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Saturday 07.15.06

« Cancel your plans! Art this weekend! | Main | Sometimes a Flower is Just a Flower »

Adam Bailey at Portland Art Center


Adam Bailey's Lineage of Harmonic Sensation at The Portland Art Center is the first show to really fullfill the promise of this organization since John Mace's exciting and slightly overcooked rookie show in March 2005. What's more, instead of yet another impossible to categorize group show whose basic premise is to create a turnout, it actually allows one to gauge Bailey as an artist. It's flawed but in the worthwhile ways expected in most big debuts. Practically everyone has pretty much demanded more from PAC and it looks like they took it to heart. This is a good start and it made my day to see something I liked at PAC. As I toured the gallery completely alone (just try to do that at MoMA) I simply enjoyed the visual and aural pulse of the show, despite its shortcomings.

This large room sized installation is basically a catalog of experience art media. It includes light as sculpture a la a lesserJames Turrell, sculpture that refracts light in the form of glistening cones a la James Lee Byars, and some interesting depth of field drawings with scrims that although interesting remind me of about a thousand MFA projects Ive seen, all good but unremarkable in their decent ok-ness. The vernaculars are all there, executed nicely if in a somewhat academically tentative way. The sound part of the installation is incredibly well done. Im not certain how many channels are going on here but it feels like 3 surround sound theaters with odd chirps and drones, whereas the inclusion of sound in Barry Johnson's show downstairs felt forced and superfluous. This works. As one walks around the red and pink room, I noted the nice space and sculptural elements and the sounds did seem to heighten curiosity in a meaningfully tacit kind of way. The overall effect is the space felt alive and promising... a start that might really find its own voice. It's glued together by the sound in the way one can crazy glue a teapot together... yeah it works, but it's still a teapot that has been crazy glued together. Focus on the essntaial elements and don't detract from them with this sort of work. Technical excitement in two many directions can be distracting. 2 much larger cones in a stranger configuration would have made more sense.

Yes, outside of the sound element this feels like the artist is quoting more than owning his subject matter. The Portland Art Center still has a ways to go but this along with Bailey's collaboration with Sarah Gunderson in the next room on Roto Mineola (good for 5 seconds then ponderous) are promising. That is what a next time is for, artists need these kinds of opportunities to develop. Bailey has a ways to go before he cracks the top 40 list of Portland video and installation artists but I have reason to believe he may some day achieve that.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on July 15, 2006 at 5:43 | Comments (0)


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