of urban decay. In October, return to see brand new work that plays with perspective and scale to further interrogate the artist’s subjects.

Courtesy of Ori Gallery

2nd Annual Youth exhibition

Through September 29
Ori Gallery
4038 N Mississippi Ave

This group exhibition of a diverse collection of local youth artists aims to “facilitate & continue the dialogue in what it means for young folks to cultivate an artistic practice,” according to Ori Gallery. Artists include Markayla Ballard, Kayla Brock, Htet Htet Soe, Christian Orellana Bauer, Tania Jaramillo, Kennedy Boswell, and Aiyana McClinton as well as Hobbs Waters, an ambitious, multi-disciplinary artist and dancer already thinking big at the age of 10. A welcome new tradition, this annual show gives viewers a glimpse of the next generation of artistic voices out of Portland.

Maya Vivas, courtesy of the artist

i have no choice but to suck the juice out, and who am i to blame: Maya Vivas

September 4 – 20
Reception: Thursday, September 5, 6-8 PM
Littman + White Galleries 
1825 Southwest Broadway

Ceramic sculptor, performance artist, and co-owner of Ori Gallery Maya Vivas presents a new set of evocative, sculptural work in this show at Littman + White. The flowing forms spring from Vivas’s interest in “absurdity, elegance, carnality, speculative fiction, and body horror” (from their statement). These beguiling objects often feel strangely organic or on the verge of moving.

Installation View of For the Seventh Generation

For the Seventh Generation

Sept 28th and 29th, 2019, 12–6:30 pm
U.S. Post Office on NW Lovejoy and 8th, Portland, OR
Outdoor exhibition by Elizabeth Jones Art Center

This unique project aims to create a mile-long “panomural” of seascapes by dozens of artists that will allow viewers to walk the entirety of the US Pacific coastline, from Mexico to Canada. Seeking to raise awareness of the environmental issues facing our nearest ocean, the project aims to be “conceptually continuous” meaning that West Coast artists will represent every mile of the California, Oregon, and Washington coasts in one way or another, on canvases two by four feet, arranged sequentially until they stretch for a mile. For the final weekend in September, you can catch one third of the mile mural right in the Pearl District as an outdoor exhibition. 

Image by Lynn Yarne

Portland2019

Through November 3
Disjecta
8371 N Interstate Avenue

The fifth biennnial in Disjecta’s tenure of running the Portland Biennial, this survey, co-curated by Yaelle S. Amir, Elisheba Johnson, and Ashley Stull Meyers, highlights visual and performing artists who are “defining and advancing Oregon’s contemporary art landscape,” according to Disjecta. Unlike some previous years, all of the Biennial events this year will be held at Disjecta’s North Portland headquarters, making it a convenient way to see a lot of art in a single space. Artists include Sara Siestreem, Vanessa Renwick, Dru Donovan, Ka’ila Farrell-Smith, the Harriet Tubman Center for Expanded Curatorial Practice, and Lynn Yarne.

Three picks for TBA

Eiko Otake courtesy of PICA

A Body in Places: Eiko Otake

Sept 5th 6–8pm – Performance
Sept 5 – Oct 24
PNCA’s Center for Contemporary Art & Culture 511 NW Broadway

A Body in Fukushima: Reflections on the Nuclear in Everyday Life

Mon Sept 9, 7 pm
Northwest Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium
1219 SW Park, $8–10

Eiko Otake’s return to TBA is one of the most notable performances in the festival this year (she’s on the cover of the guide). Starting in 2014, she has performed variations of her solo project, A Body in Places, at more than 40 locations including some affected by the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster. She will be performing work from A Body on opening night of TBA at PNCA’s Center for Contemporary Art & Culture. A screening of the artist’s film A Body in Fukushima will be at the Northwest Film Center and then later in the festival she will reveal new work as part of her The Duet Project. With the anticipation swirling around these performances, it could be easy to miss that there are visual art components to her presence at the festival as well as the film and performative elements. PICA hosts multi-channel video of site-specific performances while PNCA’s 511 gallery will show new print and video work, made in collaboration at a residency at the Institute for Electronic Arts. 

