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Wednesday 09.27.06

« REMINDER! | Main | Sean Healy: Supernormal at Elizabeth Leach »

Round Up

300px-Mona_Lisa.jpg
Mona Lisa
Leonardo da Vinci, circa 1503–1507
oil on poplar, 30 x 21 in
Musée du Louvre


I keep thinking about that small, tiny conversation that took place a couple of months ago here about gender equality in the local Art world and wonder, since it’s in the air in bloglandia, if it might be time to bring it up again.

The fire of the biennial has died down and closes in a little over a week; the season has opened; and the Affair at the Jupiter is a couple of days away-what better time than now to worry about "where the girls aren't"?

Edward Winkleman has brought it up on his blog-but it has almost everything to do with who is showing at his gallery: Jennifer Dalton. Dalton’s work measures gender equality in the Art world. She’s also one of the ladies of Broadsheet of the blog of the same name. Really though, everyone (here and here and probably somewhere else too) is referring to Jerry Saltz's recent article in the Village Voice-Where the Girls Aren't -Art and apartheid: The prime real estate is still a men's club.

Here’s the punch line:

“It's a pernicious double bind: If only 24 percent of the shows are by women, how can 50 percent of the shows you preview, review, buy, or sell be by women? Art historian Griselda Pollock has written about "women's struggle for meaning"; whatever we call this struggle, it needs to be seen as a failure of the imagination that amounts to apartheid. We all have to feel threatened by the bias. We must see it as a moral emergency. Having mainly men show means that more than half the story is going untold. Whatever story women tell will be told in ways it never has before. If we don't remove the taboo against women, the story could eventually die.” –Jerry Saltz

In other news…. the Mona Lisa was preggers. Now that we know that da Vinci’s not in the picture…. might he have been the father? Only Dan Brown can tell us that.

Posted by Melia Donovan on September 27, 2006 at 22:34 | Comments (19)


Comments

Stephanie Snyder at the Coolley
Jennifer Gately at PAM
Namita Wiggers at Contemporary Crafts
Kristan Kennedy and Erin Boberg at PICA
Terri Hopkins at The Art Gym
Linda Tesner at the Hoffman Gallery
Elizabeth Leach
Jane Beebe at PDX
Maryanne Deffenbaugh of Pulliam Deffenbaugh
Laura Russo
Alysia Duckler
Laurel Gitlen of small A
Jennifer Armbrust of Motel

It appears that most art venues in Portland are operated by women. Maybe, they could give an answer to why it seem as though women artists aren't afforded the same opportunities as men?

Posted by: jerseyjoe [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 28, 2006 01:05 AM

Those particular dealers are not so much of the problem as you might think.

Half of the artists PDX shows are women.

Well over half of the artists Duckler showed were women.

Both Motel and Russo are nearly 50/50.

Pulliam Deffenbaugh is a little abysmal though, showing half as many women as men.

I've broadened the the scope to more galleries, though only 23 galleries so far (which ain't much, I know), but ones run by women and men, too.

And so far the stats go: 294 women artists and 407 male artists represented.

And it's not always the old stalwarts who are doing so terribly. I could not find ONE female artist name on the entire site of the Compound (although admittedly the site is not all that clear as to who they show).

Posted by: lsd [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 28, 2006 09:24 AM

Excellent question, and particularly timely given that our current exhibition, New Embroidery: Not Your Grandma's Doily addresses a contemporary shift in appropriation of domestic materials, techniques and imagery in light of current perceptions about the place of feminism as a driving force in work by artists today. The current exhibition features work by 21 artists, 7 who are from the NW (all women), and 2 who are men (from Chicago and Dallas, TX).

At CCMG, we have had a long-standing commitment to exhibiting work by women and men, and a strong regional focus as well. What is more an issue, frankly, for our institution is when -- and if -- the broader art community chooses to include us (meaning a craft-based institution and the kind of work we exhibit) in conversations, reviews and dialogue.

