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Friday 04.27.07

« Just what Miami needed | Main | Again, 3 Wins Out as the Magic Number »

Quick and dirty reviews April 2006

There is a necessary but dirty art to reviewing shows without giving them the real space they deserve. Here are some shows who are on their last weekend and are worth checking out. Yes, with Photolucida this month there was a ton of photography in Portland:

(L to R) Pettibon, Starn brothers, Tillmans & Warhol

Still Life: at Pulliam Deffenbaugh

It pains me that I don't have enough time to go on and on about this show but let's just say the combination of a Starn Twin's snowflake next to a Raymond Pettibon with a hand grenade made this one of the most inwardly seething still life shows I've ever encountered.

Hoyen's Banana

Also at Still Life, there was Richard Hoyen's nice lil painting with a knife "castrating" a banana, ouch. Some divorce lawyer could hang that in the ol office to good effect! The Warhol had that woozy familiarity of a cocktail party where everything looks a bit wobbly.

The Vic Muniz place mats with Viagra, cockroaches and headless army men were a nice touch too. The combination of Wolfgang Tillmans and Jay Steensma in the same show may never happen again. Check this sly show out before its gone. Verdict: the best group show in a Portland gallery for April.

At Ogle Justin Gorman and Caleb Freese put on an impressive display of 100 works in white frames. This is good because they have been showing in too many group shows.

Everything here seemed to combine graffiti, snippets of urban photography and the shattered modernism of Libeskind, Zaha Hadid and Mehretu with the net effect of elation and dismay. It lacks a unique voice but the one it uses speaks clearly.

On one hand this is a solid effort but with so many small statements rather tethered to other artists' and architect's vernaculars it seemed like it was quoting a scattered force. Yes, I know it is "about fragmentation" but it was too fragmented to be about anything else beyond the diaspora. Verdict: a talented duo searching for the right way to present their work.

Christine Clark at 9 Gallery (1231 NW Hoyt):

Normally I hate rooms that are so full of art that you can't see the art without looking at other art. This was the exception. Somehow this dangling garden of wires felt like some mad inventors storage space. The repeating shapes and forms also gave it a strong sense of individual style. Verdict: Successful gestalt of an installation.

Chris Held's White Sound Circuit

Fresh Donuts: at Tilt

Tilt has become the best monthly programmed art space in the city and Fresh Donuts gets it done, again (apologies, Jenene works for PORT… yes the shows used to feel studenty in the past but they have tightened up considerably with at least 9 months of strong programmming). Works by Chris Held are strange gizmotic forays into fetished kit electronics and pointless ergonomics all wrapped in a retro store boutique vibe. I'll file it all under pop and it reminds me of Ephraim Russell's more developed work.

Tang's Don't Shoot the Messenger

The funerary urns by Brendan Tang like "Don't Shoot the Messenger" were expertly well done but I felt like the message itself maybe wasn't anything more than a vessel for wit and irony (puns intentional). Verdict: smart witty art, presented in a serious and uncluttered way. Both artists show promise and could really develop. Tilt is currently the gallery space to watch in town right now… they represent video artists even. It is the best thing to happen to the lofts since Soundvision and Nil/Field.

Terry Toedtemeyer at PDX Contemporary

Besides being the photography curator at the Portland Art Museum Toedtemeyer is a complete volcano lover (like myself). Sure, there are lots of sly references to landforms as genitalia here but the real treat is showing the earth as an active… work in progress. Toedtemeyer isn't known for his color work but that is what steals the show. Verdict: It may not change earth history but if you love volcanoes and a kind of wry awe you can't miss here.

Kirby Jones at Pushdot

An auspicious debut, Kirby doesn't use a camera and instead uses a scanner for some rather odd but exquisitely detailed photographs. It's his cropping and the odd way the images appear out of a misty but deafening white that grips me. Verdict: Alien flora with a unique feel.

Joshua Kim at Rake

Overall this group phototography show is the first one at Rake in a while that looked really good. Kim stands out though. His hovering helicopters are nice but they aren't very original. It's his weird archeological photos of man made rock climbing walls that are really… gripping. He's going to Slade for his MFA in the fall and hopefully they will encourage the ergonomic madness I see here. Verdict: weirder is better, especially when its less photoshopped.

Christopher Rauschenberg at Elizabeth Leach

I find his assembled panoramic travel photos dull but this show was engaging with a sparkle in most every print. Something about how his approach to space is so varied and dynamic from shot to shot here is really worthhile. Last year during Liz Leach's 25th anniversary party Chris proved to everyone he is the best dancer in Portland (many of us just watched in awe as he proceeded to unload a huge truckload of dance whupass on the place)... ever since then Ive wanted to see some of same spatial flair, I see some of it here. Verdict: maybe not Travolta but better than Deney Terrio.

Also, don't forget that invisible.other ends this weekend at NAAU. Check out PORT's review from last week. It's a good show that exchanges the surprises of last years excellent Grey|Area for more curatorial control. It's a taste thing that doesn't lean to my taste. See, I have a predisposed dislike for any show that utilizes a lot of "fussy whiteness" to unify the exhibition. Lots of curators do it and its grating to me. You see, after I'd seen a room of Agnes Martins I realized she had spoiled me utterly. It isn't fair to TJ, Terri Hopkins or Matthew Higgs (just 3 of the curators who do this a lot). Ah, there you have it… for aescetism Martin just plain sets the bar.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on April 27, 2007 at 13:34 | Comments (0)


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