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VizArts Monthly: Forward Motion

April pushes us further into spring and there's plenty of art to see all over the state. VizArts Monthly has recommendations for everything from paintings to recycled fabrics to suspended plant matter.


Every spring, without fail, I find myself startled by the forward jump of daylight savings. I always wake up that morning, pleased with a good, full night’s rest, often to a bright sky filled with morning sun. Then I realize that the clock on my phone gained an hour overnight and suddenly I am a full hour behind and in full panic mode. The adjustment to the change is quick, but always reminds me of the fluidity of time – how easy it is to shift our entire lives forward or backward by a whole hour to match the rising and setting of the sun!

Perhaps the adjustment becomes easier the more we move through time, as we gain years of experience with every birthday celebration; time and history help us color our present. The past, which we expect to feel further and further away, continually finds itself in front of us. It informs how we move throughout the day, the clothes we wear, and the choices we make. We find this month’s roundup of exhibitions and events echoing a similar sentiment: the past is brought into the present with fresh eyes and new perspectives. There are familiar faces and new friends, traditional techniques and contemporary expressions all around.

Work by Dan Attoe. Image courtesy Helen’s Costume.

Ralph Pugay, Kristan Kennedy, Annie Costello Brown, Andy Heck Boyd, Dan Attoe
March 26 – April 30
Helen’s Costume
7706 SE Yamhill Street, Portland (Sat – Sun 1pm – 4pm, or by appointment)

Helen’s Costume presents Buttercup, a group exhibition that pairs together works by artists of different locales and career advancements. The highly contemporary drawings and paintings mix texture, materiality, illustration, and painted illusions of fluorescent glow to create allegories of the cyclical (and perhaps futile) nature of chasing glamor and hedonistic consumption, found in an old Norwegian tale of the same name. When does luxury and the pursuit of extra-satiation become too much?

Work by Alina Tenser. Image courtesy SE Cooper Contemporary.

Alina Tenser
March 25 – April 30
SE Cooper Contemporary
6901 SE 110th Ave, Portland (Sat 12pm – 4pm, or by appointment)

Alina Tenser’s sculptural objects were once described by Colby Chamberlain in Artforum as a “juncture of a Montessori school and the Container Store,” and I couldn’t agree more. Tenser’s new solo exhibition at SE Cooper Contemporary is an exploration of dissimilar things that come together over unexpected (and perhaps not real) commonalities. The linguistic term for this is faux amis, or false friends–words that sound like they relate, but do not. Tenser combines three-dimensional “floor plans” made of vinyl and zippers with Cyrillic letters that spell out “Xaoc” (pronounced “khaus”) cast in concrete, generating a visual false friendship of house/xaoc. Tenser’s work brings to mind the Minimalist sculptors of the 1960s, but fabricated in the plastic-industrial contemporary.

Work by Rick Bartow. Image courtesy Karin Clarke Gallery.

Rick Bartow
April 5 – May 13
Karin Clarke Gallery
760 Willamette Street, Eugene (Wed – Fri 12pm – 5:30pm, Sat 10am – 4pm)


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Working closely with the Bartow Trust, Karin Clarke Gallery curates a new exhibition of work by nationally acclaimed and locally loved artist, Rick Bartow. The exhibition features an array of large acrylic paintings alongside pastel drawings, monotypes, and drypoint prints rendered in his signature expressive mark-making style. Danielle Knapp, co-curator of the Bartow retrospective Things You Know But Cannot Explain, will give brief remarks on April 7 at 6pm as part of the opening reception.

Work by Rui Sasaki. Image courtesy Portland Japanese Garden. Photo by Jonathan Ley.

Subtle Intimacy: Here and There
Rui Sasaki
March 18 – June 12
Pavilion Gallery, Portland Japanese Garden
611 SW Kingston Ave, Portland (Wed – Mon 10am – 6pm)

The Portland Japanese Garden and the Japan Institute welcome Rui Sasaki, their inaugural artist-in-residence, with a stunning exhibition of her glass work. Sasaki gathered plants from around Portland and her neighborhood in Kanazawa, Japan and preserved them in fused panes of glass, suspending them in time. Instead of traditional exhibition methods with works displayed on walls, viewers can traverse through Sasaki’s exhibition that brings together the flora of Japan and the Pacific Northwest in an ethereal experience that is both scientific and magical, organic and mechanical. 

Work by Bonnie Lucas. Image courtesy ILY2.

