Upfor gallery

Art review: Beneath the surface seductions

Disjecta and Upfor dive into difficult and dark waters with work by Arvie Smith, Pinar Yoldas, and Iyvone Khoo

 January is named for Janus, the double-faced Roman god who was able to look simultaneously at the past and the future. Given this etymological foundation, it seems appropriate that two stand-out shows in Portland this month grapple with the legacy of the past and the possibilities for the future: Disjecta has works by Arvie Smith in 2 Up and 2 Back and Upfor Gallery has works by Pinar Yoldas and Iyvone Khoo in The Absence of Myth.

At first blush, the shows are so different that the juxtaposition seems bizarre: Smith’s large, warm-toned paintings at Disjecta are chock-full of identifiable figures and symbols while the sculptures, prints, and video works at Upfor are captivating but less immediately familiar. Khoo’s materials include bioluminescent algae, fluorescent coral, and marine debris. Yoldas makes two- and three-dimensional prints of a cast of deities inspired by Greek mythology but that she describes as “designer babies.” What the works of the three artists have in common, however, is a visual seduction that gives way to repulsion that then transitions to big questions about humanity and complicity and responsibility.

What meets the eye is one thing, the “more” is cavernous.

***

Turkish-born Yoldas boasts an impressive list of academic credentials. Currently a professor in the Visual Arts department at the University of California, San Diego, her research interests exceed the confines of art and design and blur into the biological sciences. The sculpted figures she makes don’t advertise this expertise at first glance. I was far too taken in by the glossy resin surfaces, undulating forms, and delicate filigree to consider any scientific underpinnings. But as I continued to look and looked closer at the figures themselves, it emerged that something was off: the faces are too contoured, the eyes too almond-shaped, the limbs turn into paddles or the shoulders into armored spikes. Several reminded me of sculptures from Amarna-period Egypt when the canon of representation that had been in place for thousands of years was discarded to accommodate a new religion. 

Pinar Yoldas, Aegeria the river goddess (2019) 3D printed Vero resin. Photo: Adam Simmons, courtesy of Upfor

Prints on the walls on black gridded or tessellated backgrounds show variations of the same figures. The backgrounds emphasize the “design” component of the figures; these forms aren’t meant to appear organic but instead painstakingly fashioned according to a master program. This, it turns out, is the influence of Yoldas’ scientific background. A booklet available in the gallery gives data and backstory for each figure, and flipping through the ethical implications begin to multiply.

Continues…

VizArts Monthly: Options for going out or for staying in

Art to see in January both in galleries and from your couch

Welcome to January 2020! Let’s ease into it at a relaxed pace, shall we? Most of Portland is still emerging from the haze of the holiday season, and the events calendar is correspondingly mellow. Many downtown galleries are hosting this month’s opening receptions on the first Saturday of the month instead of the traditional First Thursday, likely in order to get a bit of distance from the aftermath of New Year’s Eve. A couple of group shows offer festival-inspired atmosphere and even mystical divination. The month also promises an abundance of work from local emerging artists along with some weird and beautiful shows at Northwest neighborhood galleries; there are plenty of reasons to venture across the bridge or down the hill. Or, if you’re loath to leave your cozy blankets, we have some great online projects for you to check out as well!

Doll-like figurine pictured on a black background with a serene expression and hands in prayer, surrounded by sculptural elements and ornate accessories, all 3D printed in a shiny off-white polymer material.
Work by Pinar Yoldas, image courtesy Upfor Gallery

Absence of Myth: Iyvone Khoo and Pinar Yoldas
January 4 – February 29
Public opening: Saturday, January 4, 5 – 7pm (artists present)
First Thursday reception: February 6, 6 – 8pm
Upfor Gallery
929 NW Flanders St

Possibly the most unusual show opening in Portland at the start of this new decade is Upfor’s Absence of Myth which brings together works made by two artists in a variety of media that question humankind’s responsibility to the Earth as we step forward into the uncertain future. London-based Iyvone Khoo’s psychedelic photography and assemblage-style sculpture make use of marine plastic waste that regularly washes up on beaches across the globe. She combines this manmade flotsam with images of bioluminescent plankton, a not-so-subtle reminder that we share the planet with many others. Turkish-American artist Pinar Yoldas gets speculative with her cute and creepy “designer babies.” The babies are 3D printed figurines that represent possible evolutionary paths for the human species, an ironic commentary on the foolishness of humans’ age-old desire to control nature. Absence of Myth isn’t exactly uplifting, but it’s not entirely pessimistic either — Khoo and Yoldas both combine the sharp observational eye of science with a poetic, open-minded empathy that even could pass for hopefulness. 

Black and white photograph of a young woman with cropped blonde hair and simple, outdoorsy clothes, reclining on a slightly messy bed inside a small log cabin with two paned windows behind her.
Donna Gottschalk, Self-Portrait in Maine, 1976, image courtesy Blue Sky Gallery

Brave, Beautiful Outlaws: Donna Gottschalk
January 2 – February 2
Blue Sky Gallery
122 NW 8th Ave

In the context of today’s kaleidoscope of sexual and gender identities, the word “lesbian” might seem almost conservative by comparison. But openly identifying as a lesbian was once a radical action that was often met with bigotry and even violence. Artist Donna Gottschalk was among the early members of the Gay Liberation Front in New York City in the late 1960s and later helped found lesbian separatist communities on the West Coast, all the while documenting her compatriots in intimate black and white photos. Blue Sky hosts this traveling exhibition commemorating those who, in Gottschalk’s words, “insisted on being, whatever the consequences.” 

