Portland art blog + news + exhibition reviews + galleries + contemporary northwest art

recent entries

Resist: Inauguration at Una Gallery
Early February links
First Thursday Picks February 2017
Dead tree media & dead horse flogging news
Post Snowpocalypse Weekend Picks
More Disjecta'd
New Year opportunities
Monday Integrity Links
First Thursday Picks January 2017
Jason Berlin + Alanna Risse at Rainmaker
Saying goodby to 2016
Mid December Links

recent comments

Double J
jerseyjoe

categories

 

Book Review
Calls for Artists
Design Review
Essays
Interviews
News
Openings & Events
Photoblogs
Reviews
Video
Links
About PORT

regular contributors

 

Tori Abernathy
Amy Bernstein
Katherine Bovee
Emily Cappa
Patrick Collier
Arcy Douglass
Megan Driscoll
Jesse Hayward
Sarah Henderson
Jeff Jahn
Kelly Kutchko
Drew Lenihan
Victor Maldonado
Christopher Moon
Jascha Owens
Alex Rauch
Gary Wiseman

archives

 

Guest Contributors
Past Contributors
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005

contact us

 

Contact us

search

 


syndicate

 

Atom
RSS

powered by

 

Movable Type 3.16

This site is licensed under a

 

Creative Commons License

Saturday 10.28.06

« Apply! | Main | All of tomorrow's art-y's, W's first art issue »

Last chance to go solo in October: Guth, McCormick, Pack etc.

Guth_Braid.jpg
MK Guth's Braid at Elizabeth Leach Gallery

Group shows are important as social mixers and as an opportunity to see a lot of different artists but now Portland's ever-maturing art scene's focus has increasingly shifted to solo shows where artists are truly gauged. Even the Oregon Biennial was quickly supplanted attention-wise by numerous solo shows this summer.

That said it is the last day for these worthy solo shows:

MK Guth's Growing Stories at Elizabeth Leach Gallery marked the return of one of Portland's brightest installation artists after years of collaboration and video work. There was a palpable buzz of excitement at the opening but its best to catch this work in less crowded circumstances during its last day today.

Growing Stories focuses on pop culture, expectations and the sort of personalized fairytales that people tell themselves to get through the daily existential grind. The familiar fairytale "Rapunzel" with her famously long hair in a tower is the thread that quite literally ties it all together.

The most direct piece in the show is a video where Guth, dressed in crazy long blond braids acts in the role of a cloistered peasant woman who seems to learn about the world through TV shows, movies and the internet. Physically, the viewing environs for the flat screen it is presented on seems to be a bit crowed but the video gets its point across with numerous "walk on" appropriated TV shows and movie moments while Guth's Rapunzel character talks about how she could have made her life turn out differently… maybe.

With a constant barrage of received secondary experience the video doesn't really seem to take off until the Rapunzel gets off the couch and closes the distance with the viewer. I preferred the more open-ended works in the show, possibly because the video was purposefully oppressive and literal.

The centerpiece of the show is the installation Braid. Reminiscent of seminal works by Louise Bourgeois (the larger spiders and woven works), Jenine Antoni and Eva Hesse's rope piece, it's a proliferating string of braids which start from a central point in the room. The resulting net of hair runs the color and material gamut from blond to brunette to blue fabric. Like most good fairy tales it is whimsical but with a dark and foreboding streak. From a formal standpoint Braid works by tying up the whole room but it's the conceptual part that makes it work. Each braid open-endedly signals as series of metaphorical decisions and commitments, this is what life is about and the association to rope is an appropriate one. It could mean anything and probably does, from girlish little house on the prairie style pigtails to the "Swiss Miss" it's all about a hairstyle few grown women wear, unless they are playing Brunhilde in Wagner's Ring. As both a signifier of young women and an out and out ass-kicking valkyrie Braid is a very successful melding of power and powerlessness as a series of metaphorical decisions.

Guth_KellyandDave_1.jpg
Guth's Kelly and Dave (lenticular photograph)

As a compliment to Braid the dual image "lenticular photographs" where the figures are locked in a constant tug of war (with a braid) only reinforce this rather adult fantasy where there is no happily ever after, just the struggle to keep up the struggle. Nice, existential and always relevant, I still preferred the one photograph where the two character's hair is braided together. The photograph captures a moment of inertia and holds it in stasis that captures the struggle of the lenticulars with a dryer sense of humor. Overall, a very complete show that also sold very well, an impressive coup for the gallery and artist.


Rose.jpg
Detail of McCormick's Visual Language II

At the New American Art Union, Rose McCormick's The Bushwick paintings show her growth after spending a year in New York painting up a storm. She has tightened up her imagery and technique considerably with her multipart painting Visual Language II being the standout. VL2 is series of pictograms labeled; wisdom, justice etc. and instead of becoming some hackneyed tarot card knockoff VL2 really worked. It came off like some gifted interpretation of Paul Klee and Philip Guston and nearly all of them succeeded. Instead of her old skumbled surfaces her technique is now clean and precise. The effect is more confident and doesn't seem to be asking for the viewer's empathy to carry the day as it did in the past.

overlap.jpg
Overlap (2006)

Less inspired was her "Paul Bunyan and the Big blue Ox (featuring the bull from Guernica), yes it's funny-ish but mixing a lumberjack with a bull that signified the Spanish dictator Franco is just plain bad taste. Much better was the egg Tempera on linen "Overlap." It has that great Andrew Wyeth longing to it wit a no nonsense and poetic figure to ground interplay. Overall though the show keeps switching styles so often it is tough to get a read on her output. Her best stuff is very strong, with a Morris Graves-like sense of mystical poetry but complicated and updated with a very dry sense of humor. She finishes the painting she's been doing in the space on Saturday so check it out. Next time if she buckles down to produce a coherent show of all mysteriously funny and mystically poetic paintings and stops using Picasso as a crutch she will be one of the best figurative painters I have seen emerge in years. This time out she gave us a glimpse that such an achieving isn't out of the question in the near future.

Time to wait and see.

harriet(hairy_it)web.jpg
Jen Pack's Harriet

Similarly, Jen Pack at Pulliam Deffenbaugh has grown by leaps and bounds and unlike McCormick has put on a completely sustained show. Works like "Harriet" and monolith own the space and the entire installation feels like stumbling across a sublime kite convention at the beach. Utterly pleasing it has none of the fussiness one sees in a lot of fabric art. Sometimes art is there to make us feel better and more alive, Pack achieves that goal in spades as a kind of channeler of Eva Hesse and Paul Klee.

Last, but certainly not least is Paula Rebsom at Tilt Gallery which I reviewed earlier this month. It is simply the best presented show in Portland for the month of October (excepting Pierre Huyghe at PAM). Actually, both seem to be studies in the conceits made to the viewer. Of the two Rebsom is much less of an "entertainer" and there is something I really enjoy about that.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on October 28, 2006 at 10:47 | Comments (2)


Comments

McCormick's painting of Paul Bunyan with the Big Blue Ox from Picasso's editorial cartoon is too perfect. I wondered why I hadn't seen it before. She should make t-shirts or prints. They would probably sell like hotcakes. I'd buy one.

Posted by: jerseyjoe [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 28, 2006 05:59 PM

MK's Braid will be shown (and grow) at Linfield college next month.

Posted by: Double J [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 30, 2006 09:59 AM

Post a comment

Thanks for signing in, . Now you can comment. (sign out)

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)


Remember me?


s p o n s o r s
Site Design: Jennifer Armbrust   •   Site Development: Philippe Blanc & Katherine Bovee