Schneider Museum of Art

In praise of Ramona & ‘Lonesome Dove’

ArtsWatch Weekly: Remembering Beverly Cleary, Larry McMurtry, and composer Stephen Scott; revolutions & the way things change

HERE AT ARTSWATCH WE LIKE TO LOOK FORWARD: Where are our culture and its art taking us? But culture is a cumulative thing, and every present and future is built upon a past – on the people and beliefs and events and achievements that have shaped us. They amplify us and help explain us to ourselves. So today we pause to honor three storytellers who have left us recently, but whose memories and achievements remain a part of us: the children’s novelist and memoirist Beverly Cleary; the novelist of Western life and culture Larry McMurtry; and the musical innovator Stephen Scott, known for his “bowed piano” compositions.

Author Beverly Cleary with her tabby cat, Kitty, in 1955. Photo: Cleary Family Archive

BEVERLY CLEARY, CREATOR of the wonderful world of Ramona Quimby and Henry Huggins and the scintillating cast of extraordinarily ordinary kids living extraordinarily ordinary lives in a somewhat antique yet eventful-in-an-everyday-sort-of-way Northeast Portland neighborhood, died last Thursday at the almost biblical age of 104 (she would’ve been 105 on April 12). Her loss is felt not just in her native Oregon but anywhere and everywhere you might bump into a gang of kids, a teacher, a librarian, or a couple of parents happy to see their kids absorbed in the mysteries and delights of a good book. Cleary was born in McMinnville and spent her early years on a farm near Yamhill and then moved with her family to the Portland neighborhood that became the epicenter of action in a string of children’s novels that for verve and wit and imagination beat the pants off most anything assigned in class.

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Ryan Kitson: Caution, artist at play

The Schneider Museum of Art exhibition is marked by flights of whimsy and free association

The first words of the wall text for Ryan Kitson’s exhibit, “Suds Ur Duds/Fermentation Elastic”—at the Schneider Museum of Art in Ashland, Oregon, through Saturday—ask the audience to take in the show before reading the didactics. The same placard has a numbered diagram of the art in the gallery along with the title and material list for each piece. This puts compliant viewers at the mercy of their eyes only. Granted, the average viewer is likely to experience the work before any reading takes place (at least that is how I go about it), so, in keeping with the spirit of the artist’s request, I will return to this matter at a later point.

It might be similarly fitting to address the one Kitson sculpture in a separate exhibit, “From Ignorance to Wisdom,” curated by Blake Shell, which is also at the museum but in a different gallery. Shell selected works by the Southern Oregon University (home to the Schneider) Art and Creative Writing faculty, and has included Kitson, as he was a visiting artist during the 2018 fall term. In that the piece, Fermentation Elastic, is included in the main title for his exhibit, one wonders whether it should be considered a stand-alone or as integral to the rest of his work. Exhibition title notwithstanding, in that this piece is seen before one can see the entrance to “Suds Ur Duds,” one might assume it’s a stand-alone. But in that Kitson is not actual faculty, there may be other machinations at work as well.

Ryan Kitson, "Fermentation Elastic", 12x35x24 inches, resin, glass,t-shirt, plaster, fidget balls, slime, lavender scented bath salt/Schneider Museum of Art

Ryan Kitson, “Fermentation Elastic”, 12x35x24 inches, resin, glass,t-shirt, plaster, fidget balls, slime, lavender scented bath salt/Schneider Museum of Art

Fermentation Elastic distinguishes itself with its whimsy. Mounted on a low plinth, four kombucha bottles filled with liquid prop up a tie-dyed t-shirt like a miniature, four-cornered shelter, out of which flows an orange, sparkly mass with two equally decorative balls stuck in the hardened effluence. The piece is abundantly orange and also color-coordinated in a manner that might be true to a person who would imbibe in the drink while wearing that style of shirt. It should also be noted that in past iterations, the artist has added an additional level of process by filling the bottles with homemade kombucha, which, intentionally or not, puns the word “culture.”