Bonnie Lucas 1978 – 2023
Bonnie Lucas
March 25 – May 27
925 NW Flanders St, Portland (Wed – Sat 11am – 6pm)

The experimental programming of ILY2 brings new life to the former PDX Contemporary gallery space with a new exhibition of work by Bonnie Lucas, an artist and educator from Syracuse, New York. The 1984 press release of her first solo exhibition quoted Lucas saying, “I create feminine monsters,” a declaration she continues to uphold. Interrogations of domesticity, childhood, and femininity structure Lucas’s assemblages of dismantled feminized objects, transforming them into chimeras of pearls, dolls, and lace. This show marks ILY2’s inaugural exhibition in the space, bringing with it a collaboration with MONOGRAPH Bookwerks that transforms the back room of the gallery into a rotating curated selection of art history, theory, and criticism titles.

Image courtesy Parallax Art Center.

Artist Residency: Making Earth Cool
April 6 – June 26
Parallax Art Center
516 NW 14th Ave, Portland (Mon – Sat 10am – 5pm)

Part residency, part installation, part massive recycling effort: local environmental activist group Making Earth Cool (MEC) will be taking over and transforming Parallax Art Center for the next few months. MEC will combine science, comedy, and collaboration to produce an immersive and interactive multi-room community space focused on educating and inspiring people to be better stewards of Earth. Imagine: giant painted papier-mâché mushrooms, a blooming garden of flowers made from recycled flyers, and whales crafted from reclaimed fabric! In addition to ongoing programmed events throughout the residency, MEC at Parallax will host a grand Earth Night Celebration on April 22.


Seattle Opera Pagliacci

Work by James Houghton. Image courtesy Hanson Howard Gallery.

Emily Somoskey and James Houghton
April 7 – May 2
Hanson Howard Gallery
89 Oak Street, Ashland (Wed – Sat 12pm – 5pm)

It can be difficult to bring together three-dimensional sculpture and two-dimensional mixed media under a cohesive theme; finding their relationships can be like comparing apples to oranges. Twist successfully juxtaposes the work of Emily Somoskey and James Houghton, two artists working in starkly different styles of collage and ceramics respectively, focused on the language of materiality. Both artists employ texture and color in ways that seem deceptively chaotic and spontaneous but employ intentional planning. The works speak the same language in different dialects. The result is a vibrant conversation full of energy.

Work by Erin Bodfish. Image courtesy Scalehouse.

Recent Situation
Erin Bodfish
March 30 – May 21
The Annex presented by Scalehouse
550 NW Franklin Avenue, Suite 138, Bend (Wed – Sat 1pm – 6pm, or by appointment)

While Erin Bodfish’s creative practice is interdisciplinary, moving between materials as she explores ideas of the intangible and the invisible, her new exhibition at The Annex at Scalehouse focuses on oil and encaustic paint to understand the materiality of emotion. Recent Situation sees paint both as a vehicle for pigment and image rendering and its tactile experience. The works are somewhere between abstract and representational, calling upon a history of Joan Miro-like Surrealism and Fauvist portraiture. Recent Situation comes alongside Bodfish’s recent appointment as one of Scalehouse’s artists-in-residence, a six-month studio residency.

Work by Mandy Stigant. Image courtesy Oregon Coast Council for the Arts.

Blackfish Gallery: Creative Diversity Abides
April 1 – May 28
Runyan Gallery, Newport Visual Arts Center
777 NW Beach Drive, Newport (Tues – Fri 10am – 5pm)

Blackfish Gallery and the Oregon Coast Council for the Arts celebrate 45 years of the well-loved Portland artist collective by presenting a survey of member-artists’ works. A rich variety of mediums will be featured, from ceramics and fiberglass sculptures to watercolors and oil paintings, coming together as a “celebration of finding commonality of purpose through our differences,” as described by Chasse Davidson, director of NVAC. Bonus: Blackfish Gallery also has some exciting openings this month at their new space off NW Everett in Portland! The gallery’s spacious new digs will feature the work of Angennette Escobar, Hector H Hernandez, Kanetaka Ikeda, and Janice Yang in three different exhibitions.

Image courtesy Oregon Contemporary. Photo by Mario Gallucci.

Art First Artists’ Auction
April 8, 6pm
Oregon Contemporary
8371 N. Interstate Ave, Portland 


Seattle Opera Pagliacci

Oregon Contemporary’s annual fundraiser auction returns this month with a night of contemporary art, food, music, and friends old and new. This year features Demian DinéYazhi’ as the guest speaker, musical performance by Amenta Abioto, and floral and light installations curated by Ethereal Reflections. Works by Samantha Wall, Jeremy Okai Davis, Alyson Provax, and many others will be available for bidding through live and silent auction, with an after party of more music and dancing to conclude the evening. Tickets are required.

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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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