Oregon Cultural Trust

VizArts Monthly: Personal perceptions

August's selections of art exhibitions and events highlight artists sharing their vision of the world with viewers. The results cover everything from beach debris to John Travolta.


The selections for August’s VizArts Monthly were guided, at least in part, by my summer musings. I’ve been doing a good amount of thinking and research lately about the ways that art helps us understand the human condition. I’ve been thinking about the many ways artists approach the construction of an image, how they collage elements together to approximate a portrait of reality, and what insights they uncover about themselves (or even their viewers). Of course, everyone perceives the world differently: Picasso’s perception of a guitar or Magritte’s perception of a pipe (or, I guess, not a pipe!) are celebrated because they helped us see something new. Artists help us see things in new ways, by sharing what they see. 

It’s this act of translation of the visual world that is central for artists. The chance to explain, in a language other than written words, what the mind’s eye perceives. As viewers, we’re offered the ever-fascinating opportunity to peek into another’s world view. 

This month’s selections come together as a reflection on the role of images (and, by proxy, symbols) in our lives. In home is a hole by Ash Stone and tom manzanarez at After/Time, the image is a reflection of the path they’ve traversed that led them to where they are today, made of the different building blocks that construct the people they are. Laura Camila Medina’s world of Mi Reflejo (“my reflection” in Spanish) at Nationale also looks to the past, but as a fantastical reverie that blends with her particular perception of the everyday. Greased by Tyler Stoll at Well Well Projects is wittily critical of the media images that structure aspects of gender and power. As Molly Mendoza and Matty Newton’s exhibition title emphasizes, all images created by artists are In Their Mind’s Eye, and by considering their work, we get the chance to see what the artists see when they look at the world.

Works by Molly Mendoza and Matty Newton. Image courtesy Walk In Gallery.

In Their Mind’s Eye
Molly Mendoza and Matty Newton
July 28 – September 15
Walk In Gallery
4946 NE 13th Ave #104, Portland (by appointment only Fri 5pm – 8pm or Sat – Sun 12pm – 4pm)

Two of Portland’s favorite illustrators (and alumni of the former Land Gallery!) Molly Mendoza and Matty Newton come together for a two-person exhibition of vivacious and exuberantly colorful illustrations and paintings. While you may have seen their client work before, In Their Mind’s Eye is a peek into their personal musings and self-indulgent explorations. Newton focuses on showing original, uncropped and un-digitally-edited works that reveal the “messy borders” akin to sketchbook swatching and annotations, and Mendoza returns to gouache and crayon to melt bodies and color into intimate moments, both in their own unique action-packed compositional styles.

Work by Leonardo Drew. Image courtesy Galerie Lelong & Co. and Pace Prints.

Leonardo Drew: Selections from the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation
Leonardo Drew
August 3 – October 28
Pendleton Center for the Arts
214 North Main Street, Pendleton (Tues – Fri 10am – 4pm, Sat 12pm – 4pm)

In collaboration with the Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation, the Pendleton Center for the Arts presents a curated selection of works by Leonardo Drew. Often employing transformative processes of oxidation, burning, and decay, Drew transforms his preferred materials of cotton, paper, metal, and wood into large-scale sculptural works that often appear as accumulations of found objects. In this, his works undergo their own cycles of birth, life, death, and reincarnation that weave considerations of the spiritual and the natural with contemplations of material/materiality and formal aesthetics. 


All Classical Radio James Depreist

Photo by tom manzanarez and Ash Stone. Image courtesy After/Time.

home as a hole
tom manzanarez and Ash Stone
August 3 – September 1
735 SW 9th Ave #110, Portland (follow @aftertimecollective on Instagram for opening hours)

Ash Stone and tom manzanarez collaboratively present home as a hole, a conceptually rich, material-focused, and aesthetically sharp exhibition of recent video works, sculpture, and installation. Working collaboratively, Stone and manzanarez revisit aspects of their upbringings that contribute to, contrast, contradict, and complicate their present-day queer and racial identities. While explorations of these sorts tend towards difficulty, pain, or trauma, Stone and manzanarez take care to see them instead as a celebration of resilience, love, and self-discovery. The opening reception is August 3 from 6:30-9:30 pm and is open to the public.

