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Wednesday 10.11.06

« What Is Kymaerica? | Main | Brandland at Powell's Books »

Paula Rebsom's Debut at Tilt Gallery

Paula Rebsom's Howling Coyote (2006)

Probably the best local show up this month is "When I can't be here, I go there" at Tilt gallery (run by PORT's own Jenene Nagy, I just can't ignore this gem, which comes on the heels of several other decent to good shows). In addition, "WICBTIGT" is the auspicious debut of recent University of Oregon MFA grad Paula Rebsom who seems to have become ten times the artist she was 6 months ago. With just two large format images Rebsom constructs impressive somewhat pensive scenes of moody artifice but it's the little touches that win the day here, including the conceptual installation.

What I like here is that unlike Gregory Crewdson and to a lesser extent Thomas Demand, Rebsom's scenes are studies in revealed staging and rather spoiled artifice.

It is a nice installation as the two photos (one is a front yard, the other is of the back yard) seem to long for one another's phoniness… its like Breakfast at Tiffanies only with Joan Crawford as Holly and Mickey Rooney cast as Paul "Fred" Varjak not the intolerable landlord. That effect would be icky but you would have to watch that trainwreck.

Back to the photos, the house itself seems to be a non-entity, a prop for the props which sets up some nice rythms for the rest of the show. Also, like Ad Reinhardt paintings they need to be seen in person as tiny internet images can't possibly provide enough detail or contrast to represent them well. It is a nice touch of phoniness that demands there be no subsitutes.

The front yard photo, "North Dakota Badlands," sports a tiny dandelion in the extreme foreground, which highlights the simple and artificial cutout steppes in front of the ranch house and in "Howling Coyote" we can practically hear the yelping of a film foley that will never be added to this acknowledged contrivance. It's all chicanery and there is something refreshingly honest about the gloom here. Apparently all of it was accomplished with existing lighting, yet it hardly feels like an indie filmmaker's work and more like a darker and still cousin to Terry Gilliam's strange film, The Adventures of Baron Von Munchausen.

In the crowded genre of cinematic and staged large format photography Rebsom has come right out of school with something to say of her own. It isnt behind the scenes but its rather refreshing that she doesnt try to delight her audience so much as not make any promises that her work can't keep. For me it delivered more.

Tilt Gallery and Project Space
625 NW Everett Street Suite 106 Portland Oregon 97209

Posted by Jeff Jahn on October 11, 2006 at 11:48 | Comments (4)


Jeff, you said the exact same thing that came to my mind when I saw this show:

"Probably the best local show up this month..."

Walking into any gallery in the ESL, I never expect to be completely floored by a piece (maybe that is a bad generalization) like I am these two photgraphs. These photographs are so rich in narrative you can almost taste it, but the alluring part is that you are left in this eerie man-made dreamland where you are not just the spectator, but instead in first person, and the story that is being told is your own imagination running rampant as you are pulled further into the pieces. There is something naive about the photos. Harking back to a child's late night fears.

I definitely encourage everyone to go see this pieces in the flesh, because web images do not even come close to doing these photographs justice.

Posted by: Calvin Carl [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 11, 2006 11:36 PM

Not only is it probably the best solo show by a local artist this month, it really out classes a lot of the photography I saw at the Affair, NADA, etc. In addition, I'm really impressed because her earlier student work was so totally unconvincing, though I see how it lead to this.

Tilt even has some regular hours: Friday and Saturday from 12-5PM

The first person from outside and inside the house is really impressive, a publc and private charade that the viewer is drawn into like a good noir narrative. Also, instead of overhanging like everyone tends to do it here (UGGGGH why?) it has a sophisticated sense of restraint. After Sarah Meigs opens the Lumber Room then maybe a less is more trend will become ok again (it reminded me of Dia Beacon, right down to the Jo Baer and Fred Sandback works...)

Posted by: Double J [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 12, 2006 11:07 AM

Oh man, you couldn't be more correct in saying this out classed the Jupiter's photography showings. I can't really remember one photograph that stood out in my mind. I remember one artist that coupled text and photos and they were all about the artist social and family life essentially, but I am too lazy to look through my notes and find what the artist's name was. Those pieces were at least interesting and engaging. Overall, nothing grabbed me by the neck and said "pay attention to me" at the Jupiter, but like most art fairs, the Affair was more of a retrospective of trends as opposed to something fresh and new. All that said, the Affair was still great though, and good god what a social event. I don't think I could go in a single room without someone saying "Hey Calvin, How's it going?" Enough with the damn small talk, this man wants to look at art! Anyway, enough of that rant.

Posted by: Calvin Carl [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 18, 2006 06:54 PM

Dear Paula,

You should start thinking about dating that Joe Macca.

Posted by: carrieandharley [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 31, 2006 10:08 PM

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