Portland art blog + news + exhibition reviews + galleries + contemporary northwest art

recent entries

Early September Links
Labor Day Weekend Picks
Museumy Links
Wendy Given at Vernissage
Mid August Links
Grace Kook-Anderson in Conversation
Portland Art Adventures
Early August Art News
August must see picks
End of July News
Alia Ali's Borderland at Bluesky
Mid Summer Reads

recent comments

Double J



Book Review
Calls for Artists
Design Review
Openings & Events
About PORT

regular contributors


Tori Abernathy
Amy Bernstein
Katherine Bovee
Emily Cappa
Patrick Collier
Arcy Douglass
Megan Driscoll
Jesse Hayward
Sarah Henderson
Jeff Jahn
Kelly Kutchko
Drew Lenihan
Victor Maldonado
Christopher Moon
Jascha Owens
Alex Rauch
Gary Wiseman



Guest Contributors
Past Contributors
September 2018
August 2018
July 2018
June 2018
May 2018
April 2018
March 2018
February 2018
January 2018
December 2017
November 2017
October 2017
September 2017
August 2017
July 2017
June 2017
May 2017
April 2017
March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005

contact us


Contact us






powered by


Movable Type 3.16

This site is licensed under a


Creative Commons License

Wednesday 02.22.06

« Mexterminator vs. the Global Predator | Main | Ghosttown is Everywhere, Especially New York »

Hanging Judge: quick and dirty reviews

This is the last weekend for a few worthy shows that you might want to check out. Here is a flurry of short reviews to help you decide.

Rae Mahaffey,Concentric IV (2006)

Rae Mahaffey's latest show at Laura Russo Gallery continues her fascination with overwhelming pattern, neoplasticism and trompe l'oeil wood grain effects… somewhere in the realm of David Reed meets Victor Vaserly. The best works are the most densely patterned and we would like to see her execute something on a grand scale. The safer pieces look like they were created to suit the typical ideals espoused by new condo owners in the Pearl District. Buy the ones that confound any eye instead, they are nautilus machines for your eyes.

Yes, Rae is one half of the Mahaffey Print Studio, which just completed an excellent project with international political-art luminary Hans Haacke called Mission Accomplished, contact the Liz Leach Gallery for info.


Shin Tanaka's first solo show at Compound
is not to be missed. His army of T-Boy paper figures showcase the power of t-shirt and sneaker design like a mass of terracotta warriors from some imperial grave, 'cept of course the empire is one of design and these figures brilliantly complicate the line between fine and applied art, prototype and finished piece. Rather inexpensive too at only $85 for the big-uns.

evening tracks.jpg
Craig Payne's Evening Tracks

Portland Modern at the newly relocated PAC boasts a lot of good work, the best of which are by TJ Norris and Craig Payne. Norris has been reviewed here recently but Payne sneaks into industrial locations and shoots incredibly delicious looking color shots of probably toxic facilities (more Hopper in feel than Burtynsky). This conflation of food consumption and consumption of natural resources would be boring if it weren't so wonderfully executed. The show as a whole is a mess though. It's poorly scaled to the space and a tad pottery barnish. Why use this terrible carpeted and bourgeoisie as hell space when you also have access to gloriously cool industrial roughness in back?

Also, at Portland Art Center is Arcy Douglass' Barge. This show tries to do too much and gets confused while trying to make paintings act as installation art. It simply takes more than a few wheels to make paintings act like an installation and besides the barge itself is just a half finished movable wall. Instead of the institutional critique of Jim Lambie it looks like a half-finished yet over-hung show. That said… some of these paintings are very well done... a massive scaled conglomeration of Cy Twombly and Anselm Kiefer. My suggestion, take all the paintings out of this show but the wonderful one you first see on the barge. Then light the lone work dramatically in the cavernous space… that might be something. What is it with the Portland Art Center hangs this month? You are being watched so closely, don't settle for iffy look'n shows.

Actually, that goes for all would be institutions. For example, I can't for the life of me understand why most every 501.3c institution that partners with Portland Modern somehow lessen the good work PM does with iffy presentations (but gallery spaces like ogle and 114 do a good job). Grass roots level art institutions should adopt a motto like Google, "do no evil," … the bigger institutions are better equipped to dole out evil anyways! (but of course we love the necessary evil that museums do). OK let's just note that Portland's scene is a great deal more sophisticated than its institutions and this has manifested in the artists being intolerant of bad hangs. It's a nice development.

Along those lines I thought Chas Bowie's photography at Chambers was his best to date but the hang just doesn't cut it. The matte photos on white paper set flush against the matte white walls all cramped are distracting… cut out half the work, float the photos with pins, set up some rhythm, address scale and suddenly you've got a great show. LeAnne Hitchcock's photos fare much better, in fact the show is completely sold out. Let's just say that in the visual arts presentation matters… hell even Duchamp had an eye, despite the fact he purposely sought to undermine it.

Judy Cooke's Typewriter

Last but not least check out Judy Cooke at Elizabeth Leach. The stars of the show aren't the paintings, which are the best she's done since her canvas tarps, instead it's the sketches. Works like Typewriter, are so unfussy and well done (a hint of Klee and early Ellsworth Kelly) that I'd really like to see her do these as larger scale pieces. Will Judy go raw again?

Posted by Jeff Jahn on February 22, 2006 at 23:01 | Comments (2)


It's rather obvious that the Portland Art Center Annex space isn't ideal for exhibiting work - ugly carpeting, beige/gray cement walls, etc. It should be noted, however, that the use of this space is strictly temporary as the Art Center works to build out the rest of the building. Rather than spending their resources (time, labor, and money) on renovating a space that will not serve the center long-term, they are focusing on the larger goals of the building and institution. It makes perfect sense. It also explains why Douglass' piece is on wheels and titled 'Barge.' As the back areas of the Art Center undergo construction over the next few months, 'Barge' can move about the space in ways that traditional work cannot.

Your bias toward 'gloriously cool industrial roughness' is apparent, but you have yet to present a compelling argument for why an unfinished industrial space is less distracting to art viewing and installation than the space currently used by the Portland Art Center.

Posted by: MB [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 24, 2006 12:46 PM

Au contraire mon frere, the argument is there.

The the ugly biege carpeted space could be configured to look and work a lot better while spending few if any resources. When you are being judged on every move you make it's very important to send the right signals... otherwise it is a missed opportunity.

I simply point these things out publicly so something can be done. Hundreds of private citizens have walked in, made up their minds and walked out. Many of the more sophistcated ones note what I note and that hurts. Also, I just made an academic point about the industrial space because construction hasn't begun yet.

The real issue is the "beige space" lacks a hang that is sensitive to its constraints. Many of the artists felt similarly. PORT is dedicated to such noting such details.

The barge as a pragmatic solution is fine in theory. The problem with it now is it seeks to analog a finished room clumsily. That hang is just a retatement of conventional ideas seeking to be unconventional. Im certain it will be improved upon in its next configuration. I have a lot of faith in Arcy, he's a bright artist and talented (it's a great learning process and opportunity PAC is providing). I like the idea of this improving as the space gets changed... you live, you hang, you learn.

...the thing is in the visual arts you will always be judged.

Posted by: Double J [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 24, 2006 02:24 PM

Post a comment

Thanks for signing in, . Now you can comment. (sign out)

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)

Remember me?

s p o n s o r s
Site Design: Jennifer Armbrust   •   Site Development: Philippe Blanc & Katherine Bovee