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VizArts Monthly: Nature, culture, and Indigenous viewpoints

August's offerings draw inspiration from diverse areas of lived experience, a refreshing respite from the slow dog days of summer.


August’s offerings draw inspiration from diverse areas of lived experience, a refreshing respite from the slow dog days of summer. Artists statewide will present works intertwining cultural storytelling, vulnerability, and the natural world. Hear vital Indigenous perspectives online at Five Oaks Museum, or view new paintings by Klamath Modoc artist Ka’ila Farrell-Smith at Springfield-based Ditch Projects. Many artists this month are also considering the role of nature in healing and creativity. Try a road trip to the High Desert Museum’s new exhibition on pollinator flora, or visit the Schneider Museum to expand your perspective on possibilities for computerized expressions of nature.

Work by Lili Navarro, image courtesy Five Oaks Museum

Untouchable Artifacts: A Virtual and Printed Exhibition on Indigenous Storytelling, History, and Resilience
July 17 – September 30, 2021
Five Oaks Museum

Untouchable Artifacts, curated by Rya Hueston (Diné) and Kat Salas (Chiricahua, Apache), centers the stories of eleven Indigenous artists who both hold intersectional identities and are committed to sustaining ancestral knowledge. Each artist has recorded themselves reading their story, all of which are listenable on the Untouchable Artifacts webpage. The curators aimed to reconstruct and heighten the experience of online and two-dimensional work experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic, aspiring toward a “landscape of living culture.” Downloadable learning materials and a curator’s talk are forthcoming.

Work by jasna guy, image courtesy High Desert Museum

In Time’s Hum
May 22 – September 6, 2021
High Desert Museum
59800 US-97, Bend (open daily 9 AM – 5 PM)

Pollinator numbers are in decline: a new exhibition at the High Desert Museum offers an opportunity to learn more about the art, complexity, and value of pollination. In Time’s Hum: The Art and Science of Pollination, is a collaboration between visual artist jasna guy and entomologist Lincoln Best. It centers the flowers essential to pollinator survival. Guy, a BC-based artist, educator, and citizen scientist, observes pollination ecology to create mixed-media works focusing on native bees. The work for this show includes drawings, photographs, poetry, animations, and color studies. Best, the lead taxonomist for the Oregon Bee Atlas, contributed pollinator and plant specimens to the exhibition. After exploring In Time’s Hum, be sure to visit the Museum’s new Pollinator Habitat, which contains 30 different plant species.

Work by Susan Cianciolo, image courtesy Lumber Room

Susan Cianciolo: PRAYER ROOM, HEALING STAtion
July 10 – September 25, 2021
Lumber Room
419 NW 9th Ave (Friday 11 AM – 6 PM or by appointment; appointments encouraged)

Susan Cianciolo’s PRAYER ROOM, HEALING STAtion considers themes of community healing, food, prayer, and collaboration as a method of challenging rigidity and invasive systems. She regularly entangles and blurs boundaries between home and art. In the past, she’s served food, offered clothing to wear, installed picnic-like collections of objects on quilts, collaborated with her young daughter, and built structural models of her home studio. For this exhibition, the gallery published a book by Cianciolo titled This Cookbook is Made For the 5th Dimension. Cianciolo’s subversion of rigidity and encouragement of collaborative healing resonates with the primacy of protective “rituals” like mask-wearing and the emphasis on home life over the last year. 


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Work by Joan Truckenbrod, image courtesy Schneider Museum of Art

Joan Truckenbrod: Digital Fibers – 1975 to Present
August 3 – September 16, 2021
Schneider Museum of Art
555 Indiana St, Ashland (Tues-Thur 10 AM – 4 PM)

Joan Truckenbrod, a mid-century pioneer of digital art, has produced algorithmic art through algebraic software programs that describe natural forces (wind currents, light reflections, and more) for decades. Truckenbrod views the computer as a tool for experimentation and exploration of the natural world, a complex theme revealed through Joan Truckenbrod: Digital Fibers – 1975 to Present. The exhibition showcases some of Truckenbrod’s earliest algorithmic drawings and textiles, as well as more recent digital paintings and woven tapestries.

Work by Ka’ila Farrell-Smith, image courtesy Ditch Projects

Ka’ila Farrell-Smith: Ghost Rider: Performing Fugitive Indigeneity, and Umbo Room
July 31 – August 29, 2021
Ditch Projects
305 S 5th Ave #165, Springfield (Fri-Sun 12 PM – 4 PM or by appointment)

Ka’ila Farrell-Smith, a Klamath Modoc visual artist, writer, and activist, will present Ghost Rider: Performing Fugitive Indigeneity, a solo exhibition, alongside Umbo Room, a show she curated, both at Ditch Projects. For Ghost Rider, Farrell-Smith exhibits 27 abstract paintings created with wild-harvested pigments from Klamath lands and aerosol stencils of metal detritus found on the ranch land at Modoc Point Studio. These materials consider layers of colonizer violence and trauma, offering a “matrix for resiliency and transformation of perception and memory.”

Umbo Room displays protest art from the frontlines of the NO LNG campaign led by Indigenous water protectors. (Read about the importance of this campaign here.) Works included in Umbo Room offer varying translations of creativity seen on the frontlines of the water wars, reflecting the cross-tribal collaborations to protect waters and save the endangered C’waam, Koptu, and Salmon from dams, diversions, corporate cattle, and industrial agriculture.