Speaking in broad and stereotypical strokes, "women's work" and craft often go hand in hand. We at CCMG exhibit craft-based art, that which is produced in craft media or using craft-based techniques. As such, the largely male-dominated realm of the white cube selectively engages with the type of work we exhibit. The media, too, is largely trained in a particular art historical tradition --which we all were taught -- that is a male-dominated cannon, driven by Greenbergian modernism, and priviledges painting over sculpture -- particularly over object-oriented work with utilitarian roots (albeit often unrecognizeable because functionality is only minimally present).

Our institution was founded by well-educated and well-travelled women who created a place to exhibition modern craft when other places would not. It was, for decades, a women-run alternative artspace.

Returning to the exhibition on view at CCMG, in my interviews with the exhibiting artists, the large majority feel that feminism is something that happened in the past. It is one point of entry for examining their work, but not the only one, nor the primary one. Many expressed that the issues of feminism opened doors, and while they still meet dealers and gallerists who cannot engage their work, they see huge improvements in access to exhibition venues and media coverage. Thelma Golden who curated the hugely influential Black Male show at the Whitney has, in the past few years, created new exhibitions that address a "post-Black" perspective. Here, she argues, the artists have a different sense of agency about race and ethnicity, which reveals itself in a different type of work -- less vitriolic, perhaps, than that of the mid-90s. I see a similar thing in the artists working with embroidery currently on view, and cannot help but wonder if we are in a "post-Feminist" state, too. The younger artists in the embroidery exhibition did not want to be categorized as Third Wave Feminists, either.

Andi Zeisler of Bitch Magazine, a noted Third Wave Feminist magazine will be speaking on Nov 2 on gender and craft in conjunction with the exhibition. See our website www.contemporarycrafts.org for details.

My response to the question about the numbers of exhibiting women vs men is complicated from my perspective at a crafts institution. I do think there are an incredible number of women shaping Portland's art scene, and a public conversation could be a fantastic way to address the issues.

Symposium, anyone?

Namita

Posted by: Namita Wiggers [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 28, 2006 11:10 AM

Word is Artstar Radio will be presenting a panel on this very subject.

Posted by: lsd [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 28, 2006 11:25 AM

The issue of gender balance has been brought up frequently on Eva Lake's dairy and it will be interesting to hear her show about it on "artstar" The statistics that Jeff Jahn posts about the percentage of women showing in Portland being 50 percent, when Lake says in her
"Yet another one, September 15 2006" "The statistics might alarm you, or maybe not, as so many told me they expected nothing but misogyny from the O." leads me to believe that they haven't been giving 50% of their art coverage space to woman. Doesn't sound good for the O. I wonder which way the statistics would swing if you factored in the rest of the articles in the paper about artists? (not in defense, just that there are plenty of art columns run in other places other than A and E and they should probably be factored in) I am dieing to know what those A and E statistics are.

Posted by: folly [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 28, 2006 01:10 PM

I never consciously try to even out my # reviews between men and women. Though, I am predisposed to write about women because Im a historian and they've been so underrepresnted by 20th century art history it's laughable.

For example, Lynda Benglis deverves major attention, all this new media art owes as much to her as it does Richard Tuttle, maybe more. Also, I showed Pipilotti Rist with Organism because she's been under the radar in the USA (her touring retrospective which starts in Houston should help that situation though).

Helen Frankenthaler was actually the first painter I really got into after studying Picasso and Klee. She was so different.

Still I hate the ideas of quotas.... and there is an issue of agressieness. I think Damali Ayo and Jacqueline Ehlis are the two most agressive arists on the Portland scene and it has served them well... only recently have Sean Healy an Brenden Clenaghen gotten similarly agressive. Maybe they didnt have to be as agressive to get notice.

I definitly am treated differently because Im an eaducated white male in my 30's.

Posted by: Double J [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 28, 2006 02:10 PM

Quotas are boring indeed, but we can carry that on into the actual paper press and indeed, who is employed?

Where are the woman art writers on the Oregonian, the Mercury and the Willamette Week? Are they ANY right now???

