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Monday 12.17.07

« More thoughts on last week: Motel & the art fairs | Main | RACC Workshops »

Report: A NW Thang at Gallery Homeland

a knitted cadavar stood out

So how was Gallery Homeland's A NW Thang opening at the Ford Building on Friday night? Maybe the more important question is how was the art?

Answer: pretty solid.

Sure, spatially it was a ramble of large finished hallway spaces and an enormous unfinished commercial space but the art itself was what I've been hoping for over the last few years when I've gone to locally focused upstart institutional shows. Most everything I saw was well done, post MFA quality work. Of particular note was Cynthia Starr's group project where an entire human cadaver was created out of knit elements, guts and all. Yes, it's absolutely stereotypical of Portland and our surplus of knitters (and group activities) but it had an intellectual reflexiveness I often don't see in other group projects which seem to invite a lot of participants so a large crowd will show up. Karl Lind's video selections were all solid as well (totally predictable animal and woodsy themes as expected, but that was the point). There were a lot of wooden golf related sculptures and more jeweled work from Paige Saez as well but after Miami last week it all felt refreshingly honest... as opposed to the bullshit authenticity everyone seems to be trying to sell. The hallway spaces are actually pretty nice, a great example of scrappy artists pragmatically turning the dull commercial environment into something unexpected and fresh.

There was even a beer bottle breaking, cigar smoking performance by Patrick Rock who at one point stated, "You take a building, fill it with artists, then f$ck them in the ass." Maybe not groundbreaking work on the whole but it definitely was light years away from rambling stone soup grab bag group shows like The Modern Zoo upon which Gallery Homeland director Paul Middendorf first built his reputation on in town. This show wasn't about the party, it wasn't an ego trip, it wasn't about the space, it wasn't about using community to deflect criticism from mediocre efforts... this NW Thang show of stereotypes was about the work. It was conceptually respectable, intelligent and tuned in work and that is a welcome development. Sure, every major or even minor art personality in Portland has their fans and detractors but all I care about is the work and overarching trajectory of the ideas behind it and this time Gallery Homeland got the job done. Paul has shown he can grow. If gallery Homeland can continue to show this kind of thoughtful effort it will help set a greater precedent for delivering the goods rather than posturing.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 17, 2007 at 11:33 | Comments (0)


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