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

recent entries

Mississippi May or may not?
First Friday Picks June 2007
The Primacy of the Mark: the Brice Marden Retrospective at SFMoMA
OCHC Lecture
Catch these sparklers, before they are gone
Dinh Q. Le at Elizabeth Leach Gallery
Withering Criticism
Exit 07
PNCA Benefactor To Lead a Major Cultural Breakthrough for Portland
Oregon Biennial, not so dead?
Rosalind Krauss and Miranda July separated at birth?

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Thursday 05.31.07

Mississippi May or may not?

Ryan Shank's mural "Friendly Times With Old Smellyneck"

Warehouse shows have a near mythological status in the art world as spaces pregnant with possibilities and as benchmarks of ambitions. Historically, exhibitions like Damien Hirst's Freeze or the goings on at Forcefield's Fort Thunder have introduced new tight knit casts of art world characters and counter movements designed to change very local expectations and redirect the gaze of art viewing audiences. In theory at least, they present a challenge to the status quo and in the case of Hirst or Forcefield, they had lasting effects.

Portland has had a ton of warehouse shows... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on May 31, 2007 at 15:40 | Comments (0)


Wednesday 05.30.07

First Friday Picks June 2007

The Hook Up at NAUU
Unfinished installation view of The Hook Up

This month the New American Art Union presents The Hook Up, curated by Bay Area transplant Jesse Hayward. The Hook Up deals with the relationship of art to the wall, how flat space influences media and installation, and the effect of the wall as a unifying element in exhibition. This highly anticipated show introduces new work that might subvert your expectations from participating artists.

The Hook Up features three artists from the 1999 Oregon Biennial who woke up Portland's gallery scene forever, Sean Healy, Brenden Clenaghen, and Jacqueline Ehlis, as well as Ellen George, TJ Norris, Jeff Jahn (PORT's ubiquitous co-owner), and newcomers Stephanie Robison and PORT's own Jenene Nagy.

Opening reception • 7-10pm • June 1
New American Art Union • 922 SE Ankeny Street • Tel.503.231.8294

... (more)

Posted by Megan Driscoll on May 30, 2007 at 10:37 | Comments (3)


The Primacy of the Mark: the Brice Marden Retrospective at SFMoMA

Brice Marden Study for Muses (Hydra Version), 1991-95/1997; Oil on Linen

Brice Marden has been trying to bring the experiential quality of making and looking at paintings into the foreground of his studio practice for forty years. If there has been a common subject matter to his paintings, it would be about the long, slow, patient observations that the paintings require and the effect those observations have on the way we see ourselves and the world around us. His career has been an exploration of the ways that different forms and surface could be used to tighten the image to the picture plane. He has, on his own terms, been always trying to cut through to what is the essential nature of painting, and he does it by asking a series of questions: when does one color change to become another, when does one object transform into another, and what effects do the paintings have on the people that look at them? more...

Posted by Arcy Douglass on May 30, 2007 at 9:48 | Comments (15)


Tuesday 05.29.07

OCHC Lecture

The Oregon Cultural Heritage Commission is sponsoring a lecture by Michael Munk: "The Portland Red Guide: Sites and Stories from our Radical Past." The free lecture is at 7pm on Wednesday, June 6, at the Eliot Chapel, First Unitarian Church, and will be followed by a reception.

Posted by Megan Driscoll on May 29, 2007 at 9:25 | Comments (0)


Friday 05.25.07

Catch these sparklers, before they are gone

Tetenbaum & Abel's Weather Report at NAAU

Here is are some worthy things in Portland that come down shortly:

Tracey Emin, Book Art, Tivon Rice & Nathan Shapiro...(more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on May 25, 2007 at 12:08 | Comments (0)


Thursday 05.24.07

Dinh Q. Le at Elizabeth Leach Gallery

Dinh Q. Le Untitled (Crowd), 2007 Photo Courtesy Elizabeth Leach Gallery

When you walk into the Elizabeth Leach gallery this month, a barrage of imagery simultaneously assaults and seduces. The colors of Dinh Q. Le's six works in the outer gallery grab your eye again and again, in an overload of pulsing industry. They are pharmaceutical colors, candied colors.. ..(more)

