Storm Tharp, Old Sport, 2006, Ink on paper, Courtesy of the Artist and PDX Contemporary Art
PORT's Northern readers won't have to experience Portland vicariously anymore (at least for a night)—Reed curator Stephanie Snyder, Oregon Biennial artists Kristan Kennedy and Storm Tharp, and several other Portland-based artists including Dana Dart-McLean and MK Guth will converge in Seattle this Thursday to discuss what's going on down here. The timing is appropriate, as Portland is already beginning to feel the rumbling of activity that could only mean one thing: it's Fall here in Portland, and we're about ready to begin a non-stop line-up that begins with time-based art, continues with a month of solid gallery shows and peaks in early October with our very own art fair.
From the press release:
"Check out the latest in art made just to the south. Stephanie Snyder joins special guests to discuss new activities in Portland and consider the work of Portland-based artists Kevin Abell, Dana Dart-McLean, Alex Felton, Jessica Jackson Hutchins, Kristan Kennedy, MK Guth, Storm Tharp, and others. Part of what Snyder describes as Portland's 'representational imaginary,' the evening will consider an intergenerational group of Portland artists that explore 'self' through experimental film, drawing, painting, sculpture and social practice. These imagined and constructed self-discoveries are often created in dialog with art history, popular culture, and an interdisciplinary media practice signature to Portland's scene."
The Return of Projections: Portland · Thursday, August 31st · 7 pm
Henry Art Gallery · Henry Auditorium · University of Washington
15th Avenue NE & NE 41st Street, Seattle · Tel. 206.543.2280
The Henry talk is a great way to understand a small but important piece of the scene. Portland is extremely active and not very monogenic. Actually, I wrote this a few months ago in attempts to wrap my head around some of the trends and players and it dovetails nicely with the discussion.
Also, Ive been thinking about what makes Portland "Portlandy" and so far its the fact that being based here is a lifestyle choice. It feels different here and it makes sense that our figurative artists tend to "project" themselves through the Portland experience. But it goes deeper than that, even the abstractionists here (who are another huge part of the scene) are engaged in exploring "what makes life better" on a very practical level. Obviously the figurative artists are more focused on identity (but not 90's identity politics, its more personal than that) and the abstractionists explore it with more emphasis on the philosophical.
Its like Portland is channeling 21st Century America's existential quandaries in very practical ways. Somehow, some way most everyone here knows something very different is going on here. It can be great, it can also be irksome but I think something is being accomplished. For example, the city is requiring biodiesel be available at all gas stations. About a third of the art scene people I know who drive have hybrid or biodiesel vehicles. A huge portion of the young scene simply ride their bikes and don't own cars. Myself, I try to walk as much as possible, it gives one much more contact with the urban fabric.
What defined the second half of the 20th century more than cars? ...21st century questions.
It is going to be an interesting year
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