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
, Ryan Boyle and Jesse
In a scene that includes more experienced installation artists like
, Laura Fritz
, Bill Will, Port's own Katherine
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
. 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
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
Although a technical refinement of previous works and less reliant on cuteness,
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
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.
isn't bad but Bocci is true virtuoso who can and will do more
Whitney and others have sniffed around her door and some institution should
take a chance. The Haze show piece Bubble
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