All Classical Radio James Depreist

VizArts Monthly: Eclipse and transitions

May ushers in a shift in seasons (hopefully!) and the opportunity to shift perspectives. Jason N. Le offers, for the last time, a selection of not-to-be-missed art occasions and events.

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You know how in every friend circle, there seems to be that one person that’s always blaming everything on the movements of the planets? That’s me. I’m that one astrology-obsessed friend. (And if you find yourself trying to figure out who the astrology friend is in your group, that’s now me!) Let me be clear that I am in no way a professional astrologer, but I’ve read that eclipses typically signal a moment of transformation or realization on the horizon. It makes sense – when the moon moves to obscure the sun, it’s easy to realize how much the warmth and light it provides is taken for granted. So once the moon’s transit in front of the sun is complete, everything seems to take on a new glow, perhaps literally or maybe just metaphorically, taken in with a fresh perspective.

A similar theme emerged in this month’s VizArts selections: how can we shift our perspective to see things in ways we didn’t before? The return of the Oregon Contemporary Artists’ Biennial, which hasn’t taken place since before COVID-19 started, is a good example, as its participating artists consider the importance of community and sharing as its organizing theme. Joan Nelson’s new paintings at Adams and Ollman encourage us to rethink the power that lies in a landscape undisturbed by human interference. A survey of Terry Toedtemeier’s photographs at PDX CONTEMPORARY ART makes clear how natural rock arches and apertures can be like portals, transforming the slow violence of erosion into mysterious beauty. I encourage you to take a second, closer look at the things that surround you every day. Maybe you’ll find something new.

And with that, dear readers, my time writing the VizArts Monthly column draws to an end. I’m stepping away to focus on other projects with a fresh master’s degree(!) in hand, but I’ve had a wonderful time surveying and compiling Oregon-wide visual art exhibitions for you over the past year. The creative energy that buzzes across this state is like nothing else, and it’s been such a pleasure witnessing it every month. (If you have any interest in following more of my arts writing and other creative projects, you can find me on Instagram or I update my website regularly with what I’m working on!) Until our paths cross again – thank you, so much, for reading.


Work by Joan Nelson. Image courtesy Adams and Ollman.

New Works
Joan Nelson
April 6 – May 18
Adams and Ollman
418 NW 8th Ave., Portland (Weds – Sat 11am – 5pm)

Adams and Ollman just extended their run of New Works by Stamford-based painter Joan Nelson until May 18, meaning you have some extra time to catch the exhibition. Nelson’s ominously empty landscapes merge the sublimity of nature with a hint of sci-fi otherworldliness, envisioning places that seem to thrive without humanity. (Think: Jane Bennett’s Vibrant Matter, in many ways.) The shimmering textures of the glitter-and bead-encrusted paintings are a must-see in person. Also on view is Kinke Kooi’s The Male Part of the Flower, a stunning selection of intricate, anatomical works on paper that complicate binary structures such as male/female or good/bad taste.

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Oregon Cultural Trust

Work by Paige Wright. Image courtesy Salem Art Association.

Footsteps and Monuments
Paige Wright
May 3 – June 23
Camas Gallery, Bush Barn Art Center
600 Mis­sion St. SE, Salem (Wed – Sun 12pm – 4pm)

Paige Wright’s ceramic busts aren’t just an impressive display of her sculpting abilities, they’re also a quasi-anthropological exploration of the human form. Rather than rendering her portraits in any specific likeness, Wright sculpts “plausible individuals,” people we think we recognize but can’t quite figure out how we know them, allowing her fingers (and memories) to bring a face out of the clay. Her wildly textured and attractive glazes – akin to a blend of clown and anti-face recognition makeup – give each figure a distinctive personality, illustrating Wright’s curiosity of how external forces shape our bodies.

Work by Christine Miller. Image courtesy Sator Projects.

all de watermillion fr’um heabun
Christine Miller
May 18 – June 27
Sator Projects
1607 SE 3rd Ave., Portland (Sat 12pm – 5pm, or by appointment)

Conceptual artist Christine Miller expands her research-driven creative practice with all de watermillion fr’um heabun, a new solo exhibition with Sator Projects. Continuing to contemplate the image of watermelon and the harmful racial stereotypes it still bears, Miller draws relations between the “documentation” and mockery of southern Black vernacular and the oppressive structure of racial hierarchy weaponized by white supremacy. An opening reception will be held on Saturday, May 18 from 5-8pm. 

