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Thursday 08.11.05

« Takashi Kato and Randell Sims | Main | Vladmir at Dunes »

Bend it like Bocci, Boyle and Durost

Ryan Boyle's The Greenhouse Effect

"Bent" as a show title might refer the fabrication process, the artist's intention or to their determination but I'm fairly certain its just there to keep troublesome art critics from inserting their typically unrelated digressions.

At least Bent is a red herring chosen by the artists. Actually, Bent is really just an excuse to see three of Portland's best young installation artists, Chandra Bocci, Ryan Boyle and Jesse Durost.

In a scene that includes more experienced installation artists like Bruce Conkle, Matthew Picton, Laura Fritz, David Eckard, Amanda Wojick, T.J. Norris, Bill Will, Port's own Katherine Bovee and Aili Schmeltz etc... there is a lot of serious competition in PDX's close knit art scene.

The first artist, Ryan Boyle makes effective use of space with The Greenhouse Effect. It's comprised of what appears to be late 19th early 20th century utilitarian buildings. They could be stables, canneries, granaries, prisons or gas chambers... it is difficult to say. Boyle gets points for his choice to bridge the space between the wall and a structural support column too.

Inside these purposeless but utilitarian looking buildings are piles of paper circles that are made by paper hole punchers. The effect is a vague miasma similar a twilight zone episode. One has to ask, where are all the people?


The overall sense is somber and the mostly linear buildings are interconnected, giving evidence of industrious human activity that seems to have killed off its inhabitants. Still, the work's connection to environmental disaster and human activity through global warming is more than a tad heavy handed here and a different title would have shown a bit more sophistication. Then again these are heavy handed times, I'm just not certain it serves the art in the long run? Let's see where this develops.

Notable in the context of Portland, Boyle's sprawling complex doesn't have much appeal to developers… who wants a loft in what seems to be an agrarian prison/factory complex?


The second artist, Chandra Bocci is a Portland legend. Her last outing at Haze Gallery featured an amazing 70+ foot long rainbow made of otter pops and a pre-consumer waste yellow mustard packet road was impressive and hard to top.

This new piece Wash is more design heavy like her core sample work "Splat" and incorporates an aerial support from the ceiling she pioneered at The Best Coast show.

Although a technical refinement of previous works and less reliant on cuteness, Wash seems unfinished and in fact its engineering considerations did present a time constraint on the artist. It is still pretty good, but we've been spoiled.

Spatially, Wash sits in the corner and the muted blue gray color scheme seems listless without more physical bravura. It's good but too design heavy, and lacks the cool postconsumer popsploitation of her installation at Haze or her Gummi Big Bang. Bring back the pop and combine the new engineering techniques.

Wash isn't bad but Bocci is true virtuoso who can and will do more… the Whitney and others have sniffed around her door and some institution should take a chance. The Haze show piece Bubble Speak would have outclassed most everything at Greater New York and Bocci has grown since then.

The last portion of Bent is Jesse Durost's Pop Mantra. More simplistic in execution than the other two pieces in Bent, it succeeds the most.

The piece consists of hundreds of convex mylar rectangles hanging by monofilament line from the ceiling. Lit from the top, it's a wonderful design, although I find the myriad of pop culture phrases written on each square like, "protect yourself" and "I cant take this," to be unnecessary. Like Boyle's work, this is a case of concept poisoning the work. In this case it's only partial because there is a tendency to want to read the phrases as a kind narrative… similar to magnetic poetry on refrigerator doors only less successful because it doesn't allow participant interaction.

The installation is a beautiful, fugal construction of light and words but would have been more successful if it used just one repeated phrase or two. This is doubly true since the sound element of the piece is so beautifully monotonous with its low sonorous rumbling. Despite its flaws Pop Mantra is an impressive, delicate work and the best reason to visit Bent.

Overall, I think all these excellent installation artists are spoiling Portlanders and it is becoming a crime that no institution has surveyed the stars in the strongest genre of work being done in this bustling art city.

The good news, galleries are emerging that give shows to these excellent artists. Durost has already shown with Motel and I expect/know others will follow him into Portland galleries. The late great Linda Farris of Seattle represented installation artists and simply leased works to collectors for a monthly fee. Portland galleries could arrange similar opportunities for artists. There are definitely enough new luxury condos.

Located at 207 SW Pine
Exhibition viewing hours • 1 to 6p •Tuesday through Sunday • Through August 21

Posted by Jeff Jahn on August 11, 2005 at 22:42 | Comments (0)


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