Framed graphite drawing of ornate neoclassical building facade featuring fluted columns and arched windows, with a figure seen from behind walking through a door on the far right.
Milano Chow, Exterior with Columns II, image courtesy the artist

Johanna Jackson and Milano Chow
January 4 – February 1
Opening reception: Saturday, January 4, 6-8pm
Adams and Ollman
418 NW 8th Ave

Johanna Jackson works across a wide range of media including (but not limited to) painted ceramics, watercolors on paper and tin, knitted sweaters, hooked rugs, and, once, even a shriveled carved apple. No matter the medium, evidence of her idiosyncratic hand is consistently apparent. Jackson’s work, featured this month at Adams and Ollman in a show titled Some Transitional Objects From My Extended Phenotype, is wobbly and lumpy. The colors are sun bleached and muddied. She shows little regard for the mystique or virtuosity that is so often prized in art but her humble objects possess a powerful presence that makes them feel like self-made creatures or like dreams that have sneaked into our reality. Milano Chow’s work is on view in the gallery’s small adjoining room. It offers complementary surreality achieved through very different means, meticulous trompe l’oeil drawings that depict ornate architectural facades in graphite, ink, and photo transfer in delicate shades of gray. The combination of technical detail and atmospheric ambiguity is captivating, and unlike anything else being shown in Portland right now.


A red envelope with an embossed and stamped seal of a dragon, Chinese characters, and decorative elements.
Golden Night Market, image courtesy Littman Gallery

Golden Night Market
January 6 – 31
Opening Reception and Night Market: January 8, 5 – 7pm
Littman Gallery
1825 SW Broadway

Curator Thién Mùi Easland brings together seven Portland artists to share work inspired by their own personal experience and cultural heritage. The show is loosely organized around the theme of a colorful night market akin to those Easland enjoyed in childhood. The group includes artists like Daniel Sandoval, who paints psychedelic graffiti-influenced dreamscapes and Christian Orellana-Bauer, whose past video works have addressed big issues in contemporary politics and small moments of self-discovery. The show promises “light, color, and culture,” which sounds like a perfect way to brighten up a gray January day.

Image of the "blood moon" (full moon with eclipse), overlaid with "20/20" in red and green gothic font.
20/20, image courtesy Womxn House

20/20
January 16 – February 10
Opening reception: Thursday, January 16, 7 – 9pm
Womxn House
3636 N Mississippi

Womxn House on Mississippi Ave is also hosting a group show offering good vibes and positive community to start this shiny new decade off right. 20/20 will be a “tarot themed vision quest” featuring eleven artists and live tarot readings by Emily Carsten and J’ena SanCartier (make sure to reserve your spot ahead of time via the gallery’s website). Artists like Elizabeth Malaska, Pace Taylor, and Isis Fisher contribute work to this mystical exhibition. Whether or not you believe in divination, it’s always fun to have your fortune told and being surrounded by beautiful art makes it even more appealing.

The Hibernation Options
Winter in Portland is notorious for keeping folks inside — it’s tough to work up the motivation to hop on your bike to an art show across town when it gets dark at 4:00 PM and the entire soggy city is slowly growing a layer of moss. Are you one of the many still in hibernation mode? Don’t worry, you can enjoy local art from the comfort of your own couch! Check out these pajama-friendly options for days when your brain needs stimulation but your body just won’t budge.

Archival black and white newspaper photograph of Yale Union building, a flat-roofed two-story brick building with large arched windows on the ground floor and narrower arched windows on the second story. Headline reads "Yale Laundry will Be Open for All Customers About August 15."
Yale Laundry circa 1908, image courtesy yaleunionlaundrystrike.net

Yale Union Laundry Strike

Long before Yale Union went by “YU” for short and was filled with contemporary conceptual art, it was a busy commercial laundry called Yale Laundry. The laundry, like most textile-related businesses of the day, was not a pleasant place to work — indoor temperatures regularly rose over 100 degrees, soiled linens transmitted infectious disease, and scalding hot presses caused frequent injuries. To add insult to injury, the mostly female workers made the equivalent of just over three dollars per hour for their suffering. A months-long strike began in September 1919, and led to unionization and other industry-wide repercussions throughout the city. To commemorate the centennial of this act of worker solidarity, Yale Union has unveiled a new website with an interactive timeline and lots of historical resources that document the strike and contextualize it within the larger history of the often racialized and gendered textile industry. The Laundry Strike website is easy to navigate and endlessly interesting, and is a great example of an arts institution looking to its own inherited history for socially and politically significant narratives.

Logo reading "The Inside Show" in blue and orange hand-drawn letters.
The Inside Show logo by Gabriel “Chino” Whitford, courtesy CRCI

The Inside Show at CRCI

The first two episodes of Columbia River Creative Initiative’s The Inside Show are available on Youtube, along with clips of some of the individual skits that comprise this offbeat variety show. The Inside Show includes features on microwave cookery, hair braiding demos, party tricks, and a deadpan fashion show, all of which were written and performed by inmates at the Columbia River Correctional Institute, where the series is filmed. The show is funny and charming, and impressively watchable considering the technical and logistical constraints of working inside a minimum security prison. My favorite segment was David “Ohio” Phipps’ painting lesson, in which he teaches two of his fellow artists to render a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle in poster paints. You can find out more about the CRCI program, which operates in conjunction with Portland State University’s Social Practice Department, on their website, or you can just enjoy the show for what it is — a unique comedy series starring a diverse group of people having a goofy good time. 

