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Tuesday 11.27.07

« Last Thursday AFTA Benefit | Main | Jason Traeger at PCC Cascade »

November in Portland: a glut of good shows

This November Portland was full of interesting shows that probably deserved more attention and if you want to walk off some of those Thanksgiving calories you can check out these shows that aren't by Kentridge, Campbell, Lulic/Kreider, Boberg and Von Rydingsvard…. Yes, those are still my top picks but here are some other vexing shows that collectively show just how varied and unpredictable Portland can be. Recently Jen Graves and Regina Hackett started a conversation in Seattle about the center of their scene... for contrast things are too varigated here in Portland to even consider a center these days. Sure we had a center or two back in 2002-2004 with Haze and the original Savage gallery but now each of the 100 or so factions is pretty much capable of getting 100-500 of their cohorts to show up to a big event… There just isn't a single room big enough to fit everyone and a lot of these groups have international connections that make trying to "be THE place" in Portland a bit of a waste of time. Instead we have lots of alt spaces and old haunts:

Bryson Gill's Atrium Surrealism in Grey

Jace Gace is a great new altspace addition to the Portland art scene started by a couple of recent CCA grads. This hybrid altspace/waffle house in the Portland Art Center's beautiful old home on Belmont has been doing increasingly interesting shows and is packed on openings. The latest show by Bay Area artist, Bryson Gill mines the very popular trend of slightly surreal drawings on paper works that weve seen in droves since Marcel Dzama started making a killing at Art Basel Miami Beach back in the early 2000's. Well executed these works differ from the Dzamist mode with a strange Balthus meets Mormonism and Edward Hopper meets grant wood style Americana…. with a dash of disco. His interiors are particularly enticing, with their stuffed bald eagles and strange presentation cases, the best being Atrium Surrealism In Grey. Ends November 28th

Pollution Party at The Life

Another recent altspace The Life grew out of the long running Zeitgeist gallery in the Everett Station Lofts and this latest show by Pollution Party (Portland artists Bettina McEntyre and Rochell Koivunen) is the gallery's best show to date. Well executed with so much pink faux taxidermy, junk and antiques …plus a soundtrack of burping and farting this was kinda like a 6 year old reimagining bear country as fart country. Errm, yes the art world is a place for some who never want to grow up and this seems to be a satire on that omnipresent art trend of juvenile entertainment meets recycled materials. Nearly everyone who saw this show took note of it but Pollution Party will need to develop a few more layers to fully develop this landfill/playground of nostalgia and juvenilia into a reputation in town. This was a good start. Ends Nov 30 contact 971.544.1365

Work by former Portlander Isaac Lin at Elizabeth Leach

The recent CCA graduates show at Elizabeth Leach Gallery is a rather handsomely installed show, but despite the expert presentation it possesses only a couple of notable works. Curated by Larry Rinder (whose ubiquity has become old, even dull news in Portland) the show is also completely familiar because Portland is already full of former CCA grads... the net effect is somewhat like sitting through a relative's summer vacation pictures.

Mitzi Pederson's untitled works at Elizabeth Leach Gallery

The best works are all in the main gallery including former Portlander Isaac Lin's wall piece, which are energetic and have a Barry McGee mission school aesthetic. Paul Schiek's Similar to Baptism photograph is also well done with it's quasi Mel Gibson-esque religious fervor. Amongst everything else the untitled works by Mitzi Pederson are head and shoulders above the rest... especially her sculpture which effectively channels the ghost of Fred Sandback and the influence of Richard Tuttle (very popular in SF)… it's nonchalant but highly tuned minimal work. Pederson has been showing in Portland for several years but this is better work than Ive seen shown here in the past. Through December 22

Work by Sven (lower left) at Albina Press

One reason Portland is so nice is that our coffee houses often look as good as or better than the Nada art fair. Case in point the Albina Press has an intriguing melange of artists from Antwerp and LA. I like Sven's photos of drawings of falling people (Antwerp) and Ticuta Racorta's (Antwerp) strange zombie leotard woman photos.

Randell Simms #6 and #7 at NAAU

Randell Simms' works at NAAU are a complete reversal since I last saw his grisaille figurative work a few years ago. My favorites are the more geometric and textured works like #7. This new work is still developing but I like how the geometric works could be dress designs or an early sketch for a building. This maquette like aspect of #7 highlights paint's strength as an indeterminate, almost chameleon-like substance. Ends December 8

1977 351/M at Small A

Sincerely John Head's Box Set show at Small A Projects is noteworthy for its fanaticism, focused mostly around the band Foghat and a 1977 Ford Ranchero. In a muscle car geek fest I got into a complicated discussion about the 351 ford engine with SJH's R Scott Porter. He contended it's a "Cleveland" block 351 when I thought it had to be a "Windsor" casting because they weren't making that fabled engine in 1977. Turns out it's a 351 "M" which was touted as a Cleveland in literature by Ford when in fact it was neither a "C" Cleveland or "W" Windsor block. Needless to say SJH are mining some obscure subcultures… some like the 70's arena rock nostalgia seem trendy while others like the obsession with the Ranchero have a better Richard Prince style nostalgia. Stand out pieces are the DVD Translation Foghat Live and 1977 351/M. Both pieces beatify fanatical activity into something really egregiously uncalled for. Still is it just mining nostalgia like the recent Chuck Norris trend (I hear he once beat up a 351/M engine) or is it something truly nuts like Green Bay Packer Fans… whom I think only Joseph Beuys could understand?

