portland galleries

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

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Quintana, Crow’s Shadow, big day

Art notes: A legendary Native American gallery returns, an innovative eastern Oregon art center comes to Portland, and the Jewish Museum prepares for a grand reopening. Oh: and First Thursday, too.

The innovative Crow’s Shadow Institute of the Arts has been a boon to the worlds of art and Native American culture in the Northwest since it was established twenty-five years ago by artists James Lavadour, Phillip Cash Cash, and others on the Umatilla Reservation near Pendleton. Its nationally known printmaking center draws artists of all sorts to eagerly sought-after residencies with master printers. The Institute actively boosts economic development for Native American artists and students via classes, workshops, and other programs. And not coincidentally, over its quarter-century Crow’s Shadow has had a hand in the creation of a wealth of vital contemporary art.

Jim Denomie (Ojibwe), “Blue Mountain Portraits,” 2011, print monotype on Somerset satin white paper, 20 x 15 inches; Crow’s Shadow at Froelick

For forty-two years until its founders retired and closed up shop two years ago, Quintana Galleries was a national and even international force in nurturing and selling mostly traditional Native American and First Nations art. Several other Portland galleries represent excellent contemporary Native artists, but no new gallery has sprung up to take Quintana’s place.

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ArtsWatch Weekly: bohemians & other artists

"La Bohème" at the opera, George Johanson & other gallery shows, Brett Campbell's music picks, Miss Julie and Satchmo onstage

Here they come again, those tragic bohemians. Rodolfo with his poems. Marcello with his paintings. Musetta with her songs. Mimi with her consumption. All of them as poor as church mice. Fortunately they can also sing like angels, or like the devil himself, who seems to have it in for them. It’s been eight years since Portland Opera last produced La Bohème, Puccini’s 1896 grand musical potboiler (Toscanini conducted the world premiere in Turin), which is one of opera’s greatest weepers and most enduring hits. Now Portland Opera’s brought it back again, beginning on Friday at Keller Auditorium and continuing for three more performances through May 13. It’ll feature Vanessa Isiguen as poor doomed Mimi, and the young Italian tenor Giordano Lucá, in his American debut, as Rodolfo. Let the singing, and the dying, begin.

Vanessa Issiguen, Mimi in Portland Opera’s “La Boheme,” performing in the opera’s Big Night special in April. Photo: Cory Weaver

 


 

THE MAY FIRST THURSDAY ART GALLERY OPENINGS are this week, and one of the shows we’re looking forward to is at Augen, where George Johanson has an exhibition of recent paintings going up. If we gave artists the sort of titles we used to hand out, Johanson would be a Portland Old Master: Born in Seattle in 1928, he came to Portland in 1946 to attend the old Museum Art School (now Pacific Northwest College of Art), and with some breaks in New York, London, and Mexico he’s mostly been here ever since.

George Johanson, “Studio with Bunce Mask,” 2016, acrylic and oil on canvas , 40 x 60 inches.

Adept as a printmaker and a painter, he’s chronicled pretty much everything from the city’s rivers to its music to his own studio to other artists (in his 2002 book of quick portraits Equivalents: Portraits of 80 Oregon Artists) to Mt. St. Helens blowing its stack, often with a rabbit or a cat streaking across the image. As he approaches 90 he seems as active and creative as ever. His show opens Thursday and he’ll speak at the gallery at noon Saturday, May 13.

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Among the many openings and continuing gallery shows, a few other likely bets:

Yoonhee Choi and Roya Motamedi at Blackfish. Choi’s installation Sift uses bright colors and recycled plastic cups, straight pins, and the like to contemplate consumption and detritus. Motamedi’s Aptitude of Kindness includes collages of fabric and birch on paper.

James Allen’s Northwest Bound at Russo Lee. Allen “excavates” books in search of history and image – in this show, including a large altered set of bound newspapers from the old Oregon Journal in May 1914. Also: Michelle Ramin’s takes on tourists exploring architectural ruins; Amory Abbott’s charcoal drawings.

Mar Goman and Dayna J Collins at Guardino. Goman’s highly crafted, outsidery images (she calls it “curious art”) have a folk art feel and are made from just about anything she can get her hands on. Collins paints abstract images emerging from the waterlines of rivers and ocean.