Posted by: lsd [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 28, 2006 02:43 PM

Interesting point about writers. There do seem to be a lot of dude art writers outside of PORT in Portland (back in the days of Karrin Ellertson, Lisa "Lambast" Lambert and Michaela Bancud at the trib it was different).

Just FYI PORT will be bringing on another critic soon. She also happens to be a she.


Posted by: Double J [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 28, 2006 03:12 PM

one way to calculate the action that women get in portland is to do a count of solo shows at various types of venues-non-profit institutions, city spaces, private galleries, and university and college galleries. even though a gallery might represent a certain number of women it doesn't mean that they're all getting a solo show. i'm not going to be able to do any counts until after the weekend-i'm volunteering at the affair-but if someone else has the time most galleries and institutions publish their past exhibitions and with a little effort it's easy to suss the ladies out.

the oregonian has had at least three large profiles of women in the last month-kristan kennedy earlier in the month, vanessa renwick today and a sculptor yesterday-whose name i can't remember and i can't seem to find it in my pile of papers. i didn't notice the byline for kennedy but i think it was row and kristi turnquist did renwick (not sure about the other...).

my guess is that portland's scene is a little closer to equal than nyc because-well, it's the west coast and it's the left coast. still actual numbers may prove that wrong. and then what?

namita brings up an excellent point about the craft museum. it is marginalized-by site and by content. the current show is amazing and required viewing. one of the better shows up. ( i took my 5 year old son for the art activity on sunday. he's now working on embroidering his own drawing of a construction worker holding a giant flower.) but ccmg is not alone in their efforts to forward craft based art-especially that which is done in a challenging way.

if you look at the past exhibitions at elizabeth leach you'll find a show of similar tenor called stitch by stitch from jan of 2003:

"Stitch by Stitch will examine how numerous contemporary artists, ranging from the well-established to emerging, reference a wide variety of textiles, as well as the specific techniques involved in their creation. The artists featured in this show include Alighiero E. Boetti, Christine Bourdette, Louise Bourgeois, Lou Cabeen, Robert Calvo, Lesley Dill, Dinh Q. Le, Katherine Nelson, Mark Newport, Mark R. Smith, Libby Wadsworth and Rob Wynne. These artists often utilize traditional methods such as embroidery, needlepoint, crochet, knitting, quilting or beading in the creation of their work, but the end result is anything but traditional."

are women getting a fair break in portland? i hope someone will take the time to do a bit of research. we could split it up and report back on tuesday? i'll take on the universities. who'll take on the paper? the galleries? the non-profits? are we dealing with an unfair system here? if we have something to complain about then let's complain about it.

Posted by: melia [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 29, 2006 08:44 AM

I believe that issue is much more complex that it might appear on the surface. Where do non-profits and university settings stand in regard to regular galleries? I mean not just in terms of visibility, but also as career makers and market drivers?

One thing for sure: they are not as easy to track, since their websites do not have an Artists Represented page. It would take a lot of time and perseverance to suss it all out.

I still believe, however, that which ever way the stats come out, they are going to reveal that Portland women do make art, they show and that some of the best work is made by women. The larger question is: why is it not written about? And why is it so damn cheap?

I can already hear Jeff Jahn barking to me from some distance, telling me that he does write about them. But I am not talking about PORT. I am really sorry, but I have spent more time on the other side of the desk than many, and people just do not walk in with a crumpled review from PORT in their back pocket (not yet anyway...). Even Richard Speer will admit that as much as he might herald an artist, this does not seem to drive the actual market.

But I have actually witnessed, more than once, someone coming into the galleries I have worked at, pulling out that Oregonian review, scratching their heads and wondering if they are indeed in the right place and seeing that they are, scan again the review, wander around the exhibition (which admittedly already had some lovely red dots) and then said: I'll take it.

So I do not underestimate the power of the old stalwart. Not one bit. Maybe now you can understand why I am concerned that they do not seem to have one female art writer on staff. I keep hearing about all those checks and balances, but what I see is: DK Row, Brian Libby, Bob Hicks, Barry Johnson, Grant Butler..... hmmmmmm. Sounds like a really good system of checks and balances.

