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Andy Warhol retrospective interview with Richard Axsom
Wednesday Links
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Rothko pavillion for PAM's expansion
Organic Encounters
Open This End Panel Discussion and Reception
First links of Fall 2016
September Swing Picks
First Thursday Picks September 2016
Double Difference at Indivisible
Bending Nature, Bamboo at the Portland Japanese Garden
Precipice Fund Round 4

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Monday 10.17.16


Andy Warhol retrospective interview with Richard Axsom

Andy Warhol Prints from the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation at the Portland Art Museum (all photos Jeff Jahn)

The current retrospective at the Portland Art Museum, Andy Warhol: Prints from the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation is the largest of this seminal artist's output ever and should be on the to do list for anyone who can make it. There is breadth and scope here so PORT took a walk through to discuss the exhibition with noted print scholar and curator Richard Axsom, who contributed an essay to the catalog. Like so many Post WWII artists Warhol had mostly drained his work of allegory while introducing popular iconography as a kind of folk or kitsch context. This was something fascists had abused so Warhol's rise as an artist became a rehabilitation of sorts, bringing back iconic secularism without nationalistic jingoism and other subjugation. As the Cold War continued Warhol became became the defacto Pope of Americana, canonizing our pop culture saints and sinners, addressing capitalistic, societal and more underground iconography alike so I was eager to geek out with Axsom on one of the true greats and touchstones of the late Twentieth Century. Speaking as geek myself if we have inherited the Earth in the Twenty-first Century, Warhol is definitely one of our own... a kind of iconographer in chief who created an extended family with his art production.

Jeff Jahn: Welcome to Portland... there is so much here let's do the obvious thing and start the discussion with the early work in this room.

Richard Axsom: Well he was the best known and most celebrated graphic designer in in the late 1950's

JJ: Paid very well for it too

Andy Warhol(detail)À la recherche du shoe perdu, 1955

RA: A huge amount of money and this reflects the directorship that I. Miller gave him to oversee a major shoe campaign. What we see here though wasn't done for commercial promotion. It was done to be a self published artist book for friends. Here is what you might call the... (more)

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Posted by Jeff Jahn on October 16, 2016 at 12:06 | Comments (0)

Wednesday Links

First Brexit, now England is devaluing the importance of art history as a form of education. Not a good sign for the USA where such things have never been taught or valued much, leading to a lack of critical thinking skills.

5 art cliches that have run their course. I agree, limp fabric was DOA years and years ago, anyone who tacks a tarp or dropcloth from the studio floor on a wall is generally not concerned about looking like a derivative hack. Leaning stuff, also weak. Stacks of anything... especially stuff that looks like it was found in a dumpster is also deeply lame. I'll add another, anything grotty looking on top of a wood grained or painted plinth. People, Isa Genzken and Rachel Harrison did this years ago... Rauschenberg, decades ago. Its revival happened almost 20 years ago and caught on at MFA programslike wildfire since. It is done and isnt a bus that artists can catch anymore.

Curator resigns in St. Louis after controversial art hits the wrong notes. Its true the work was tone deaf... but if curators had to resign for that there would be no curators at major institutions. The problem is the way that artists overreach to... (more)

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Posted by Jeff Jahn on October 12, 2016 at 13:35 | Comments (0)

Weekend Picks

It's been a crazy art week filled with press conferences and constant questions about PAM's new Rothko Pavilion expansion but frankly I'm more interested in looking art. I might even do a few studio visits to get back to the source next week. This weekend has some great opportunities to step out though.