Image courtesy Alliance of OCAC Alumni

Share, Learn, Show: 2021 OCAC Alumni Biennale
August 20 – September 4, 2021
Oregon Contemporary (formerly Disjecta)
8371 N Interstate Ave (COVID safety guidelines TBA)

Curated by Ashley Stull Meyers, Share, Learn, Show will highlight works by thirty alumni of the recently-closed Oregon College of Art and Craft. The exhibition also aims to illustrate the impact OCAC has had on PNW-based art culture over the college’s 112-year history. An opening reception will be held on August 20 from 5 PM – 9 PM, and details on artist talks and group panels are forthcoming.


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Work by Kelda Van Patten, image courtesy Well Well Projects

Kelda Van Patten: Nature Inside
August 7 – 29, 2021
Well Well Projects
8371 N Interstate Ave, #1 (Sat-Sun 12 PM – 5 PM or by appointment)

In Nature Inside, Portland-based artist Kelda Van Patten references a quarantine-driven rise in houseplant sales and interest in indoor gardening to consider how domestic horticulture helps us process lived trauma. Van Patten skews and collages her photographs of flora to shift perceptions of depth and flatness, thus transforming plants into hyperreal objects. A sense of whimsy paints a subtle picture of the loss, isolation, and containment of pandemic times.

Work by barry johnson, image courtesy Nationale

barry johnson: becoming
July 18 – August 23, 2021
15 SE 22nd Ave (Mon and Thurs-Sat 11 AM – 6 PM, Sun 12 PM – 5 PM; masks requested)

Washington-based artist barry johnson explores his cultural heritage in becoming. He focuses on stylized portraiture meant to oppose the overarching absence and erasure of Black figures throughout history. For becoming, Nationale will present a large collection of johnson’s daily portraits made in quarantine, called Between the Sheets, as well as several larger paintings. Six of johnson’s journals are on display, acting as an archive of his pandemic experience and practice.

Work by Aki Onda, image courtesy PICA

Aki Onda: A Letter from Souls of The Dead
July 10 – September 4, 2021
15 NE Hancock St (Thur-Fri 12 PM – 6 PM, Sat-Sun 12 PM – 4 PM; masks required)

Musician and visual artist Aki Onda presents his first major solo exhibition with A Letter from Souls of The Dead. The exhibition features collections of found objects alongside an installation of enlarged prints, broken tape recorders, and a suspended print piece, jointly titled “Collage on Cassettes.” These works represent the history of Onda’s field recordings, creating a chorus of analog media in the PICA warehouse space to represent a kinship between the living and the dead. Onda also created a soundtrack for the exhibition in collaboration with vocalist Charmaine Lee and musician Zach Rowden.

Work by Jeffry Mitchell, image courtesy PDX Contemporary Art

July 1 – August 28, 2021
925 NW Flanders St (Tues-Sat 10 AM – 5 PM)


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Walking, a group exhibition showcasing 32 artists, endeavors to visualize and document journeys on foot. The artists involved consider the act of walking through physical, spiritual, practical, and creative lenses. Included in the show are several local artists like Iván Carmona, Jeffry Mitchell, Storm Tharp, Heather Watkins, and Marie Watt. For the exhibition, Anna Gray and Ryan Wilson Paulsen have produced a book of thoughts and meditations on walking which features quotations, writing, and images from the exhibiting artists.

Work by Dinh Q. Lê, image courtesy Elizabeth Leach Gallery

Dinh Q. Lê: Monuments and Memorials and Lonnie Holley: New Works on Paper
August 5 – October 2, 2021
Elizabeth Leach Gallery
417 NW 9th Ave (Tues-Sat 10:30 AM – 5:30 PM)

Elizabeth Leach Gallery will feature both Dinh Q. Lê’s Monuments and Memorials and Lonnie Holley’s New Works on Paper in August and September. For Monuments and Memorials, Lê presents large-scale “photo weavings” reflecting on collective memory and architectural commemoration. Combining interior and exterior pictures of Cambodian sites, Lê grapples with the complex narratives of a country’s past and present. The photo weaving process (combining vertical and horizontal strips of photographs) creates a physical and metaphorical intertwining of cultural memory.

Lonnie Holley’s New Works on Paper includes dreamy compositions of silhouettes in repetition. These works were created during Holley’s artist-in-residency at the Elaine de Kooning House in East Hampton, NY, where he made artworks layered with spray paint and acrylic, lending a sense of immediacy to his imagery. With floating figures and a soft color palette, the results of this series feel both transformative and subtly mystical.

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Photo Joe Cantrell

Lindsay Costello is an experimental artist and writer in Portland, Oregon, with an academic background in textile research at the Oregon College of Art and Craft. Her critical writing can also be read at Hyperallergic, Art Papers, Art Practical, 60 Inch Center, this is tomorrow,and Textile: Cloth and Culture, among other places. She is the founder of plant poetics, an herbalism project, and soft surface, a digital poetry journal/residency. She is the co-founder of Critical Viewing, an aggregate of art community happenings in the Pacific NorthwestHer artistic practice centers magic, ecology, and folkways in social practice, writing, sculpture, and installation.


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