Oregon Cultural Trust

VizArts Monthly: Blossoms and pollen

April ushers in spring and plenty of new exhibits and shows. Jason N. Le rounds up some promising offerings from around the state.


Dearest readers, it is officially spring! Aside from last month’s equinox signaling the calendar beginning of the season, you can tell it’s spring from a few signs: First, the sun is still proudly lingering in the sky well after 7pm. Glorious! Second, everything is slowly getting covered in a layer of pollen (hope you’re stocked up on allergy medicine). Third, everyone you encounter will tell you that spring is here and how glad they are to see the sun (as if I wasn’t just cutting the sleeves off my t-shirt to fashion a makeshift tank top…who cares that it’s still 57 degrees?!). This includes me. I am indeed here, reminding you along with everyone else that the sun is out, and spring has arrived! I may have lived in Portland now for 12 years, but a part of me still clings to my California roots that lead me to constantly crave the sunshine.

That said, the weather is perfect to get out there and look at some art. With exhibitions stretching well beyond the metropolitan Portland area, towards Ashland and Camas, this is your excuse to plan a small road trip and reflect on the places we call home. Attic Gallery celebrates its origins in a literal attic of a house, ending its 51-year run with a retrospective of Sidonie Caron – their very first exhibited artist. Swamp Concerto by collaborators Anna Daedelus and Kerry Davis at Astoria Visual Arts directly reflects the wondrous nature that surrounds us, contemplating the Sitka spruce swamps as both important grounds and an artist itself. Even if the state of Oregon isn’t their original home, the artists exhibited in Layers from Within at the Walters Cultural Art Center in Hillsboro and Re:Generation – Manifesting at the Peach Blossom Spring at the Portland Chinatown Museum remind us of the importance of holding closely whatever does make a place feel like home.

Work by Math Bass. Image courtesy lumber room.

Full Body Parentheses
Math Bass
April 13 – July 13
lumber room
419 NW 9th Ave., Portland (Fri – Sat 12pm – 6pm; or by appointment)

lumber room welcomes a mid-career survey of the sculptural work of Math Bass, titled Full Body Parentheses after a body of work that began a decade ago. The titular work – a scaled-up pair of curved forms inspired by a lamp found in a thrift store – literally and metaphorically punctuates the room like parentheses. In many ways, their presence provokes expanded contemplations of objects, space, bodies, and performance. Site-specific murals and a selection of easel paintings accompany the sculptures and round out Bass’s graphically flat visual lexicon. 

Works by Lark Pien, Josh Sin, and Yuyang Zhang. Image courtesy Portland Chinatown Museum.

Re:Generation – Manifesting at the Peach Blossom Spring
Lark Pien, Josh Sin, Yuyang Zhang
November 9, 2023 – May 4, 2024
Portland Chinatown Museum
127 NW Third Ave., Portland (Thurs – Sun 11am – 3pm)

Open since last November, this month is the last full month to see Re:Generation – Manifesting at the Peach Blossom Spring at the Portland Chinatown Museum (PCM). The exhibition features the work of PCM’s 2023-2024 artists-in-residence cohort: Lark Pien, Josh Sin, and Yuyang Zhang. Through illustrated comic-style booklets, paintings, sculpture, repurposed textile works, and installation, the three artists contend with their visions of utopic horizons – whether they manifest as fantastic visions of armor and camouflage, anxious anticipation of the arrival of a renewed immigration visa, or a celebration of one’s immediate artistic community.


Oregon Cultural Trust

Work by Jessica Doe. Image courtesy Walters Cultural Arts Center.

Layers from Within
Jessica Doe, Jose Trejo-Maya, Marina Hajek
April 2 – May 10
Walters Cultural Arts Center
527 E. Main Street, Hillsboro (Mon – Thurs 9am – 9pm, Fri 9am – 5pm)

For Layers from Within, artists Jessica Doe, Jose Trejo-Maya, and Marina Hajek reflect on their individual connections to place, indigeneity, home, and cultural identity. While the artists work in different mediums from sculpture to installation to poetry, common across their practices is the presence of the written word – whether as a vehicle for storytelling or as a way to transform the traditional experience of reading into something more.  

Organic Yogurt and the Poetics of a Sock
B. Wurtz
March 30 – May 11
SE Cooper Contemporary
6901 SE 110th Ave., Portland (Sat 12pm – 4pm; or by appointment)

Once described by Artnet as an “adamant collector of junk,” artist B. Wurtz opens Organic Yogurt and the Poetics of a Sock at SE Cooper Contemporary. While his work initially may seem like assemblages of urban refuse, a more focused consideration reveals a certain poetics of form. That is, there’s something uncanny yet lovely but also heartbreaking about seeing a single, lonely sock missing its soulmate (or, sole-mate…?) flittering in the wind on a clothesline. In addition to the sculptural works, Wurtz also exhibits a selection of visually minimal drawings that similarly toy with formalism and poetics.

Work by Sidonie Caron. Image courtesy Attic Gallery.