Flash-November 22, 1963 with soup cans and flowers reflected

The big event this weekend is Andy Warhol: Prints from the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation at the Portland Art Museum. First, this is a full retrospective and I think the breadth of early work like the blotted ink technique shoes to a pop up book and album covers will give a more intimate personal view of an artist that most immediately associate with Soup cans and Marilyn Monroe. Those are present too but the exhibition does a good job of filtering in social concerns, politics and erotica in a way that goes beyond the celebrity obsessions that defined Pop Culture. In particular an entire gallery space devoted to the entire folio called Flash-November 22, 1963 is eye opening. It throws the entire show into a different relief. The folio has rarely been shown and it is a crucial piece of Americana that combines concrete poetry, political idealism and tragedy. I'll have an interview with scholar Richard Axsom published here this weekend where we discuss it and other works in depth. Warhol is a crucial artist and in Portland we so seldom experience well executed retrospectives that seeing this show is mandatory. What is great about Warhol is his art was all about "accessibility" a trend which has come to even further define the 21st century, yet somehow Warhol's work isn't the spent force of yet another meme, they age well. Overall, with Warhol's close knit cadres of filmmakers, fashion designers, actors and musicians Warhol predates many of the concerns of Millennials, long before they came of voting age. I'll be curious to hear how they and those even younger respond? Warhol came from a living practice of an extended artistic family so the way the work lives today essentially creates an indexed benchmark of the American identity... similar to the way the Greek Pantheon galvanized that culture. There will be a variety of events and films as well.

Andy Warhol: Prints from the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer | October 8, 2016 - January 1, 2017
1st lecture: Collecting Warhol with Richard Axsom and Jordan Schnitzer | October 9, 2-3PM
Film schedule here Beginning October 8th
Portland Art Museum
1219 SW Park Avenue

... (more)

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Posted by Jeff Jahn on October 07, 2016 at 15:10 | Comments (0)

Rothko pavillion for PAM's expansion

Mark Rothko retrospective at the Portland Art Museum 2012 (photo Jeff Jahn)

Major news PAM has announced its long anticipated expansion, featuring an idea that was first suggested by Tyler Green (it was in private but repeated publicly and constantly by PORT since... a Rothko pavilion with works on loan from the Rothko Family collection). PORT has been the biggest champion of this idea and Rothko's legacy for a very long time, even in the face of heavy resistance from Rothko deniers... one simply cannot deny history, which Arcy notably first brought to greater light on PORT.

Here is the Press Release:

"The Portland Art Museum today announced both an expansion that will unify its campus by connecting the Museum’s freestanding buildings, and a 20-year partnership with the children of Mark Rothko, Christopher Rothko, and Kate Rothko Prizel".... (more)

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Posted by Jeff Jahn on October 06, 2016 at 13:08 | Comments (0)

Organic Encounters


Artists who deal with organic or biological forms and concerns are a major theme in Portland's art scene as it acts as an interlocuter between humanity and everything else... a kind of macrocosm in miniature.

Thus, the Organic Encounters residencies at C3:Initiative from 2015–2016 are exciting and will culminate in an eponymous exhibition. A collaboration between c3:initiative and Pulp & Deckle Papermaking the residency artists Ellen George, Laura Foster, Tyler Peterson, and Ryan Woodring utilized handmade paper as a medium to create new works that will be on display.

Organic Encounters | September 30 - November 13
Opening Reception: September 30 6-9PM
7326 N. Chicago Ave (St. Johns)

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Posted by Jeff Jahn on September 29, 2016 at 12:18 | Comments (0)

Open This End Panel Discussion and Reception

Paul McCarthy and Ed Ruscha in Open This End

A few weeks Open This End became one of the most exciting group shows we have had in Portland in months. Partly, this is because it comes from one excellent collector, Blake Byrne, and the work maintains a sharp edge about it. Lately, most group shows of multiple artists in Portland have been pretty bland so everyone should take note. What's more we can see how collecting art that takes risks rather than fill out some comfortable and worn idea (ex. craft = handmade is an intellectual bunt). Instead, collecting something that carries an implicit challenge takes on the responsibilities of what Art with an "edge" demands and therefore occupies a special place between civics and taste. Not all patrons fully participate beyond writing checks... but what a serious and very curious collector like Blake Byrne presents here is something more Portlander's should consider. Yes PADA has been doing collector events for the past year but this one outclasses them all with a panel discussion and reception for an exemplary exhibition with a broad based panel with some serious and very articulate collectors providing additional context.

