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VizArts Monthly: Spotlight on BIPOC artists

New year, new art! Lindsay Costello has the scoop on January's art offerings.

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Happy new year, art enthusiasts! Well, it may not feel like a celebration—after all, the world is in an ever-confusing and perilous tailspin—but January offers many art-viewing opportunities to lift your spirits. Significant works and projects by Black artists like Arvie Smith and collectives like AUX/MUTE Gallery take center stage this month at Portland Art Museum and the Hallie Ford Museum of Art. If you’re practicing extra caution this month, try Maya Vivas’s exhibition which is viewable from the sidewalk outside Paragon Arts Gallery. Augen Gallery has a stellar array of print works and Jack Graydon’s paintings on view at Stumptown Coffee make exhibition-viewing quick and easy.

Whether you’re interested in more underground experimental works or household names, there’s something for everyone this month—let’s dig in.

gridded portraits (4 across and 5 down) of Black sitters against bright colored backdrops. Sitters offer a variety of positions toward the camera and facial expressions.
Work by Jason Hill, image courtesy Portland Art Museum

AUX/MUTE Gallery, presented by The Numberz FM and Portland Art Museum
Aug 7, 2021 – June 2022
Portland Art Museum and elsewhere
1219 SW Park Ave (Wed-Sun 10 AM – 5 PM)

AUX/MUTE Gallery, presented by The Numberz FM and the Portland Art Museum, aims at reducing the barriers that have historically kept BIPOC artists out of high art institutions. The partnership seeks to create ongoing community conversations of this topic of institutional access while also providing diverse spaces for BIPOC storytelling and art-sharing. In My Skin is AUX/MUTE’s latest exhibition, a portraiture-centric body of work by artist Jason Hill that celebrates Black cultural identity. In My Skin is on view at PAM until February 27, 2022. The Portland Art Museum also hosts The Numberz’s Numz Bodega, a retail exhibition open Weds-Sun 12 PM – 5 PM. The Numberz FM is Portland’s only Black-led radio station and focuses on the entire Black music experience.

altered double portrait of a short-haired sitter - vertical striations complicate the surface
Work by Kensuke Koike, image courtesy Blue Sky Gallery

Kensuke Koike: Dear Friend
January 6 – 29, 2022
Blue Sky Gallery
122 NW 8th Ave, Portland (Weds-Sat 12 PM – 5 PM)

Dear Friend, on view at Blue Sky Gallery, presents the work of Kensuke Koike, a contemporary Japanese visual artist who works in photography, collage, and sculpture mediums. For Dear Friend, Koike’s deconstructed vintage photographs and postcards form new imagery through careful rearrangement and reassembly. With a nod to the surreal, Koike’s collages become startlingly revived objects, challenging the viewer to discover humor, absurdity, and beauty in his newfound forms.

Work by Maya Vivas, image courtesy Paragon Arts Gallery

Maya Vivas: a convoluted remedy to my soft hands
December 3, 2021 – January 17, 2022
Paragon Arts Gallery
815 N. Killingsworth St. Portland (viewable from sidewalk and online)

At Portland Community College’s Paragon Arts Gallery, Maya Vivas presents two new experimental videos contemplating diasporic therapies. The pieces build upon concepts found within Vivas’s previous performance a convoluted remedy to my soft hands. Vivas, who works in diverse mediums including ceramic, performance, painting, social practice and installation, considers “diasporic body memory and space as filtered through the senses.” In Vivas’s works, viewers will notice themes of gesture, absurdity, carnality, speculative fiction, and body horror.

Work by Taryn Tomasello, image courtesy SE Cooper Contemporary

Taryn Tomasello: As Long As It Doesn’t Spread
December 18th – January 22nd, 2021
SE Cooper Contemporary
6901 SE 110th Ave, Portland (Sat 11 AM – 5 PM and by appointment)

Taryn Tomasello’s new solo exhibition is also SE Cooper Contemporary’s third show. This fresh gallery space on a family property in Lents is a perfect setting for Tomasello’s investigations of domestic labor, excess, and the sediment created within daily life. Tomasello challenges a “Culture of Excess,” positing that artists as culture-creators must cease perpetuating the fear of irrelevance that goes hand-in-hand with obsessive striving and endless work. “A sunset clause is an agreed upon point of expiration for a set of conditions,” says Tomasello. “What does the sunset clause for this period of intense production look like?”

Work by Arvie Smith, image courtesy Hallie Ford Museum of Art

Arvie Smith: Scarecrow
January 22 – March 26, 2022
Hallie Ford Museum of Art
700 State St, Salem (Tues-Sat 12 PM – 5 PM, proof of vaccination or recent COVID-19 test required, see website for details)

Nationally-celebrated artist Arvie Smith reckons with social and racial injustices in his bright, figurative, expressionist paintings. On view at Hallie Ford Museum, Smith’s retrospective exhibition Scarecrow compiles 26 of the artist’s strongest works. Smith’s clever use of color and composition make his paintings feel initially lighthearted, but a closer look at Smith’s paintings reveals the horrors, humiliations, and injustices that Black people have suffered in the United States over the past 450 years. Smith’s unfettered depictions of everything from interracial relationships to Black stereotypical figures like Aunt Jemima expose the atrocities of slavery, the KKK, and the Jim Crow South.