Work by Doug Anderson. Image courtesy Doug Anderson.

Low Tide
Doug Anderson
July 2 – September 2
Orlaske Gallery at Art Center East
1006 Penn Ave, La Grande (Wed – Fri 12pm – 5pm, Sat 10am – 2pm)

By abstractly rendering beach debris and natural coastal formations alongside less referential, more intuitive and gestural marks, Doug Anderson contemplates the funny, unexpected relationships that emerge between people, places, and things as they interact with each other’s ontologies in Low Tide. Anderson’s bold, tight compositions remind its viewers to take more to look at one’s surroundings, to see that although strangers may appear so different from us, we all somehow fit together to create a larger picture. As part of the exhibition, a raffle will be held for one of Anderson’s original paintings. The raffle supports Art Center East’s programming; tickets are available for the duration of the show.

Work by Laura Camila Medina. Photo by Mario Gallucci. Image courtesy Nationale and Laura Camila Medina.

Mi Reflejo
Laura Camila Medina
July 15 – September 2
15 SE 22nd Ave, Portland (Thurs – Mon 12pm – 6pm)

Laura Camila Medina taps into memories of her childhood for the dreamy, hazily-soft world of Mi Reflejo, Medina’s debut solo exhibition with Nationale. Collaging reveries and reminiscences of spiders, early-2000s pop stars, portals, and flowers, Medina wades through the way that these images are inextricable from her upbringing and early identity, making them a crucial part of her creative practice. As a result, Mi Reflejo is a place that is at once uniquely Medina’s but yet also taps into a kind of collective world-building ability of teenage girls, allowing its viewers to be immersed in the softness of childlike reverie where everything feels magical and the world is yours.

Work by Tyler Stoll. Image courtesy Well Well Projects.

Tyler Stoll
August 5 – 27
Well Well Projects
8371 N Interstate Ave #1, Portland (Sat – Sun 12pm – 5pm)


All Classical Radio James Depreist

In an exhibition of recent performances and sculpture, Tyler Stoll considers and cleverly challenges the visual and performed structures of normative masculinity by asking: “What would happen if the timeless 1978 musical film [Grease] was reshot, but the role of Danny Zuko was played by a homemade cardboard cutout of John Travolta that slowly disintegrates throughout the film, leaving behind only a pile of pulp?” Stoll’s proposed answer comes in the form of dissolution and flaccidity–quite the opposite of the phallus–illustrated by the slow deterioration of the cardboard leather-clad heartthrob. Greased is an extension of a larger project by Stoll called the future is flaccid, a manifesto for flaccidity as subversion.

Work by Kathleen O’Hern. Image courtesy Maude Kerns Art Center.

Filaments: Weaving Guilds of Oregon
August 4 – 25
Maude Kerns Art Center
1910 E 15th Ave, Eugene (Mon – Fri 10am – 5:30pm, Sat 12pm – 4pm)

Organized by the Weaving Guilds of Oregon, Filaments presents a juried exhibition of over 30 fiber artists from across the state. From shawls to wall hangings to blankets and coats, the exhibition highlights the artists’ use of color, technical prowess, and creative complexity all the while celebrating the core material of weavers and fiber artists: the filament, or the individual threadlike fiber structure plied together to make yarns and fabrics. In addition to an opening reception on Friday, August 4, juror and University of Oregon Associate Professor Emerita Barbara Setsu Pickett will give a talk on her selections on Saturday, August 19 from 2-3pm.

Work by Tina Beebe. Image courtesy PDX CONTEMPORARY.

You belong among the wildflowers
July 8 – August 26
1825 NW Vaughn St, Suite B, Portland (Tues – Sat 10am – 5pm)

Across art history, there is no doubt that the beauty and admiration of flowers inspired generation after generation of global artists. For their summer group show, PDX CONTEMPORARY delights in this continued inspiration with a varied but provoking exhibition titled You belong among the wildflowers. While some works are directly representational, the roster of works draw upon a wide range of material, technique, and aesthetic approaches by more than twenty artists to reflect on the relationships between art, artists, and flowers. In the pursuit of pleasure, enjoyment, and ease, there is always time to stop and smell the flowers!