The panel topic will be: Art Collecting, Philanthrophy, and Ethics with Bob Rennie (principal of the Vancouver BC based Rennie Collection), Jordan Schnitzer (founder, Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation), Barbara Schwan (executive director, The Skylark Foundation), Jane Beebe (PDX Contemporary)

Panel Discussion: "Art Collecting, Philanthrophy, and Ethics" | September 25 4:00PM (reception following panel in Alumni Circle)
Location: Miller Hall 105
Open This End | September 8 - December 11
Ronna and Eric Hoffman Gallery of Contemporary Art
Lewis & Clark College
0615 S.W. Palatine Hill Road

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Posted by Jeff Jahn on September 24, 2016 at 10:07 | Comments (0)

First links of Fall 2016

Well the long expected correction of zombie abstractionist artists has begun (other young artists with absurdly high prices too). Dont get me wrong, there's nothing absurd about a young artist making 25-65k on a painting after only a few shows but it should be rare and by 2014 many zonie abstractionist works were going for 500k+. Only a carefully orchestrated economy produces that effect. I can see 1-3 very special even "exceptional" artists being "worth it", sure that's fine but a hoard of artists pulling down over 100k per painting after only a few shows and a short career... that smells funny. Also, artists who stack some junk on top of other junk with some pastel colors + foam or lumpy clay pots are not any better and art schools are pumping them out in droves (I call it hoarder art and Robert Rauschenberg pioneered The Combine before most of these artists were born). A few months ago this story on the Lisa Cooley Gallery seemed to say it all. Now I'm not applauding any closures or corrections... the Art Life is difficult, even for people whose lives are comparatively easy but when art is treated like an asset class it skews what is created and why. It seems the world has lot of very complicated problems and opportunities to tackle... so we shouldn't be awash in uncomplicated art that is easy on the culture that creates it, but we are. Does that invalidate abstraction? ...of course not (the most simple paintings can complicate any viewer's understanding but why buy some kid out of art school when you can buy a dozen very good Mary Henry works for half as much? The issue is one of scale and depth of understanding and it takes that to have mid level galleries that sell art between $2000-$25000. Most of the greatest works of art were bought in that range initially. Hopefully a return to some connoisseurship will result from this contraction. Of course, the most important, already historically "vetted" art wont be affected by this, which should make the best Gen-X and Millennial artists ask more difficult questions of the art world. I hoping the most sought after art becomes more like wild caught salmon rather than the farmed stuff I've noticed a lot of lately.

On a related note Jim Behrle thinks the art world is trolling you with art that isnt as radical as it presents itself to be. Well, sorta... Institutionally things have gotten very tame in the 15-20 years with curatorial power being ceded to the director's chair. Directors answer to the #'s ultimately ... (more)

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Posted by Jeff Jahn on September 22, 2016 at 16:15 | Comments (0)

September Swing Picks

Lately, Portland's art world has been suffering most of the same "look at this estate sale" art the rest of the world has been subjected to but no more... September gets exciting this week:

Jennifer Steinkamp's Jimmy Carter

There hasn't been much talk about it since somewhat underwhelming festival style glut-art seems to saturate the generalist press... but Open This End is a heavyweight at the Hoffman Galler at Lewis & Clark College and should not be missed. A traveling selection from Blake Byrne's excellent collection, the exhibition isn't just a scattered trophy room of; Warhol, Paul McCarthy, Mike Kelley, Gerhard Richter and Bruce Nauman. It follows several threads of intertwined societal and personal narratives. I think the installation of Jimmy Carter by Jennifer Steinkamp alone should be compelling because it isn't just the same old political art, it is subtle in a way politics usually are not. What's more, Steve McQueen's groundbreaking multi-channel Drumroll video is on display at PAM as part of Open This End as well. There isn't an opening but on September 25th there will be a panel about serious collecting (with serious collectors like Byrne), a practice Portland could have more of.