Hand-drawn logo reading "SPOILER ROOM" in angular all-caps lettering, with two musical note cartoon characters on either side, one happy, one sad.
Image courtesy Spoiler Room

Spoiler Room

Want to party without actually going to a party? Spoiler Room is here for you! This recurring DJ night gets live-taped and edited as it happens, and the results are posted online so you can boogie vicariously through past attendees. The aesthetics are a melange of low-tech nostalgia, with VJs wielding 90s era handheld camcorders and playing terrific hour-long mixes of upbeat techno. Project episodes in your living room for an at-home club experience, or just set up your phone on the kitchen counter while you do the dishes. Either way, you will be basking in the positive energy of dozens of party people, and perhaps you’ll even be inspired to get out of the house and join in.

VizArts Monthly: Antidotes for anxiety

Martha Daghlian's round-up of shows to see this November

According to some scientific research, viewing art can help alleviate anxiety and stress. With the news of various scandals, catastrophes, and political gridlock rolling in daily, who couldn’t use a bit of stress relief? But November’s art offerings are more than just a pretty escape. These shows contain visions of a more peaceful world, radical calls for action, reclamations of discarded materials, and sensitive reconsiderations of collective and personal histories. Some are subtle and meditative while others embrace dissonance and forcefulness. A few galleries will also present artist talks or performances on opening nights, which are great ways to soak up some positive art-community vibes. Seeing some (or all) of these shows could make it easier to brave the craziness of our times, and may result in feelings of profound inspiration and motivation. 

Intricate ink drawing of women dressed in patterned gowns with masks and crowns, walking around trees and houses, in black and white with pale blue and gold accents.
Erika Rier, Pageant (photo courtesy Wolff Gallery)

Erika Rier: Pageant
November 1 -December 22
Wolff Gallery
2804 SE Ankeny Ave

Wolff Gallery is closing out the year, and sadly closing for good, with a show from “folk surrealist” Erika Rier. These charming ink drawings feature intricate patterns and baroque compositions whose central subjects, “an army of womxn,” march together in Medieval and Renaissance inspired ceremonies. Rier was a writer before she shifted her focus to visual art, a fact that her illustrative style makes apparent. Wolff Gallery has been showing the work of emerging Portland artists since 2015 and their focus on women artists and underrepresented groups has been a valuable addition to the arts scene. Don’t miss this chance to visit the gallery one last time before it’s gone. 

Impressionistic oil painting of mustard yellow factory building with red train cars in front and green water tower in background, with bright blue sky and trees.
Bill Sharp, Centennial Mills with Train (photo courtesy Waterstone Gallery)

Bill Sharp: Sacred Spaces
November 5 – December 1
Waterstone Gallery
124 NW 9th Ave

Waterstone Gallery debuts work by their newest member, Bill Sharp, this November in a show of contemplative cityscapes in oils. Sharp’s fractured brushwork and saturated colors bring unexpected drama to otherwise quotidian scenes, and reflect his interest in the writings of Beat poet Alan Ginsberg as well as his own search for existential validation in the beauty of the everyday.

Sections of white cloth firehose with black ends, layered and gathered in a bow-shaped formation, mounted on gallery wall.
Brenda Mallory, Firehose Experiment #3 (photo courtesy Upfor Gallery)

Brenda Mallory: Gather Back
November 6 – December 21
Upfor Gallery
929 NW Flanders St

Brenda Mallory (Cherokee Nation) presents works created during residencies at Bullseye Glass and Sitka Center for the Arts in her first solo show at Upfor. Mallory’s low-relief compositions could be viewed as either paintings or sculptures, and recall the work of Postminimalists like Eva Hesse. But Mallory goes beyond the purely formal, using found and reclaimed materials in complex processes of destruction, recreation, and repetition to invoke larger patterns of natural and social order and upheaval. The results blur the boundary between organic and synthetic, coaxing rich textures and delicate patterns from unexpected elements. 

Painting in orange and black gouache on off-white paper of newspaper-print sweater design, rendered in tiny dots in a large grid; design reads "newspaper" and "stop war", and contains images of broken bombs adorned with peace signs.
Ellen Lesperance, Stop War 1st Priority, (photo courtesy Adams and Ollman)

Ellen Lesperance: Flowers Wrapped in Newspaper
November 7 – December 21
Adams and Ollman
418 NW 9th Ave

Adams and Ollman’s second exhibition at its new location on the North Park Blocks is a solo show of new paintings and sculpture by Ellen Lesperance. Lesperance is a local artist who has gained international acclaim over the past few years for her gouache-on-paper representations of sweaters worn by second-wave feminist activists. Here she expands upon her repertoire with a number of paintings that depict a unique garment worn by a participant in the Berkshire, England Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp (1981-1999). The original sweater played with the format of newspaper headlines to convey a radical message in yarn, complete with columns of knitted “text” and photos in an imitation of a broadsheet’s front-page layout. Lesperance’s versions translate the stitches of handmade garments into gridded maps of their construction with each dot of color standing in for a knit or purl. The symbolic clash between the traditionally gendered realms of public speech and domestic life encapsulated within the sweater’s design becomes iconic in the artist’s reverent documentations. 

