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Sunday 04.30.06

« Tokyo Flow | Main | Kathryn Van Dyke at PSU »

Around the Web: PAM Directorship, Hilda Morris and Judd Auction

Donald Judd (1928-1994) Untitled, 1989 from Christies upcoming auction

Things have been busy in Portland and we've been behind on pointing to other publication's good efforts, here are a couple of important things to check out if you havn't already:

Although we give him hell about some arty but intellectually relevant concerns that his editors might not allow him to address, D.K. Row had a little bit on the progress the Portland Art Museum is making on a new director in the Oregonian's A&E. Nothing conclusive here but he reports PAM seems to be getting closer with the potential for an announcement in July. I'd urge caution on anything that early as museum directors are in very short supply and anyone shortlisted will probably be on other museum's radar's too. The advantage we have though is PAM has its building campaign done and a bigger endowment than the Guggenheim. Factor in that the museum is in a rapidly changing and truly unique city as well and it looks pretty good. Also, Portland very attractive these days as a whole new boatload of former New Yorkers (young and old) seemed to have just moved here in the last 6 months. It's an art city in the works.

Still, Portland requires certain traits to get anything done. For starters the job requires the right combination of relentless energy, stronger art savvy than we have been accustomed to in that position recently... as well as an understanding that Portland is in a magic moment of emerging cultural sophistication whose expression is ultimately highly influenced by its cultural leaders. The city deserves the right leader for its premier cultural organization. The museum's next director actually will help shape Portland's identity, for better or worse. I will add that the search committees did listen to a lot of voices before they even decided which headhunters to use, which bodes well as long as they see a need for more balance in the museum's programming. This means major contemporary retrospectives like Rauschenberg, Tuttle or even Andrea Zittel need to come here. Donald Judd would be a dream come true in a city with so many design firms.

Hopefully, the eventual appointment of a cultural leader (maybe without glaring weaknesses this time) will have a ripple effect on other organization? In the same article D.K. also reports a smidge on PICA's visual arts segment of TBA, including their announcement of artist Matthew Day Jackson. He's a super nice guy from the Pacific Northwest whom I met at Greater New York in 2005 (I have more reservations about his work though... is he just milking the Brooklyn fetish of the woods, puns and barbarians?). He was also part of the latest and altogether stillborn Whitney Biennial. Still, on his home turf I suspect he will go beyond just incorporating trees and Viking motifs, this isn't New York and using such materials in the Pacific Northwest asks that the ante be upped, he knows the trees are bigger here and we see em all the time.

Hilda Morris, Sea Drum, 1962-64.
Cement and pigment over metal. Private collection.

Also D.K. Row's editor, Barry Johnson, reported on the Hilda Morris retrospective in today's Oregonian. It's a lively, Jed Perl-esque jaunt about Hilda Morris and adds all sorts of human interest tidbits that one often finds in newspapers. One important note though, Morris was an abstract expressionist sculptor, and there are very few of them that were of any note. Hilda Morris might not be David Smith but she's better than most of the others and instead of constantly pairing her with her husband (who's a fine artist but not of Hilda's caliber... the words whispered by most everyone at the opening) let's make certain we get to see her alongside Clyfford Still and Rothko like we do at PAM's Jubitz center in more national shows. Her work can be found all over the East Coast too (her career wasn't just Portland and Seattle).

Also, in case you've been under a rock you know there is a Donald Judd retro-er-um-auction-exihibition going on in New York till May 9th and The New York Times and the VVoice are catching up to Tyler Green's reporting here; 1, 2, 3 , 4. Look, Donald Judd is the most important artist to emerge after Warhol because in many ways he proved that overwhelming integrity and massive ambition could still yield results in a mitigated age of co-opted options and sampled meta culture (which is great too but it isn't everything). We need that kind of kutzpah today and no Matthew Barney does not even come close.

Conveniently, Sarah Meigs (whose collection continues to impress me, not just for "the names" but in terms of quality) has a really great red Judd box (1962) on loan at PAM next to her Agnes Martin... it's much better than the Carl Andre in this context and to be fair it out classes everything nearby in the room, including the Martin. Note some galleries in the Jubitz Center at PAM will be closed May 1-5th for repairs due to all the traffic. The center reopens May 6th but the 1st floor will remain closed through the 19th (the elevator will allow access to floors 2-4 which includes Roxy Paine's PMU and the killer Judd on display.)