Posted by Amy Bernstein on May 24, 2007 at 7:41 | Comments (0)


Wednesday 05.23.07

Withering Criticism

Ahhh, David Row over at the O blogs has yet another insecurity filled diatribe on criticism and bloggers... which is generally spot on in theory, though needlessly reactionary towards democratic expression. Look, people with little worth as critics don't attract audiences and have little opinion shaping authority. Yes, newspapers are full of near useless critics, they also have some good ones (the O's Shawn Levy is good and Randy Gragg recently left).... elsewhere The LA Times Christopher Knight is superb as are Roberta Smith and Regina Hackett at the Seattle PI (who should be lured to Portland... it will take more than breadcrumbs).

Sure, everyone is capable of being critical but a critic is someone who develops a critical practice with an awareness and responsiblity to the relevance of the words (even when the critic is just wrong, real critics risk it). I'm trained as a critic/historian and I remember the 600 level writing course in grad school as a kind of relentless hypercritical boot camp, but the truth was I was always thinking, "what does this mean?" Having been raised Lutheran didn't hurt either, but I ultimately liked the critical part more than the religious elements.

It is true, good critics are really hard to find and when PORT hires someone I usually end up with these strange moments where I try to look at the gestalt of the potential critic and I think, "do they have it in them to do this month in month out?" The secret is they always have to care about the subject deeply, then back it up with knowledge... not just a reaction. There is a place for tour guide wordsmiths but they arent as influential as the critics with teeth. A critic who isn't into their subject isn't an effective critic.

I'm amadant that PORT's critics have strong art backgrounds but that is just the starting criteria.

Gursky at Matthew Marks this month

For example of the real deal, read Jerry Saltz's latest here. I think he's wrong about Gursky's post 9/11 importance, but I can see how this show looks out of touch. Is Gursky just whistling past the graveyard? Well maybe, but it reflects the way power and amnesia inducing commerce do act these days.

Did 9/11 change consumer's appetite for Soma? No.

For example there are the Global Warming Ready Diesel ads, a kind of reverse psychology ad campaign aimed at youth's ability to ignore the obvious while not being ignorant. One that Ive seen in Rolling Stone etc. sports a young, good looking couple cavorting atop a skyscraper. Below them it appears the ocean has covered the cityscape in a kind of Neroesque catastrophe (have the polar ice caps melted?) One can clearly make out that the rich have survived the deluge in party yachts sailing the ruined civilization. Is Gursky out of touch? not so much as he is in touch with the out of touch. Saltz is right that it might be getting old and watered down, but when does a lie that tells the truth really get old? As a true critic Saltz gets it wrong for the right reasons. As a fan I would like Gurksy to kick it up a notch because he's gotten a little too close to the Diesel ads so Jerry's kinda right.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on May 23, 2007 at 13:23 | Comments (11)


Exit 07

In further arts education news, Kristan Kennedy of PICA is curating a show at PSU's Littman Gallery in the Smith Center, 1825 SW Broadway. Exit 07 features the work of 12 PSU seniors, and closes on May 30. Visiting hours are Monday through Friday, noon to 4pm.

Also at PSU: A "Senior Showcase" in the PSU Art Building, 2000 SW 5th Ave., running from May 24 through June 7. Visiting hours are Monday through Thursday, 9am to 5pm, and the closing reception is on Thursday, June 7 from 5-8pm. MFA students at PSU will be holding open studios during the reception.

Posted by Megan Driscoll on May 23, 2007 at 8:48 | Comments (0)


Tuesday 05.22.07

PNCA Benefactor To Lead a Major Cultural Breakthrough for Portland

PNCA just received a major gift that will provide the final push in transforming it from a small, struggling school to a major force in the art world. Hallie E. Ford and the Ford Foundation will donate $15 million, twice the school's annual budget and the largest single donation to an Oregon arts institution ever. $10 million will go to building a new artist residency program, which will not only allow PNCA students to work closely with internationally renowned visual artists, it will also bring a network of innovators into Portland. The Portland art scene stands to benefit immensely both from the establishment of PNCA as an important arts institution within and beyond the region, and from the influx of artists and ideas that the residency program will contribute to the community. Read more about the donation, as well as all the recent improvements at PNCA, on OregonLive.