Can of FOCO brand soursop juice with a lit pink tallow candle emerging from the top, on a gallery shelf.
manuel arturo abreu, Herramienta (image courtesy the artist and AA|LA Gallery)

Not Total
November 8 – December 14
Paragon Arts Gallery at PCC Cascade
815 N Killingsworth St

The three artists featured in Not Total are truly radical in their practices – not only do they offer uncompromising analyses of historical narratives and singular visions of future existence, but their work often takes forms that defy easy description within the existing contexts of contemporary art. Rindon Johnson is a multidisciplinary artist who has made videos, VR experiences, and sculptures from cowhide, Vaseline, and mold among other unconventional materials. Jonathan Gonzalez’s improvisational and collaborative choreography aims to bridge the distances between disciplines. manuel arturo abreu tackles the causes and symptoms of systemic injustice using found objects in their sculptures and contemporary art pedagogy in their art-education program called home school. All this may sound like a recipe for a densely intellectual exhibition, and it most likely will be, but judging by the artists’ previous work, it will also be beautiful and deeply poetic. Not Total continues Paragon Arts’ run of fantastic shows by some of Portland’s most exciting emerging artists and curators and should not be missed.

Close-up photograph of scruffy dog's face in profile, looking up as if at trainer.
Sari Carel, Iris (image courtesy Melanie Flood Projects)

Sari Carel: The Coyote Afterschool Program
November 15 – December 21
Melanie Flood Projects
420 SW Washington, #301

This month Melanie Flood presents Israel-born, Brooklyn-based artist Sari Carel’s welcome rethinking of Joseph Beuys’ infamous 1974 work, I Like America and America Likes Me, in which Beuys spent several days locked in a New York gallery with a wild coyote, protected by little more than a blanket and a stick. Carel combines a feminist lens with her own experience as a force-free dog trainer in her video with canine collaborator Iris. The artist will also discuss the project in a talk at c3:initiative on November 14. The pair proceed through a series of actions linked to the lines of a poem, their partnership a counterpoint to the “masculine” mastery over “feminine” nature implied by the original performance. The conceptual underpinnings of the Coyote Afterschool Program seem especially poignant in light of what we now know about the consequences of anthropocentrism.

Photograph of artist performing in gallery, sitting on floor, emerging from cushioned fabric sculpture made of light and dark purple fabrics and yarn that match the artist's dress.
Amanda Triplett performing (photo courtesy Gallery 1122)

Amanda Triplett: Body Is
November 15 – through December
1122 Gallery
1122 SE 88th Ave

Portland artist Amanda Triplett stitches, folds, and twists fabric into fleshy sculptural objects that resonate in their simultaneous resemblances to what makes up our insides and what we put on our outsides. Her installation and performance works have taken that uncanniness further, as she “molts” her own wearable textile creations in front of her audience. Triplett brings her biologically-inspired fiber art to Montavilla’s 1122 Gallery this November in her second solo exhibition in Portland. 

Photo of artist during performance, looking at viewer from behind wood decorated with  scrap of silver metallic netting and pink yarn, with turquoise squares projected over all.
Performance by curator Vinh Pham (photo courtesy Erickson Gallery)

Curio
November 8 – December 20
Erickson Gallery
9 NW 2nd Ave

This multimedia group show features six artists from the local group blacksheepcollective, with works in video, performance, installation, and various other media. The exhibition was curated by Safiyah Maurice and Vinh Pham, members of the Portland State University Artists of Color Collective, and although there are few details as of yet regarding the works on display, it is likely they will be experimental, possibly challenging, and definitely worth seeing. Make sure to catch performances by Olivia Pace and Christian Orellana Bauer at the opening reception, Friday November 8 from 6-8pm. 

Four photographs of parts of a sound art installation: small speakers placed on gallery floor with seedpods inside them, speakers and cassette tape loops hanging on gallery wall, half circles of gray patterned material, a small speaker on a plinth with seed pods inside and a glass cover on top.
Marcus Fischer (photo courtesy Sou’Wester Arts)

Marcus Fischer: Shore/Lines
November 8 – January 12
Sou’Wester Art Trailer Gallery
3728 J Place
Seaview, WA

Although Marcus Fischer’s Shore/Lines isn’t strictly visual art, nor is it technically in Oregon, it still merits a spot on this list thanks to the Sou’Wester Lodge’s intimate connections and valuable contributions to the Portland art scene. Just over the state line from Astoria, Seaview is a sleepy beach town that has become a haven for artists from all over the Pacific Northwest, but Portlanders in particular have been a large factor in building the hip resort’s reputation as a creative retreat. The lodge established a nonprofit organization, dubbed Sou’Wester Arts, in 2017 and now operates a tiny gallery housed in a vintage trailer. This winter’s exhibit features Portland installation artist Marcus Fischer, whose work has been shown around the country (including at the 2019 Whitney Biennial and at Portland’s own Variform Gallery). Fisher creates haunting sound environments from cassette tape loops and unconventional musical sources.  But his work is sculptural as much as it is sonic, and watching the delicate filaments of magnetic tape traverse their elaborate course throughout the room can be a hypnotic experience. 

VizArts Monthly: flame gazing, a pop-up gallery, and dark fairy tales

May offerings include multiple group shows from artists working in a wide variety of media

Spring is in full-swing and the galleries are blooming. A new pop-up appears on Alberta, LACMA loans PAM a 17th-century masterpiece, and Wolff gallery presents the wild self-portraiture of Rachel Mulder, an artist as comfortable making images with typewriters as she is making them with human hair. We’ve got some exciting group shows at Littman Gallery, the Portland Japanese Garden, and Roll-Up Gallery, spanning painting, book arts, and traditional ceramics. Get out there and enjoy the sun and the art!

