February in Portland has been filled with a number decent quality to strong shows. It's been a weird month and the combination of seemingly relentless drizzle has
been broken up with unbelievably gorgeous, sunny days
where Mt St. Helens and
Mt Hood gleam off in the distance like a giant white dog food bowl and a
giant shark tooth respectively.
Stephanie Robison at Tilt Gallery
Thus, the shows have serious visual fireworks to compete with. Also, it must
be said none of the big solo shows have the punch that the big months May, June,
September and October often have in spades. Still, for the first time in years
though the Everett Station Lofts
and cafes rather than the numerous would be
institutions that keep popping up had the strongest block of shows outside of
the Pearl District, indicating another new wave of talent has hit the scene.
Let's just say Stephanie Robison's "Paper Fences" at the new Tilt
sets a bar for these would be institutions who continue to fundraise
with never ending art auctions. Still, despite the work in "Paper Fences"
being professional, the final product amounts to promising mixed results.
Robison's installations are derived from illustrations and this is both a strength
and weakness to the work. It seems too compact, planned and anecdotal like something
in a department store window. For installation art they just feel a tad discreet
here but she's definitely talented and if the installations get a little less
precious and cloying and replace it with mystery she's got something.
That said, "Paper Fences" is an auspicious start for the Tilt Gallery
and while talking with co-director Jenene Nagy I mentioned that quality means
a lot more than bad shows in giant spaces. Nagy gave me a quizzical look and
stated, "doesn't everybody know that." I wish
Andrew Myers at Ogle
Another solid effort was at the Ogle Gallery (also in the Everett Station Lofts
block). It features Andrew Myers and Holly Andres as part of the Portland
publication's exhibition program. Andres photographic work is just
the sort of Gregory Crewdson lite work one see's at every art fair but Myers
is someone special. His moody, large scale drawings of heads and birds definitely
have psychological punch. Birds are typically symbols of freedom, risk and morality.
Also, these birds definitely seem to grow out of the human heads much like Athena
springing from the head of Zeus. Art in America
reviewed these last year and
I agree, this is some of the strongest drawing I've seen in years. I want to
see a solo show of new works from Myers but until then check this out. Sequential Gallery in the ESL
Also in the Lofts the new Sequential Gallery will highlight comic book art
putting the art scenesters who think they are comic book artists to shame. The
current show, "Tales of Hotrod Horror
," was dedicated to three artists
, Sean Hemak and Justin Nitz) who recently published in graphic
novel of the same name on cackling imp press. I like how the gallery has been
painted to look like sequential frames with heavy black on the support beams.
Nearby at Backspace, there was Joshua
who has some interesting photos of people in their bedclothes. The
young men and women in these shots vary a great deal between actually looking
like they are asleep to just faking it. Some of this is just too typical, but a few rise above the fray. In fact I was surprised to notice one of the best shots is of
a PORT staffer but I'll let you figure out which one. Amusing how people look
more angelic when asleep. Also, Backspace basically creates a sprawling exhibit every month further highlighting the lack of need for this from would be institutional plans.
Lastly, at Anna Bananas [on NW 21st between Overton and Northrup] coffeehouse
a mini retrospective of Jennifer Rhoads' paintings is on display, she curated
one of Core Sample's best shows, Flush,
back in 2003. She's real good and the
Richard Tuttle-ish one is masterfully done. It just goes to show that a serious artist can make even less than exemplary conditions look coherent, seek this out.
...and what "would be" institutions might be inferred herein?
wherever the shoe fits
and there are plenty... my point is simply, well presented shows are what we should expect and these smaller privately run exhibition spaces seem to have the right idea. I'm giving these shows credit for a job well done.
Agreed. Did you happen to catch the show at Rake?
yeah I saw it... and I told them what I thought in person because they asked.
They just sent me an email about their mission but Ill wait to see how they manifest it next month. Words are cheap.
have you seen the past few shows at valentine's?
yup saw the current Yeti one... a group show. I really wanted to focus on solo or 1-3 person shows in this post. Big group shows are inherently messy affairs... even the Ovitz collection show at Reed.