One of PAM's latest acquisitions: Judy Chicago's Pasadena Lifesaver, Blue Series #4
Acrylic lacquer on acrylic
It is pretty clear now that the Portland Art Museum is a very different institution
than it was in 2005. PAM has even taken a decidedly more intellectually engaged
turn since Brian Ferriso took over, though so far he is most notable for letting
his curators actually curate. Here is a catch up on PAM's latest activities.
(Disclosure I am VP of the museum's Contemporary Art Council
, though hardly shy about my opinions). Here are some scoops
and other info nuggets regarding PAM's new Director, CNAA, programming and latest acquisitions.
The current Wes
Mills (Apex program)
Wiley (Miller Meigs series)
shows are great additions. Ursela
is next for the Miller Meigs series and her massive wooden
structures should be go down well with the lumber loving Portland audience.
That said I'm NOT excited about the upcoming Chuck
Close print show
at all... both he and Frank Stella went from great to ubiquitously
dull during the 90's. Besides, it's tough to get excited about yet another big
print show? The Jordan
Schnitzer minimalist print show
was very good and a tough act to follow.
Also, it is obvious Portland still requires a large scale contemporary art show before
we can really say PAM is serving the new standards that have been set in town
(I hear it is coming). Right now I know a lot of serious contemporary art people
in town are annoyed that they always have to travel to see a major contemporary
retrospective. How about bringing something like Rudolf
Stingel's traveling show
here? It really hurt when the Rosenquist retrospective
didn't materialize here in 2004 and our last big contemporary show was the UBS
exhibit in 2003 (way too long). Before that it was the excellent
Lets Entertain show
way back in 2000 (it along with the 1999 Oregon biennial have been the most influential art shows in Portland history... and I do mean its entire history (even the travelling version of THE Armory show hasn't had as profound an impact here). .
Still it is exciting that chief curator Bruce Guenther has a show called Camouflage
opening August 4th in the Schnitzer Atrium space where the Neri show is currently
on view. With an exciting lineup of Philip
, Andy Warhol, Agnes Martin, Christopher Wool and Damien Hirst among
others it will take a look at the use of pattern in contemporary painting over
the last few decades. I cant see how this can miss. It is topical and Bruce
seems to be enjoying the opportunity to put together his first mid-sized multi-artist
survey show at the museum since his excellent New
survey way back in 2002.
PAM has hired an Asian curator too, (will they address contemporary Asian
art?) I dont think I'll discuss them much here on PORT unless they do.
I published this
checklist for Brian Ferriso
the day he started working here last Fall. So
far acquisitions have stepped up, there has been more contemporary curating,
he's hired a new director of development who knows the West Hills well, the
rental/sales gallery has moved out of the galleries and into rented space across the street and the new
PAM logo's days are definitely numbered. The staff likes him and he seems to
get candid responses from them too. He also just moved into his new home this week. Sure, Ferriso is still getting his sea legs here but he's doing well. The really tough stuff
is yet to come as engaging and leading the city with our premier art
institution is a bit like herding cats with a bulldozer. I admit that is an entertaining thing to watch.
Contemporary Northwest Art Award:
We will see if the 3-5 artists chosen for the Contemporary Northwest Art Award
will be provocative and fresh or dull and safe? If it isn't the difficult combination
of both fresh and masterful it will be laughed into inconsequentiality. About
250 artists were nominated and around 30 didn't even bother to reply with packets. So now it is up to Gately and James Rondeau to determine who of the around 220 get a
closer look. My sense is that Gately knows a lot is riding on this for her and
I suspect there will be some welcome surprises. She wouldn't have designed such a contest if she didn't feel it could create something relevant. We shall see.
(here are 2 acquisitions
since the big Rauschenberg
last year and both of the items discussed here are on display now):
Judy Chicago's Pasadena Lifesaver, Blue Series#4 is one of her seminal minimalist works made
before here terribly famous feminist icon "The Dinner Party
." She along with Lynda Benglis (also in the collection)
both deserve major retrospectives at MoMA and this minimalist work by Chicago
definitely enhances the museum's holdings of minimalism and art by women.
Joe Goode's Torn Cloud Painting
(1975) Oil on canvas
Goode is seminal California pop artist and this large canvas bridges the gap
between the perceptual pop of Goode's pal Ed Ruscha and the light and space
artists like Robert Irwin. I like its associations with Clyfford Still, Lucio Fontana, Matisse's cutouts and Stieglitz's Equivalents
too. Chief Curator Bruce Guenther has installed it appropriately next to the
Irwin disc. This work was purchased by the Contemporary
on which I serve as a board member.
I already mentioned the Gene
acquisition a while back too.
Finally, you can see a lot of new to Portland loaner works on view in the Jubitz Center
for Contemporary Art as well. There is a big Richard Prince joke painting, a really
nice 70's de Kooning that suddenly makes the abstract expressionist room a lot
more respectable, a Gerhard Richter, a Judd stack, a Gabriel
and and a couple Sigmar Polke's too.
Both of the works pictured here are gorgeous. Hurrah!
Great post, the newly acquired pieces are just wonderful to look at and have been installed incredibly well - Guenther has a good eye and the Contemporary Art Council has chosen some great pieces, which have opened my eyes to new artists I knew nothing about until now.
The pieces on loan right now are incredible too. You will kick yourself if you miss them - I promise! Like the Ed Ruscha piece 'Turn Around' (which seemed innocuous and maybe a little silly to me until I read what it was made from, whoa!)
The Leda and the Swan piece by Lichtenstein is perfectly sited next to the Claes Oldenburg - here we see two theories of Pop Art side by side. And what better way to kick the history of painting-making than to paint a subject that's been done throughout history and by the great masters no less. I wish we could have that one!
But then, I'd like to keep the Judd, the Richter, the de Kooning... the list goes on.
Bruce has done so well to bring these pieces to Portland, he is to be congratulated - even if these works are here for only a little while, we have an opportunity to consider some of the great works of the 20th Century.
I may sound like I'm overstating it here, but walking up through the building there seemed a surprise at every turn. I personally will be back again and again until they leave us.