The Portland Art Museum
leaked a smidgen of their major programming for the coming years but the best stuff isn't on the list. There are lots
of gaps and omissions, including a major contemporary retrospective (it is too
early to be discussed yet, curated by Bruce Guenther)... so calling this lineup
a more "regional"
focus as the O does
misses the mark. Especially considering recent
they failed to note and the lineup for the ongoing Miller-Meigs
series which are not listed (other question is why does the O seem to want PAM to
become so regional or isolationist?). Don't worry that isn't happening, the museum is easilly becoming more internationally relevant, while still being more serious about addressing the regional. *Update
here's a quote from Ferriso: "Our goal in developing this series has been to harness the intellectual and physical assets of the Museum and community to stimulate interest and dialogue around key global issues: past, present, and future. ....This series includes large-scale international exhibitions, some conceived at other institutions, but the majority developed through the scholarship of our own curators."
outside Portland Tyler Green is loving this anti-bombastic, non-Krensian turn
at the museum
and let's hope this Portland trend will sweep the nation. The
list below came out from fundraising efforts and is not as an exhaustive list (disclosure
I am VP of the Contemporary Art Council at PAM).
Short history lesson:
Since the mid 90's Portland had languished with the Portland Art Museum first
being in peril of not existing (saved
by John Buchanan and Co
.) only to turn into a somewhat detached enclave
for francophile and traveling blockbuster shows (also under Buchanan). This
created a cultural vacuum at the top, leaving many patrons bemused or uninvolved
in the vibrant visual arts fabric here. It is also why Portland's other visual
art institutions are all either very young, completely confused or have only
recently gotten their acts together (PNCA, Reed)... our anchor institution,
PAM, was harbored in France (and not the modern one either).
This all started to change when in 2000 Tracy Savage managed to secure the
Greenberg collection for the Museum
with funds and foresight from Tom and
Gretchen Holce, which then forced the building of the Mark wing and Jubitz Center
for Contemporary Art. This also lead to the Miller-Meigs series of shows (Roxy
Payne, Sophie Calle, Pierre Huyghe, Hirst and next up Ursula
After Buchanan left for San Francisco in 2005 (there was practically dancing in the
streets by the contemporary art crowd) the museum chose to de-Buchananize itself
and picked a low key intellectually focused director and for once PAM is at
the lead of a new national trend, the anti-blockbuster & curatorially driven
museum. The new director Brian Ferriso has done several Q&A's
in town on this already. Considering results like Wes
and Camouflage the new curatorial focus has been a huge boon.
Now to further gage the shift here there is this incomplete list for PAM
Feb 2- May 11 2008 The Dancer,
110 works on paper by Edgar Degas, Jean-Louis
Forain and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec regarding dance. This will have cross promotions
with Oregon Ballet Theater. Ok OK it is dead French art but at least it is focused
and doesn't use the word "masterpieces" or "triumph" without delivering several examples (ala JB).
Maybe the ballet and impressionist art crowds can reinvigorate the discussion
of what was once was cutting edge culture. Instead of gold frames this show
of drawings will emphasize the cross pollination between art forms. I'm a big
fan of Degas' pastels and the kind of moody dread they barely conceal, as any
big Baudelaire fan would so I'm excited by this scholarly show.
June 14- Sept 7th 2008 Contemporary Northwest Art Awards
of the replacement for the Oregon Biennial, if it doesn't challenge the viewers
in cutting edge way it will fail the city and we will insist that the word "Contemporary"
be replaced with "Banal". The CNAA was introduced with a reference to the SECA
awards so that is what it will be measured against. I don't think Gately will
go the the banal route, she seems to have a strong commitment to important
contemporary art, even when it is local
May 31-Sept 7th 2008 Klaus Moje Retrospective
... an Australian glass
artist. It will be interesting how PAM and The
Museum of Contemporary Craft
might overlap and compare.
Oct 4th- Jan 11th Wild Beauty: Photographs of the Columbia River Gorge,
charts the photographic transformation of the Columbia River
Feb 15- May 15th 2009 French Painting in the Age of Madame de Pompadour
.... UGH French paintings, I have seen too much of this in the past 8 years!
This is a Buchanan era holdover but these are coming to an end: as the Oregonian
reported, consulting curator Penelope Hunter-Stieble's services will be taken over by an in house curator. It's time.
October 3rd 2009 - Jan 10th 2010 PNCA at 100
, a historical survey of
the Pacific Northwest College of Art, which used to be the Museum school... so it's kinda like a family reunion of once-conjoined twins.
Winter 2009 Contemporary Survey
, an international contemporary art survey.
Look I'm a double agent, I can't say anything more on this but what Bruce is
thinking of isnt just some ad hoc "contemporary trends" sampler, there
is an intellectual relevance to this and it fits in well with the museum's collections
Spring 2010 China Design Now
, a traveling from the Victoria
and Albert Museum, more info here
. This indicates a more contemporary turn
for our newly hired asian curator. Very cool.
Obviously its a huge departure from the relentless onslaught of gilded bauble
and second rate French old master shows we were subjected to under John Buchanan
and as we have heard from the new director Brian Ferriso for 10 months now the
museum is going away from blockbusters and more towards intellectually responsible
Thanks for the quick history -- very helpful to relative newcomers to Portland. Glad I missed the Buchanan era, I guess. Would love to see fewer blockbusters (like that Egypt thing) and more cutting edge contemporary art at PAM. Not to be isolationist, but I do hope the museum offers opportunities for top local and regional artists as well as an international focus.
I would love to see more contemporary (living) artist showing at PAM. Working in all styles. Traditional painting still has new things to say. The discipline is still very different than the mixed media or installation artist, outside of idea generation. I enjoy the variety but crave to see paint because I am a painter. I also agree with Brett I hope there are opportunities for local artists. Although it is interesting to see what is happening international, to focus solely on that would create repetition and less opportunity for a variety of voices to be heard.
Nice recap. And thank you for mentioning Tracy Savage. Her space on 12th(?) across from the Gregory was as modern and contemporary of a space as anything I'd seen in Portland to that point. A real planting of the flag in the Pearl district.
The ice-cool, brightly lit space was almost blinding, and it really seemed to push gallery venues to the next level in Portland.
Unfortunately, the art never seemed to live up to the venue. Except for a Ted Savinar piece (a geneology of wearing black in modern culture) and the Chihuly chandelier hanging in her office, most seemed well presented but light on substance. And when I walked in one day and saw William Wegman on the walls, I knew the end was near.
Too bad the space didn't last but I admired her gumption and boldness. I feel she definitely played a part in pushing Portland further.
Doesn't tie in exactly to your museum post, but appreciate the opportunity to comment.
Ooo! Ooo! Isn't Eric Fischl due for a mid-career retrospective? Let's get that!
Sean... you are right... in fact no space in Portland has yet risen to present such high expectations as Tracy did. Bryan Hunt's opening show in the back room there was awe inspiring in a way that competed with Gagosian shows.
I felt Heidi Schwegler also did a good job in the big back room too.
Also, Eric Fischl isnt it... I'm not gonna play 20 questions but it is someone bigger than that.