Work by Sam Hoskins. Image courtesy Salem Art Association.

Expanding Horizons: Art as the Key to Awakened Consciousness
Sam Hoskins
August 4 – August 27
The Annex at Salem Art Association
600 Mission St. SE, Salem (Wed – Fri 11am – 5pm)

Sam Hoskins leans into his training at the Florence Academy of Art to present Expanding Horizons: Art as the Key to Awakened Consciousness, a collection of surreal-like landscape oil paintings. For his compositions, Hoskins brings together elements of the natural world with dreamlike symbolism, imbuing rich meaning and significance in every painted object. Drawing on the long history of academic oil painting and image creation, Hoskins encourages contemplation and deep focused attention amidst our current fast-paced times.


Seattle Opera Pagliacci

Work by Willie Little. Image courtesy Russo Lee Gallery.

I Do Not Want What I Have Not Got
Willie Little
August 3 – September 2
Russo Lee Gallery
805 NW 21st Ave, Portland (Tues – Fri 11am – 5:30pm, Sat 11am – 5pm)

Multimedia and interdisciplinary artist Willie Little presents I Do Not Want What I Have Not Got, a collection of walking sticks that have been developed and modified over the past decade and a half alongside a recently completed series of monotypes produced with Mullowney Printing. Both series draw inspiration from African cultural traditions and symbols, with the latter looking particularly at Adinkra symbols from the region presently known as Ghana. In the juxtaposition of the two series, Little reflects on his own desire to connect with his roots and the resiliency of the Black community across the US and elsewhere. I Do Not Want What I Have Not Got arrives in conjunction with Russo Lee Gallery’s announcement of their representation of Little.

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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.


4 Responses

  1. Jason says, “It’s this act of translation of the visual world that is central for artists.” Wow, not sure where to even start with this one. Many of the best artists of the 21st century would strongly disagree with this statement. Vernadoe in “Pictures of Nothing,” written almost half a century ago makes a strong case for most of the top artists of the last third of the last century not agreeing with this statement. Richard Rorty, in his landmark, game-changing book of 1979, “Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature,” makes precisely the point that this way of thinking is the biggest problem in the Western philosophical tradition and is seriously not only wrong, but wrong-headed. I’m a visual artist and I also strongly disagree with this statement. Of course, as Rorty pointed out, analytic philosophy’s whole theory of mind branch has imbedded assumptions connected to this statement deep down into our culture, so it is hard to root out in popular “thought” [Rorty and subsequent philosophers, as well as Heidegger before them, also questioned whether this idea even qualifies as “thought.”] I’d say, time to enter the 21st century!

  2. Sir Herbert Read in his “A Concise History of Modern Painting” (1959), pointed out that there is a whole swath of artists since Edvard Munch who create art out of “internal necessity,” and thus essentially are not responding at all to the external world, or to what it looked like, or “to the visual world” or to what is perceived in the world by what Rorty called, pejoratively, the “glassy essence” of our mind.

  3. In regard to all this, a key distinction comes from late Heidegger, who points out that strong artists give us a world, but not the world. Further, as I explained in “Pterodactyl Cries: Art, Abstraction, and Apocalypse,” (2021) if the work is sufficiently improvisational and abstract, it makes a deep statement regarding free will. Thus the international interest in artists such as Jadé Fadojutimi, Amy Sillman, Julie Mehretu, Liliane Tomasco, Laura Owen, Albert Oehlen and his students. Artists in the Northwest working in this vein include Ka’ila Farrell Smith, who currently has a wonderful show up at Russo Lee, or myself, with work you can see in September at PLACE, here in Portland.

  4. I should add that on top of the above, Farrell-Smith has a host of highly relevant political, social, and cultural content. Too many dimensions and layers to comment on here.

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