Portland art blog + news + exhibition reviews + galleries + contemporary northwest art

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2007 Recap
2 New condos for the Pearl District: it's design review time
Holiday reading
Gordon Barnes & Shelby Davis at Jace Gace
Barnett Newman and the Totem Poles of the Northwest Coast Indians
Chuck Close Documentary
Space is the place (externalizing the internal & its inverse)
Are you looking forward?
RACC Workshops
Report: A NW Thang at Gallery Homeland
More thoughts on last week: Motel & the art fairs
Here, There, Nowhere

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Friday 12.28.07

2007 Recap

PORT and Portland's art scene had a particularly good year in 2007 with a general expansion of interesting new venues, artists and greater national exposure all around. In fact, weve had so much exposure outside of the city that Portlander's have begun to refer the national media as stalkers. Even PORT ended up in Art in America.

PORT Scoops.. here are just some major stories where we were the first Portland publication to break the news:

The New American Art Union's stipend shows, which were later dubbed Couture when the final selectee's were announced

PNCA makes it's bid for the 511 building, possibly the most important growth opportunity for art in Portland in the past 60 years. Other media have been playing catch up to what could be the biggest story of 2008 as well.

MK Guth selected for the 2008 Whitney Biennial

Portland Art Museum acquired several nice contemporary objects including a fine Judy Chicago and a really nice Gene Davis (we were the only Portland publication to mention these... but then again we are focused purely on art... so there you have it)

Here are some of my favorite articles from the past year:... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 28, 2007 at 10:39 | Comments (4)

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Wednesday 12.26.07

2 New condos for the Pearl District: it's design review time

Casey.jpg
The Casey

Ive been waiting for a slow week to discuss these two new condos in the Pearl District. Neither is a product of of the design deficient, "let's put brick on a 10+ story building to warm it up," school of thought.

First is The Casey, which is the first residential condo to sport a LEED platinum rating so it's very green conscious... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 26, 2007 at 15:09 | Comments (4)

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Monday 12.24.07

Holiday reading

Most of PORT's staff have the week off so posts will be somewhat sporadic, so here are some things to yule-tide you over (I know, I know, both the pagans and the baby Jesus would disapprove of that pun):

Yesterday Roberta Smith took a shot at the word "Practice" as over-used by contemporary artists in 2007. I'm with her on this one, one has to have a receptionist and a lobby to have a practice... maybe it's all the college loans that drive artists to consider it a practice? It's probably just a nonsensical shortening of the term studio practice that gets all frothy with other pretensions (most artists are not particularly good wordsmiths so it is Roberta's job to point this sort of silliness out). It all reminds me of the original ending of Robert Hughes The Shock Of The New where he complained that art had become a vocation not an avocation... later Hughes wussed out and changed that ending. Still, he had it right the first time, even if he was wrong as could be about Basquiat (right about Schnabel though). My greatest annoyance is with the art world's meaningless use of the word "Authentic." To me its like the yuppie approved packaging on overpriced ethnic dishes one can find at high end grocery stores. It almost guarantees it isn't the real thing but it's overpriced status intends to mitigate guilt while giving it a patina of legitimacy. To use Greenberg's term it's very middlebrow.

Portland Public art has a hilarious post on what won't save hipsters(?) in Portland... great stuff.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 24, 2007 at 17:00 | Comments (2)

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Saturday 12.22.07

Gordon Barnes & Shelby Davis at Jace Gace

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Yes, a tank in a waffle house...

Recently Jace Gace (a hybrid waffle house/gallery on Belmont) has become the newest place to see challenging art in Southeast Portland and openings have been packed despite the extensive condo construction next door. This installation art/waffle development would be more surprising if it hadn't been started by a bunch of MFA's from CCA and located in the Portland Art Center's smaller but wonderful old space when they were dedicated to installation art (2005).

