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Friday 04.20.07

« Talking With Ghosts: invisible.other at NAAU | Main | 3 Is The Magic Number »

Around the web

Jerry Saltz's latest article for NY Magazine proves why he's the most important art critic on the planet. That alone should be enough for you to check it out, but if you need more; he deals with the pacification of ideas and intent in the art world right now. Now don't get me wrong, all of the art of today isn't just some liberal guilt pressure valve for trustfunders but a lot of it is. Why?...because it lacks a radical impulse. Instead, a lot of today's art is based on ingratiating itself. When other critics simply ignore this problem Jerry gets at the issue, calling PS1's bluff.

Yes, I know I've been giving him a hard time lately but DK Row has picked up one of my old saws... why isn't PSU more serious about its art department? Right now, it's the only MFA program in the city and doesn't have a full time curator despite having several nice gallery spaces. PNCA will have a MFA starting this fall and there are (unconfirmed) rumblings that Reed is looking to start one as well. This puts pressure on PSU to become serious. Also, not to nag but the Oregonian should do more of this, PORT can't do everything and we really try to limit ourselves to art criticism instead of investigative art journalism.

The Willamette Week reviews a show at city hall. Note how mixing with artists has become a political move in Portland? Still, I've yet to see a single politician present anything convincing in regards to the city truly bettering the arts? Why not be like Vancouver BC which allowed the CAG to move to a new space by providing incentives to condo developers?

The Mercury reviewed Motel's latest show too.

Yes, someone on the forums at Artdish has noticed that there is a ton of photography in Portland with Photolucida this month. It's a nice overview that we dont do here. (PORT's focus is more on in depth reviews for individual shows).

Also, Ive added yet another update to the Contemporary Northwest Art Awards news as a followup.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on April 20, 2007 at 12:49 | Comments (15)


Speaking of PSU's MFA program (of which I'm an alumnus), I think it would be worthwhile for Port to list & do reviews (or at least a general "wrap-up") of the thesis shows.

Some might think that thesis shows, as a student work, aren't particularly notable... but I'd argue that they should hold a lot of interest. These thesis shows are the culmination of 9-12 months of full-time effort and thought--a level of exploration that most artists aren't able to put into a single show.

Posted by: SimEnzo [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 21, 2007 07:53 AM

Some short reviews of the thesis shows would be fantastic. Last year the Portland Public Art blog thought the PNCA thesis show was incredibly bad. You can find it here (halfway down the page):


Even with myself being a PNCA student, I would have to agree that the show was pretty depressing. Its sad that the "9-12 months of full-time effort and thought" often culminate into subpar work. Hopefully I will undo that next year. :)

Posted by: Calvin Ross Carl [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 21, 2007 11:25 AM

Do PNCA seniors really spend 9-12 full-time months on their projects? I would have guessed that BFA thesis projects are usually done in a single term and even then would simply be the biggest of several projects/classes that term. (At least that was my experience as an undergrad).

Posted by: SimEnzo [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 21, 2007 12:01 PM

Well Ive been known to do highlights of the thesis shows in the past. If something strikes me like Justin Harris' work a few years back, I'll make notice of it.

Part of the problem is the thesis shows are in competition with a lot of very coherent efforts from recently graduated MFA's who have moved to Portland from elsewhere.

Posted by: Double J [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 21, 2007 02:02 PM

I think the idea that shows of recent MFA grads crowd out a once-a-year MFA thesis wrap up is a bit odd--it's like a supermarket saying they're not going to carry eggs because there are so many nice young chickens to sell. Holly Andres or Mariana Tres (both recent & successful graduates of PSU) having a review seems to have little to do with a current MFA student's work being looked at & discussed.

I'm sure that adding a full-time curator (as JJ suggests) would attract more attention to PSU (in the same way the the Monday Night Lectures have), and would certainly be gratifying to anyone who wants more non-commercial art space in town. But having more light shined on the students' work would have a bigger impact on the program itself.

Posted by: SimEnzo [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 21, 2007 03:29 PM

At PNCA, I think the ideal situation is that students are supposed to really work on their thesis for one full school. The first semester being mostly research and exploration, the second being actual production of the final work. I doubt most student really work very intensely, but who know. I started what I think will be my thesis work over a year ago, and I still have another year to go. So hopefully I won't disappoint! :)

Posted by: Calvin Ross Carl [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 22, 2007 09:50 AM

The ideal MFA thesis show should satisfy the folks who invested cash and genetic fluid to the process - the parents.

Otherwise, I suggest an all-school "Iron Artist" cage match competition broadcast live on cable access.

But I think with 20th Century virtues, such as modesty, perseverance, temperance - completely out of place if you owe $250,000 in school loans and your prospects peak at pulling espresso at Stumptown.


Posted by: cicolini [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 22, 2007 02:34 PM

I am very lucky to have missed the art school curse of becoming a barista. I got lucky enough to get hired by a design firm when I was a freshman. But who knows, the possibilty of designer burnout is high, so I just might end up becoming a barista someday. :)

"Iron Artist" would be an awesome idea! At PNCA, there were two girls named Eliza, so one day they had a Jell-o wrestling match to settle who was the best "Eliza." It was a great time.

Posted by: Calvin Ross Carl [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 22, 2007 03:21 PM

My point is most critics arent likely to review student work. I reviewed Tres before, during and after her MFA... because she's good.

Posted by: Double J [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 22, 2007 06:10 PM

Yeah, it doesn't really make sense to give an in-depth review of a large thesis show. Highlights are always nice though. You just better write me in as a highlight though when my time comes. :)

Posted by: Calvin Ross Carl [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 22, 2007 10:50 PM

Is there particular Grad Schools you find good? That PSU might use as examples.

Posted by: elle4 [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 23, 2007 10:45 AM

Yale, Goldsmiths, Columbia, RISD, UCLA etc.... the one thing any even moderately serious art school has is a curator and a gallery space where the school interacts with the public. PSU has nice spaces (with completely erratic programming and terrible hours)... but even Linfield has a serious curator with a program.

Sure, hiring Harrell was a bold move but of course the followthrough is very important... that was just an opening move.

Posted by: Double J [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 23, 2007 10:55 AM

elle4, if you are curious about which grad schools people across the country think are tops, take a look at this link:


Posted by: melia [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 23, 2007 11:42 AM

While I think that a curator and gallery sounds like a nice addition to a MFA program, I think quality of professors, facilities, and art history department are the most important and can add up to make a great program. Also, I realize that the title of the site alludes to it being Portland oriented, but what do us UofO lackeys need to do to become part of the conversation?

Posted by: minimum [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 23, 2007 05:07 PM

Eugene is always welcome of course, shoot me an email min.

Of course the professors and program are of prime importance... still PSU is in the heart of Portland's downtown, not having a curator for their spaces speaks volumes about how that important department is treated as a second class citizen.

Despite all this PSU's art dept is very popular and is turning out excellent graduates... some are getting very good positions after graduating too.

Posted by: Double J [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 23, 2007 10:27 PM

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