VizArts Monthly: Spring reflections on social upheaval

From new backyard spaces to established galleries, March's Vizarts Monthly offerings tackle the racial reckoning and Covid-induced isolation of the past year

It may feel difficult to believe, but the spring equinox is upon us, and our art scene is in bloom with plenty of new exhibitions to see in the sunshine (or the rain. Let’s be honest, it is Oregon). Several exhibitions this month expand upon the social, environmental, and racial justice movements of 2020, centering topics like police violence against Black men and art collaborations with those experiencing houselessness and poverty. Many galleries are still accepting viewers by appointment only, so plan ahead and make a day of it!

Figure sitting on a bed in a room with a window and scattered children's toys
Work by Jon Henry, image courtesy Blue Sky Gallery
Painted multicolored figure against a framed background
Work by Rainen Knecht, image courtesy Helen’s Costume

Bumpy Road
February 14 – March 30, 2021
Helen’s Costume
Address sent upon appointment

Some of Portland’s most exciting art spaces have been found in backyards and private residences. Helen’s Costume, a Montavilla contemporary art gallery based out of a modified domestic dwelling, is no exception. Their latest exhibition, Bumpy Road, features new paintings by Rainen Knecht, plexiglass photo-objects and a sculpture by Elizabeth Herring, and drawings by Scott Hewicker and D-L Alvarez. The exhibition has just been extended two weeks to allow for additional by-appointment viewings.

illustration of a man in glasses in front of a desk with a face down red book on it. The words "here" appear in the upper right corner. A black semi-circle frames the man.
Work by Pace Taylor, image courtesy Nationale

Pace Taylor: I hear voices from the other room, but I can’t make out the words
March 11 – April 18, 2021
15 SE 22nd Ave (Thursday-Sunday 11 AM-6 PM, Monday 3-6 PM; limited capacity, masks and distancing required)

Portland-based artist Pace Taylor channels a specific feeling of push-and-pull for their upcoming solo exhibition: while humans desire connection, we also lack of full understanding of one another. Taylor considers their experiences as a queer, non-binary, and neurodivergent artist to expand on this idea. The artist also references found images in their drawings in order to give them “new lives,” bringing up themes of belonging and finding safety in the unknown.

A blue image with the phrase "BVRN IT DOWN" with a pedestaled, temple-like structure. Multicolored flames emerge from the roof and the cartello on the front of the structure reads "PIGZ"
Work by Vo Vo, image courtesy Fuller Rosen Gallery

Things that have to do with fire: Vo Vo
February 18 – April 1, 2021
Fuller Rosen Gallery
1928 NW Lovejoy St (Thursday-Sunday 12-5 PM or by appointment; limited capacity, masks and distancing required)

Vo Vo’s powerful solo exhibition, which includes video, print, and large-scale textile banners, channels the social, racial and environmental upheaval that occurred during the summer of 2020. In a call for continued social justice action and solidarity, Vo was guided by the ethics of Black Lives Matter, Antifa and their own background as a radical educator in the creation of this work.

Three people in the corner of a windowed room. One individual lies prostrate across the woman's lap while the other looks on.
Work by Jon Henry, image courtesy Blue Sky Gallery

Jon Henry: Stranger Fruit and Wendell White: Manifest
February 4 – March 27, 2021
Blue Sky Gallery
122 NW 8th Ave (by appointment only)

Jon Henry, a Brooklyn-based photographer and 2020 En Foco Fellow, created Stranger Fruit in response to the murders of Black men by police in the United States. The exhibition includes photographs of mothers with their sons and mothers alone, driving home the gravity of these deaths and their aftermath. In a concurrently-running exhibition, photographer Wendell White’s Manifest documents African American historical objects in U.S.-based public collections. These objects range from slave collars to diaries to human hair, all artifacts from slavery through the Civil Rights era. By photographing and assembling these objects, White finds material evidence of America’s evolving representations of race.

post and lintel structures out of roughly hewn wood shapes in a cement-floored and white-walled gallery
Work by Vince Skelly, image courtesy Adams and Ollman

Vince Skelly and Mariel Capanna
February 12 – March 13, 2021
Adams and Ollman
418 NW 8th Ave (by appointment only)

