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VizArts Monthly: Vibrancy in May

Warmer weather is here - at least for now! Celebrate by heading out to take in some art at any of these enticing offerings.


At this moment, as I write to you from Portland, it is a clear, sunny, 85 degree day. Ah, the sun! Welcome back! (I’m not jinxing it, trying to scare it off by naming its presence–I promise!) As the days grow longer and the sunlight lingers into the evening, nothing sounds better than strolling through the neighborhood, admiring the way that everything seems to come alive. Everything feels bright, vibrant, and oh so colorful. Many of the events this month also celebrate color and vibrancy through direct and formal approaches or through the wonderful textures it can enhance.

Also dear readers, happy Asian American and Pacific Island (AAPI) Heritage month! Since 2009, the month of May has officially been recognized as the month to celebrate the presence, histories, and resilience of Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Island (including Micronesia, Melanesia, Polynesia, and Native Hawaiian) communities. While I’ve included just a few events featuring or curated by Asian American artists in this month’s roundup, it is by no means comprehensive of the incredible and inspiring contributions of AAPI artists, curators, scholars, and organizers to Oregon’s visual arts scene. Hat’s off to you all, thank you for everything you bring to the table!

Work by Yuji Hiratsuka. Image courtesy Augen Gallery.

Recent Work
Yuji Hiratsuka
May 4 – May 27
Augen Gallery
716 NW Davis St, Portland (Tues – Sat 11:30am – 5pm, or by appointment)

Through a series of skillful intaglio prints, Yuji Hiratsuka thinks through multiple complex intersections: first, the material relationships between paper, ink, and the etched copper plates; second, the interplay of of figures and objects in space; and third, the cultural tradition of Japanese Ukiyo-e prints and the imagery of the Western Hemisphere. Color and texture are not shy here, but orchestrated to generate wry satire and emotion in a world that feels surreal but tangible.

Work by Salomée Souag. Image courtesy Nationale.

Fruit of My Past
Salomée Souag
April 21–May 28
15 SE 22nd Ave, Portland (Thurs – Mon 12pm – 6pm)

Fruit of My Past may be Salomée Souag’s first solo gallery exhibition, but chances are high that you have already seen one of her many community murals–from Portland’s Arbor Lodge neighborhood to Hey Love at Jupiter Next to the Living School of Art in Gresham. The Peruvian-Algerian artist and designer originally from Switzerland (but currently residing and working in Portland) reflects on the softness of human connection and the shedding of shame through a new series of neo-transcendental paintings. The poetic, symmetrical forms (rendered using Pacific Northwest-foraged natural pigments and Conté crayon), evoke for Souag an elegant femininity through their form and fluidity. Their presence, then, reclaims space for womanhood that seeks healing and flourishing. 

Work by Emily Jung Miller. Image courtesy Walters Cultural Art Center.

Emily Jung Miller
May 2 – June 23
Shirley Huffman Auditorium Gallery
150 E. Main Street, Hillsboro (Mon – Fri 8am – 5pm)


All Classical Radio James Depreist

Processing the grief of her grandparents’ passing alongside the ongoing ripple effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, Emily Jung Miller has created a series of memorial objects and installations akin to commemorative offerings made of reclaimed materials and fishing gear. Rather than seeking the stoic permanency of traditional monuments, Miller embraces ephemerality with coiled rope baskets and moons of handmade paper embedded with kelp. Her objects are meant to live and breathe with us, cultivating a special space for empathy and kindness through the remembrance of lost loved ones.

Work by Shawn Kee. Image courtesy Raven Makes Gallery.

The Homelands Collection, 3rd Edition
May 11 – June 1
Raven Makes Gallery
182 E. Hood Ave, Sisters (Thurs – Fri and Sun – Mon 11am – 4pm, Sat 10am – 5pm)

Drawing on the traditional Indigenous genre of ledger art, Raven Makes Gallery coordinates a showcase of contemporary Indigenous artists, brought together by a core medium approach: works of art done on original maps of the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. The expansive collection of approximately 90 works embodies what Native American Art Magazine describes as a move to “decolonize the map,” a visual conceptualization of the undoing of settler colonialism’s harsh (and violent) effects. 

Work by Mana Mehrabian. Image courtesy Paragon Arts Gallery.

FROM: TO: | :فرستنده: گیرنده
Mana Mehrabian
April 21 – June 3
East Gallery, Paragon Arts Gallery
815 N. Killingsworth St, Portland (Wed – Fri 12pm – 7 pm, Sat 12pm – 5pm)

Mana Mehrabian explores the precarity of transition through the use of mundane or commonplace materials. Recognizable objects like shipping boxes and computer screens transform into delicate messengers of memory, migration, and the question of home as Mehrabian reconstructs them from unexpected materials. Mehrabian’s visual language is at once minimal yet deeply poetic, expressing a complex intersection of longing and the troubles of merging cultures. 

Image courtesy Sator Projects.

