The visual arts stories at ArtsWatch this year ranged far and wide and – as usual – didn’t even come close to covering all that went on in the world of Oregon art. While some may see that as a failure, we choose to see it as a windfall. We are fortunate to live in such an active arts community. If we could cover everything, it would mean a much smaller everything, and that doesn’t benefit anyone. Here is a neat (and incomplete) encapsulation of visual vrts stories in 2018.
We took you behind the scenes with interviews with Oregon artists that explored origins, processes, interests, and other machinations of established and emerging artists. Paul Sutinen interviewed, among others, Judy Cooke on the occasion of her fall show at Elizabeth Leach and Tom Prochaska on the occasion of his spring show at Froelick. Hannah Krafcik interviewed kiki nicole, and ariella tai about their work with the first and the last, an experimental film/video and new media arts project in Portland. Krafcik was then able to follow up in another interview with Jaleesa Johnston about her screening and workshop at the first and the last.
Paul Maziar brought us an interview with the painter Stephen Hayes after he was awarded a Guggenheim fellowship,. Danielle Vermette interviewed Palestinian fibers artist, Feryal Abbasi-Ghnaim, about her work and life after she won the prestigious Arts Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.
The new curator for Native American Arts at the Portland Art Museum, Kathleen Ash-Milby, won’t start until July of 2019 but our coverage in 2018 confirmed the dynamic energy of the Indigenous community and interest in concerns of indigeneity in the community at large. Bob Hicks looked at the opening exhibition of contemporary Native American art at the new Elisabeth Jones Art Center: The Condor and the Eagle: Moving Forward After Standing Rock. Joe Cantrell introduced us to a trove of Rick Bartow’s drawings on display in Newport. Stephanie Littlebird, a new ArtsWatch contributor, reviewed a show of Signal Fire alumni at PNCA and the glass show, Not Fragile, at the Center for Contemporary Native Art at the Portland Art Museum.
We reviewed many of the exhibitions at the Portland Art Museum. In June, John Foyston considered the summer blockbuster The Shape of Speed, and Paul Sutinen reviewed Richard Diebenkorn: Beginnings, 1942-1955. Bob Hicks avoided the car-enthusiast crowds and instead dove into the landscape paintings in the permanent collections. Laurel Reed Pavic and Paul Maziar wrote about the two big fall shows: Poetic Imagination in Japanese Art and Modern American Realism.
We had pieces on exhibits at long-established Portland spaces like Blue Sky Gallery (Rachel Rosenfield Lafo on In Transit: From Home to Where) and the Oregon Jewish Museum (Friderike Heuer on the R.B. Kitaj show A Jew, Etc., Etc.) but also on new, alternative spaces. Ním Wunnan wrote about the Killjoy Collective found through a “set of closely-spaced, rattly and slightly-rusty doors on the side of the handsome but mysterious Troy Laundry Building” and Lusi Lukova introduced us to the brand new Fuller Rosen Gallery.
Conversations about art are important, even if writing about art is hard. Paul Maziar gave us a beautiful defense of the practice in his review of Flower(s) in Concrete at Fourteen30 Contemporary in April. As Maziar writes, some may suggest that we just “bake some bread…or whatever” but our vibrant arts community deserves energetic discourse from many sources. We are thankful to be part of this community and glad to contribute to the conversation.
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