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Saturday 05.20.17

 

Weekend Picks

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Clifford Still, PH-405 (1967), private collection @ Portland Art Museum

My first pick is easy, the Portland Art Museum is participating in the National Museum Day today so it is free. There's lots of good stuff like the John Yeon show and Sam Hamilton in the Apex Series but its some of the special guests that are soo absolutely worth a visit. In particular this absolutely fantastic Clifford Still PH-405 from 1967 is an absolute stunner. The painting envelops the viewer like walking into a furnace and the heartwood of a tree at the same time. The surface also has the delicacy of scales on a butterfly's wings. It is sublime and since you have to go through that much dreaded tunnel to get to it the crowds likely wont follow you... The museum really does need to fix that floorplan problem with the Rothko pavilion (City Council members get it together, the Rothkos alone will be the crown jewel of Portland's cultural offerings so it needs to happen somehow).

Portland Art Museum
Museum Day (free): May 20
1219 SW Park



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Another easy pair of picks are the annual PNCA MFA and BFA shows. It has been a crazy year and its always interesting to see how graduates contend. TBH, last year there was a lot of hyper-attenuated neoliberal drivel (some good stuff too)... but I bet this year's graduates will have more of an edge. At least I hope so because we need more radical thinking in this world. Frankly, the status quo for perhaps the last 17+ years has not been working and art should challenge the status quo, especially the art world's status quo (please no more grotty pottery on raw plywood plinths and emptied trashcan contents in piles that are glued together, it is done).

PNCA MFA & BFA thesis shows | May 21 - June 16
Opening receptions: May 21, 6-9PM

MFA @ Falcon Building
321 NW Glisan St, 6th floor

BFA @ PNCA
511 NW Broadway


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Posted by Jeff Jahn on May 20, 2017 at 10:01 | Comments (0)


May Thesis Show Picks

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OCAC's 2017 BFA show

It is that time again, new graduates have their thesis shows and there are often group show aggregations of various school's programs. My consistent favorite of these always seems to be OCAC's BFA graduating class show. I am not sure why this is but every year the BFA grads from Oregon College of Art and Craft just seem to be consistently both more probingly self-aware and actualized than other schools. That said you never want to peak at your thesis show. Perhaps it is because OCAC BFA students are not afraid to show their best (because there is always more when you have technique) or they simply have great teachers. Either way it shows, check it out. I certainly will. *Update: Highlights include Emile Kelly, Paul Cooley, Katrina Kauffman and Williejane Dent.

Fulcrum | May 12-21
Opening Reception: May 12 5-9PM
321 NE Davis



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My other pick is another consistent performer, the joint PNCA+OCAC Applied Craft and Design MFA program. This year, brilliantly titled, "Otherwise Chaos," it seems apt. *Update, there were standouts from: Marisa Garcia, Aaron De Lanty and Diane de Ribaupierre.

Otherwise Chaos | May 12-26
Opening Reception: May 12, 6-9PM
421 NE 10th


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Posted by Jeff Jahn on May 12, 2017 at 12:00 | Comments (0)


Late April Links

I've been traveling and unpacking those sojourns and recently catching up on shows. There will be many articles on the way to round out the month. First though let's catch up.

Sad news, Vito Acconci has died. PORT interviewed this trouble making giant years ago and his last answer is advice all artists should heed.

Look who showed up in the New York Times, Portland's old Appendix gang is going to be moving American Medium to Chelsea. Congrats, we singled them out a very long time ago as ones to watch in this article from 2009 (they had a 5 year run in Portland as an incubator). As for terms like "Post Internet", like other terrible terms see; Minimalism, Postmodernism, Modernism, Cubism, Fauvism and Expressionism etc... its a very weak description of what is going on. More accurately it is the way geek cultures have flourished since the computer age made sharing sometimes obscure interests easier but it predates the internet and is more wholly related to the collateral effects of the computer/information age. Lots of luck as a Chelsea gallery is a very difficult thing to pull off these days if you aren't selling blue chip work. That said its what the art world needs to do.

Then there is the whole mess with the Metropolitan Museum's ouster of its Director. Everyone, everywhere during my travels wanted to talk about this and Vanity Fair did a decent job of unpacking it. Really what happened was the way the Director bled out institutional experience in favor of updating agendas... and there was inter office blowback. It has nothing to do with deficits which the Met routinely runs (its a typical non profit shell game). The thing is the Met was a supreme repository of institutional knowledge (much of it arcane)... yet was moving too fast into new digital interfaces and educational mandates. With encyclopedic museums there is a danger there... to undervalue what it already does well and many such institutions have had similar problems. Basically it is disrespect for one's core competencies and I see it as a moment where the war on expertise (in the guise of edutainment) had an interesting little big horn moment. The problem is further exacerbated as many digitally savvy Gen X and Millenials just don't feel like museums are speaking to them anymore as a front for the 1%. That is a big problem, but I dont think losing core competencies is the right way to go. Charging tourists isnt the right way either... go open source. Simply put, museum's need to be a very physical manifestation of the rich making riches available to all.