DVD Translation Foghat Live

SJH's prints and trophies bore me; they don't have enough of their own fanatical charge to stand on their own outside this exhibit. Ive written about SJH before and the question remains if they can continue to convincingly mine the Ranchero and Foghat vein for nostalgia or if they need to bring in heavyweight fanaticism like the NRA, religion or the Green Bay Packers to develop a convincing body of work the way Richard Prince has with cameros, jokes, advertisements etc. Through Dec 21 but its by appointment only in December so call ahead 503 234 7993

Bawa's Framed at PSU

Avantika Bawa's Sit Stack at PSU's Autzen Gallery mined minimalist tropes but instead of cultivating uniform serial designs like Judd would have Bawa's pieces are all slightly irregular or possess diagonals that mess up the symmetry. Experientially it makes one pay close attention to details… and is kind of like discovering the inner freak of puritanical minimalism. Bawa, from Atlanta does good stuff and worth a look. Ends November 30

(PS PSU's website needs work, sweet hell it's bad)

I'm also uncertain who did this piece on the side of Stumptown Coffee on Belmont but it seems to sum up the zeitgeist of the moment... tense and bracing for worse. (*Update The artist is Andy [last name please?] who can be reached at theweatherreport@gmail.com)

Benedikt Ender at Rock's Box

Last Weekend Benedikt Ender's WWIII: The General of Freedom opened at Rock's Box. Needless to say its an anti-war think for yourself anti-idealogue show, which is a necsessary but always somewhat predictable subject for art. WWIII made up for the predictable subject matter with its general vehemence, including a tunnel of propoganda. Ender is from Cassel Germany and his work seemed to exist somewhere between the ecclesiastical chaos of his late freind Jason Rhoades and Thomas Hirschhorn's war meets porn installations. Frankly, I liked it better than Hirschhorn who has increasingly taken to covering every inch of his installtions with stuff... thereby decreasing the saliencey of everything he appropriates. Ender is simply more surprising and gonzo than Hirschhorn has become and his Portland performance featuring black hot glue, vodka, military outfits and the humping of soldiers to the tunes of Black Sabbath and early Metallica though not original seemed true to how unoriginal wars always seem to be.

Ryan Trecartin's A Family Finds Entertainment

Last but not least is Igloo gallery, a welcome addition to the Everett Station Lofts which has a group show of New York artists (Portland seems to have one of these every month). It's noteworthy though because it has Ryan Trecartin's 2006 Whitney Biennial video, A Family Finds Entertainment. I havn't seen it yet but it's worth seeking out, it's in Saatchi's collection and Im curious if it strikes me as mostly forgettable as the rest of that last Whi Bi, or maybe it rises above? Last Day Saturday Dec 1 12-5 (make a trip to the Everett Station Lofts and check out Ogle, Tilt, Sugar, Rake and The Life as well)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on November 27, 2007 at 13:21 | Comments (6)


The line "Open your parachute and grab your gun" is from King's Crossing by Elliott Smith. I don't know who put it up on the side of Stumptown, though. What was that British lady's name that painted lyrics of Bob Dylan's songs on walls in galleries? Maybe it was her?

Posted by: jerseyjoe [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 28, 2007 08:36 AM

Yeah, I know the Smith song and at first I thought the artist might be Harvest Henderson, but it's not. I hope it stays there forever or Stumptown keeps changing the quotes. Hell I dont even know if it's technically supposed to be art... but I think it is so why not.

PORT's November mystery artist?... someone will track down the name.

Posted by: Double J [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 28, 2007 10:07 AM

Ok ok, I'll fess up. I did the stumptown "art", but actually I wrote that line, so your audiophileness holds no water( get back to the books) In the future JJ, just staple my name on any anon."art" (umm... copywrite!) I'd sign the sky but it's already been done.

Posted by: clarklovins [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 28, 2007 11:12 AM

hello, my name is andy. my friend May, a stumptown employee, just let me know that there had been some comments/ruminations on my installation on the brick wall outside of stumptown. the "parachutes" piece was the second in a series that i am calling "if words end up counting". The first piece was installed over a year ago, on the market wall opposite of Stumptown, "Every heart is a revolutionary cell". anyone remember that? at any rate, I have just installed the third piece, outside of Stumptown, "this too shall pass". i make the letters and curate with quotes. i do a few other things too. let me know what you think. TheWeatherReport@gmail.com

Posted by: countingwords [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 17, 2007 06:44 PM

Awesome, glad you could take credit for the great work. Ill make the updates. Also, great site... the Stumptown coffee on Belmont really has a great outside wall for what you are doing. Is there a last name and or website I can direct people to?... or are you just Andy like Sing and Slash?

Posted by: Double J [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 18, 2007 10:31 AM

Hey Dr. Double-J! Thank you for the credit under the photo. i appreciate it. have you seen the newest piece? I put it up in the middle of the night, saturday. i anticipate that it will be taken down soon. One small correction: you missed one crucial "R" in my email address which is TheWeatherReport@gmail.com. -respec, andy.

Posted by: countingwords [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 18, 2007 09:01 PM

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