CMNW Council

VizArts Monthly: New year, new art

The new year brings new exhibitions to galleries and art venues across the state. Jason N. Le introduces some highlights.

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Dearest readers, welcome to 2024! 

The other day, my colleague and I were chatting about the trends and tendencies we hope to see in the 2024 visual arts scene. The first thing that came to my mind was more collaboration! I’ve written about collaboration before, but I’ll repeat myself because I love how creative minds across Oregon’s art scene come together to share a collective vision informed by their individual perspectives. The cross-pollination of creative and deep thinking is one of the things that makes our visual arts scene what it is. You’ll find me on this hill for a long, long time. (If you’re curious, our other 2024 visions are a return to paintings laden with pictorial symbols, more thinking about the gallery space as a single, cohesive installation à la the 1960s-expanded-sculpture scene, and more research-based curatorial practices.)

And once again, this month’s selections have not let me down. This month’s group exhibitions focus on time and its passage. The works themselves are not explicitly about time explicitly, but rather reflectively, considering the generational shift of creative minds. Where group exhibitions like Distinct Visions at Don Dexter Gallery or Northwest Masters at Russo Lee Gallery celebrate influential legacies or the maturation point of one’s career, Dialogues (appropriately named!) at The Patricia Reser Center for the Arts showcases new voices finding their paths. On a different scale, Juan Miguel Santiago’s On Breaking at Gambrel Gallery thinks abstractly about the experiences of longing and heritage felt by the immigrant diaspora, which evolves in shape as its generations continue in new or familiar places. It’s as if the presence and passing of time is felt, yet perhaps willingly ignored in the way these contemporary voices are speaking to and with those that came before them.


Detail of work by Juan Miguel Santiago. Image courtesy the artist and Gambrel Gallery.

On Breaking
Juan Miguel Santiago
December 1, 2023 – February 10, 2024
Gambrel Gallery
1982 East Main Street, Ashland (Fri – Sat 11am – 4pm, or by appointment)

Gambrel Gallery presents a collection of recent ceramic works by Juan Miguel Santiago with an exhibition titled On Breaking. Santiago spent time harvesting local clay, mixing his yields with porcelain and stoneware to create minimal and abstract forms that allow him to contemplate the breadth of the human experience. Some compositions lean allegorical, using red and bone-white clays to reference skeletal structure of kites; some lean introspective, contemplating the act of re-assembling a piece that was broken in the kiln during firing. The stunner of the show is Kayumanggi Project (kayumanggi being the Tagalog word for “brown,” specifically in reference to skin color), a long shelf installation of vessels displaying a spectrum of browns through which Santiago reflects on the struggle to maintain his Filipino identity while connecting to new lands.

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Work by Chris Chandler. Image courtesy Elizabeth Leach Gallery

Elemental Forms
Chris Chandler
January 4 – March 2
Elizabeth Leach Gallery
417 NW 9th Ave, Portland (Tues – Sat 10:30am – 5:30pm)

For his first solo exhibition with Elizabeth Leach Gallery, Chris Chandler presents his latest series of large monotype relief prints, Elemental Forms. Chandler, who also runs Neu Haus Press in southeast Portland, typically works by tearing and re-assembling relief prints pulled off his Vandercook proofing press into large-scale, bold, geometric compositions unafraid of color and strong shapes. It’s a unique process with stunning results, at once aware of the rules and expectations of his medium yet ready to bend and manipulate them to fit his improvisational approach to Bauhaus/Constructivist-like formalism. While you’re there, make sure to also check out Vessels + Forms from the Estate of Deborah Horrell, an elegant yet visually arresting exploration of the glass vessel form by the late artist.

Work by Alim Ringgold. Image courtesy the artist and Well Well Projects.

Turn Me Over
Molly Lecko Herro and Alim Ringgold
January 6 – 28
Well Well Projects
8371 N Interstate Ave #1, Portland (Sat – Sun 12pm – 5pm)

While the ceramic works and illustrations for Turn Me Over by Molly Lecko Herro and Alim Ringgold focus on death, in their formulation it has no formality but is rather a transitory state, a movement between here and somewhere else. The body is revealed as a vessel. Herro creates ceramic-framed sequential illustrations of dream-like, almost fantastical burial caverns. Ringgold’s contributions are curious artifacts–such as highly reflective skull-like fragments–that construct a semblance of a past burial site. As a whole, the exhibition teems with an underlying question: What comes next?

Work by Hali Wilmunnson. Image courtesy the Patricia Reser Center for the Arts.

Dialogues: An Emerging Artist Showcase
Ondrea Bell, Katherine Curry, Jamie Dang, Kelsey Davis Hamilton, Megita Denton, Alexandra Easton, Noelle Herceg, Jessica Joner, Tanner Lind, Conner Mowery, Ilsa Payne, Rae Sheridan, Eliza Williams, Hali Wilmunnson, Leah Yao
January 5 – February 17
The Patricia Reser Center for the Arts
12625 SW Crescent St., Beaverton (Wed – Sat 12pm – 6pm)

The Patricia Reser Center for the Arts celebrates 15 new and emerging artists with a group exhibition titled Dialogues: An Emerging Artist Showcase. The selected artists are all either currently students or recent graduates and are the “next generation” of artists. They work across media, scales, and concepts creating everything from large-scale abstract painting to miniature memento mori altars to social sculpture around a dinner table. An opening reception will be held on January 5th from 6pm-9pm, where attendees will have the opportunity to contribute to Jessica Joner’s project Of What Was. Additionally, an awards ceremony will be held on February 2nd at 6pm to honor Best of Show and People’s Choice selections.

