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VizArts Monthly: Streaming at home

Venue closures may be the new normal but some local arts organization forge ahead

Putting together arts listings for April 2020 was… challenging. First, it was a challenge to sit down and focus as the awful, endless headlines kept breaking. Then it was a challenge to figure out what to list as events were cancelled and galleries shuttered in observance of social distancing guidelines. How can you see art when you can’t leave the house? When the galleries and museums are closed? Do people who are juggling remote work with childcare, or applying for unemployment, or risking their health as essential workers have the energy or desire to engage with art? 

Personally, I think we all still need art in our lives, maybe even more than usual. It’s okay if what you need right now is to binge on goofy television shows or stay in the bath until the water gets cold, then fill ‘er up again. But when you’ve had enough of that, Portland’s artists, galleries, and museums are ready for you. Our local arts community has shown incredible motivation and creativity in finding ways to make art happen despite the scary, surreal situation we are all in. Take a minute to check out what they’re up to — it might give you a little extra inspiration to face the challenges of the days ahead. 

Gallery hallway hung with many framed pictures including watercolor paintings in a large grid formation, and black and white collage works hung side by side
What Needs to be Said, installation view, image courtesy Disject

Disjecta
Disjecta’s exhibition of work by the thirteen Hallie Ford Fellows, titled What Needs to be Said, has been up since February, and was scheduled to run until April 5. If you were like me and put off visiting the gallery figuring there’d be plenty of time to see the show in March, you’ll be relieved to know that a fantastic video walkthrough of the exhibition is now online, and is accompanied by extensive information and documentation of each artist in the show. The video is just under ten minutes long, and includes close up shots revealing the details and textures of the show’s many paintings, drawings, and sculptures. Disjecta has put in a lot of effort to translate What Needs to be Said for digital viewing, and the results are surprisingly engaging and even beautiful.

Continues…

First Thursday: Solitude and connection

The galleries and art fans braved coronavirus, coughed in their elbows and sought shelter

As I biked downtown to visit a few galleries for First Thursday, I wondered if the news of pandemic would keep local audiences at home. I was happy to see that I wasn’t the only one willing to throw caution to the wind in order to support Portland’s art community — the Pearl District was full of small groups of all ages bouncing between shows.

Much of the artwork on view was hushed and intimate, though the crowds were chatty and restless as usual. It felt almost as though artists and curators were unwittingly building virtual shelters, providing protection, if not comfort, from the increasingly chaotic world outside. 

Abstract black-and-white drawing featuring organic-looking shapes overlayed with sharp angular forms and calligraphic designs, evoking a dark room layered with sheer curtains and wrought metal decor
Graphite and ink drawing by Erin Murray/Courtesy Holding Contemporary

My first stop was Holding Contemporary, where a show-scheduling snafu had serendipitously resulted in the last-minute pairing of Philadelphia-based Erin Murray and Portland’s own Leslie Hickey in a show titled What We See and What We Know. The gallery was mostly dark as I approached, and I wasn’t even sure it was open since I couldn’t see anybody inside. But the door wasn’t locked, so I went in and realized the sleepy lighting scheme was intentional, and lovely.

The other visitors were in the back, hovering near an alcove that contained a sort of side exhibition by André Filipek Magaña. There, the small pencil drawings of children’s cartoon character Dora the Explorer in various surreal situations and seemingly uncomfortable positions were funny in their way, but were a bit of a non sequitur in the context of the feature show.

Continues…

VizArts Monthly: September Frenzy

TBA Picks and September gallery shows

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

Rodrigo Valenzuela – Road 1, Courtesy of Upfor

RODRIGO VALENZUELA: PAST | PRESENT

Through September 28
Upfor Gallery
929 NW Flanders St 

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

Courtesy of Ori Gallery

2nd Annual Youth exhibition

Through September 29
Ori Gallery
4038 N Mississippi Ave

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

Maya Vivas, courtesy of the artist

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

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

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

Installation View of For the Seventh Generation

For the Seventh Generation

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

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

Image by Lynn Yarne

Portland2019

Through November 3
Disjecta
8371 N Interstate Avenue

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

Three picks for TBA

Eiko Otake courtesy of PICA

A Body in Places: Eiko Otake

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

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

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

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

Myles De Bastion, courtesy of PICA

CymaSpace: Myles De Bastion

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

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

Costume from The Dope Elf, courtesy of PICA

The Dope Elf

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

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

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.