Concurrent exhibitions at Adams and Ollman showcase Vince Skelly’s expressive wooden sculptures and Mariel Capanna’s scattered, yet harmonious, oil paintings. Skelly, who carves both formal and functional pieces, works reductively, honoring the source material by shaping each form from a single wooden block. Inspired by wood carving’s long history, Skelly also references megalithic dolmens and ancient figurines in his idiosyncratic forms. Capanna’s paintings explore distance, place, and movement, inspired by films, home videos, and slideshows of found photos. She collages compositions by capturing fleeting images on screen, resulting in works that feel fragmented, yet balanced.

quilted image of a market storefront. 24 hours visible in the window
Work by Jeffrey Sincich, image courtesy Stephanie Chefas Projects

Jeffrey Sincich and Josh Stover: Other Environments
March 6-27, 2021
Stephanie Chefas Projects
305 SE 3rd Ave, Suite 202 (by appointment only)

In this two-person exhibition, artists Jeffrey Sincich and Josh Stover create forms of tactility by referencing human interaction with constructed landscapes. Sincich uses quilting techniques in a nod to safety, comfort, and tradition, while Stover’s still-life paintings are inspired by nostalgic interiors, vintage packaging, and children’s illustrations. Sincich’s quilted works are rendered in flat planes of color, playfully referencing business signs with phrases like “50% OFF” and “OPEN”, while Stover’s paintings contain a more subtle interiority and familiarity. With consideration toward vital community businesses and personal spaces, both artists’ references hit home during COVID-19 times.

artwork consisting of green felted forms, a transparency with a gaggle of geese and a gray elevated furniture-like structure
Work by Sung Eun Park, image courtesy Well Well Projects

Pleasant Exchanges: Sung Eun Park and A Glow of Satisfaction
March 6-14, 2021 and March 17-28, 2021
Well Well Projects
8371 N Interstate Ave #1 (Saturday-Sunday 12-5 PM)

Well Well Projects starts March with a solo exhibition by Oregon-based artist Sung Eun Park, showcasing surreal installation works that reflect on mortality in a COVID-impacted world. Later in the month, the gallery presents A Glow of Satisfaction, a group exhibition organized by Park. The show will feature her work alongside works by Madeleine Maszk, Pete Hoffecker Mejia, and Sarah Newsome. A Glow of Satisfaction navigates the experience of identity crises, creating space for the viewer to “acknowledge and communicate with their diverse experiences.”

Image courtesy Gather:Make:Shelter

February 27 – March 30, 2021
906 NW 14th Ave (Fri-Sat 12-4 PM)

Founded in 2017, Gather:Make:Shelter connects those experiencing houselessness and poverty with collaborators in creative professional fields, building relationships and ongoing partnerships through teaching and leadership skill-building. VALENTINE features artwork gifted by local artists to C(3)PO (Creating Conscious Communities with People Outside) villagers who have transitioned to more permanent tiny houses recently purchased by Multnomah County. These artworks serve as housewarming gifts to village residents, who are creating their own valentines in exchange.

black and white graphic with the words "A Critical Conversation"
Image courtesy Eugene Contemporary Art

A Critical Conversation
January 14 – March 21, 2021
245 W 8th Ave, Eugene (by appointment only)

Presented at the ANTI-AESTHETIC art space, Eugene Contemporary Art presents A Critical Conversation as a multi-disciplinary project centering the convergence of art, race and privilege. The project includes a group exhibition, in-gallery printmaking performances, panel discussions, and poetry online at Focusing on distinctly anti-racist art, A Critical Conversation explores identity, privilege, politics, history and place in part by presenting work by BIPOC and white artists in dialog with each other.

view looking up into a tree canopy -- trees have skinny trunks and green leaves
Work by Steve Rowell, image courtesy Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art

Steve Rowell: Uncanny Sensing, Remote Valleys
January 23 – March 28, 2021
Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art

Minnesota-based artist Steve Rowell’s Uncanny Sensing, Remote Valleys considers ecology and post-natural landscapes; the exhibition’s title merges “remote sensing” (acquiring data via remote technology) and “uncanny valley” (the relationship between lifelike objects and human response). Utilizing aerial cameras, air-monitoring sensors, and sound detectors, Rowell compiled field data and media on animal behavior, plant cycles, waste, displacement, erosion, and other components of human-altered terrain. Presenting this documentation in Uncanny Sensing, Remote Valleys, Rowell explores our perceptions and experiences of the environment through technology. The multi-element installation can currently be accessed via virtual tour.

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