Oh yeah and Ultra asked somebody some questions.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on April 30, 2006 at 21:37 | Comments (4)



Matt Jackson is more than a nice fellow you met, he is a deeply thoughtful artist - who is genuine in his obsessive pursuit of creating political and social warning signs, relics and symbolic structures which take significant stabs at history. He regularly uses found wood, bramble and branches- turning them into alpenhorns, lady legs, Brancusi heads etc and so forth - as well as a variety of other materials, found posters, abalone, mother of pearl, fabric, stone, steel, sculpey and yarn.

As for his piece for TBA - I would expect trees- the fact that we have them bigger is one of the reasons he will be working in residence and using what the land has to offer. Much like Marina Abramovic wearing the clothes of her ancestry and running up the hills of her homeland- Matt is coming "home" to re-animate the myths surrounding the Pacific NW. Come to think of it- expect many "stumps" at TBA especially from Theo Angell, Bruce Conkle and Marne Lucas. Expect ikea lamps from Beth Cambell, expect sining Croatian Children from Johanna Billing, expect snapshot horrors from Harrell Fletcher. All of these artists mine from their homes or in reference to their homelands as they carve out a language using symbols and materials that speak to them- and us. We hope their work would not be held up to judgment and speculation before it has even been made. We hope that a reflection of our world here in Pacific NW might resonate outside of this place even as it speaks directly too it. As for Brooklanite's fetish for forests. Count me as one of them. It might stem from my giant leafy friends at Prospect Park or from my trips to the Catskills as a young child. It might be because of the barbarians who cut down most of the old growth trees on my parents block in Sheepshead Bay. They did not even leave the NW chic stumps -as I witnessed ominous piles of ground sawdust just blowing away without a trace. Some of us fell in love with the trees long before we landed in portland.

Posted by: Kristan Kennedy [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 1, 2006 08:17 AM

Thanks Kristan, was hoping you'd chime in.

I'm still not convinced no matter how thoughtful the artist is... the actual work needs to go beyond a Brooklyn genre, not simply illustrate it (but good for you sticking up for him). It will be great to see what he does because I think it's a weak genre and has kinda run its course, all very 2002. The more recently political Brooklyn art like Jules de Balincourt etc.. hasn't had a lot of teeth to it either, despite its rexflexiveness.

Also, thanks for filling in more of the picture (any time you want to sit down and discuss this element of TBA with PORT we'll run the kind of interview the subject really deserves). It's exciting to actually see PICA back in the exhibition game. It is needed and you'll have a lot of scrutiny.

Of course people can like trees before they move here. My point, and an important one is that trees in and of themselves are less ironic and more iconic out here, "just smell those douglas firs." That iconic pressure might help his work because right now it seems too entertaining, kinda like outsider art made by an art school grad.

Think of it this way, for Samurai warriors you go to Japan, for big pine trees you go to the Pacific Northwest.... the world series of tree art? For example those Justine Kurlands PICA showed about a year ago were simply awesome.

Just tree related brainswarming; how about a night of film including, Suess's The Lorax, Old Joy and maybe episode 4 and 5 of Twin Peaks? I'd like to produce a Heavy Metal version of "Into the woods" even...

Posted by: Double J [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 1, 2006 08:58 AM

Sure Jeff, always up for conversation. Thank you and PORT for creating the forum.

Matt's work speaks more of icon than irony but, I do agree that in the context of several boys will be boys dominated group shows and sweeping overviews of a scene his work runs the risk of being tossed into a pile of bravado. This would be a mistake. His solo show at Perry Rubenstien was stunning and the work - anthropomorhic sculptures, erased posters, cast mondrian rings and photographs were honest, acomplished and sincere.

His simple and evocative piece of his mother saying a prayer into the air and calling out for his work to be purposeful looped at the entrance- wiping away any scepticism. I believe strongly in the concept and craft of his work and am looking forward to what he makes for us to consider.

Interview- anytime. Let's make a plan.


Posted by: Kristan Kennedy [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 1, 2006 11:43 AM

I'm excited about this but there is a huge glut of honest, acomplished and sincere work out there and Jackson's work just hasnt stood out (too much A+B=C). It just takes more than than intelligence, good execuion and good intentions when you are working at that level. It all sets up some excitement for TBA's visual art programming though.

Also, the residency is a great thing and may prove very important for him. It is perfect that PICA is bringing him here.

I even want to like his work, but so far I'm not convinced, maybe his new work for TBA will change my mind?

Posted by: Double J [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 1, 2006 03:44 PM

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