Posted by Megan Driscoll on May 22, 2007 at 12:13 | Comments (2)


Monday 05.21.07

Oregon Biennial, not so dead?

The Oregonian has a bit on the newest iteration of the Oregon Biennial today, it has resurfaced at the Portland Art Center. Good move, It is a turning point for PAC because they are known more for good intentions than authoritative programming and this forces that issue (Gavin's honest about it and understands this as a growth opportunity). I'm endorsing it and suggested this obvious move (with some cautionary caveats). Yes, I've been in on this, which is why I haven't said anything till now (sometimes scoops matter less than letting things catalyze and develop)...(more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on May 21, 2007 at 10:25 | Comments (17)


Friday 05.18.07

Rosalind Krauss and Miranda July separated at birth?


In my somewhat differently kiltered mind Rosalind Krauss and Miranda July are twins separated at birth... as both explore different aspects of alienation with piquant clarity. Ok so Krauss is a touch more academic…

Krauss is one of the most important Modern and Postmodern critics having written, "The Originality of the Avant-Garde and Other Modernist Myths." It will be interesting to see how she's reacting to these relatively anti-theory driven (but career oriented) art times. Catch her at the Portland Art Museum Sunday May 20th at 2:00 PM. $5 members, $10 for everyone else.

July is Western Civilization's 21st century postergal for the early aughts (look it just can't be Paris Hilton). Of course she's a former Portlander and yes she is speaking tonight for PICA at the First Congregational Church from 7-8PM on her new book "No One Belongs Here More Than You." Amazingly tickets are still available at the door. $10 for members, $13 for everyone else (so get em early today)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on May 18, 2007 at 12:04 | Comments (0)


Wednesday 05.16.07


The 13 day Mississippi:May show kicks off with an opening party this Saturday, May 19. It's a group show filling an immense North Mississippi warehouse, bylined as "15 artists. 50,000 square feet." Organized by graffiti artist Joshua Wallace, M:M hopes to showcase talented local artists who don't make it into the standard Portland gallery rounds. The group works in a wide variety of media and styles, and the format of the show promises to be both fascinating and frenetic. For more info on the genesis of M:M, check out the Willie Week editorial.

Update: From the 26th through the 31st, there will be a silent auction in an alcove of the M:M warehouse to benefit performance artist and former Sprockettes member Trish Ruppert, who suffers from Acquired Subacute Demyelinating Neuropathy, as well as OHSU research on the autoimmune disorder.

Also this weekend: the opening reception for Third Thing Projects, a collaboration between Chris Knight and 2006 Oregon Biennial artist Ben Buswell. The show is at the Alexander Gallery in the Niemeyer Center on the Clackamas Community College Campus, and the opening reception is Saturday, May 19th, from 1-3:30pm.

Posted by Megan Driscoll on May 16, 2007 at 18:00 | Comments (0)


Complicated Complications

Mark Rothko

Mark Rothko (who grew up and trained as an artist here in Portland) just shattered the auction record for contemporary work... he would have hated this. Some day Portland will have a major Rothko of its own on display, dammit! Oh well, if his works keep setting records I half expect Rothko's ghost to show up and get all "Raiders of the Lost Ark ending" on the auction houses. At the same time it's probably worth the price paid.

Back onto the art, I really enjoyed Peter Schjeldahl's take on Chris Burden. I like how he highlights how Burden was taking pains to be taken seriously as an artist. Most artists who admire Burden don't do the same thing, they just reference his work and do something much easier to do. The difference between Burden and Burden-lite is a sense of earning the attention by truly polarizing people rather than just trying to use the conceptual as a form of insinuation or secret handshake of initiation. Just hanging out or referencing Burden isn't in the same league. Burden put the viewer on the spot so well you don't have to have seen it to feel uncomfortable. Successful art is often complicated, great art simly is complicating... a radical agitator like Burden is a great example.