Myles De Bastion, courtesy of PICA

CymaSpace: Myles De Bastion

September 12, 10:30pm
PICA
15 NE Hancock St

If you’re questioning whether this musical performance can be considered visual art, then you’re asking the right questions. Founder of Cymaspace, deaf musician, artist, and activist Myles de Bastion wants us to examine our notion of what music is, and expand our sensory experience. The press release describes their performance as using “visual, vibrational, light-based, and other immersive and multi-sensory interpretations and displays of sound.” The light-based apprach includes big, very bright LED panels that blast frequencies we can enjoy with our eyes to complement the soundwaves from the speakers. TBA goes on to say that “this night of performances will create multiple modes and nodes of access for Deaf and Hearing audiences alike…” Viewers with sensitive eyes take note: consider this a visual version of a rock show, so sunglasses could be both fashionable and practical.

Costume from The Dope Elf, courtesy of PICA

The Dope Elf

September 14–22: Public viewing of “The Dope Elf” performance environment
September 14: “The Dope Elf” premier performance, 8pm–10pm, September 15: “The Dope Elf” performance, 8pm–10pm
Yale Union (YU), 800 SE 10th Ave.
$10 suggested donation

Los Angeles playwright Asher Hartman and his company, Gawdafful National Theater, have come to Portland to occupy the Yale Union as part of TBA – literally. Building a makeshift trailer park, the company will live in their creation for the duration of the show while using it as a stage and film set. The YU describes the experience (and it is more of an experience than a performance) as a “whirlwind” and a “multitude of voices, sensorial phenomena, and slippery points-of-view, the play becomes a space to experience an American landscape of aching laughter and psychic pain.” One of the most ambitious shows at the Yale Union to date, and the YU’s first collaboration with TBA, The Dope Elf is sure to be a highlight of the festival.

VizArts Monthly: December rules

This month's Portland visual arts exhibitions jump through the centuries and land firmly in the here and now

The year may be winding down, but the art scene sure isn’t. This month, you can visit the Japanese Garden to catch the only US stop of an international exhibition of Hokusai’s Manga, or see Japanese art from twelve centuries under one roof at the Portland Art Museum. For something more local, there’s the opening of a big new gallery project by Albertina Kerr, The Portland Art and Learning Studios. Also of note, PICA will be hosting the Precipice Fund awards and winter social not far down the street. Heading further north, you can catch a good show at Disjecta and its newer tenant, Carnation Contemporary. If you’re a fan of independent galleries, you can catch the last-ever show at Grapefruits, or enjoy the reliably engaging programming at Ori or Nationale. Whatever you’re in the mood for, brave the cold and the rain and you should be able to find something good out there this month.

Yosa Buson: Thatched Retreat on Cold Mountain – detail

Poetic Imagination in Japanese Art: Selections from the Collection of Mary and Cheney Cowles
Through January 13, 2019
Portland Art Museum,1219 SW Park Avenue
PAM is ending the year with a bang – in addition to the knockout American realism exhibit, you can still catch this gorgeous exhibition spanning 12 centuries of Japanese art. Selected from the collection of Mary and Cheney Cowles, this exhibit highlights one of the strongest themes in this remarkable private collection – art closely related to poetic traditions in Japan.

  • Waka and the Courtly Tradition, featuring work rooted in the poetry and culture of the waka traditions of the ninth through 12th centuries
  • Ink Painting and the Zen Milieu, tracing the adoption and flowering of Zen Buddhism in Japan and the monochrome ink painting style that emerged with it
  • Literati Culture, showcasing the lyrical, romantic landscapes from the 18th and 19th century turn to Neo-Confucian philosophy
  • Modern Innovations, surveying 20th-century innovations of 20th-century artists in Japan as they engaged with traditional techniques in a modern, often highly personal style

Worth noting: the exhibition includes an installation of a traditional Japanese teahouse and newly-commissioned, fully-illustrated catalogue.

Page from Hokusai Manga

Page from Hokusai Manga

Manga Hokusai Manga
December 1, 2018 – January 13, 2019
Portland Japanese Garden, 611 SW Kingston Road

Sure to be a crowd-pleaser, one of the most famous Japanese artists of all time, Katsushika Hokusai, meets modern Japanese manga. Prints and illustrations by the world-famous artist of the iconic print the Great Wave off Kanagawa will be juxtaposed by with work by top contemporary manga artists. A traveling exhibition this will be the only chance to see this show in the Us. Hokusai Manga refers to an 800-page edition of prints, released between 1814 and 1878 in 15 hand-bound volumes, which was the origin of the term that is still in use today to refer to Japanese comics and animation. Materials accompanying the show provide wealth of historical and cultural context, thanks to a curatorial team including many prominent Japanese scholars and art directors.