 

Georges de La Tour (French, 1593–1652). The Magdalen with the Smoking Flame, ca. 1635–37

Masterworks | Portland: Georges de La Tour

April 13 – October 13, 2019
Portland Art Museum
1219 SW Park Avenue

This is the sixth painting featured in PAM’s Masterworks | Portland series, a program focused on individual paintings from major historical artists whose work is not found in the museum’s permanent collection. Georges de La Tour is known for his exceptional use of light, especially his nighttime scenes with artificial sources of light. This portrait of Mary Magdalen, on loan from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, is a striking example of his talents.

Okai Davis — Messenger

aRT.pdx

April 25th – May 13th
Temporary gallery
1603 Alberta St.

A three-week, pop-up gallery featuring five artists from the Northwest and beyond – Helday de la Cruz, Joshua Flint, Alexandra Becker-Black, Jeremy Okai Davis, Samir Khurshid, and Samuel Eisen-Meyers. Painting, portraiture, and the human figure form through-lines in this group show. Davis’s portraiture, Flint’s dreamy “memoryscapes” and de la Cruz’s illustrative engagement with identity seem to be in dialogue with each other and are joined by Becker-Black’s watercolors and Eisen-Meyers’ themes of “social reality.” The gallery will be open every day during the run of the show.

“Sun Pillar” by Hiroshi Nakamura, Photo by Katomi /Studio Eye

Northern Lights: Ceramic Art of Hokkaido Revisited

April 27 – May 27, 2019
Portland Japanese Garden
611 SW Kingston Road

This spectacular ceramic art exhibition marks the 50th anniversary of the Hokkaido Pottery Society and ten years since its initial exhibition at the Portland Japanese Garden. The 60-year-old, sister-city relationship between Portland and Sapporo has resulted in a long-standing relationship between the Hokkaido Pottery Society and Oregon Pottery Association which in turn has resulted in many reciprocal exhibitions. This one at the Japanese Garden promises to be one of the finest. Guest curated by Sachiko Matsuyama, this show features major works by 21 established artists of the Hokkaido Pottery Society as well as material from its talented broader membership.

Larissa Lockshin, Untitled (Hope She Will), 2019

Odette: Larissa Lockshin

May 3 – June 8
Melanie Flood Projects
420 SW Washington St., #301

New York artist Larissa Lockshin’s first solo show in Portland tackles the cultural construction of “woman” as an “absolute category.” The press release continues “this regime of representation has naturalized woman as image, beautiful to look at, defined by her looks.” The title of the exhibition comes from the leading role in the ballet Swan Lake; the compositions address Degas’s famous ballerinas. Rather than flat images, the ballerinas here are actors in their own right. In the sparer, abstract works that round out the show, Lockshin’s signature tulip shapes seem to echo tutus.

Rachel Mulder, Shower Friend 13, 2019

Self Portrait Party: Rachel Mulder

May 1–June 30, 2019
Wolff Gallery
2804 SE Ankeny St.

Though she trained in printmaking at the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design, Mulder finds novel, surprising uses for a wide variety of media in the service of constructing images, often self-portraits. Best known of these are her detailed, expressive “drawings” that use heavily layered text from manual typewriters. She calls this show “a weird party on paper, featuring past, present, and future selves.” Selections from her Showerfriend series will also be featured in this show, in which she makes fantastical faces out of loose hair plastered to the wall of her shower.

Heidi Schwegler, Gilded Planter

Plane of Scattered Pasts: Heidi Schwegler and Quayola

Upfor Gallery
929 NW Flanders St.
May 2 – June 22, 2019

This exhibition focuses on ordinary objects and their “inexorable fragmentation” – a sort of meditation on the inevitability of aging, breaking, and changing. Schwegler embellishes and recasts the material and function of the objects at hand. London-based artist Quayola brings video, software, and installation to the conversation, investigating the boundary between real and artificial spaces and things. Schwegler will be present at the preview which runs from 5:30 to 7:30 on Wednesday, May 1.

 

Work by Judilee Fitzhugh

Leaves of Resistance

May 3 – 31
Roll-Up Gallery
1715 SE Spokane St.

This show features a range of works from The Secret Society of Book Artists including handmade books, boxes, and installations. Calligraphy, marbling and natural impression dyeing are among the many techniques on display in the works by this politically engaged group launched by OCAC and PNCA instructor Marilyn Zornado more than a decade ago. This exhibition is inspired by the life and works of Walt Whitman. The closing gala on May 31st celebrates the 200th anniversary of Whitman’s birth and will feature screenings and poetry readings in partnership with Passages Bookshop. Artists include Dawn Banker, Anita Bigelow, Marian Christensen, Mary Elliott, Ellen Fortin, Joely Helgesen, Judilee Fitzhugh, Deanna Lautenbach, Megan Leftwich, Ilsa Perse, Kathy Karbo, Kathy Kuehn, Bernie Smith, Gay Walker, and Marilyn Zornado.