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VizArts Monthly: from vandalism to valentines

There may be snow and ice but there is plenty to see in February in the Visual Arts

We’re looking a great month for painting, collage, and regional artists! Unexpected juxtapositions abound, whether it’s the group show of keepsakes at Adams and Ollman or Jayna Conkey’s photographs of vandalized library books. The Contemporary Northwest Art Awards are relaunched as a new triennial series at PAM, where you can still view the excellent American realism exhibition. Lucinda Parker has a major retrospective at the Hallie Ford museum in Salem, and photographer Leo Rubinfien returns to Reed to exhibit decades of photography.

In art world news, Butters gallery has announced that it will be an online-only gallery, effective February 1, and Converge 45 has announced Lisa Dent as their new director.

If you’re out for First Thursday you can catch the second-to-last Night Lights event downtown as part of RACC’s outdoor public art series. If you can’t get enough light at night, the Portland Winter Light Festival starts that night too.

Lucinda Parker, “Star (in the Winner’s Circle),” (1979) acrylic on canvas, 44 x 48 in., collection of the Hallie Ford Museum of Art, Willamette University, Salem, OR, Gift of Marilyn and Robert Shotola, 2008.047. Photo: Dale Peterson.

Force Fields: Lucinda Parker

Through March 31
Hallie Ford Museum of Art
Willamette University
700 State Street
Salem, Oregon

Don’t miss this 50+ year retrospective by the “premier Portland painter of her generation” according to Artswatch’s Paul Sutinen. Roughly 40 paintings span more than 50 years of her career, starting with a self-portrait painted when she was 16. Read Sutinen’s review for full comments on this vibrant show by an important local figure.

 

Elliott Erwitt, West Germany, Sylt, 1968

Withdrawn: Jayna Conkey

Through February 23
Roll Up Gallery
1715 SE Spokane Street
Portland OR

Jayna Conkey turned a page of “The New Color Photography” by Sally Eauclaire in 1999 at the Multnomah County Library only to discover a vandalized image. A previous reader had cut a very particular section out of photo of a nude figure reclining on a bed. Below the window, which revealed the text on the following page, the words “Can’t Believe it!” were written in red ink. Since then, Conkey has documented mutilated books from around the country in great detail using a large-format camera. This exhibition is the first time she’s shown this series in Portland, and looks to be full of unexpected and entertaining accidental compositions.

Maria de Los Angeles In the-Garden of Hope and Freedom

From Ignorance to Wisdom

Through March 16
Schneider Museum of Art
555 Indiana Street
Ashland, OR 97520

A vibrant and eclectic group show curated by Disjecta’s executive director Blake Shell. Each artist is reacting, in their own way, to the theme of exploration – “through their practice–instead of exploring expansion and personal gain, they explore ideas, materials, and new approaches to art-making. America’s land is beautiful and vast but now overused, damaged, and known as sites for past and current atrocities,” according to Shell. Artists include Robert Arellano, David Bithell, Cody Bustamante, Miles Inada, Robin Strangfeld, Ryan Kitson, Maria de Los Angeles, Adam Batemen.

Ryan Kitson – sculpture

Suds Ur Duds: Ryan Kitson

Through March 16
Schneider Museum of Art
555 Indiana Street
Ashland, OR 97520

While you’re at the Schneider Museum of Art, check out this show by Kitson, currently participating in the Visiting Artist and Scholar in Teaching (VAST) program at Southern Oregon University. This exhibition is Kitson’s direct reaction to the experience of returning to the Rogue Valley after living on the East Coast for 17 years. Operating on the principle “absorb all aspects of the experience and react almost passively, letting every day be your guide”, Kitson has created fun, lively assemblages from materials and images gathered from the activity of the SOU campus. Gathering unused clay from students, he threw slabs onto the buildings and trees on campus. These impressions were supplemented with materials “according to the ensuing adventure,” including aluminum, lead, resin, harvested redwood, a tie-dye t-shirt, commercial kombucha bottles, a vacuum sealed cast of a locally harvested blacktail buck heart, and maps of Oregon.

 

Leo Rubinfien, On Nathan Road, Hong Kong, 1995

Eyehold to Eyehold: Leo Rubinfien

Feb 7 – April 28
Cooley Gallery
Reed College
3203 SE Woodstock

Accomplished American photographer Leo Rubinfien grew up in Japan, coming to Reed College from Tokyo in 1970. While at school, he continually traveled back and forth for the holidays. The constant shifts instilled in him a strong awareness of the differences and similarities between post-war Japan and America. After a stint in New York in the early 1980s he returned to Asia, where he spent eight years photographing his way through Japan and many other countries including Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines. This exhibition is a happy return to Reed for Rubinfien and is a look back across his extensive catalogue. Curated by Cooley director Stephanie Snyder from the extensive archive of photos that have come out of his many travels, several of which have never been published or exhibited before.

