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Sunday 09.21.14

 

Friday Links

I'm just about finished with my history piece on Bruce Guenther, who is retiring next month, so far the best thing on him so far was by April at OPB, but I've got a great deal more historical context to add. This isn't just a staffing change at PAM it is an opportunity to examine Oregon's cultural history in an important way.

Finally the long awaited Robert Irwin piece/structure for the Chinati Foundation has been finalized. Looks like Irwin is inverting the structure turning the interior into an exterior with a courtyard and attention to windows.

Verdicts on the Crystal Bridges State of the Art show are in and it is scathing despite praising the only Oregon artist in the show James Lavadour. Peter Plagens calls it in the WSJ, "the world's largest university faculty show". Overall I think it was a good idea but by blunting the edges and not including the more demanding eccentricities that make great art great the curators hamstrung themselves. That PG rating aspect is probably why no Portland artists are in it (Portland has a strong allergy to Walmart too). That said, our lone Oregon representative James Lavadour is a national treasure and we will have an interview soon. It is a common curatorial error in constructing large group shows in that by following the "process" so much it filters out the kind of work that challenges and sparks more meaningful debates.


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Posted by Jeff Jahn on September 19, 2014 at 10:27 | Comments (0)


Tuesday links

I've been traveling but will have a more personal, in depth and detailed look at Bruce Guenther's career (his retirement was the big news yesterday)... we've worked together, sometimes closely over the years so I've got a unique window on what he has meant and will continue mean to Portland's cultural scene (his current Joel Shapiro exhibition is classic classic Bruce). It is a crucial history. Till then here are a few links:

Artnet asks, is the art world sexist and biased? Absolutely.

Tomorrow is ask a curator day on Twitter and PAM is participating, check out their schedule.

Brian Libby's latest Dwell Magazine article on an affordable Portland home.

No Google wont replace museums... but it will alter expectations and perhaps raise the knowledge base?

Check out Anselm Kiefer's studio...


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Posted by Jeff Jahn on September 16, 2014 at 9:45 | Comments (0)


Interview with Joel Shapiro

On the occasion of his latest sculptural work titled "Portland" at the Portland Art Museum I interviewed Joel Shapiro just as he finished installing his latest constellations of parallelograms. For an artist who has been developing a post-minimalist studio practice in an earnest manner amidst an increasingly ironic world, Shapiro continues to investigate the concrete beauty of form and color and the liberating pull of taking a media where it hasn't gone before.

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Installation view of Joel Shapiro's Portland 2014 on view through September 21, 2014 (all photos Jeff Jahn)

VM: Thank you so much for letting me hang out with you today at the Portland Art Museum to talk a little bit about your work and your installation here in the Schnitzer Sculpture Court. You've been a great proponent of post-minimalism for quite a while now and it's amazing to see how fresh this instillation feels - how do you pull that off?

JS: [Laughs] Senility. My theory is, you know, when you're really young you're uninhibited and make wonderful work. As you get more and more mature the work gets perhaps more theoretical - I'm teasing. As you get older it becomes more juvenile again.

... (more)


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Posted by Victor Maldonado on September 13, 2014 at 11:45 | Comments (0)


Friday Links

We will be publishing another big interview Saturday morning but until then here area few links.

First of all, there is a high probability of Northern lights visible in Portland tonight.

Jerry Saltz dives into the Lower East Side.

It is TBA's opening weekend and since their visual art offerings always run the spectrum from good (sometimes great) to resoundingly meh (piles of things, or some writer... writing) I'm not gonna strongly suggest much till I see them (though Jennifer West and MSHR seem like good bets). Other things to see would be Dana Lynn Lewis at Lewis and Clark College and Victor Maldonado's talk at Froelick on September 13 11:00AM (his drone video is likely the best piece on view in Portland right now... it kinda deserves its own room).

Bob and Roberta Smith invite artists to quit making art.

The Brisbane Biennial with a focus on the sublime looks like it delivers.