Opening Champagne Reception
Friday, May 3
5–9 PM

Show Closing & Walt Whitman Birthday Celebration
Friday, May 31
7 PM

Image by Tim Tran

Under Pressure

May 6 – 22, 2019
Littman Gallery
1825 SW Broadway

Littman Gallery’s 7th Annual juried exhibition, curated by Srijon Chowdhury and Safiyah Maurice, brings a robust lineup of artists to the PSU gallery. The roster includes Sara Ayers, Alexandra Burnap, Chloe Friedlein, Courtney Gallardo, Josh Gates, and Hanna Gentile. Chowdhury calls the show “a little dark fairytale-ish” and describes it as a journey into a mysterious, wild place: “Did I come here by myself? I don’t think that this is where I want to be, but it wont let me turn back. I’m not afraid.” A reception will be held on Wednesday, May 15, 5–8 PM

 

In like a lion: March VizArts Monthly

A round-up of new shows at spaces big and small

Spring is creeping up on us between snowstorms, and new work and some big announcements (good and bad) are blossoming all over town. The big story last month was the Oregon College of Art and Craft closing its doors. In happier news, Tannaz Farsi was named the 2019 Bonnie Bronson Fellow. If you’d like to see what artists get up to on local residencies you can check out the Leland Ironworks 2018 residency show this First Thursday at PNCA. While you’re out, you can catch exciting new shows at Upfor, Williamson Knight, the Oregon Jewish Museum, and more.

Che Guevara by Alberto Korda

Korda Y El Espíritu De La Revolución Cubana (Korda and the Spirit of the Cuban Revolution)

Through July 21, 2019

Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art
1420 Johnson Lane
University of Oregon Campus, Eugene OR

Alberto Díaz Gutiérrez was better known as Alberto Korda or simply “Korda” when he took the photograph of Che Guevara that can now be found on countless T-shirts and posters. This romantic image of the revolutionary is considered to be one of the most reproduced images in history. Though he received almost no royalties for the constant unauthorized reproduction of his iconic image, Korda’s photography career continued to flourish in Cuba. He is also known for an iconic portrait of Fidel Castro. The Guevara portrait is on display as well as many other vintage prints published by Havana’s Organization of Solidarity with the People of Asia, Africa, and Latin America (OSPAAAL). All confirm Korda’s enduring influence on Cuban art and artists.

 

Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme: We know what it is for, we who have used it

Installation View, We know what it is for, we who have used it

We know what it is for, we who have used it: Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme

Through April 7, 2019
Disjecta
8371 N Interstate Avenue

This new, multi-media exhibition by Palestinian artist duo Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme confronts the imagery and effects of violence, cultural erasure, and the art of resistance. Using Adrienne Rich’s poem, Diving into the Wreck (1971–72), as a “script,” this research-based project looks at the history of sites of disaster and violence as well as personal histories to search for evidence of what can be salvaged from destruction. Abbas and Abou-Rahme traveled to Palestinian villages in Israel that were destroyed in 1948 to ask what happened to the people, places, and things that were destroyed and displaced. This exhibit extends their project And yet my mask is powerful which began in 2014 when the artists first encountered Neolithic masks exhibited at the Israel Museum. These 9,000 year old masks are the oldest known masks at the time of writing. Abbas and Abou-Rahme created 3D printed reproductions of these masks and photographed Palestinian youths wearing them at locations in Palestine that have been destroyed by conflict or occupation. This promises to be a conceptually-deep and affecting show.

M. Acuff

Image from M. Acuff

Polyglot Plume: M. Acuff

Through March 31
Carnation Contemporary
8371 N Interstate Ave

This show of gallery member M. Acuff examines “the slow, invasive, inescapable violence of capitalist-driven climate change.” Interested in contradictory images and materials, Acuff wants to convey aspects of climate change that can’t be truly visualized – the scale and widespread effects of industrial development, chemical contamination of the environment, and habitat loss. Carnation Contemporary describes this work as “bearing witness to the remote forces of our common ruination.”

Chris Mullins

All Parts – Chris Mullins

Behavior: Chris Mullins

Through Mar 23
Opening Reception Thurs, March 7th 5:00–8:00pm
Caplan Art Designs
1323 NW 16th Ave #1001

PNCA alumnus Chris Mullins makes densely layered, often meditative paintings that hint at landscape and a sense of space along the lines of James Lavadour. This show of new paintings represent Mullins’ recent work with poured paint, a technique that makes way for more accident and less of the artist’s hand in the surface. Noting that no painter can be prepared for “every contingency,” Mullins says “the fun then is in allowing for the emergence of simple relationships.” This often leads to what he calls “a submerging of oneself” making the resulting images more aligned with “behavior” than selfhood.

Breadfruit - Alika Cooper

Breadfruit – Alika Cooper

Wabi Sabi Lobby: Alika Cooper and Eric Wesley

Through April 13
Private Places
2400 NE Holladay Street

This small, strange, but affecting show in one of Portland’s more hidden art spaces features a work of complex fabric art by Alika Cooper and sculpture by Eric Wesley. Located in a shared studio in an industrial neighborhood, Private Places may be difficult to find for new visitors (instructions on their site say to ring the doorbell for Holladay Studios) but this project curated by local artist Bobbi Woods is worth checking out for anyone interested in the current wave of independent art spaces in town.

Thank You - Mel Bochner

Thank You – Mel Bochner

Enough Said: Mel Bochner

March 7 – May 26, 2019
Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education
724 NW Davis Street

A colorful, fun, and insightful major exhibition by acclaimed American Jewish conceptual artist and painter Mel Bochner. This exhibit draws from the collection of Jordan Schnitzer and highlights the ways that Bochner has visually explored the forms of language as well as its meaning. Editioned prints and unique pieces display Bochner’s skillful, complex printmaking techniques as well as his bombastic usage of words and letters. Colorful graphics wrapping the museum’s windows shout their message from across the Park Blocks, making this one hard to overlook.