Posted by: lsd [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 29, 2006 10:57 AM

Almost every university and "serious" gallery in Portland is run by a woman. Is this fair?

Are there an equal number of male and female patrons? Do male patrons buy the work of male or female artists, or does gender not factor into their consideration of the work? What about female patrons?

Posted by: jerseyjoe [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 29, 2006 12:27 PM

With responsibility and positions of power comes accountability. Regardless of gender. It is absolutly fair to ask these questions -- but they are tough, complex, and not well-dealt with in the format of a blog.

Again -- let's get this into a public space. I am willing to help put something together.
Harrell? How about having this as one of the PSU lecture nights -- a public symposium/discussion instead? We can get Sue Taylor involved, several of the curators, gallerists and media reps? Damali - you and I are two of the few people of color. How does that weigh in here? Matthew -- how about writing and publishing something from the event?

Email me if you are interested. There is energy in this discussion -- seems a shame to lose it.

Namita


Namita

Posted by: Namita Wiggers [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 1, 2006 03:08 PM

Are you sure Jennifer Dalton is the Anonymous Female Artist? As far as I knew she was one of the Broadsheet Girls, and another of Winkleman's artists, Nancy Baker contributes to Edna's site.

Posted by: ArtFagCity [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 2, 2006 08:03 PM

hey paddy,
you're absolutely right. thanks for the correction.
-melia

Posted by: melia [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 3, 2006 06:28 AM

by the way, paddy will be posting a podcast on artfagcity of a panel discussion on this subject that took place in nyc between her, maura reilly, curator of the elizabeth a. sackler center for feminist art at the brooklyn museum, and danielle mysliwiec, the co-founder of brainstormers' report.

Posted by: melia [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 3, 2006 06:45 AM

ok, i did a little local number crunching---non-profits, galleries and college galleries. this is by no means scientific and should just serve as a snapshot of the local scene. i took my numbers from what was available online and took the average. there are many flaws to how i've gathered this information, so, please, take that into consideration. of the 10 galleries, 1 museum and 4 college galleries that i surveyed-having a total of 336 solo shows published online, 196 were men and 140 were women. the most offensive numbers come from the museum (of course), the most equitable are from the laura russo gallery. so that's roughly, with these FLAWED numbers, about 58% male and 42% female.

Posted by: melia [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 3, 2006 08:57 AM

A thorough examination of these statistics could prove thought provoking, this is not meant to dismiss melia's number, but I think more information would be great.
Does anyone know of any students or Profs at the U who might need a project for a statistics or sociology class this semester? It seems to me that it would be a great project.

It also seems like that kind of number crunching might get the attention of the papers who have no female writers. A news writer with whom I spoke recently said that the reporters at their paper were just too busy trying to keep up to have an agenda about gender. I pointed out that not having a negative agenda did not necessarily mean that their coverage was fair.

Posted by: folly [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 3, 2006 11:35 AM

"Keeping up' is absolutely no excuse at all. Every time a decision is made on who or what to write about, it is never a matter of 'keeping up.' Choices are made and they are never arbitrary. I am sure all kinds of criteria are on the table, but getting the view of a female critic is obviously not one of them.

If indeed the art critics at the O think they are keeping up, they are doing a lousy job. There are entire issues of the A & E which don't even mention ONE female artist's work.

And it's very important to look at the articles as regards 'the work,' because often when they do write about women, they are the object and the subject of the article, as opposed to the objects they make being addressed.

Perhaps we are supposed to be happy with that, to see that as progress, but it does not push the value of the work. It is not even a real review.

What is really weird is to track how many times a woman will get a review but they have to bring up her husband (ie Mary Josephson with Gregory Grenon or Hilda Morris with Carl Morris). Is this really necessary? How often does the opposite happen?

Posted by: lsd [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 3, 2006 04:08 PM

http://www.prospect.org/web/page.ww?section=root&name=ViewWeb&articleId=10659

Posted by: melia [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 6, 2006 08:03 AM

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