Also, Schjeldahl's take on Hopper pinpoints why he's such a useful writer (at least on completely established, major artists), he's an accessible but challenging wordsmith. Schjeldahl complicates very strong work with equally deserving words. The only wordsmith better is Hickey, whose just scary even when he's not convincing (which has it's own curse).

Tyler Green is probably right, the Hirshhorn is perfect for Wolfgang Tillmans. But is it a crutch? Is the installation the selling point or just packaging for the blockbuster? Now I dont think Tillmans is fluff he's real good. His more abstract stuff is consistently dazzling as are some of the portraits and still lives, but is the entertainer/installer upstaging the photographer from time to time? Does that matter?...maybe not, since the installations are often so good. Here's what I wrote on the show last year at the MCA.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on May 16, 2007 at 14:13 | Comments (6)


Monday 05.14.07

Habit Forming at PNCA

Kota Ezawa, The Simpson Verdict, 2002
digital animation, 3 minute loop
Miller Meigs Collection

Cartoon O.J. Simpson's lips twitch into a brief smile as the word "murder" is spoken for the second time..............(more)

Posted by Jessica Bromer on May 14, 2007 at 21:03 | Comments (2)


PSU MFA Monday Night Lecture Series Presents Lee Walton

Lee Walton speaks for the PSU Monday Night Lecture Series.
Monday, May 14, 8:15pm.
5th Avenue Cinema Room 92
510 SW Hall St. 5th Avenue Cinema (at the corner of SW 5th & Hall on the PSU Campus)

Click to see full video.

Walton received his MFA from the California College of the Arts, and is currently on the interdisciplinary faculty at the Parson's New School of Design. His experientalist work ranges from "traditional" drawing to video installation to large scale public performance. Walton's work has appeared in Portland before at The Best Coast in 2003, and again in 2005 as part of the Fresh Trouble exhibition (disclosure: curated by PORT co-owner Jeff Jahn). His lecture tonight will cover current work, such as the Getting a Feel video and performance project (pictured above), and after the lecture Walton will be working with students to create a series of semi-public performances.

Posted by Megan Driscoll on May 14, 2007 at 8:49 | Comments (0)


Friday 05.11.07

Hereto, Where Art Thou? (by TJ Norris)

Maxwell's Demon (USA II)

"We're all kind of basically involved in the same thing, putting up a blank of some kind and filling it in." - William Wiley

Blank - Exploring Nothing is the latest curatorial conundrum from Atlanta-based aquaspace (aka artist/curator/writer Avantika Bawa) on view through the month of May at Tilt Gallery & Project Space.

Essentially, Blank is a small group exhibition of eight artists (including Bawa herself) who are exploring the ambiguous, esoteric space of the intangible, sourcing the impossible scope of nothingness... (more)

Posted by Guest on May 11, 2007 at 10:26 | Comments (0)



The annual Cascade AIDS Project (CAP) art auction and benefit is happening this Saturday, May 12, at the Oregon Convention Center's Portland Ballroom. Unfortunately, the success of this event tends to undermine the local art market by fostering bottom-line art pricing. CAP would do Portland's art community a great service by broadening the range of objects beyond art in its auction, leaving only those artists who are able to sell above gallery prices. This would hopefully also set a good example for the imitators who have followed CAP's success- although CAP does sometimes set new price points, smaller auctions tend to be even more guilty of subverting the Portland art market.

Posted by Megan Driscoll on May 11, 2007 at 10:25 | Comments (23)


Thursday 05.10.07

Urban Honking's New Talks

Tonight: Urban Honking presents the first event in a new series of symposium-style arts & culture "talks," featuring a lecture by Matthew Stadler and presentations by Greg Borenstein, Claire Evans, Aaron Flint Jamison, and the films of Charles & Ray Eames. 7pm, Thursday May 10, Mississippi Ballroom, free.

Also tonight: A double-feature screening of films by PICA artist in residence, Arnold J. Kemp. Suspiria & Prince of Darkness will be showing at the Clinton Street Theater at 7pm, followed by a meet and greet with Kemp.