Jace Gace's current show, titled "The Closest It Gets From A Safe Distance" features a large scale model tank made of cardboard. At nighttime it features an electric lightshow, fog and music by Megadeth... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 22, 2007 at 14:45 | Comments (4)

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Friday 12.21.07

Barnett Newman and the Totem Poles of the Northwest Coast Indians


"The Kwakiutl artist painting on a hide did not concern himself with the inconsequentials that made up the opulent social rivalries of the Northwest Coast Indian scene, nor did he, in the name of a higher purity, renounce the living world for the meaningless materialism of design. The abstract shape he used, his entire plastic language, was directed by a ritualistic will towards metaphysical understanding. The everyday realities he left to the toymakers; the pleasant play of non-objective pattern to the women basket weavers. To him a shape was a living thing, a vehicle for an abstract thought-complex, a carrier of the awesome feelings he felt before the terror of the unknowable."

-Barnett Newman , The Ideographic Picture 1947

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Haida Totems Queen Charlotte Island 1890's

More...

Posted by Arcy Douglass on December 21, 2007 at 9:30 | Comments (0)

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Thursday 12.20.07

Chuck Close Documentary

Chuck Close documentary with PAM and the NW Film Center
Chuck Close, "Self Portrait/Pulp"

In conjunction with PAM's ongoing exhibition, Chuck Close Prints, the NW Film Center presents a documentary by Marion Cajori. Chuck Close explores the artist's process over 82 days as he "re-invents" portraiture.

The film is screening on December 22, 23, and 30 at the Whitsell auditorium. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit the NW Film Center. Also: The PAM exhibition is only on view through January 6, so hurry in if you haven't made it yet.

Posted by Megan Driscoll on December 20, 2007 at 10:23 | Comments (0)

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Wednesday 12.19.07

Space is the place (externalizing the internal & its inverse)

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Joel Shapiro's current show at Pace Wildenstein

Art Info has a nice interview with Joel Shapiro, whose work seems to becoming increasingly relevant and central to the age old (some would say pointless) distinction between representation and abstraction in sculpture. I love how his later work seems to activate space through inhabitation. This has always been a key element of his work but in the last few years he's developed that Picasso-like sureness and energy about his efforts. I like it much better than David Smith's Cubi series which I feel were a bit forced (though important). There is nothing forced about this work, Shapiro is the new Giacometti (as our leading existential sculptor).

The New York Times had a bit on starchitects... Is it just me or are the architects today way more progressive and experimental than the artists? Theoretically, artists aren't saddled with the same kinds of compromises and restrictions... so why does someone like Julie Mehretu seem like a side dish compared to the main courses in Gehry, Koolhaas, Hadid, HdM and Libeskind's work?

...(more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 19, 2007 at 9:48 | Comments (0)

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Tuesday 12.18.07

Are you looking forward?

Future Arts Fest

The 2008 Future Arts Fest is looking forward: Are you? FAF is an event incorporating music, dance, fashion, and art installation that asks the question "Where do you see Portland's art scene heading in the future?" They are seeking submissions from artists who can push the visual envelope, delving into the issues that arise as technology and development push our lives ever-forward and art answers back.

The event will take place on February 7, 2008, at the Holocene. FAF is still looking for a video installation artist, and a work on canvas in any medium. Entries must be a minimum of 3'x3', and are due by January 1. Contact Seth Gottesdiener for more information.

Posted by Megan Driscoll on December 18, 2007 at 14:02 | Comments (0)

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Monday 12.17.07

RACC Workshops

Oregon Regional Arts and Culture Council

From January through June 2008, the Regional Arts & Culture Council is offering artist workshops. Topics range from legal concerns to marketing to applying for grants to unusual mural painting. Most classes are $25, with some additional fees. Registration is open now, and space is limited, so hop on over to the workshop site to learn more and sign up.

Posted by Megan Driscoll on December 17, 2007 at 14:08 | Comments (0)

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Report: A NW Thang at Gallery Homeland

Knitcadavar.jpg
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... (more)

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

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Friday 12.14.07

More thoughts on last week: Motel & the art fairs

Overall, the art production for Miami 2007 seemed less fresh and daring than I remember it in 2005 (going to Miami every year isn't necessary) and maybe the art world is too sated. So why not ask... was 2007 in general a lackluster vintage or is it just a fair problem? Also, Jen Graves (who sat this one out) had a good "just that facts" take on Miami this year from a Seattle perspective. Portland galleries mostly avoided Aqua and did ok to great this year. Also, after talking to a few Portland gallerists the fairs most of them want to be in are Pulse or Art Miami.

