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.
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.
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.
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
represent video artists even. It is the best thing to happen to the lofts since Soundvision
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
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
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
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
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
Also, don't forget that invisible.other ends this weekend at NAAU. Check out
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.