Posted by Megan Driscoll on May 10, 2007 at 10:52 | Comments (0)


Bore me with the details?

It's been ridiculous for several years but the auction house madness continues. Here is some auction house reading that tends to bore me in interesting ways:

Artnet has a nice report on Sotheby's 278.5 million dollar art-o-rama... completely boring except for the fact that Lyonel Feininger is getting some respect (he's my Mom's 3rd favorite artist, but she only likes the cityscapes, her fave is Pierre Soulages... which impresses me for it's flat out obscurity). Then there were the Christies sales, which Artnet saw as a sobering of the market.

Also on Artnet is Charlie Finch (who usually annoys me), he does some number crunching on the hedge funders. Sure, doom is coming but probably in the Fall at the earliest... (it might be years from now though, egad)

Today in the NYT's Carol Vogel, whom I also find really tiresome, took in some European bargain hunting. Maybe it's only a matter of time before some artist creates their own sarcastic auction house where sculptures of Tobias Meyer etc. will be sold at inflated bargain prices to Europeans taking advantage of the weak US dollar?

Years ago Edward Winkleman took on the doit de suite issue, would it help artists and their heirs by cutting them in on the action?

A lot of the cooler major collectors I've met hate auctions and I can see why... and yes lot of the stuff offered just isn't that good (yet goes for a premium). Auctions aren't about patronage and it distracts from the pursuit of new work and ideas. The money part bores me and isn't any more surprising than other silly crowd-feuled behavior like the Macarana.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on May 10, 2007 at 10:37 | Comments (0)


Tuesday 05.08.07

Around the Web

Sun Blindness? On Friday, the LA Times covered one Southern Californian's trek through Portland...

A Vision of Voyeurism: The New York Times recently covered the photography of Ryan McGinley...

Paris Meets the 21st Century: An American ex-pat once told me that Paris is a dead city...

Keeping His Cool: The Boston Globe this week detailed the rise of Zach Feuer...


Posted by Megan Driscoll on May 08, 2007 at 17:37 | Comments (0)


Beyond Representation: minimalist/postminimalist prints at PAM

Beyond Representation Judd Woodblock.jpg
Donald Judd Painted Woodblock 1991

Titled, "minimalism/postminimalism: Selections from the Collections of Jordan Schnitzer and His Family Foundation" this print and multiple show at the Portland Museum of Art is an exploration of the way that some of the best American artists of the '60s up until today explored the process and potential of printmaking. This excellent exhibition includes prints by some of the best American artists including Agnes Martin, Donald Judd, Richard Serra, Brice Marden, Josef Albers, Frank Stella and Sol Lewitt to name just a few...(more)

Posted by Arcy Douglass on May 08, 2007 at 10:00 | Comments (1)


Miller/Hull Lecture at PAM Tonight


Found on the Willie Week's wire: Northwest architect David Miller from the Miller/Hull firm is speaking at the Portland Art Museum. His lecture, "Objects/Fields: Recent Architecture of Miller/Hull," will cover the firm's latest work, which ranges from stylish urban condos to elegant educational facilities (pictured: the Tillamook Forest Interpretive Center). Find him Tuesday, May 8 at 7pm in the Fields Ballroom in the Marks Building at 1119 SW Park Ave. The lecture is free, and followed by a dessert reception.

Posted by Megan Driscoll on May 08, 2007 at 9:42 | Comments (0)


Sunday 05.06.07

PNCA Launches MFA Program

Ok most insiders have known about this forever but the Pacific Northwest College of Art has now officially launched its MFA program, giving Portland a much needed second MFA. Previously only PSU produced MFA's but PNCA's program is unique in the region because it is mentor based, which a little similar to what Goldsmiths college's does. The 15 MFA candidates have already been selected and will start in the Fall. Notably, 75% of the candidates aren't from Portland (which is just about in keeping with the general population of Portland's art scene these days). The competition should also highlight the need for PSU to get more serious about its program (which has improved tremendously with little support).