Open This End| September 8 - December 11
Collector's Panel with Blake Byrne: September 25, 4PM
Ronna and Eric Hoffman Gallery of Contemporary Art
Lewis & Clark College

0615 S.W. Palatine Hill Road

... (more including TBA)

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Posted by Jeff Jahn on September 08, 2016 at 8:36 | Comments (0)

First Thursday Picks September 2016

Though Portland's art scene is one of the few that remains active during the Summer, this year it was mostly a cascade of group shows and frankly almost all of those group shows have been weak on execution for the past 12 months (it takes a lot of care to pull them off and most Portland institutions think more is more and spread themselves amateurishly too thin). So it is exciting that the rains have returned as have the serious solo and duo efforts have as well in September. Here are my picks:

Carol Benson's Regalia at Blackfish

There is an intriguing duo show at Blackfish with Carol Benson's Sewn Constructions and Michael Knutson's Recent Paintings and Monotypes. Both explore some timeworn aspects of abstract wall based work but both seem like they are at the top of their game for more than just one or two works each. The energy these two bring to bear reminds us that Clement Greenberg's personal collection lives at the Portland Art Museum (I think institutionally they may have forgotten... a pity because the local + international scene shows how he does still have legs). In particular, Benson's "physical" recycling of other painters work is intriguing, while Knutson has consistently been one of the West Coast's best abstract painters for decades now.

Carol Benson & Michael Knutson | August 30 - October 1
Opening Reception: September 1 | 6 - 9PM
Gallery Talk: September 10, 1PM
Blackfish Gallery
420 NW 9th

... (more)

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Posted by Jeff Jahn on September 01, 2016 at 16:57 | Comments (0)

Double Difference at Indivisible

Linda Wysong, Hidden Topographies (2016)

Linda Wysong and Linda K. Johnson have been been collaborating and executing co-orbital projects regarding the shifting and layered landscape of Portland for over 25 years. They find gravity in concrete, gravel and paved streetscapes and its roots are indebted to Robert Smithson and Co.'s fascination with the industrial ruins of Passaic New Jersey. Yet unlike their forbear prophets they continually focused on Portland. The result is a bit like running into an old miner who remembers the multiple gold rush times who can regale you with tales of claim jumpers, visionaries and hornswagglers. Except they are not swaggeling any horns. Wysong is a mapmaker at heart, dealing in topographies both mental and physical, Johnson is more of a documentary observer...

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Posted by Jeff Jahn on August 27, 2016 at 11:00 | Comments (0)

Bending Nature, Bamboo at the Portland Japanese Garden


Portland is in the middle of a heatwave and though its hardly anything that would phase Midwesterners or those from Houston (we don't have much humidity) it is still hard for many as air conditioning can be rare. Thus, it is a great time to climb up the West Hills, where it is cooler and check out the latest at the Portland Japanese Garden for Bending Nature. It features, "traditionally trained bamboo artist and craftsman Jiro Yonezawa and Shigeo Kawashima, well known for his community engagement-based art-making" who "will team with Portland artists Charissa Brock and Anne Crumpacker to create work on site. The exhibition is a rare opportunity for visitors to see art situated in three outdoor locations within the iconic Japanese garden. Each of these artists attempts to 'bend nature' in new directions, challenging conventional bamboo craft techniques and forms to reflect the close relationship between nature and ourselves."

Bending Nature | August 20 - October 16
Portland Japanese Garden
611 SW Kingston Avenue

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Posted by Jeff Jahn on August 19, 2016 at 14:14 | Comments (0)

Precipice Fund Round 4


The Portland art scene is under pressure from its own success, which played a crucial role in making the city interesting and attractive (to developers as well as artists). Oddly, most of the visual art presenting institutions have done diddly and or squat to help the plight of artists but one, PICA, saw what was happening and pressed the Andy Warhol Foundation to help. As PORT was hopping up and down PICA was developing the Precipice Fund as a regranting initiative for hard to fund projects and spaces (the very thing that makes Portland an interesting art city... our mid level institutions themselves aren't exactly cutting edge but the alternative spaces often are). Precipice Fund cant do everything but it should be on every artist's radar. The scene will survive but all of Portland's granting and presenting organizations need to look at what they fund/present and why?

The final workshop for developing your proposal is Saturday August 13, 2:30 - 3:00PM at APANO's JAMS (8114 SE Division St, Portland) and 2016's Precipice Fund application process opens on Monday August 15th.

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Posted by Jeff Jahn on August 12, 2016 at 13:28 | Comments (0)

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