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Friday 05.12.06

« Malia Jensen at Elizabeth Leach (part 1) | Main | Take Mom to Weimar »



Tonight, Portland Modern (gallery in print) celebrates the release of issue no. 4 with a party. Curated by Kristan Kennedy of PICA and Matthew Stadler of Clear Cut Press (+ more), the theme of the latest issue is "Saturation", expored through the work of Roberta Aylward, Amber Bell, Michael Boyle, David Corbett, Alexander Felton, Anna Fidler, Caleb Freese & Justin Gorman, Sarah Gottesdiener, Liz Haley, Levi Hanes, Mary Henry, Philip Iosca, Eva Lake, Jonathan Leach, Isaac Lin , Marne Lucas , Rae Mahaffey, Jeannie Manville, Chelsea Mosher, Daniel Peterson, Shawn Records, Spirit Quest (Khaela Maricich & Melissa Dyne), Amy Steel, and Casey Watson.

Drop by the white-on-white euro-sexy Apotheke tonight to grab one of the first copies (and a drink or two). Tunes by DJ Stay in School.
Friday, May 12 • 9p to 2a
Apotheke • 1314 NW Glisan, Suite 2A (Upstairs)

P.S., If you can't make it to the party, you can pick up a copy Saturday at the PM viewing room (1715 NW Lovejoy, 12 to 6p) or at Radius Studio (2515 SE 22nd Ave at Division, 11a to 5p).

Posted by Jennifer Armbrust on May 12, 2006 at 12:37 | Comments (9)


Well it's certainly the best cover they have had to date.

Not certain if the expansion of the # of artists is a good idea or not. The thing that previous PM's did was shine a spotlight on a few artists then give them 2 person shows. Now it takes on a kind of core sample, alternative oregon biennial aspect despite the fact it has several bieniallers included. I guess Ive always appreciated the guts it takes to hold 5-7 artists up to scrutiny and by increasing the # the emphasis turns to the publication itself instead of the artists chosen.

Curious if it will be confused or inspired... or both? Its more ambitious for the publication but I hope it isnt less ballsy. (interesting distinction)

Posted by: Double J [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 12, 2006 02:32 PM

Thanks for the mention. Just for clarification, PM is looking to alternate formats between a more focused look at a smaller group of independent artists (issues 1-3) and a larger survey (issue 4). Since we publish twice a year, our summer issue will be similar in format to this newest issue and our winter issue will be back to a 5-7 artist focus. Confused, inspired, and ambitious are all appropriate adjectives.

Posted by: MB [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 12, 2006 04:39 PM

it seems the number of artists in the publication fits the theme-saturation. with the exception of a few artists who were either born here or moved during childhood the shows title might also be taken as a metaphor for the population increase portland has experienced over the last decade or so. obviously the creative community has swelled judging by the dates provided.

the title/theme is ambiguous, which seems to have allowed a freedom to assemble a discordant grouping of work. neverthless, that assemblage of interfering ideas butting up against each other gives everything included a new context--harkening back to the theme of saturation. i'm looking forward to getting an actual copy to see if it acts the same way in print.

Posted by: melia [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 12, 2006 06:47 PM

What struck me about the recent publication is contained in the curators statement. Two quotes from their statement stood out.

"We went through each artist's images without much talk and without reading the CV's or writing they sent. About 1/3 of the work still interested us after we'd done this."

"For example, we knew the names of the artists as we looked at slides; we shared what we knew, even if that knowledge came from gossip or friendship or other unfair sources; we discussed artists who are our friends and included some of them in the show. And we invited three people who didn't even submit.

We think the result is a better show. We're glad we didn't hobble our judgment by adhering to more restrictive rules. But it will be interesting to hear what others think so bring it on."

While I appreciate the curators honesty in their selection process, I hope they are not under the impression that it is not highly flawed.
While the curators did not read the artistís statements or CVís, they did know the respective nameís of the artistís while they viewed their work. I believe an artistís statement of their work and how it relates to the theme saturation far out weights their name, who they know, and the gossip surrounding them.

Posted by: BarryBird [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 14, 2006 07:05 PM

Well the dark art of curation almost always has serious flaws, it comes with the territory. Strong curation (like a Xiaolin monk)transforms those inherent weaknesses into strength by holding up those flaws as kind of provocative opportunity for further examination.

