Rodrigo Valenzuela

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


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


Through November 3
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
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.

Rodrigo Valenzuela: Tenuous constructions

The art exhibition at Upfor doubles as a construction site linked to other Pearl construction sites

By Rebecca Mackay Rosen Carlisle

As Portland developers continue to fill the city with cranes and condo buildings, Rodrigo Valenzuela’s solo show Hedonic Reversal at Upfor uses video, photography, and a complex process of image construction to both deconstruct and build anew.

The experience in the gallery is like viewing documentation of previously unknown urban ruins. I can’t help but wonder how an anthropologist might decipher the scene—what once existed here? Valenzuela’s large-scale black and white photographs line the walls of the gallery, creating a sense of expansion as the spatial constructions within the work recede into rich blackness. The works confront viewers at a human scale, but these windows only deceptively invite, as on further inspection they reveal a cacophony of line and plane in improbable space.

Detail from Rodrigo Valenzuela 's "Hedonic Reversal"/Courtesy Upfor

Detail from Rodrigo Valenzuela’s “Hedonic Reversal”/Courtesy Upfor

Valenzuela’s photographs contain manufactured spaces, created through a process of visual and literal layering. He physically builds constructions in his studio, which he then photographs, reconfigures, and re-photographs on a backdrop of earlier photographs. The use of high contrast, sharp focus, and rich, velvety black make it hard to distinguish objects from photographs of objects layered within the work. There is spontaneity in the construction, and playfulness in the photographs of constructions in front of photographs of drawings on photographs of constructions.

The mind-boggling layering is somehow serene, like an abandoned construction site, until one tries to pick apart the convoluted puzzle. This layering simultaneously creates a flattening effect and a skewed sense of space, rife with visual confusion and impossibility. Drawn elements speak to architectural plans, but also call attention to surfaces, creating a tension between what appears dimensional and what flattens within the image.

Maria TV (5 min) from Rodrigo valenzuela on Vimeo.

The careful balance of construction and destruction found in the photographic images in Hedonic Reversal can also be found in Valenzuela’s accompanying video Maria TV, which investigates issues of race, class, and media portrayal. For this work, Valenzuela hired Spanish-speaking female immigrants to reenact monologues from Telemundo soap operas, and coupled them with personal histories. The destructive characterizations from television are exposed as fabrication, as the women share stories about constructing lives for themselves, as well as the constructs of family roles, notions of identity, and finding a sense of place.

Detail from Rodrigo Valenzuela's "Hedonic Reversal"/Upfor

Detail from Rodrigo Valenzuela’s “Hedonic Reversal”/Upfor

Valenzuela’s exhibit places the viewer in a tenuous sweet spot between curiosity and concern. One might look at Portland’s soaring rents and gentrification and feel the same thing. In Hedonic Reversal, beautifully crafted images of destruction, creation, and ruin, and interwoven video of fictionalization and identity, lead to the question: What is lost in construction?

Rodrigo Valenzuela’s Hedonic Reversal continues at Upfor gallery, 929 NW Flanders, through April 4, 2015. Closing reception 6-8 pm April 2.

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.


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.


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!