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Tuesday 05.09.06

« The "School of Nan" Curtis era comes to an end at PNCA | Main | An afternoon with Paul Fujita of Zeitgeist Gallery »

some things

PORT will have lots of pictures and critical content coming at you shortly but until then, here are some things to sink your teeth into on the rest of the web:

Detail of a Matthew Picton

Matthew Picton (who is in the upcoming 2006 Oregon Biennial) received a good review for his show at Howard House from the Seattle Weekly. Even Jim Demetre likes him better than Maya Lin, which isn't quite fair to Lin. Being the most sucessful public landscape artist on the planet (aka Lin) requires that there be less emphasis on detailed visual fascination and conceptual rigor than Picton's work does (as an indoor gallery artist). Public art succeeds when its visual clarity allows the context of history and landscape to assert itself over the visual or even conceptual content. Another note, I pointed a serious Portland collector to Picton's Seattle gallery because he has lacked representation in Portland since September, hint... Also why do most of the more nationally known/experienced artists living in Oregon not have Portland galleries?

Along similar lines to both Picton and Lin there is this story in the NYT's. In it Josiah McElheny tries to meld modernist design and the early moments of the universe into a single object. By combining two parallel universes into one space the worlds of aesthetic history and astrophysics take on an uneasy visual vibration. This synchretic melding of science and aesthetics is a big part of the trope that McElheny, Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle and Picton are pursuing. No this genre isn't touchy feelly, its clinical but it is a major emerging trend in the 21st century, artists reclaiming science as an aesthetic yet systematic force.

Last but not least, noted Portland filmmaker Matt McCormick now has a great looking blog and he's into ghost towns (I love them too). Oregon has a large # of ghost towns.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on May 09, 2006 at 21:29 | Comments (8)


I don't see it as such a crisis to choose to live in Portland and/or show your work in the region, but not be represented by the galleries here. A relationship with a gallery is very personal, and if an artist is not finding the right "fit" locally, they should look elsewhere. If gallery representation is what they want, that is.

Posted by: tooldiva [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 10, 2006 08:38 AM

agreed, but what does that say about the "fit"?

Maybe its just the simple fact that artists are pretty much driving the whole change in Portland's scene and the galleries do have to look at what they can sell.

There is a game of catch up going on here and the lag time between national artists and local collectors can be felt most distinctly in the gallery scene. To be fair though the galleries are incorporating some of the really young local artists... it might be the price points.

Posted by: Double J [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 10, 2006 08:51 AM

What it says to me about the "fit" is that Portland is still an emerging city. We've come a long way since the days of William Jamison, and what we have now is much stronger than the Portland I remember in the 80's and 90's. We are still moving forward.

Sure, there's a lot of talented artists who aren't represented. But I don't think it's as simple as saying the galleries or collectors aren't supporting them. It usually takes more than just producing good art to keep one's career alive, and that is part of the weeding process, in my opinion.

Should every talented artist be rewarded financially? Who gets to determine who is worthy of gallery representation? And is representation the end-all-be-all? It certainly doesn't guarantee sales!

Posted by: tooldiva [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 10, 2006 09:12 AM

Actually, Im talking about proven national level artists who are based in Oregon but don't have representation in Portland. Youre right, the scene is in its adolescence now. Maybe its because the change has been so rapid and our galleries tend to act cautiously (which is good because that makes them "solid" cultural institutions). Its also because artists of national standing are more particular.... the "fit" issue again but I like to see our strongest artists represented in our strongest local galleries (and it isnt always the case). It tells me that there is room for 1 or two more serious galleries in town.

This is probably the only time I'm going to ever avoid the issue of "Talent". It takes more than talent.

Posted by: Double J [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 10, 2006 09:27 AM

There is probably room for a few more galleries - maybe that's better answered by a gallery owner who knows if the market can handle it. It seems like the galleries are doing well, judging by all the recent interest in moving to fancier quarters in the Pearl district.

I still think we can't say that our strongest local artists are (using whatever system we choose to determine who those folks are) even want local representation. In my mind, it's not the only way to be part of the Portland art community.

Posted by: tooldiva [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 10, 2006 10:07 AM

I'm just positing the question as an area for growth in this rapidly changing moment in the scene. It took Santa Fe a very long time to connect the dots between national reputation and local representation. (Portland is different and more of a legitimate metroplis too)

No it isnt necessary for all the dots to be connected but I find the lag interesting... and kind of exciting. Portland is an artist's city and Ive always described it as a Rebel Base but I do like the idea of our galleries being able to capitalize on the scene's strength, especially when its already been acknowledged from outisde portland.

Maybe I just get tired of locals who know less about our strengths than people in LA, NYNY and San Francisco do ... it's a rapidly changing situation though.

Posted by: Double J [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 10, 2006 10:20 AM


And I am positing the notion that being represented by a gallery, local or not, isn't mutually agreed upon as the pinnacle of being a Portland artist.

Posted by: tooldiva [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 10, 2006 01:58 PM

Of course, I just wonder why such a large # of exist here at this moment in time (maybe there are simply more artists than can be handled, actually that's probably a fact).

For some artists a local gallery just doesnt make sense, the exhibition constraints and general fit just dont work. I never said it was the summa, simply noting that the unrepped artists in town often have the most pull nationally.

Still, it's curious and I think it will change some.... its a natural and slow moving progresssion that will suddenly change overnight (very portlandy and very heavy on planning). I suspect somewething similar to platform in Seattle may occur, a serious gallery started by a few nationally connected local artists (ala the famous Ferrus gallery in LA).

Posted by: Double J [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 10, 2006 04:13 PM

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