Ulama Ule Alley Oop - Ronny Quevedo

Ulama Ule Alley Oop – Ronny Quevedo

Ronny Quevedo

March 7 – April 27
Upfor
929 Nw Flanders St

Working in multiple mediums, Ecuadorian artist Quevedo “posits profound interconnections between the circular movements engendered by sport and the expansive pathways forged by the artist’s personal migration story from Ecuador to the Bronx,” according to Hyperallergic. The result is a show of energetic drawings, diagrams, and otherwise assembled images that harvest the designs of basketball courts and other seemingly-abstract sports iconography.

 

Still from Mickalene Thomas, Do I Look Like a Lady

Still from Mickalene Thomas, Do I Look Like a Lady

Do I Look Like a Lady? (Comedians and Singers): Mickalene Thomas

March 9 – August 31
Portland Art Museum
1219 SW Park Avenue
Portland, OR 97205

This exhibition highlights the recently-acquired video installation by internationally renowned artist and former-Portlander, Mickalene Thomas. Thomas has said that a 1994 exhibition featuring Carrie Mae Weems was a crucial moment in her development as an artist.
This powerful, high-energy video collage of performances by African-American actors and singers throughout the 20th century engages with themes of beauty, identity, and representation while celebrating the individual voices of performers including Jackie “Moms” Mabley, Eartha Kitt, Whoopi Goldberg, and Whitney Houston.

Image via Dan Paz

The sun never knew how great it was until it struck the side of a building: Dan Paz

March 7 – April 13
Opening reception 6 – 8pm, March 7
Williamson | Knight Gallery
916 NW Flanders St

Taking its title from a quote by the architect Louis Khan, this solo show by Dan Paz curated by Yaelle Amir explores the role that light has played in the oppression of historically marginalized individuals. Williamson | Knight describe it as an examination of “how light is manipulated in carceral environments to craft a controlled collective space.” Including video, sculpture and performance, the show “demonstrates different methods of performing in, modifying, and refracting light to uncover how psychological and physical development is affected by lightness and darkness,” which is something those of us living near the 45th Parallel should understand well.

The unexpected potential of venetian blinds in the forest

A review of Rebecca Reeve's "Sun Breathing" at Upfor Gallery

By LUSI LUKOVA

New York-based artist Rebecca Reeve debuts new photographic work in Sun Breathing, her first solo exhibition at Portland’s Upfor Gallery. In her archival pigment prints, Reeve imposes grid-like forms or painted elements on the natural environment. She then photographs these optic interventions, intentionally muddling the internal and the external as a means to explore the dichotomy between restraint and unbounded potential.

Readily recognizable foliage and nature scenes form the crux of Reeve’s content. The addition of vibrant reds, yellows, and blues made by Reeve’s brushstrokes and not readily visible in the prints, are what distort these standard photographs into more fantastic and illusive scenes. Organized chromatically on the three main walls of the gallery are two sets of two prints and one of three, each grouping separated by the primary colors painted into them. On the wall opposite the set of two red prints is the final piece of the exhibition, Sun Breathing #8 (2018), which is the only work that combines all three of those colors to create an artificial rainbow resting on the vegetation. Although the inclusion of these vivid colors obfuscates the realistic quality of the land forms, they simultaneously serve as bold hooks that drive the audience deeper into the image. Where naturally-colored foliage typically camouflages itself in the wild, allowing for a much hastier overall portrait, the reds, blues and yellows painted by Reeve and then photographed in situ make the viewer precisely aware of each individual leaf and twig that might otherwise have been missed. Pushing against unfocused, cursory glances, the longer one studies these landscapes the more forcefully the applied colors come to feel as natural as the background shades of green.

Rebecca Reeve, “Sun Breathing #4,” (2018) archival pigment print, 30 x 37 inches, edition of 5. Photo by Mario Gallucci, courtesy the artist and Upfor.

Continues…

VizArts Monthly: December edition, signs and whispers

The arts exhibitions in Portland are full of wonders and portents, never before seen in these parts.

We have reached the threshold of the December First Thursday/First Friday matrix of arts openings. You may enter, restoreth your sanity and perhaps purchase an item or two or three for special people on your holiday list. Or you can return to the soulless clicking of online shopping! For my money (what little there is of it), I’d prefer to give those special people arts experiences (tickets, memberships, actual art, music) or the means to make them themselves (paints, instruments, dance class) than participate in the random circulation of consumer goods I know are close to obsolescence even as I fork over the cash. And that’s just a small part of the problem with them—though I’m in danger of arguing myself out of the ho-ho-ho spirit if I dive into this particular rabbit hole.

Anyway, I’m better off bundling up and hitting the galleries. Below, a few of the gallery openings that caught my eye, then a list of shows at a few institutions that you might want to see before they come tumbling down, and finally some ArtsWatch stories in the visual arts realm that are worth some attention, at least in my book and I hope in yours.

Upfor Gallery: Michelle Grabner curated last year’s Oregon Biennial at Disjecta, and she’s also an artist, deeply involved in using domestic fabrics as source materials. Anne Crumpacker also uses traditional materials and traditions, in this case bamboo and the Japanese art and crafts tradition. Does freedom await us inside the “empty” areas of those patterns and designs?

Blackfish Gallery: Ellen Goldschmidt’s new paintings explore the past, via family photo albums. “These pictures ponder the inner life of a child sensitive to her perilous environment and the lingering echoes of emotional trauma experienced in the shadows. It’s not the whole story, but it is my attempt to create, in the language of paint, a partial memoir of my emotional life.”