Physical Education Basement Garage
Organized by Takahiro Yamamoto
April 28, 29, May 6, 12
Sator Projects
220 SE Market, Portland

Physical Education Basement Garage (PEBG) brings together an exciting group of artists, organized by Takahiro Yamamoto, in a series of events featuring performance, reading, sound art, film, and more–a casual offshoot stemming from Physical Education. Yamamoto invited participants to mine their art basements/garages (actual, mental, digital, or otherwise) for works that have been long stored, offering them an opportunity to present them for casual public enjoyment. PEBG also coincides with the Portland release of Yamamoto’s new book, NOTHINGBEING, based on the artist’s performance of the same title from last year’s TBA Festival. 


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Work by Jessica Poundstone. Image courtesy Multnomah Arts Center Gallery.

Jessica Poundstone and Leondra Brackett
May 5 – June 10
Multnomah Arts Center Gallery
7688 SW Capitol Hwy, Portland (Mon – Thurs 9am – 9:30pm, Fri – Sat 9am – 5pm)

In two very different but complementary styles, Jessica Poundstone and Leondra Brackett contemplate the sublime beauty of nature through colorful abstraction. Poundstone presents selections from her Superbloom collection, a series of color field prints inspired by extraordinarily abundant expanses of blooming wildflowers after long bouts of rainfall. Brackett presents more intimately-scaled watercolor paintings and books that begin as observational sketches she creates during her hikes and adventures through the Pacific Northwest and Colorado. 

Work by Ellen George. Image courtesy PDX CONTEMPORARY ART.

Slow Gestures
Ellen George
May 3 – 29
1825 NW Vaughn Street, Suite B, Portland (Tues – Sat 10am – 5pm)

Abstract painting has a way of evoking the body–not always literally, but often through a reminder of the way the body moves with the gestures and brush strokes in its creation. Ellen George focuses on this sensitivity and presence of the body in Slow Gestures, a series of paintings and metalpoint on wood panels. A convergence of her daily Tai Chi practice and her studio work, Slow Gestures stands as evidence of George’s moving meditations and focused attention.

Image courtesy Photography at Oregon.

45th Annual Photography at Oregon Exhibition and Auction, Second Exhibition
May 5 – June 1
Gallery at Dot Dotson’s 
1688 Willamette St, Eugene (Mon – Thurs 10am – 5:30pm)

Photography at Oregon (PAO), a nonprofit organization that has been bringing together photography exhibitions and events since 1966, presents a series of exhibitions featuring the work of local and internationally-renowned photographers from Eugene and Lane County, opening its second installment this month. The exhibitions coincide with their annual fundraising auction, with opportunities to bid on any of the entire collection available online until June 30. 

Image courtesy Sitka Center.

Artist Talk: Black Art/Ists Project Resident Talk (via Zoom)
May 4, 4pm – 5:30pm
Sitka Center for Art and Ecology
Online via Zoom and YouTube


All Classical Radio James Depreist

Sitka Center welcomes six artists and practitioners for a collaborative residency this spring with a group conversation. Curated by 2021 resident Intisar Abioto for their current project Black Art/Ists, the cohort of Licity Collins, Silver, Akela Jaffi, Melanie Stevens, Mia O’Connor, and Abioto themself will offer brief presentations of the work as they prepare for their upcoming group residency at Sitka. The talk will be held online via Zoom, and will be recorded and posted to Sitka Center’s YouTube channel.

Installation view of Dark Moves. Image courtesy Cooley Gallery. Photo by Mario Gallucci.

Artist Talk: Fabiola Menchelli & Heather Watkins
May 6, 11:30am
Reed College Chapel, Eliot Hall
3202 SE Woodstock Blvd. Portland

As part of their current exhibition on display at Cooley Gallery, Dark Moves, Fabiola Menchelli and Heather Watkins will discuss their work through a conversation with curator Stephanie Snyder. Dark Moves was designed collaboratively by Snyder, Menchelli, and Watkins. Both artists are deeply interested in sensory and perceptual nuances, especially as they emerge through darkness and shadows. The work is an ethereal study in phenomenology, delighting the senses and toying with perception.

One last thing, as a little bonus! This is technically not in Oregon, however…

Work by Lindsey Costello. Image courtesy Sou’Wester Arts.

What Else is Here?
Lindsey Costello and Erika Callihan
April 14 – June 6
Sou’Wester Arts
3728 J Place, Seaview, WA

Our dear former VizArts Monthly columnist Lindsey Costello in collaboration with artist-friend Erika Callihan presents What Else is Here?, a body of site-responsive drawings, soundscapes, paintings, and textile works while in residence at Sou’Wester Arts. What Else is Here? thinks about the intersection and overlap of rest, trust, Annie Dillard’s writings, and the healing potential of nature. In conjunction, the exhibition also features 8mm diaristic nature films by Costello, screened in the Red Bus Theatre.

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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.


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