alienated rhy thm

Alien ate d Rhy thm

Alien ate d Rhy thm
Through December 22
Ori Gallery, 4038 N Mississippi Avenue

If you’re not into the white-cube aesthetic, artists Hiba Ali and Jonathan Chacón have got a show for you. Noticing the prominence of a particular shade of orange in the branding and marketing of a variety of gig-economy services such as Caviar, Ali has literally painted the gallery orange, maintaining that “contemporary color of labor and danger, it is racialized and classed.” Ali engages Amazon’s “customer obsessed” mascot, Peccy in her video Abra to further discuss these issues, and has brought soap bubbles into the discussion of economic bubbles. Chacón’s installation is a text piece using the medium of foam puzzle tiles, adorned with objects and laid out throughout the gallery floor. This engaging, inventive show brings diverse methods and materials to focus on the question “How do queer people of color, repetitively move through environments designed to work against them?”

Holiday Sale - Installation view with chandelier

Holiday Sale – Installation view with chandelier

Exhibit 1 – Holiday Sale
Through January 30
Portland Art and Learning Studio
4852 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd

Portland Art and Learning Studio is a new, 10,000 square-foot outsider art gallery established by the Albertina Kerr foundation. Serving nearly 200 artists, the mission of the studio is to “achieve fulfillment by reframing perceptions around intellectual and developmental disabilities through creative practice and community building.” The inaugural exhibition features a mural and large canvases by Studio member Sakari Muhommad, and a “a series of richly textured and experimental weavings” by Native American textile artist Ricky Bearghost. Hanging from a chandelier in the center of the gallery, his weavings include found materials such as sticks and bottle caps, as well as handmade ceramic beads. As many of that artists served by the Studio experience disability and are members of vulnerable populations, gallery director Daniel Rolnik maintains the importance of creating space in the arts for their voices. “Our artists are proud of who they are and we feel fortunate to be able to support their desires to have their works shown to the art world,” says Rolnik.

Object with drawing from Provender

Object with drawing from Provender

Provender: Georgina Lewis and Sarah Rushford
Through December 23
Grapefruits,211 N Kerby Ste D

An exhibition of experimental drawings and process-related prints and photographs that represent current work by Boston artist Georgina Lewis and Portland artist Sarah Rushford. Former co-director of Ortega y Gasset Projects in Brooklyn, Rushford has recently returned to drawing after establishing herself as a video artist. Both artists use experimental drawing “as a means of coping with anxiety, fear, and paralysis that they feel emotionally, in their careers, in their art processes, and especially in their civic lives…” If that sounds heavy, you will appreciate the unexpected thread of play and happenstance that carries through the laregly-monochrome installation. Process-based graphite drawings, small sculptures and assemblages, and other materials have been thoughtfully installed in various ways that play well with the rough-hewn charm of Grapefruits.

This, sadly, is the final show by this scrappy gallery known for hosting innovative shows by emerging artists and creating a comprehensive resource guide for artists in Portland. However, former members of Grapefruits are in talks to start a new project in the same space, a small warehouse unit with a loading dock down the same dead-end alley in Portland’s North Industrial district where PNCA recently opened studios in the former Ouroboros glass factory. Look for further developments in 2019.

Netta Fornario by Ty Ennis

Netta Fornario by Ty Ennis

The Marble Fountain: Ty Ennis
Through December 30
Nationale, 3360 SE Division

In this solo show by Nationale favorite Ty Ennis, “melancholic dreams” mix with holiday lore and art historical references in this dreamy show of half-remembered figures, scenes, and moods. “When we are young, the world appears full of magic,” Nationale says in the press release. “We are the center of our universe—we know of little beyond our guided travels. Time equals now.” Ennis’s loose brushwork evokes this less-rationalized, perhaps more-lived way of seeing the world with a steady intensity.

A puzzling light and moving - installation view

A puzzling light and moving – installation view

A puzzling light and moving: Kate Newby
Ongoing
Lumber Room, 419 Northwest 9th Avenue

A meditative, eclectic show that collects found materials, handmade objects, and site-specific constructions to reflect on a process of “prolonged engagement” by New Zealand and New York-based artist Kate Newby’s prolonged engagement. Through site visits, conversations, and exploring our city, Newby has been making and thinking about items in this show for the last two years, and it is likely to continue for some time. Walking among the objects hanging in groups from the ceiling and stacked in corners of Lumber Room’s Pearl-district loft hopefully can spark that that sense of quiet, ongoing thoughtfulness within the viewer.