Work by Sally Haley. Image courtesy Russo Lee Gallery.

Northwest Masters
Louis Bunce, Sally Haley, Frederick Heidel, Manuel Izquierdo, Hilda Morris, Michele Russo
January 4 – 27
Russo Lee Gallery
805 NW 21st Ave., Portland (Tues – Fri 11:30am – 5pm; Sat 11am – 5pm)

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This month, Russo Lee Gallery honors a select group of artists who have profoundly impacted Portland’s art scene over past decades. Works vary across painting, laminated glass, and cement sculpture, these are artists that have woven the cultural fabric of the Pacific Northwest. While you’re there, be sure to also check out Laura Domela’s In the Office, a series of abstract intuitive compositions that employ marks made by ink, acrylic paint, gouache, and graphite to think about the complicated and sometimes conflicting feelings that arise in navigating fear. 

Work by Eleanor Klock. Image courtesy the artist and Multnomah Arts Center.

Eleanor Klock and Erick Martinez
January 5 – February 10
Multnomah Arts Center Gallery
7688 SW Capitol Hwy, Portland (Mon – Thurs 9am – 9:30pm; Fri – Sat 9am – 5pm)

The latest two-person exhibition at the Multnomah Arts Center Gallery features the work of cartoonist and illustrator Eleanor Klock and sculptor Erick Martinez. Klock explores notions of home as a feeling rather than a place through her illustrations, introspectively drawing inspiration from photos of her childhood, comics, and nostalgic children’s picture books from the 90s. Martinez, who often works with ceramics, sculpts the human form with added natural elements to explore the emotions that charge it– both positive and negative. While the two works may be visually contrasting, in tandem they align to remind us that feelings, whether individually or collectively experienced, are central to simply being human and navigating everything that comes with it.

Image courtesy Portland Japanese Garden. Photo by Nina Johnson.

Masterpieces in Miniature: The Art of Netsuke Sculptures
December 16, 2023 – March 4, 2024
Pavilion Gallery, Portland Japanese Garden
611 SW Kingston Ave., Portland (Wed – Mon 10am – 3:30pm)

For their last art exhibition of the season, the Portland Japanese Garden features Masterpieces in Miniature, a selection of netsuke sculptures guest curated by Peter Doebler, the Kettering Curator of Asian Art at Dayton Art Institute. Dating as far back as Japan’s Edo period, netsuke are miniature sculptures, often smaller than a golf ball, that function as both decoration and functional counterweights for sagemono (cords used to hang small items from the kimono’s sash in response to its lack of pockets). Doebler’s goal for the exhibition was to highlight the skill involved in netsuke production and selected pieces from The Netsuke Collection of James R. Coonan, Denise C. Bates and Lurline C. Menzies (including some that haven’t been exhibited since 2010, or ever before!) accordingly. Beyond appreciating the craftsmanship and visuals of the netsuke, Doebler equally hopes the exhibition may deepen viewers’ appreciation for that which may be easily overlooked.

Works by Andy Warhol. Image courtesy Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation.

Andy Warhol’s Endangered Species
December 9, 2023 – April 7, 2024
High Desert Museum
59800 US-97, Bend (Daily, 10am – 4pm)

As part of its yearlong recognition of the 50th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act, High Desert Museum welcomes an exhibition of Andy Warhol’s Endangered Species print series from 1983, from the collection of Jordan D. Schnitzer and his Family Foundation. Printed in his iconic pop style with bright, unexpected colors, Warhol’s Endangered Species series was originally commissioned by Ronald and Frayda Feldman ten years after the ESA was signed, in order to bring public attention to some of the specific animals facing extinction. Now, 40 years after its original printing, the impact of the series remains ever important– seven of the ten depicted animals remain at risk of extinction. Other works by Warhol will be exhibited alongside Endangered Species, including one of his Marilyn Monroe prints.

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Work by Karen Pidgeon. Image courtesy Don Dexter Gallery.

Distinct Visions
Jo Dunnick, Demetra Kalams, Patti McNutt, Uyen-Thi Nguyen, Kathy Paskey, Rayne Pelham, Karen Pidgeon
January 6 – February 29
Don Dexter Gallery
2911 Tennyson Ave #202, Eugene (Tues – Sat 9am – 5pm)

Don Dexter Gallery presents a group exhibition of seven artists titled Distinct Visions, featuring works ranging in mediums from oil painting to watercolors to beadwork. The Oregon-based artists were selected by Emerald Art Center, a non-profit organization based in Springfield dedicated to cultivating a vibrant community centered around art, education, outreach, and partnerships. For the exhibition, the featured artists were given the opportunity to select their own works from recent years as a way to highlight their unique maturations of style or recent successes in their artistic careers (some of which span multiple decades). An opening reception will be held on January 6th from 1pm-4pm. 

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Photo Joe Cantrell

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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2 Responses

  1. Hi Jason Le,!
    Juan Santiago here with Gambrel Gallery… what a great mention and am so thrilled to have been a part of your article for 2024! Emily Santiago, our fearless Leader here at the gallery thanks you too! It was forwarded to me this afternoon by Scott Malbourne of the Schneider Museum of Art here at SOU in Ashland. All the best this new year and hope we can meet in person!

    Best,
    Juan S.

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