Work by Willie Little, image courtesy Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art

Black Lives Matter Artist Grant Exhibition
January 18 – April 30, 2022
Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art @ PSU
1855 SW Broadway, Portland (reopening to the public on January 18; check website for details)

This exhibition boasts a wide selection of artists, including AnAkA, J’reyesha Brannon, Amirah Chatman, Steven Christian, Baba Wagué Diakité, Sadé DuBoise, Edmund Holmes, Willie Little, Latoya Lovely, Aiyana Monae McClinton, Sharita Towne, Kyra Watkins, and many more. Per the website, “The Black Lives Matter Artist Grant Program is a multi-university granting project established by Jordan Schnitzer that has awarded funding to 60 emerging, mid-career, and established artists whose practices demonstrate a commitment to social justice. This granting initiative, which categorically references the Black Lives Matter movement(s), gestures towards the germinating financial and intellectual investment in artwork borne out of a continuing, centuries-long fight for Black autonomy, freedom, and most notably, life.” This exhibition centers twenty artists selected for the Portland State University award cycle; the artists work in installation, photography, video, painting, performance, textiles, sculpture, poetry, and printmaking to consider systemic racism and the breadth of Black experience.

Sponsor
Portland Center Stage Rent Portland Oregon
open portfolio - one side says "Louise Bourgeois: Autobiographical Series" and the other side is an image of pliers and scissors.
Work by Louise Bourgeois, image courtesy Elizabeth Leach Gallery

(Extra)ordinary: Reimagining the Everyday
January 6 – February 26, 2022
Elizabeth Leach Gallery
417 NW 9th Avenue, Portland (Tues-Sat 10:30 AM – 5:30 PM)

(Extra)ordinary: Reimagining the Everyday, a group exhibition featuring artists Nari Ward, Louise Bourgeois, Isaac Layman, Malia Jensen, Mario Gallucci, Claire Cowie, and Leo Berkof, considers interpretations of the familiar. Through sculpture, video, photography and works on paper, each artist interprets the commonplace. Nari Ward’s Woman is a sculpture made of repurposed hoses, while drawings by Mario Gallucci contemplate the potential for transcendence in the domestic domain through depicted interiors. Malia Jensen’s video Python takes a wildly different, yet still harmonious path with its elegy to a housefly, and Louise Bourgeois thrills with prints reminiscent of intimate diary musings.

two-sided image one with black compositional elements on a white ground (left) and yellow/red/orange rectangular elements forming a half circle (right)
Works by Anna Fidler and Katy Stone, image courtesy Archer Gallery

Anna Fidler and Katy Stone: Of a Setting Sun
January 3 – March 11, 2022
Archer Gallery
1933 Fort Vancouver Way, Vancouver (by appointment)

Of a Setting Sun will be Archer Gallery’s first in-person, physical exhibition since winter 2020. To that end, curator Michelle Ramin endeavored to present a show that considers the building of worlds. Artists Anna Fidler and Katy Stone both utilize formal design elements to create works based on set rules, while still allowing space for intuition.
Fidler works with a grid to create compositions, while her color choices are more instinctive. Stone relies on shape alone to guide her process of building into three-dimensional space. The artists’ regimented, yet meditative processes tread the line between materiality and transience, but also leave room for breath.

yellow undulations domainate composition - some blue-centered flowers with brown petals and green, cactus-like formations
Work by Jack Graydon, image courtesy Stumptown Coffee Roasters

Jack Graydon: Almost Ready
October 28, 2021 – January 26, 2022
Stumptown Coffee Roasters
4525 Southeast Division St, Portland (6:30 AM – 5 PM daily)

Even if you only have time to sneak in some art-viewing while grabbing a coffee this month, Stumptown’s got you covered. Painter/sculptor and PNCA graduate Jack Graydon presents works at Stumptown’s Division Street location that draw from aesthetics of traditional painting, cartoons, graffiti, and folk art. Graydon’s practice is informed by his professional work as a set builder and muralist. The artist’s poetic statement for Almost Ready is as layered as the works themselves, mentioning organic matter, “city goo,” crumbling infrastructures, uniformed men, work horses, and rewilding.

patterned collaged elements on a black ground
Work by Frank Stella, image courtesy Augen Gallery

20th Century Masterworks
January 5 – 29, 2022
Augen Gallery
716 NW Davis, Portland (Tues-Sat 11:30 AM – 5 PM or by appointment)

What better way to lift out of a winter rut? 20th Century Masterworks, a star-studded exhibition at Augen Gallery, features works by Josef Albers, Alexander Calder, Roy DeForest, Richard Diebenkorn, Jim Dine, Sam Francis, Helen Frankenthaler, David Hockney, Robert Indiana, Paul Klee, Roy Lichtenstein, Joan Miro, Pablo Picasso, Frank Stella, and Andy Warhol. This selection of screenprints, lithographs, etchings, and more represents the best of 20th century printmaking.



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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