 

New Work by Holly Osborne

Human Nature: Holly Osborne

February 7 – March 4
Erickson Gallery
9 NW 2nd Avenue

New paintings by Portland artist Holly Osborne explore human relationships – between each other and the environment. Osborne’s arresting paintings shift abruptly between delicate, skillful representative portraiture, abstraction, and empty space. A realistic hand reaches out with a hose to spray water, represented by bare canvas, into a garden of heavy blobs of paint. A clear-cut forest is depicted by a pink emptiness that fades in to the far mountains and the flatness of the panel. This show looks to be filled with satisfying yet haunting imagery.

Keepsake by anonymous 19th century artist

Think of me

Feb 8, 2019 – March 16
Adams and Ollman
209 SW 9th Ave

The visual and traditional styles of keepsakes and mementos runs through this charming group exhibition. The body – both as a physical and a social concept – is explored through collage and assemblages. The work on display crosses the boundaries between two-dimensional and sculptural work. The artists featured range from an anonymous 19th century sailor to contemporary artists. The show’s title is borrowed from the sailor’s valentine: composed of many different kinds of seashells arranged in a radiating pattern, the keepsake implores the viewer, or perhaps a long-forgotten recipient, to “Think of Me.” Joining it are Anthony Campuzano’s abstract compositions made from newspaper headlines, novels and song lyrics to make abstract compositions that function like rhythmic mantras or stutters. Cuban-American artist and cigar-roller, Felipe Jesus Consalvos, contributes a personal body of work based on the tradition of cigar band collage. Other work includes Paul Lee wall-mounted assemblages, Em Rooney’s embellished photographs, and Dennis Witkin’s relief sculptures.

Rock Formations, Study 2, Yoichi, Hokkaido, Japan, 2004. By Michael Kenna

Ice & Stone: Suiseki Viewing Stones from the Huntington & Hokkaido Photographs by Michael Kenna

February 9 – March 24
(Extended display in Tanabe Gallery through April 7)
Portland Japanese Garden
611 SW Kingston Road

“Viewing stones” are small, naturally occurring rock formations that encourage a sustained gaze. Variously known as Suiseki (水石) in Japan, “scholar’s rocks” in China or “suseok” in Korea, this is a robust, traditional, and ancient art of appreciation. The Japanese tradition is distinguished by carefully-considered presentation – usually mounted on a diaza, (a hand-carved wooden base) or set in a suiban, a sand-filled tray. On loan from the the prestigious Huntington Library and Gardens, this elegant exhibition features a selection of suiseki viewing stones from the collection of James Greaves, curated by the Huntington Cultural Curator, Robert Hori. Joining the stones are gorgeous black and white photographs of Hokkaido landscapes by Seattle photographer Michael Kenna – included as part of the Portland Japanese Garden’s celebration of 2019 as The Year of Hokkaido.

 

Fernanda D’Agostino (American, b. 1950), Borderline, 2018, Still from video projection, 2 projectors, 13 scenes set up in a software to combine imagery in a 169 combinations, Courtesy of the artist, Photo: Brian Foulkes.

the map is not the territory

February 9 – May 5, 2019
Portland Art Museum
1219 SW Park Avenue

Organized by Grace Kook-Anderson in in collaboration with the Museum’s Education Department, this will be the first exhibition in a triennial series that PAM is calling “a reconsidered format to the biennial, previously known as the Contemporary Northwest Art Awards.” By including Alaska and Vancouver, B.C. for the first time as part of the museum’s Northwest Art program, the series hopes to offer a fresh take on how we think of the boundaries and history of the Northwest. The themes of the show center on our connection to the land, the effort of decolonization. It foregrounds indigenous values and is “a celebration of the region’s kinship.” Artists include Annette Bellamy, Fernanda D’Agostino, Jenny Irene Miller, Mary Ann Peters, Ryan Pierce, Rob Rhee, Henry Tsang, and Charlene Vickers.