Still, this is their best publication to date, but it does have a bunch of ringers. That's OK too, the visual arts are only democratic for the viewers... for the artists, they all get judged and having some already established people creates some baseline for comparative analysis.

Also, I'm not so certain that chosing artists for PM is really curation at all... it is more like jurying with some gestures at curatorial augmentation. The chain of thought thing can really only be tested in an exhibition, in print ideas can exist with less context and then there are the mitigating effects of image reproduction. (Also for some reason the only good looking PM exhibitions to date have been at Ogle gallery? not certain why that is)

Is this an exhaustive publication about saturation? Well no and its unfair to judge it that way (no Jacqueline Ehlis or Mel Katz etc.). It's more of a clearing house, an exploration of a lot of artists who are in the area, some will stick, some wont. The biennial will be that way too but from what I've seen it will be more of a true curatorial approach. In essence looking at Portland Modern for curatorial savvy might be a red herring, it's a sampler plate, maybe even a feast, but don't judge the chef's ability by this. It's more of a indication of the various fish of the day that were available on the docks than as a finished dish.

Posted by: Double J [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 14, 2006 08:57 PM

The artists in the latest PM were chosen from nearly 200? applicants and the work was selected from almost 800 pieces of work. There are alot of talented people in this town. Unfortunately, there are not enough creative venues in keep up with the level of talent here. Artists will continue to migrate to Portland because of its reputation as a great place to be an artist. In addition Portland has only a handful of art spaces that show timebased and alternative media (and a few of the places that do show new media rarely show local folks). How do we keep our feet firmly planted in the contemporary art world without alternative art spaces for local artists? How do we sustain these artists? How do we give them opportunities to show their work? Hence the large number of artists selected for the Saturation issue. Portland Modern is one solution to the lack of exhibition spaces in this town and PM provides opportunities for new and emerging opportunities to show work. A plant needs water and sunlight to grow and an artist, we need affordable studio space, a dynamic art community, and spaces to show work. Without these we will move to Chicago, Houston, or some other affordable city with a thriving contemporary art scene.

Posted by: art_nerd [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 16, 2006 10:56 AM

you are correct AN,

PM helps. The real issue in regards to all of your valid points is leadership. Initiative and pluck aren't enough alone, I want the scene and press to become more results oriented. I'm an advocate for expertise, not bluster and expertise is what separates promotionalism from sustainable ideas. Expertise guides ideas through to the very important follow through.

I'm proposing that Portland's new mantra become: "Follow through or shut up"

The shape that follow-through takes is crucial too and real leadership is essential. Portland is in a very interesting time and there is a ton of untapped potential.

I applaud Portland Modern's efforts because their publications have grown in scope and sophistication, they don't repeat many mistakes. Sad to say that is somewhat rarer than it should be in town.

Their opening of a gallery showcase room on NW Lovejoy is a great thing too. Often their exhibitions at the various venues disappoint but giving Marc more control over presentation will probably yield better results.

Posted by: Double J [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 16, 2006 12:04 PM

I would add, that in addition to follow through, affordable studio space and spaces to show work, a viable contemporary art scene needs patrons. I feel that there is a lot of attention given to developing a strong infrastructure for artists here. And for that reason, there are not only a slew of regional artists living here but a number of nationally and internationally acclaimed artists who keep their studio practice here. However, I feel the community is reaching a crucial point where we need to be developing a creative economy not just a creative culture. We need Portland's professional class to understand the value of art and see it as an investment that is not only fiscally fruitful but also sustains and builds a vibrant community. With a high value on intentional living and sustainability in Portland, there needs to be an understanding that buying artwork is part of the same system as driving hybids, running biodiesel, buying organic, purchasing crop shares from local farmers, and supporting small businesses. Buying artwork is not just a stylish indulgence, it is a direct economy that supports artists and the community. And it's a lot prettier than a mutual fund.

Posted by: jenn [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 16, 2006 02:45 PM

well said jenn.

I imagine this is a conversation that a few people have been having for some time. However it is not a conversation I have been privy to other than casual discussions among artist friends. And speaking of Portlands potential, might I address the potential Port has to be a catalyst for real change in the local art scene. You provide a forum that is inclusive to the portland public, artists, curators, critics and all. Change happens when we begin a public dialogue about these important issues.

Posted by: art_nerd [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 17, 2006 11:59 AM

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