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Posted by Jeff Jahn on September 12, 2014 at 14:57 | Comments (0)


Ralph Pugay wins Betty Bowen Award

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Ralph Pugay's Chicken Pox Orgy

Congrats to Ralph Pugay for winning the Betty Bowen Award in Seattle. More important than the well deserved prize money (15k) it is heartening since most awards in the Northwest (especially Portland) go to artists that are late-midcareer (from before the change in say 1999-2000), mostly known as educators/community-minders and aren't terribly edgy. Yet it is an influx of such artists to the Portland scene... and are active nationally/internationally that has been instrumental in transforming the city from a sleepier backwater to an artistic hotbed. Back in 2012 Peter Plagens made note of Pugay during a survey visit. His edgy humor is kinda what people think about Portland (thanks to Portlandia)... a place where quirks seem to fester into full blown absurdity. Well deserved, if only all the other regional art awards had similarly sharp teeth and rewarded work that finds the edges.


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Posted by Jeff Jahn on September 11, 2014 at 13:58 | Comments (1)


Monday Links

The final Art Vs. Reality involves art critics and though it is a bit rudimentary I think it is a useful series.



One thing I wish Peter Drew had fleshed out a lot more is the difference between simple opinion and higher levels of comparative connoissuership. For example, there is experience and when applied it can predict the difference between good, better and great work, because art doesn't exist in a vacuum ... though a lot of art schools and low-mid level dealers act like it does or want to treat everything with equivalence (it isn't). I discussed it a bit in this primer to an essay on art criticism I have been writing off and on, but it is crucial to note how not all art writing involves truly critical thinking and comparative discourse. Instead, it typically involves personal allegiances, which are not the same thing (rhetorically any time someone tries to make something personal it means they don't have an intellectual response and I take special joy in demolishing those bunkers of mendacity). On another front a lot of academic art writing would rather supplant the work and replace it with dialogical text, which I find careerist and designed to fluff CV's. Instead, real criticism purposefully acknowledges its diagnostic and separate role from the needs of the artist, presenting institution and genre. Instead, it tests the often presupposed effects and outcomes of the work as well as the overall value of those presuppositions, which always attend any work today. Social media is often a shouting match or a builder of group momentum, which does have its value. Whereas criticism is a long game and I don't see the two making each other less relevant. A strong critic that stands up to the group think and reveals the way it can really miss the boat is very valuable. There aren;t many such critics because there are few platforms these days. PORT is one of them.

Yes, here is a map of a large part of the universe... I don't need to write anything more. If you aren't interested you can't be helped.

Rauschenberg Foundation's artist as activist grants sound inspiring.


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Posted by Jeff Jahn on September 08, 2014 at 12:29 | Comments (0)


Supports/Surfaces links

For at least the past 5 years many of today's would be painters/wall art practitioners have been basically raiding the playbooks written by Supports/Surfaces and Greenberg's Color Field painters (BTW Greenberg's personal collection is at the Portland Art Museum). Both were interested in the structure and delivery of medium, though Surfaces/Supports had a more political underpinnings. The clones tend to make work that looks like tarps or studio drop cloths or what Jerry Saltz described as Zombie Abstraction. The original stuff was way better and isn't about playing what I call the, "false humility of medium card."

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Surfaces/Supports at Canada

Lately, Surfaces/Supports have received a lot more attention including Yesterday's article in Art in America by Raphael Rubenstein and an earlier one by Hyperallergic.

I'd like to see today's would be surface-supporters get a bit more ambitious because knowing the past, not just for its style... but its rigor should be on any painter's must research list.


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Posted by Jeff Jahn on September 05, 2014 at 11:33 | Comments (0)


First Thursday Picks September 2014

If you really know the Portland art scene... you already know that the new season really starts in August (mostly in alt spaces and University galleries.) We know this place better than anyone else and here is what you shouldn't miss for September in the Pearl District.

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Victor Maldonado's Doug Fir

It started a few years ago but the arch affable, talented and very bright Victor Maldonado (yes he writes for us) has been revamping his work to outwardly question the visible/invisible aspects of the Mexican immigrant experience. Since gaining his citizenship last year he has finally given himself permission to go Mexi-Amercan Beuys on lilly white Portland Oregon by negating his skin and embracing ludicrous stereotypes (in a way that strangely isn't attention grabbing). He calls it Mad Mex for the way the Luchador masks grant freedom in the constriction they require... call it cultural camouflage. The gloves are off, the mask is on. Let's see what Maldonado can do?