Alex Lilly’s Razor Blade Rain at Michael Parsons Fine Art. May Day turned into a pitched battle in downtown Portland, and that’s an extension of what Lilly’s vivid and disturbing paintings are about. This new show is based on drawings and photographs he made while watching earlier Portland protests.

Margaret Lindburg’s Resolution at Karin Clarke Gallery. The veteran Salem artist has a new show of paintings at Clarke’s gallery in Eugene, and Randi Bjornstad has this interesting profile of Lindburg in Eugene Review.

Alex Lilly, “Riot Cops – 3rd and SW Madison,” 2017, oil on composite block, 6 x 6 inches, Michael Parsons Fine Art.

 


 

BRETT CAMPBELL’S MUSIC PICKS OF THE WEEK:

 

The four-time Grammy-winning ensemble, one of the top performers of contemporary American classical music, joins the quirky indie folk singer/songwriter (real name Will Oldham) in his own songs, plus Pulitzer Prize-winning composer David Lang’s learn to fly and Frederic Rzewski’s fierce 1971 American classic Coming Together, which sets a heart-rending text by an inmate killed in the Attica prison uprising. The centerpiece, Murder Ballades, is a fascinating mashup of ancient English/Appalachian folk tunes like “Pretty Polly” along with original music inspired by them, all put together by Bryce Dessner, best known to rock music fans as the guitarist in The National but recently emerging as a formidable contemporary classical composer with music for Kronos Quartet and others. Wednesday, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall.

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In the galleries: photos & more

April is Portland Photo Month, and it's a wide-angle lens: a First Thursday guide to the month's shows

Snap, crackle, pop: April is Portland Photo Month, with events and exhibitions all over town. Photolucida, which sponsors the annual celebration, has put together a handy guide to several of the photo exhibits.

Philippe Halsman, “Marilyn at the Drive-in,” 1952, gelatin silver print, 10 x 13 inches, Edition of 250. In Augen Gallery exhibit of 20th century photography.

Among the gallery shows are works by such high-profile figures as the 20th century master Minor White (in a continuing show of images of Portland 1938-1942, at the Architectural Heritage Center), Christopher Rauschenberg (photos from Poland at Elizabeth Leach), and a couple of Portland photographers who balance fine-art photography and globe-trotting photojournalism (Corey Arnold and his Aleutian Dreams at Charles A. Hartman Fine Art; Susan Seubert with Not a Day Goes By, an exploration of suicide and the choice between being and nothingness, at Froelick).

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Art: new images for a new year

The first First Thursday of 2017, and other January visual arts events

Well, we pretty much got out of 2016 with the shirts on our backs, and suddenly here we are in a fresh new year.

January brings some intriguing visual art possibilities, including a major retrospective on Oregon master Louis Bunce (1907-1983) opening Jan. 21 at the Hallie Ford Museum of Art in Salem. On the same day in Eugene, the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art opens Sandow Birk: American Qur’an, a visual exploration of how the Muslim holy book intersects with American life. On Jan. 17 the Ronna and Eric Hoffman Gallery at Lewis & Clark College opens youniverse: past, present, future, by veteran Portland artist Tad Savinar, focusing on works conceived in Florence, Italy, in 2014 and 2016 and on prints, paintings, and sculpture from 1994 through 2011.

And the Portland Art Museum has several things coming up this month to help fill the Andy Warhol void: Rodin: The Human Experience, a show of 52 bronzes opening Jan. 21; Constructing Identity, a major look at the work of contemporary and historical African American artists from Henry Ossawa Tanner to Faith Ringgold and beyond, opening Jan. 28; and the Portland Fine Print Fair 2017, which brings together offerings from 20 top dealers, and which the museum hosts Jan. 27-29.