Sidonie Caron
April 5 – 30
Attic Gallery
421 NE Cedar St., Camas, WA (Tues – Sat 11am – 5pm)

After 51 years (!) of operation, Attic Gallery will close the doors to its brick-and-mortar location in Camas this month to move to strictly online operations. The gallery, which began in the literal attic of Diana Faville’s house in 1973, celebrates an impressive run, having moved around Portland multiple times and even participating in the Pearl District’s early First Thursday gallery walks that began in 1986. Their final exhibit will feature a retrospective survey of Sidonie Caron’s paintings, the gallery’s very first exhibited artist, elegantly closing the circle of Attic Gallery’s long history.

Work by Mike Paré. Image courtesy Helen’s Costume.

Gemma Browne, Ricky Bearghost, Mike Paré
April 13 – May 12
Helen’s Costume
7706 SE Yamhill St., Portland (Sat 1pm – 5pm; or by appointment)


CMNW Summer Festival SB FIXED #1, TP, Top

For their first exhibition of the year, Helen’s Costume welcomes a group exhibition featuring Gemma Browne, Ricky Bearghost, and Mike Paré. The paintings, drawings, and weavings consider multiple definitions of mediums (from which the exhibition borrows its title), whether understood as artistic materials used to create work or a psychic conduit of spirits with extrasensory perception. Curator Steve Brown sees both as a kind of intoxication, a way of letting “what’s trying to force its way out” come through, which informs the works’ somewhat psychedelic and surreal aesthetic tone.

Work by Anna Daedalus and Kerry Davis. Image courtesy the artists.

Swamp Concerto
Anna Daedalus and Kerry Davis
April 13 – May 5
Astoria Visual Arts
1000 Duane Street, Astoria (Fri – Sun 11am – 3pm)

Over the past few years, collaborators Anna Daedalus and Kerry Davis have produced multiple creative projects that concern the protected Sitka spruce swamp along the Grays River. Swamp Concerto, hosted by Astoria Visual Arts, surveys three of those projects – Palus (2021), Grounded Glass (2022), and Decomposure (2023-24) –  through an exhibition of photographic prints, works on canvas, and artist books. While some works like Palus Prints display direct impressions of the wetland’s ecology through the gyotaku printing method, other pieces such as Torii Tidal Screens employ time-based methods that allow the wetlands themselves to create the work.

Work by Kyle Larson. Image courtesy Gambrel Gallery.

Wind and Rubble
Kyle Larson
March 1 – April 27
Gambrel Gallery
1980 East Main Street, Ashland (Fri – Sat 11am – 4pm; or by appointment)

Wind & Rubble presents a series of paintings and drawings by Kyle Larson, all produced since the artist moved to Ashland in the late summer of 2022. Larson’s layered and disorienting pictorial narrative style brings out an otherworldly quality and a sense of mysticism in the everyday landscape, blurring the boundaries that contain reality and time. In a way, the works emphasize that perhaps the mundane isn’t as boring as it may seem.

Work by Toni Pepe. Image courtesy Blue Sky Gallery.

Toni Pepe
April 4 – 27
Blue Sky Gallery
122 NW 8th Ave., Portland (Wed – Sat 12pm – 5pm)

The semiotic relation between text and image has been an important and continual topic of discussion for art and visual studies scholars for, well, forever. For her ongoing body of work titled Mothercraft, Toni Pepe sources old press photographs that she lights from behind and rephotographs, thus revealing anything written on the backside. The process superimposes the text over the image, restructuring their initial intended purposes to create a new, often poetic relationship. While you’re there, make sure to check out BLACK SNAFU by André Ramos-Woodard, the 2023 Critical Mass Exhibition selectee that juxtaposes photographs with illustrations to challenge the historic production of harmful stereotypes of the African American community.


All Classical Radio James Depreist

Be part of our
growing success

Join our Stronger Together Campaign and help ensure a thriving creative community. Your support powers our mission to enhance accessibility, expand content, and unify arts groups across the region.

Together we can make a difference. Give today, knowing a donation that supports our work also benefits countless other organizations. When we are stronger, our entire cultural community is stronger.

Donate Today

Photo Joe Cantrell

Headshot of Jason N. Le.

Jason N. Le (they/them) is a Vietnamese American writer, thinker, and curator based in Portland, Oregon. Their academic background lies in art history and critical theory, focused on postwar American art, identity politics, performance theory, and the genealogy of arts criticism. They hold degrees from the Pacific Northwest College of Art and Portland State University, and their other critical arts writing can be found at Art & About PDX.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

CMNW Summer Festival SB FIXED #1, TP, Top
Salem World Beat SB FIXED #2
Astoria Open Studios Tour
Lake Oswego Festival of Arts
NW Dance Project
OCCA Monthly
Maryhill Museum of Art
PAM 12 Month
PSU College of the Arts
Oregon Cultural Trust
Oregon ArtsWatch holder
We do this work for you.

Give to our GROW FUND.