Lucha | August 26 - September 27
First Thursday Reception: September 4 till 8:00PM
Froelick Gallery
714 NW Davis



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Jenene Nagy's Pavillion

Onetime Portstar Jenene Nagy is making some gorgeous work these days and her latest, titled "Brilliant" mines the world of subtle values, shades and nuanced perceptions recalling the likes of Dorthea Rockburne and Robert Irwin all on a works on paper format that has become increasingly distinct.

Brilliant | September 2 - 27
PDX Contemporary
925 NW Flanders


...(more)


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Posted by Jeff Jahn on September 03, 2014 at 18:11 | Comments (0)


Interview with Michael Lazarus

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Michael Lazarus, who earlier this Summer had a solo show at Participant in New York (photo Christine Taylor)

Jeff Jahn: I've been following your work for years. Before you moved to Portland actually and it is such a great opportunity to talk to you because I'm not certain that all that many Portlanders actually know your work... even though you've had 2 shows here already. Things can be oddly closed or at least inattentive sometimes so I suppose the best way is to get some of your initial background and find out how you came to art? At PORT we try to be the welcome wagon or greeter for the Portland Art Scene... besides I think you are one of the very best artists in the city.

First question, what brought you to art?

Michael Lazarus: Well I drew a lot when I was a child. I had a natural ability for it. But in retrospect when I became an early teenager I got better and better. More skilled and more skilled. I also got really disillusioned with it and now I can see it was because everything I was doing was essentially copying. I was copying photographs and I was copying comic books. Even the things I drew from observation were copying the things I observed rather than including an expressive aspect and I stopped around 13. I just stopped. Then later, still a teenager, we lived in Miami and I was in a huge public high school and the school system wasn't so great. I wasn't real happy there and I had to take an elective. So I thought, "ok Ill take art," because I knew I could do it. But I didn't want to be in the beginning art class, I wanted to be in the best one... (more)


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Posted by Jeff Jahn on September 01, 2014 at 11:45 | Comments (0)


Friday Links

We will have not one but two interviews for you later this holiday weekend but till then here are a few links to keep you connected:

For the Folkstone Triennial one artist is burying gold bars on the local beach. It seems like such a natural stunt art piece for an 'ennial and the Robin Hood element is undeniable if potentially unseemly.

Are Twitter and Tumbler feeds putting cultural sites in Syria at risk? A big reminder as to what "iconoclast" truly means.

Onetime Portlander Miranda July starts an an Instant messaging service, and yes PICA is its node locally.


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Posted by Jeff Jahn on August 29, 2014 at 10:51 | Comments (0)


Peter Campus at Linfield

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Linfield's gallery just keeps giving us the strongest programming of any college gallery in Oregon, this time with an exhibition by video art pioneer Peter Campuscalled Isthmos. Campus' work is grounded in a background in cognitive psychology and the golden era of film, which in his hands unexpectedly turn the video experience into an exploration of boundaries between self and the revealed otherness of perception. His latest works onm view at Linfield have as much to do with Edward Hopper's landscapes and Claude Monet's haystacks as they do with digital technology as a mediator of sensation and experience.

We will have a fantastic and intellectually ambidextrous interview on PORT soon but till then you can check out this essay by Bill Viola on Peter Campus (which one could say is possibly more about Bill Viola than Campus but that's typical of artist essays).

Peter Campus | August 25 - September 30
Artist Talk: Wednesday, August 27, 6PM, reception following
Linfield Gallery | Linfield College
900 SE Baker st., McMinnville, OR


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Posted by Jeff Jahn on August 26, 2014 at 12:16 | Comments (0)


Monday Links

We are still finishing up 3 different interviews at the moment but till then here are some links:

This Adrian Scheiss show should give painters and fans of painting something to chew on.

Artists reconstructing architecture to reveal the Arab now. Interesting...

German artists get their white flags back from atop the Brooklyn Bridge, revealing how TENSE Americans are and how RELAXED Germans seem to be comparatively. (what's with that?) File under, odd and not entirely compelling art that creates an interesting international incident.

Some pretty bad historic building redevelopments in England (well the slug is ok)... token facade fetishing is one of the worst architectural sins.


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Posted by Jeff Jahn on August 25, 2014 at 10:07 | Comments (0)


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