MORE IMMEDIATELY, THURSDAY is the first First Thursday of the art-gallery year, and galleries across town will be opening new monthly shows. (Some have holdovers, or different opening dates.) Here are a few shows that have caught our eye. There’s lots more, so get out and explore on your own:

Carl Morris, “Voyage Unknown,” 1946, oil on canvas, 52 x 32.5 inches. At this point his art is moving away from figurism but not yet into the abstract expressionism for which he’s best known. Photo: Russo Lee Gallery

The iconic Oregon artist Carl Morris (1911-1993) has a show at Russo Lee Gallery, sharing space with Alex Hirsch. Morris moved from WPA-style murals (the Eugene post office) to his own form of earthbound abstract expressionism that kept vital touch with the mysteries of the Northwest landscape. Morris was at once regional and wise to the movements of the international art scene, and this exhibit covers roughly 50 years of development.

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ArtsWatch Weekly: The prints & the Oscars, big whale, Stupid Bird, Lear

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

That’s a print. No, we’re not talking about the movies, or the end of a scene shot, or Sunday’s Oscars broadcast, which we found fascinating on all sorts of levels, including the mostly successful tightrope that the host Chris Rock and his writers pranced so nimbly across, smiling and laughing as they took the ringmasters down a notch or two. It’s tough challenging the circus from inside the big tent, but points were made. The big question, of course, remains: what, if anything, will actually be done? In a way, the trouble is less a second year running of all-white acting nominations than the system that makes such an imbalance possible: a lack of great, good, and even middling roles for black and brown actors. The tendency to think of all roles as “white” roles unless the script specifies they are for  minority actors. Projects greenlighted with an eye on white audiences, and projects stopped in their tracks because they’re too “ethnic” to guarantee a hefty profit. And although the absence of black roles was the focus of protests, we also like what the Mexican filmmaker Alejandro G. Iñárritu, who won the Oscar for directing The Revenant, said in this morning’s New York Times: “The debate is not only about black and white people. We are yellow and Native Americans and Latin Americans.” And we are all of us stories, waiting to be told. If you’re running a story factory, you really ought to be aware of that.

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ArtsWatch Weekly: Moby-Dick, Golden Boy, in the galleries

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

Neither snow nor ice shall keep ArtsWatch from its appointed rounds, which on this frigid and slushy morning include a virtual tour of what’s coming up in the Portland arts world in this, the first full week of 2016. We’ll also take a gander back at that creakity old-timer 2015, but fresh things first.

Sometimes what’s new is old, or built on what’s old, and that’s the case with [or, the whale], Juli Crockett’s new play for Portland Experimental Theatre Ensemble, opening Friday at Reed College. PETE’s been spending the season reexamining the events and implications of the great Moby-Dick (Barry Johnson reviewed Drowned Horse Tavern, the project’s opening chapter, here), and this newest chapter, the PETEsters say, “will dive into the mind of the old sea-salt sea captain of the one leg.” Right now, we’re imagining a voyage through icy seas.

"[or, the whale]": drama on the high seas. Photo: PETE

“[or, the whale]”: drama on the high seas. Photo: PETE

 

Also this weekend, Ty Boice slaps on the gloves at Lakewood Theatre and takes a punch at Golden Boy, Clifford Odets’ earnest cautionary drama about American ambition. Boice, who recently left Post5, the company he helped found, to seek further adventures in the northlands of Washington state, seems excellent casting for Joe Bonaparte, the sensitive violinist who stumbles into the fight racket in search of fortune and fame. Three guesses how that turns out – and Odets didn’t even know about the massive long-term dangers of repeated concussions.

 


 

Final call. A couple of big museum shows close up shop this weekend: Seeing Nature, the exhibition of paintings from the Paul Allen collection, on Sunday at the Portland Art Museum; and Alien She, built around the artistic provocations of the Riot Grrrls, on Saturday at the Museum of Contemporary Craft.

Jim Lommasson, from "What We Carried: Fragments from the Cradle of Civilization," at Blue Sky. image © Jim Lommasson

Jim Lommasson, from “What We Carried: Fragments from the Cradle of Civilization,” at Blue Sky. Image © Jim Lommasson

First call. This week also brings the first First Thursday of the year in the galleries, and because New Year’s Day arrived last Friday, the Second Friday gallery hop arrives the following day, bringing lots and lots of new exhibits to town. A few shows to keep in mind:

