How does the rhyme go? April showers bring… April flowers, May flowers, May showers, occasional heatwaves, and record pollen levels? Something like that. As the city warms and brightens this May, a colorful range of shows are popping up like the unstoppable cascade of blossoms and flowers filling our streets. Celebrate World Collage Day, learn about the life of a wonderful outsider artist, or enjoy a tea ceremony with five world-class artisans from Kyoto. If all the sun and color is overwhelming you, sit back and enjoy the strangeness of Getting to Know You(tube) or the meditative calm of Heather Watkins fabric arts at PDX Contemporary.
Katherine Bradford: Magenta Nights
Through June 2
Adams and Ollman, 209 SW 9th
Magenta Nights marks the third time Adams and Ollman has brought Katherine Bradford’s work to Portland. Bradford’s colorful, layered acrylic paintings feature swimmers, ships, and other iconic imagery set against ephemeral, lush fields of color. Adams and Ollman call her paintings “an intentional place for imagination,” and “a personal universe of Bradford’s own making, a universe populated with hard-won symbologies.” A Bradford show in spring is a guaranteed good time, full of charm, wonder and wit.
Thick on the Ground: Christian Rogers & Kyle Vu-Dunn
Through May 29
Nationale, 3360 SE Division Street
This show explores themes of otherness, memoir and resilience through new takes on traditional figurative representation to look at the intimacies of queer relationships. Rodgers’ paintings use an application of paper pulp to expand beyond the canvas. These work well with Vu-Dunn’s sculptural panels, which look almost like giant carved rubber stamps. Nationale says, “visually enticing combinations of subject matter, color schemes, and shifted perspectives make these pieces loud and proud.”
Heather Watkins: Waiting Room
May 2-June 2
PDX Contemporary, 925 NW Flanders
These small, meditative and intense woven and stitched fabric pieces have a sense of Agnes Martin to them. Tiny stitches, made at the limit of the artist’s eyesight, follow the regular but imperfect structure of the linen. Made in “waiting rooms of one kind or another,” they were “shaped by a desire to develop a new visual language and to forge a new working methodology—peripatetic, roving, claiming its own time and space,” according to Watkins. The dense space and unsureness of waiting rooms has been activated and occupied by these dense, handmade pieces.
The Art of Jimmy Tsutomu Mirikitani
May 2 – September 16
Emerson Street House, 1006 NE Emerson Street, Unit B
Emerson House recognizes Jimmy Mirikitani as a “fiercely independent outsider artist who achieved international fame in 2006 after being featured in a major art-house documentary.” This exhibit features 30 of his drawings which, like much of his work, prominently feature cats. Mirikitani drew and painted constantly throughout his tumultuous life, producing a vibrant body of work that explodes with color, life, and, of course, cats, often used as symbols of remembrance for lost friends or family. A U.S. citizen born in Sacramento, he was imprisoned as part of the WWII order that sent Japanese Americans to internment camps. In response to his staunch objections to the government’s actions, he was transferred to a special camp for “disloyals.” After being released, made a living under the table working as a cook until 1980, when his last employer died. Mirikitani remained homeless and unemployed for years afterwards, until filmmaker Linda Hattendorf met him selling his paintings on the street. While producing a documentary of his life and work, she supported him through regaining his citizenship, finding housing and long lost relatives, and establishing his art career.
Shokunin: Five Kyoto Artisans Look to the Future
May 12-July 8
Portland Japanese Garden, 611 SW Kingston Avenue
“Shokunin” means “artisan” in Japanese, a word used to designate artists who have achieved the highest level of mastery of their craft. This luxurious exhibit brings together five such artisans from Kyoto, who unite the traditional ways of working in each craft with the forward-looking innovations and designs of contemporary practices. The artisans are Hosai Matsubayashi (pottery), Shuji Nakagawa (wooden vessels), Chiemi Ogura (bamboo basketry), Keikou Nishimura (lacquerware), and Hirotsugu Ogawa (pottery). The opening weekend on May 12 features a tea ceremony with the artisans and demonstrations with Nakagawa and Ogura.
World Collage Day
Blick Art Supplies, 1115 NW Glisan Street
Blue Sky Gallery, 122 NW 8th Avenue
May 12, 2018, has been declared World Collage by Kolaj magazine, the leading magazine dedicated to contemporary collage. At least two events in Portland will celebrate the occasion. You can start the day off at Blick Art supplies in the Pearl with local writer Kevin Sampsell’s Collage Tips and Tricks Workshop. Sampsell also hosts the popular Open Collage Night at theIndependent Publishing Resource Center, and is an accomplished collage artist himself. Afterwards, if you’re feeling inspired and crafty, head on over to Blue Sky Gallery. They’ll be hosting an all-ages collage-making event, providing vintage magazines, paper, scissors and glue as well as free snacks to anyone who wants to stop by and get creative with friends or strangers. Whether you make a collage at one of these events or on your own, you can post it with the hashtag #WorldCollageDay to participate in the event.
Getting to know You(Tube)
Boathouse Microcinema, 822 North River Street
Getting to Know You(Tube) has become a something of an underground institution in Portland, originally established in 2011 by social practice artists Crystal Baxley and Stefan Ransom as a way to foster a sense of community around the warm glow of YouTube. After a hiatus of a few years, it was recently resurrected by video artist Chris Freeman in conjunction with the Boathouse Microcinema. Local artists are invited to share selections from the vast depths of YouTube that they find compelling, curious, or otherwise noteworthy, usually on a theme of their choosing. By formalizing the relatively new ritual of sharing YouTube videos with a group of friends, the event creates a fun, surprising space that feels somewhere between a public and private event, inviting close viewing of the weirdness of the internet. This month’s presenters will be Brad Grose, Sarah Turner, and beloved local artist of the abject, Michael Reinsch.