Last but not least the Portland Art Museum's Rothko Pavilion plan is causing some friction and Bike Portland covers it. I'm a big proponent of the Rothko Pavilion... it was my idea before PAM ever thought it even possible. Still, I believe this is a good thing. I believe that PAM was making a very understated architectural footprint to avoid stirring these sentiments up but what they needed was a bit more architectural temerity (this isnt a 1% grab of public space since the pavilion would be open to foot traffic). OK tough questions... can Vinci Hamp do a redesign that goes beyond just the basic "museum" dictates and creates something that becomes an amenity for the Park Blocks and casual passers by? Perhaps a more adventurous architect is required? Privately, I have always indicated to PAM's director that this needs to bring the museum and park blocks together as a mixing zone rather than present PAM as a bunker. I just think this site is more complicated than the current design contends with. Yes, addressing these issues will cost more $$$ but I believe the added complexity will help both PAM and the South Park blocks area become something more than what they already are... islands. What is more I'm not certain this needs to be a cyclist's super highway through the museum... that isn't a realistic or sober goal. The current space has some foot traffic and almost no bike traffic... a redesign could be more inviting... perhaps to a rooftop sculpture garden open for free 9AM-PM as a kind of Highline? Perhaps sacrifice the current tunnel? My best advice is PAM needs to be more like a park and less like a museum. That is something very difficult for most museums and boards to understand but in the current political climate being seen as a wealthy fortress isn't what they need. I could also bring some Rothko lore into this take as well (Rothko's worldview was like a lot of Portlanders of today are now). Basically. I believe there is a solution and it will make both the passer by and museum experiences better. Right now as it is the street and museum experiences are bit of a mixed bag and I hope all sides see this as an opportunity. Good can come from the Museum and the public having a strong dialog with realistic goals for once.


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Posted by Jeff Jahn on April 28, 2017 at 10:48 | Comments (0)


Paul Clay at Archer

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Paul Clay's Push/Pull at the Archer Gallery

Archer curator Senseney Stokes is doing great things up in Vancouver Washington. Her Mary Henry micro-spective was perhaps the best solo exhibition of 2016 and now she's tapped Paul Clay for Push/Pull. He is one of the most interesting new media artists in Portland. PORT reviewed Clay's daring Portland Building show in 2014 and I've been waiting for Portland's institutions (frankly slow to support local new media despite being awash in riches) to feature him and others. Interested in the evolution of humanity and technology as well as conscience transference (more common than you'd think), Clay's Push Pull at the Archer has my full attention. He's been one to watch for years. Here's your chance.

For the performance April 13 at 7:00 remember to bring a wifi-enabled smart device + earbuds or headphones.

Push/Pull | April 11- May 6
Opening Reception and Performance: 6-8PM, April 13 (7:00 performance)
Artist Talk: April 19
Archer Gallery
Clark College
1933 Ft. Vancouver Way, Vancouver Washington


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Posted by Jeff Jahn on April 12, 2017 at 12:56 | Comments (0)


The Rodin experience at PAM

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One of The Burghers of Calais, Jean de Fiennes, Clothed (center right)

by Laurel Reed Pavic

An enormous headshot of Auguste Rodin greets visitors to the Portland Art Museum's Rodin: The Human Experience. His face is wall-sized, bearded, with crinkly, twinkly eyes; it is everything we want to see in our artistic geniuses. The show is part of a celebration of the sculptor's work 100 years after his death in 1917. The sculptures are all from the Iris and Gerald B. Cantor Collections and part of Portland Art Museum's drive to "bring the world to Oregon" in the words of Director and now Chief Curator Brian Ferriso.