Between Here and The Machine

Between Here and The Machine

Carnation Contemporary
November 30-December 23
Carnation, 8371 N Interstate Avenue
In this show, three prominent West Coast artists utilize a variety of analog and digital forms to interrogate what Carnation calls “the ubiquity of mediated images.” Bean Gilsdorf, Rhonda Holberton, and Anthony Discenza negotiate different arenas in which we create, share, and consume images in the age of Instagram and increasingly powerful smartphones. Each artist uses a variety of tools to draw attention to and disrupt the many layers of processing and interpretation that modern images go through. Archival news photos, low-fi 3D modeling, hand-sewn soft sculptures, and image composites are all fair game in this show.

One of Portland’s newer independent galleries, Carnation Contemporary occupies space in the  Disjecta building.

Still from "Dislocation Blues"

Still from “Dislocation Blues”

I’ve known rivers: I’ve known rivers ancient as the world and older than the flow of human blood in human veins
December 2 – 30
Disjecta, 8371 N Interstate Avenue

This exhibition is presented as a dialogue between the artistic practices of Carolina Caycedo and Sky Hopinka. Caycedo’s video work pays homage to Langston Hughe’s poem The Negro Speaks of Rivers and emphasizes the political and cultural roots of ecological destruction and the populations that suffer its effects most in our current society. Hopinka’s work addresses “considerations around homeland, the preservation of language, and the undefinable spaces between the known, the sought after, and the unknowable.” His film, Dislocation Blues, refutes the broader narratives of the protests at Standing Rock with individual stories from members of the resistance. Drawings, sculptures, and found objects as well as more video work from both artists further probe the conversation around these pressing issues.

the first and the last: An interview with kiki nicole and ariella tai

A new experimental film/video and new media arts project launches a series of programs by and for black femmes, women, and non-men

I am the first and the last. I am the honored one and the scorned one. I am the whore and the holy one. I am the wife and the virgin. I am the barren one and many are my daughters. I am the silence you can not understand. I am the utterance of my name.

the first and the last, an experimental film/video and new media arts project germinating in Portland, takes its name from the epigraph above. It is spoken by the character Nana Peazant in the seminal film Daughters of the Dust, produced and directed by Julie Dash. In 1991, it became the first full-length film directed by a black, female-identifying director to be released in theaters across the nation.

Last week, I spoke with the first and the last curators, ariella tai (they/them) and kiki nicole (they/them), as they were gearing up for the Screening and Media Literacy Workshop with Melanie Stevens, taking place on April 19 and 20 at Ori Gallery. This will be the first of ten programs at various venues organized by the first and the last, including exhibitions and more screenings, skill shares, and workshops.

In a contemplative back-and-forth, tai and nicole—who are both black femme artists—articulated how the convergence of their experiences led them to create a series of programs by and for black femmes, women, and non-men in the context of the city of Portland, where the erasure of black communities and crisis of gentrification continue to propel dialogues and organizing efforts.

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VizArts Monthly: February lights

Lighten your February load with the Portland Winter Light Festival and an abundance of visual arts exhibitions

Nearly everyone within earshot of these words already understands that one of the implications of the dramatic uptick in the cost of real estate and rents we’ve experienced lands directly on artists and the arts.

At City Hall, it’s apparent that Mayor Ted Wheeler and Commissioners Chloe Eudaly and Nick Fish understand it, too. “Nothing is inevitable about what we’ve achieved around the arts and culture,” Fish said at a January 9 public workshop on the issue of artists space. Fish, the commissioner responsible for the Regional Arts and Culture Council, has been working on a set of proposals—23 separate items were on his list as of January 9—to address the problem.

That plan will hit city council on February 28, and we’ll be writing about it both before and after that political event. None of the 23 items on the list require any capital expenditure by the city, which makes their passage more likely. Why the city budget is always tight is the subject for a vast treatise on political economy (I’d recommend Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri’s Empire) and an analysis of where tax money goes. Don’t worry: I’m not going there. The pressing question for artists and arts groups priced out of Portland right now: how soon and how effectively can they alter the market and demographic forces creating the rent squeeze. So, we’ll have LOTS to talk about.

That’s one of the backdrops for this month’s First Thursday and First Friday art openings. The other is the passing of Portland’s Ursula K. Le Guin, a very great artist of the word, whose books did what every great piece of art does: connect us mind, body and spirit to our present reality and propose, directly or indirectly, alternate ones for us to consider. All of this while engaging us so completely that we aren’t thinking about any of this as we experience the work. Le Guin is a model for the artist in all of us.

OK, then, death and government policy: Not such a jolly way to enter the month’s art openings, maybe. I assure you, though, there’s less bread and circus and more serious grappling with our current dire political condition in the shows of our art galleries these days.

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