  • Photographer Jim Lommasson is an investigator of trauma and survival, looking for shards of hope amid upheaval. At Blue Sky Gallery, his new series What We Carried: Fragments from the Cradle of Civilization documents the stories of refugees fleeing the Iraqi war, and the things they brought with them. Also on view will be works from his earlier series Exit Wounds, about the aftermath for American soldiers of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. Meantime, at the Nine Gallery inside Blue Sky, you can see some convincing, new works by ArtsWatch correspondent Patrick Collier.
  • Charles Siegfried’s Boom, at Blackfish, also looks at the effects and aftereffects of war: it’s based on a declassified Department of Defense document detailing a communications surveillance system designed to create a “virtual fence” between North and South Vietnam.
  • Sublime Crush, a new show of dreamlike and intensely stylized landscapes by Kendra Larson, is at Augen.
  • On Friday Portland’s longtime Attic Gallery, a downtown fixture since 1973, opens its first show in its new home across the Columbia River, at 421 N.E. Cedar Street in Camas, Washington. Artists include Bill Baily, Brenda Boylan, and Mike Smith.
  • In addition to new abstract works by the always interesting Portland veteran G. Lewis Clevenger, Laura Russo Gallery will feature Looking Back: Northwest Icons, work by pioneers including Louis Bunce, William Givler, Martina Gangle Curl, Kenneth Callahan, Sally Haley, Carl & Hilda Morris, Amanda Snyder, the Runquist brothers, and others.

Louis Bunce, "Study for Fleet Mural," c. 1960, oil and mixed media on paper mounted on masonite, 25 x 41 inches. In "Looking Back: Northwest Icons" at Laura Russo.

Louis Bunce, “Study for Fleet Mural,” c. 1960, oil and mixed media on paper mounted on masonite, 25 x 41 inches. In “Looking Back: Northwest Icons” at Laura Russo.

 


 

Three things, meanwhile, stand out on the close-but-not-quite-here, start-making-plans horizon:

  • Fertile Ground 2016 runs January 21-31, bringing dozens of new theater and dance works to stages across the city, from first readings to staged readings to full productions. From the Brothers Grimm to a Box of Clowns to a Frankenstein cabaret, the possibilities are multitudinous.
  • CMNW Winter Festival: Chamber Music Northwest, far better known for its summer series of concerts, offers this concentrated winter series of reimagined masterworks – six shows and a free rehearsal January 27-February 1.
  • Biamp Portland Jazz Festival. This year’s fest runs February 18-28, and is built around a celebration of John Coltrane’s 90th birthday. Charles Lloyd, Dianne Reeves, Sonny Fortune, Gary Peacock, Elvin Jones, Bobby Torres, much more.

 


 

 

ArtsWatch links

 

Vana O'Brien and Joshua Weinstein in "4000 Miles" at Artists Rep in May, one of the Big 100 of 2015. Photo: Owen Carey

Vana O’Brien and Joshua Weinstein in “4000 Miles” at Artists Rep in May, one of the Big 100 of 2015. Photo: Owen Carey

The Big 100 of 2015. ArtsWatch’s writers and editors put their heads together and came up with 100 stories that helped define the arts in Oregon in 2015 – a kind of cultural road map of the year. From Miz Kitty’s Parlour in January to a farewell to ZooZoo in December, we sampled the distinct cultural flavors of the year.

Christmas at Coffee Creek. Just before Christmas, a group of musicians from the Oregon Symphony brought a special gift to inmates at the Coffee Creek correctional facility for women: a casual, free-wheeling holiday concert. It turned out to be a happy affair for everyone. Photographer Benji Vuong went along, and filed this photo essay for ArtsWatch.

Happy musicians, happy audience: the Oregon Symphony at Coffee Creek. Photo: Benji Vuong

Happy musicians, happy audience: the Oregon Symphony at Coffee Creek. Photo: Benji Vuong

 


 

 

About ArtsWatch Weekly

We send a letter like this every Tuesday to a select group of email subscribers, and also post it weekly on the ArtsWatch home page. In ArtsWatch Weekly, we take a look at stories we’ve covered in the previous week, give early warning of events coming up, and sometimes head off on little arts rambles we don’t include anywhere else. You can read this report here. Or, you can get it delivered weekly to your email inbox, and get a quick look at all the stories you might have missed (we have links galore) and the events you want to add to your calendar. It’s easy to sign up. Just click here, and leave us your name and e-address.

 


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