The works in the exhibition are a fascinating smattering from Rodin's extensive oeuvre. The exhibition begins in the atrium with four studies or reprisals for Rodin's "breakout" commission for The Burghers of Calais (1884-1895) and two Caryatids. A cast of Jean de Fiennes, Clothed anchors the atrium grouping and provides an opportunity for a wall tag to introduce Rodin's famous public monument. The Monumental Head of Jean d'Aire to the left is also inspired by The Burghers though the head wasn't modeled until... (more)


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Posted by Guest on April 09, 2017 at 11:02 | Comments (1)


First Thursday Picks April 2017

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Tabitha Nickolai, Vorpal Cuck-Knives (2017)

Costumes, Reverence and Forms features eight artists from two river cities (Portland and Philadelphia) together in both cities. There has been a year's worth of curatorial exchanges involving two institutions and six curators fostering new connections. The exhibition itself is more of a sampler than a survey. Costumes, Reverence, and Forms features artists; Avantika Bawa, Tabitha Nikolai, Jess Perlitz, and Ralph Pugay (all from Portland) as well as Marianne Dages, Beth Heinly, Anna Neighbor and Kristen Neville Taylor (from Philadelphia). For quite some time costume and guise have been an important way to subvert cultural norms and to impose new ones so this exhibition should be of great interest to anyone who has been paying attention

Costumes, Reverence and Forms | April 6 - June 3, 2017
First Thursday: April 6, 6:00-8:00PM
PNCA
511 NW Broadway



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Brother sister team Merridawn and Georgie Duckler present Roboyat: Omar Khayyam's "Rubaiyat" Reimagined. Promising cacophony and the "anti-topical" this looks like a must. The artists state, "We are interested in ideas of translation, the ephemeral and daily image, what lasts and doesn't, the lineages that keep poetry and visual art alive, in science and in language as a visual medium."

Roboyat: Omar Khayyam's "Rubaiyat" Reimagined | April 4- 29
Opening reception: April 6, 6-9PM
Lecture: April 9, 7PM
Blackfish Gallery
420 NW 9th



... (more)


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Posted by Jeff Jahn on April 06, 2017 at 9:56 | Comments (0)


Japanese Garden's Cultural Crosssing sets the bar

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Kengo Kuma's Japanese Garden expansion transcends architecture (all photos Jeff Jahn)

Architecture is the applied art of buildings that create and reshuffle the dictates of site and civilization. True architecture elevates the discussion/experience, going beyond mere shelter. When done right it becomes a meditation upon both human activity and the persistence of the site. True, most public architecture is just a thinly veiled ploy for attention, a way to organize cultural energy and perhaps focus funds upon itself but it need not be narcissistic. That said the Portland Japanese Garden's "Cultural Crossing" expansion certainly isn't vain or even stunt-like so much as an innovation driven by necessity. With over 400,000 visitors last year alone (despite being closed part of that time) the tiny and fragile garden was on the precipice of losing what made it special, being a contemplative atmosphere devoted to the Japanese way of executing exquisite excellent experiences. When done right public architecture ennobles and inspires the community it serves and as an excellent first US project by one of the world's greatest architects it certainly should perform that function.

The Portland Japanese Garden's solution was to hire architect Kengo Kuma who detailed how he would create a satoyama or mountain village with PORT in an interview years ago. It was a stunning inversion, create a tiny village that would expand the cosmopolitan exploration of two cultures already engaged in a vigorous conversation.

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the new village courtyard

Portland and the Japanese have had a mutual infatuation with each other that goes back over a century... all the way back to the 1905 World's Fair in Portland. Today, Japanese tourists flood Portland's streets... and replicate our food scene at home. Likewise, Portland's artists and cognoscenti travel to and study in Japan frequently and you can see the influence in their work. The cultural exchange in art, food, music and geek-craft is intense. Notably, Portland also boasts of having the finest Japanese Garden outside its native lands so it makes sense that this amplified cultural exchange would find its way to that site. Yet, what they have done is so much more, its the story of a small institution using a 33 million dollar project to grow into a new role... a kind of embassy of understanding and exchange. The fact that it does so by creating a cutting edge version of a medieval village, one which re-imagines feudal castle walls (typically barriers) into an invitation gives us an idea of just how innovative this project is. The buildings with their new shoji screen system echos the vertical army of Douglas Fir trees on site is poetry in the guise of place making. I've never experienced buildings so at home within a massive stand of trees. Appropriately the construction projects are not 100% complete (mostly roofs, which are living gardens themselves).

It could have gone wrong so easily, but instead... (more)


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Posted by Jeff Jahn on April 01, 2017 at 6:01 | Comments (0)


Not NCECA picks

Nothing against the NCECA conference (I've collected ceramics myself since college) but like many arts people I crave variety. That said I am looking for a new coffee mug, which shouldn't be impossible in Mudtopia Portland. Take all that into account and here are my weekend picks:

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Sam Hamilton, Apple Pie (Still)

For her inaugural exhibition at PAM as its newest curator of Northwest Art Grace Kook-Anderson has chosen Sam Hamilton, an artist who has recently made his home in Portland, originally hailing from New Zealand. Titled Standard Candles... the films mark the artists first show in Portland. It is also incredibly significant as Portland really has done a poor job institutionally of paying attention to newcomers... the very people who have redefined this now extremely vibrant and internationally active art city. What's more you will see there is a long run for the exhibition. I think this is a good thing as the APEX series and CNAA's have languished somewhat by not having very clear differentiation programmatically. Hamilton, refreshingly considers himself non disciplinary and shows internationally... another problem the museum has had is with being far too traditional in terms of disciplines and regional identification as belonging to certain institutions or cliques when the vibrancy comes from excellent artsist who just came here to work and show abroad. Basically, artists just dont work/think in proscribed ways (institutions do, often for for grant writing/funding purposes... understandable but it is 2017).

