White Columns @ Affair at the Jupiter Hotel 2007, Photo by Sarah Henderson
Well the big Portland vis art weekend has come and gone. Though it needed
a name (Critical Mass, Too Much Art etc.) the scene was combination of The
Affair at the Jupiter Art Fair
, a PACKED last weekend of Rembrandt at PAM, Ursula
von Rydingsvard at PAM, last weekend of PICA's TBA visual arts, a bunch of openings,
last weekend of Hap Tivey and a confluence of lot of other shows that are up all month.
I've already reported
on the Affair some here
. It was a better fair for art this year and instead
let TBA be the party HQ's. Not a bad idea, though I'm uncertain if there was
much crossover between the vis-art collecting crowd and the performance art
goers. As I mentioned before, some of the TBA vis arts shows were really underdeveloped
and in fact the best show in line with the event wasn't even an official part
bad cellphone picture of Hap Tivey's Building White
Tivey's Building White/Eclipse
(put on by Elizabeth Leach) showed how to
do festival style vis-arts programming right... just take a massive space and
make it sing with an elegant combination of elemental light and presentation
restraint. Of the two parts Building White was was a good not quite Olafur
Eliasson level light & space effort
(reminded me of a comet's coma)
but Eclipse was one tight, ecstatic moment that was impossible to photograph.
With Hap's demonstration in mind maybe next year's TBA vis arts should do less
and do it better/tighter and possibly grander in a less spread out way? Word
on the street was that people were definitely a bit disappointed this year.
Also, here's an idea whose time has come, should the Pearl District or South
Waterfront create community event facilities to better accommodate a festival
like TBA? I think so, it's so much smarter than a new convention center hotel.
As far as sales at the affair goes there was a modest improvement... those
galleries who communicated with their core West Coast clients prior to the event
seemed to have their best affair ever. Those who simply showed up did the same
that they have done every year. This makes for a mixed reaction but that mix
is directly proportional to the amount of legwork put in by the galleries. Many
had their best affair ever.
Cinema Project @ the Affair Photo by Sarah Henderson
This brings me to possible improvements for the Affair. Although the Reed
and cinema projects were very nice additions I think this fair
needs something more major to create more national buzz. How about possibly
unveiling a major new piece by an important artist like Richard Tuttle, Tim
Hawkinson, etc? (a lil residency at the Lumber Room might facilitate it too...
Yes, Devendra Banhart's drawing were surprisingly good but I dont think many
will hop on a plane just to see them and most art fairs are already fully of
fanciful drawings. Also, there is a nice parking garage below the Jupiter Hotel
that has some possibilities as well. How about a show curated by Lauri
? Also, there just wasn't enough LA presence here this year and
a concerted effort needs to be made there. Besides, Aqua
does include LA
Just taking out an ad in Art Forum won't in itself bring more people here and
the Affair is still coasting on Portland's cool destination factor... basically it takes a full court press and Im offering
to help, Im certain others can too.
Sure, the fair is fine as it is with modest improvements every year but it's
probably time to push it a bit farther. Just pairing with TBA's last weekend
seemed neglible and it's time to add some more elaborate exhibition draw beyond
what hotel rooms offer. Still, Stuart and Laurel are smart not to overextend
the effort. There definitely is a strategy at work here but on its 5th year, the Affair now needs to cultivate more outside collector activity. It already has a good history but it needs another push in the very competitive art fair circuit.
Seattle art blogger Carolyn Zick
of nice pictures too
apparently artists being shown in the affair weren't invited for the $50 gala event. That is a bit of a mistake, you don't have to give them free drink vouchers but collectors do like to hob-knob with artists at those sorts of events. I think Laurel and Stuart were right to take the rock concert out of it but artists add the right kind of energy. Yes there were artist's present friday night but this explains why they werent out in force. Overall an improved affair that needs to clear its throat a little more and lead the scene a little.
My sense is that both TBA and the Affair aren't as worldly as the larger Portland art ecosystem has become. For example the Affair is still a little too mired in the cutesy scribble art that was dated already by 2004 (it was a trend that had come and gone in Portland by 1999-2001, then resurrected by the 2002 Whitney Biennial) but the "kinder art" ratio was much lower this year. Truly, both events are terribly important cultural happenings that probably didn't help each other out much this year. That could be fixed with greater ambitions and planning or maybe the should just go their own way and find their own voices. This year it had all the passion of a marriage of convenience. Not a bad thing but the idea deserves some greater attention.
For the record, the top pic is White Columns and the last image is definitely Cinema Project.
Sarah has more photos coming... some really nice stuff.