Ellen Goldschmidt, “Essential Male”, acrylic on board in birch frame, 23.5 x 23.5″/Blackfish Gallery

Froelick Gallery: Speaking of memories and images of the past, Micah Hearn turns to his Southern roots in his first solo show at Froelick Gallery.

Micah Hearn, “Mantle and Sink”, acrylic, oil stick on canvas /Photo Mario Gallucci

Charles A. Hartman Fine Art: For the past year, Rachel Davis has been keeping a visual notebook, a “Book of Days,” to record her responses to the tumult around us—political and environmental. She writes, “…this new US political landscape and its ripple effect around the world required its own visual language. With how rapidly events have changed from day to day, it necessitated working on something small to respond to with immediacy. The equivalent of a painted tweet.”

Rachel Davis, “May 1”, Watercolor on paper,
5″ x 5″

*****

Somehow Wayne Coyne’s King’s Mouth has the perverse effect of showing us how capitalism ends—inside a big, shiny installation with a foam tongue to lounge on as a light show synchronized to Flaming Lips songs fills the cavity around you. Or maybe that’s just me. Coyne is the frontman for the rock band Flaming Lips, but he’s also followed other artistic pursuits. This installation, which also includes Coyne drawings completed on the road, continues at PNCA’s Center for Contemporary Art & Culture through January 6 in the 511 Gallery. PNCA’s public art spaces will be filled with lots of other cool stuff this month, too.

Wayne Coyne’s “King’s Mouth” is at PNCA, for your edification/Courtesy of PNCA

Is Cloud of Petals an invitation into a “safe” future, where roses are stripped of their thorns? Is it a warning? Or is it a strange environment that you make sense of in your own way? Maybe it depends on your mood. The second exhibition by Disjecta’s curator-in-Residence Julia Greenway is an installation by Sarah Meyohas, and we’ll let them explain:

“…the artist organized a crew of 16 men to pluck the petals off 10,000 roses. These performers selected and photographed each petal according to the artist’s stringent guidelines. The images were then uploaded to a cloud server, where they became “inputs for an artificial neural network”, an algorithm that builds, connects, and intertwines to create a system that is self-learning, rather than programmed.

Upon entering the exhibition, the viewer is lead into Disjecta’s darkened and cavernous gallery space. Headsets are suspended from the ceiling, displaying the virtual environments created from Meyohas’s network of petals. Also on view is Meyohas’s 30-minute highly saturated 16mm film, documenting and contextualizing the scope of the artist’s unique process at Bell Labs.”

The exhibition continues through January 13.

Cloud of Petals Teaser from Sarah Meyohas on Vimeo.

This is the last weekend to see Bill Will: Fun House at Lewis & Clark College’s Ronna and Eric Hoffman Gallery of Contemporary Art. Maybe think of it as a very large, 3-D, experiential political cartoon aimed directly at our times. “In the context of state terror and mystification, clinging to the primacy of the concept of truth can be a powerful and necessary form of resistance,” Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri argue in their analysis of the post-modern condition, Empire. Laurel Pavic reviewed Will’s show for ArtsWatch.

Bill Will, “Bloat”/Photo by Robert M. Reynolds

The show closes on December 10.

Ai Weiwei’s Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads is back in the state of Oregon—it last showed here in 2015, and I happened to rub a few words together about it, including these:

“So, a consideration of Ai Weiwei is going to be messy, a mixture of art, history, politics, and cold, hard cash. He’s responsible directly for some of the confusion—I’d even say it’s part of the point of what he does. But a lot of it is indirect, the world’s interpretation of Ai, how it deals with the freedom of artists (and other citizens) and entangles them in its self-defense mechanisms.”

The installation continues at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art on the campus of the University of Oregon through June 24, 2018.

Ai Weiwei, Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads: Gold, 2010, Bronze with gold patina, Dimensions variable. Private Collection. Images courtesy of Ai Weiwei.

*****

 

Recent ArtsWatch stories with a visual arts bent that you might want to consider?

What is the artistic gaze? How is it shared? Artist friends Friderike Heuer and Henk Pander go eye to eye in the studio—he with his paintbrush, she with her camera—and produce a deep double portrait. Heuer tells the story in words and photos.

Hannah Krafcik reports on the extraordinary artists at Field of View, a program of Public Annex that places developmentally disabled artists in artist residencies in the Portland area. The story of how Public Annex came to be winds around the complex history of the State of Oregon’s treatment of this particular community.

Paul Sutinen continues his series of interviews with prominent Portland artists, this time talking with Lucinda Parker.

Sutinen: I think that Frank Stella said something to the effect that you learn more from your fellow students than from the instructor.

Parker: You learn a lot from what they do. There’s no question about it, that you learn a tremendous amount by watching people make stuff—and it’s the making of it, the stroke-by-stroke, the changing of it—that’s why you have to be in a studio. If you go by yourself to your own studio and think you’re going to learn art, the echoing chamber of your isolation make it hard for you.

What Mel Katz says is true: it takes 10 years to learn how to use a studio.

You have to learn how to get in a groove, to provide your own criticism of yourself, you have to learn how to appreciate what you’re doing, and you have to learn how to look over your shoulder and it out front at the same time.

That’s all we have time for today, I’m afraid. But the comments section is open for your suggestions for upcoming or ongoing arts events. Don’t be shy!