Standard Candles | March 25 -August 12, 2017
Portland Art Museum
1219 SW Park





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Taj Bourgeois



In true Portland fashion this is a closing party For Taj Bourgeois' hardflip on a sad dog exhibition and a community meetup. It features short films by Bourgeois as well as a community canvas (bring your art supplies or just yourself). The artist also wants you to, "feel free to bring your zines, patches, prints, whatever to share with others and for trades." Taj is one of the most interesting short form video artists in Portland and the Everett Station Lofts has long been a den for interesting developing artists so check it out.

Closing Party: hardflip on a sad dog | Taj Bourgeois
March 24, 6-10PM
Funeral Diner
625 NW Everett #103


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Posted by Jeff Jahn on March 24, 2017 at 13:52 | Comments (0)


Disjecta reboots with Shell

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Disjecta (behind Bunyan) reboots

The interesting news in Portland today is that Blake Shell is to be the new Director of Disjecta. It is a bit of a surprise as she hasn't been at the Art Gym for that long (though her programming felt less like her previously excellent work at the Archer Gallery, perhaps over the shoulder oversight?). Regardless congratulations are in order to Blake Shell.

Clearly the institution needed a shift and we covered Disjecta with a critical eye since its inception.

The choice of a locally based director is interesting since they seemed to be casting their nets afar... (more)


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Posted by Jeff Jahn on March 22, 2017 at 11:47 | Comments (0)


Monday Links

No, we don't need celebs to give context to art coverage. It seems harmless but considering the sensational nature of most every other art damage event story it just seems supercilious.

Yes this President (for now) plans to defund the NEA and seemingly every other useful organ of the federal government. Not surprised, perhaps if the country survives all this we can remember how pathetic the Federal support of the NEA already is? Just a semi positive thought... let's remember the lack of things like the nuanced thinking fostered by the arts that lead us to this situation.

ArtFcity reviews the latest Whitney Biennial. Of course it can't possibly capture the grist of the moment, no major museum has the kind of guts that takes but unlike the surveys we've seen of Oregon art it is engaged that there is a certain dissonance. Jerry Saltz wrote about it too ofc. Overall, I see these shows as more of a measuring stick for the calibrating how museums serve their audiences rather than a real state of the art... big festivals seem to be more in tune... perhaps it is the museum industry itself where the curators have lost intellectual edge to the mediating imperatives of directors? The Whitney still has some teeth and that is important. It doesn't have to be perfect but all museums need to find the tensions of the age. I've been thinking of a show that can do what the museums just can't.


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Posted by Jeff Jahn on March 20, 2017 at 12:28 | Comments (0)


Art & Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-thon

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It is a strange fact but Wikipedia editors tend to be men and the site tends to under represent women. For example, it is very true of this wiki on Portland art ecology, despite the fact that a majority of curators, gallerists and critics in Portland are women. To combat this PICA is hosting another of these edit-a-thons and they ask that you RSVP. Also, considering that a majority of the artists, curators, gallerists and critics in Portland are women I also find it odd that men tend to get gallery representation and awards more than the lades do. BTW Last year, every review PORT published was of a female artist and if you ask me who the 10 strongest artists in Portland are 7 of them will be ladies.

Art & Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-thon | March 18, 10AM
RSVP
PICA (west side)
415 SW 10th Ave, Suite 300


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Posted by Jeff Jahn on March 17, 2017 at 13:54 | Comments (0)


Post Winter Artist Opps

The Torpedo Factory Art Center has an interesting call for digital and internet based art in their Target Gallery for an exhibition called Glitch. There is a cost of $35 but unlike most of these sorts it seems promising. Deadline: March 26, 2017

The Los Angeles Valley College Art Gallery is accepting submissions. Portland tie-in is that it is being run by Jenene Nagy (who did a lot for PORT in the early days as our first dedicated business manager) so it's worth a shot. $25 Deadline: June 5, 2017

The Henry Moore Foundation has a variety of grants, many are research oriented. Deadline: May 15, 2017


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Posted by Jeff Jahn on March 14, 2017 at 8:34 | Comments (0)


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