Work by Francesca Capoone. Image courtesy Nationale.

A Mother’s Discourse
Francesca Capone
April 13 – May 19
Nationale
15 SE 22nd Ave, Portland (Thurs – Mon 12pm – 5pm)

Francesca Capone’s exhibition, A Mother’s Discourse, reflects on her experiences as a first-time mother in a post-Roe V. Wade society and the comfort she found in reading – specifically, the sense of community she felt reading personal narratives of child-rearing. The works combine Capone’s reading and weaving practices, presenting tapestries embroidered with mantra-like phrases alongside a full poem printed on translucent silk chiffon that floats in the middle of the gallery space. To supplement the textile work, Capone compiled an archive of books that influenced the project, allowing viewers to engage with the literary research for the exhibition.

Image courtesy Oregon Contemporary.

2024 Oregon Contemporary Artists’ Biennial
April 26 – August 4
Oregon Contemporary
8371 N Interstate Ave., Portland (Fri – Sun 12pm – 5pm)

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Featuring 21 artists and collectives curated by Jackie Im and Anuradha Vikram, the Oregon Contemporary Artists’ Biennial returns for the first time since 2019. This year, the participating artists were invited to respond to ideas of community and care, starting with the question: “How do we care for others and ourselves?” The importance of sharing emerged as a common thread among the projects, from sharing access and resources to compassion and accountability. An opening reception will be held on Saturday, May 4, featuring an artist talk and reading with participating artist Epiphany Couch and poet Cliff Taylor at 6pm, with additional programming every First Saturday during the run of the biennial.

Work by Claire Burbridge. Image courtesy Karin Clarke Gallery.

Florae Animalia
Claire Burbridge, Matthew Dennison, Marjorie Taylor, Olga Volchkova
May 1 – June 22
Karin Clarke Gallery
760 Willamette Street, Eugene (Wed – Fri 12pm – 5:30pm; Sat 10am – 4pm)

Karin Clarke Gallery presents Florae Animalia, an exhibition of four artists whose work focuses on the flora and fauna of the Pacific Northwest. While Claire Burbridge and Matthew Dennison take more naturalistic approaches to their paintings, Olga Volchkova composes visual narratives of her subjects in saint-like iconography. Marjorie Taylor takes a three-dimensional approach, creating faux taxidermied animals from recycled fabrics. An opening reception for the exhibition will be held on Friday, May 3 from 5:30-7:30pm.

Work by Terry Toedtemeier. Image courtesy PDX CONTEMPORARY ART.

Arches (and apertures)
Terry Toedtemeier
May 1 – June 1
PDX CONTEMPORARY ART
1881 NW Vaughn St., Portland (Tues – Sat 10am – 6pm)

A selection of silver gelatin prints by Terry Toedtemeier opens this month at PDX CONTEMPORARY, highlighting the late photographer and curator’s attraction to natural rock and basalt formations across Oregon. This exhibition focuses on his images of stone arches and apertures (openings to caves and lava rock tubes, for example), as “he loved their sculptural qualities and the dramatic contrasts of light and dark,” writes Prudence Roberts in the exhibition’s statement. Arches (and apertures) coincides with a larger survey of Toedtemeier’s work from the 1970s to the 2000s at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at the University of Oregon, titled Terry Toedtemeier: Photographer, which opens Saturday, May 4. 

Work by Peter Gronquist. Image courtesy Elizabeth Leach Gallery.

Light Record
Peter Gronquist
May 2 – June 1
Elizabeth Leach Gallery
417 NW 9th Ave., Portland (Tues – Sat 10:30 AM – 5:30 PM)

Peter Gronquist exhibits a new body of work at Elizabeth Leach Gallery titled Light Record, a series of abstract works that blend painting and photography. Gronquist creates blurred, dragged forms with light, revealed to him later in the developing process by hovering and moving an LED stick over light-sensitive photo paper. The results are ethereal and wispy, reminiscent of curtains dancing in the breeze, emphasizing the fleeting and intangible nature of light. Be sure to also check out Ryan Pierce’s Improbable Springs, a series of paintings that imagine nature carrying on after humanity is gone.

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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.

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