Here's what PNCA says via MK Guth, the new MFA program's chair:
... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on May 06, 2007 at 18:36 | Comments (3)


Friday 05.04.07

First Friday

There are a lot of events and openings tonight but here are the two best bets:


Small A shows Bob Linder & Will Rogan Hear The Wind Sing.
The New York based Linder and San Francisco based Rogan have been friends for over a decade and implicit in their work, is a both a celebration and an insistence of the physicality and presence of things that is also central to Haruki Murakami's text and title that is borrowed for the title of this exhibition. They will both be speaking at The PSU lecture series on Monday May 7th as well (8:00 PM @ 5th ave cinemas)

Opening Reception • 5-8pm • May 4 - June 2
Small A Projects • 1430 SE 3rd • 503.234.7993


The other bet is a curator's talk @ Tilt, 625 NW Everett #106 (7:00 PM):

Atlanta based curator Advantika Bawa discusses Blank, which opened at the Everrett Lofts yesterday. It's a solid show featuring Traci Talasco, Brett Osborn, Fred Jesser, Victoria Fu, Johnathan Field, Craig Drennan, Lauren Clay and Bawa.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on May 04, 2007 at 13:58 | Comments (0)


Weekly Reader

I'll have the First Friday post up for you a little later, till then here are some art good reads:

Robert Storr discusses the upcoming Venice Biennale. Storr's take on mixing the politics of the conceptual and perceptual are right on and I hope his show is extra influential.

Paul Goldberger discusses a new Steven Holl Museum addition.

Roberta Smith takes on Frank Stella's continuing slide into glorified mall art. I'm a fan of the pre 90's stuff, somebody stop him... he's become the art world analog of late Vegas era Elvis. Having the Met join in doesn't help.

Also, Brian Libby has 2 cool bits. #1 is a post on AIA's new HQ's in the Pearl and #2 is on a dormant building with a cool facade that Brian, myself and Philip Iosca (among others) just love.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on May 04, 2007 at 10:45 | Comments (0)


Wednesday 05.02.07

First Thursday Picks: May 2007

Yes, me again I apologize; PORT will be introducing our newest news/openings writer shortly. About First Thursday? As usual it looks like most of the edgier shows will be in the alt spaces like the Everett Station Lofts (I wont go over the shows there, just go). Here are some of better looking non-alt shows:

Din Q. Le @ Elizabeth leach Gallery

Ever a favorite when he's in town Le has had a longstanding presence in Portland but after being in the 2005 Venice Biennale his woven photographs have been in great demand. I'm excited to see the video work as well.

Opening Reception • May 3 • 6 to 9p
Elizabeth Leach Gallery • 417 NW 9th Ave • Tel. 503.224.0521

Nathaniel Shapiro's Point of Purchase @ Manuel Izquierdo Sculpture Gallery (PNCA)

If the image above "Hot Seat" is any indication, this might be the edgiest of the establishment shows this month... excluding Kehinde Wiley at PAM of course.

Opening Reception • May 3 • 6 to 9p
PNCA • 825 NW 13th Ave • Tel. 503.226.4391

...(much more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on May 02, 2007 at 20:55 | Comments (3)


Tuesday 05.01.07

New Seattle Art Museum opens, designed by Portland architect


Most of you know the Seattle Art Museum is opening its new wing this week, designed by Portland's own Allied Works Architects. It opens to the public next Saturday and to members today. The building itself is pretty conservative and won't dethrone Rem Koolhaas' library as the most awesome structure in Seattle but in some ways that's good, Ive grown weary of stunt architecture for museums. Seattle is a city that collects architects and it is nice that this building is designed to deflect attention to what kind of art Seattle collects.

I toured the new facilities a few weeks ago with SAM's new contemporary curator...(more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on May 01, 2007 at 22:07 | Comments (3)


Retinal Reverb Revisited

"Coyote Search" Terry Chatkupt

Upon entering the opening show for this year's PDX Film Fest, one encountered a shift in perception; linear living was altered somehow, and the viewer suddenly found him/herself immersed completely within a realm of video. The subtle bluish glow of screens and projections created. . .(more)

Posted by Amy Bernstein on May 01, 2007 at 7:51 | Comments (2)

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