Overall, Art fair experiences really vary, for example Pulliam Deffenbaugh was at the somewhat lackluster Red Dot fair and yet did really well so it's difficult to characterize. The Aquas have some really good elements but need to up the ante the way Pulse and Nada have since theyve first appeared. Schwanky events, more diverse galleries and something that differentiates and makes the fair a destination. Portland's own Affair at the Jupiter Hotel needs to do the same things just to bring people to Portland. Which brings us to the question, will there be another affair?... OK I know more than Ill discuss here but many Portland dealers really want them to step up and make the event more of a destination or have a completely different fair under different management. Pairing with TBA doesn't really work, two different crowds. If it were paired with a vis-arts festival that would be more effective.

motelinstall.jpg
a Motel installtion from July 2005

On the news of Motel's closing last week... Im sad of course, but this wasn't a surprise for me as Jenn and I have a rapport (As PORT's co-founder and former buisiness partner she's like the sister I never had). She wanted to concentrate purely on the gallery when her planned exodus from PORT happened earlier this year (in the works for about a year actually). There are some things Portland needs to learn from this... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 14, 2007 at 12:17 | Comments (5)

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Thursday 12.13.07

Here, There, Nowhere

Michael Brophy Book Signing at Laura Russo
Michael Brophy, "Night Truck"

In conjunction with his December exhibition, Michael Brophy will be signing his book Here, There, Nowhere at the Laura Russo Gallery this weekend. Brophy will also speak about the show at 1:30pm.

Book signing: 1-3pm | Saturday, December 15
Laura Russo Gallery | 805 NW 21st AVE | 503.226.2754

Posted by Megan Driscoll on December 13, 2007 at 13:36 | Comments (0)

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Wednesday 12.12.07

What is worth protecting?

mk guth braid

This Saturday, come participate in MK Guth's national traveling project, Ties of Protection and Safe Keeping, an "interactive braid sculpture." Participants are asked to write their response to the question "What is worth protecting?" on a piece of flannel fabric that will be woven into an ever-growing braid. The project will start in Portland, MK Guth's home territory, and stop in Boise, Atlanta, Houston, and Cleveland on its way to the 2008 Whiteny Biennial. If you can't make it downtown this weekend, online participation will be available at mkguth.com beginning Saturday.

11am - 7pm | Saturday, December 15
Portland Center Stage in the Gerding Theater at the Armory | 128 NW 11th AVE

Posted by Megan Driscoll on December 12, 2007 at 15:42 | Comments (0)

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NADA and Scope Fairs 2007

bellwether.jpg
Bellwether had a successful looking single artist booth

Well Portland's galleries all seemed to do ok to great in Miami last week and the WWeek covered some of the social side of it. As far as the best fair goes Id have to give the award to NADA. For years they have looked like purveyors of minor art world insider jokes, amateur hour scribbles and a general leg humping attitude towards Matthew Higgs. This year they grew up with numerous single artist booths and a strange new preoccupation with modernist abstraction. Be it mirrors with AbEx gunk on them or outright references to Suprematism or De Stijl. What's more it wasn't completely ironic, there was a real love for minimalism, clean lines and rewarding aesthetic experiences.

It's like Dave Hickey has supplanted Higgs (both of whom have very different but somewhat equally narrow aesthetic preoccupations). The Scope fair was somewhat rough going and I'll tackle them last.

...(more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 12, 2007 at 13:45 | Comments (2)

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It had to be done

Tyler Green has pointed out a great charitable giving vehicle that funds art projects in schools, check it out. Portland's art programs are woefully underfunded so here is an opportunity for our teachers. PORT generally avoids posts on charities but here are some of the worthy Portland projects you can help fund.

Art Critical has a nice look at the Miami fairs including the two I never got around to seeing, Art Miami and Pulse. Art Miami looks like a serious contender for ABMB's top spot.

Artblog.net takes a look at how the fairs have effected the indigenous art scene in Miami... reminds me of the Sundance film festival and how it turns Park City a bit upside down.

GalleryHomeland.jpg
DK Row continues to expound upon his seriously flawed understanding of non profits and Portland's current situation and this time out he's heckling Gallery Homeland. In a city where arts patronage is underdeveloped it takes an armada of small scrappy, completely underfunded institutions to lay the difficult groundwork for better patronage. It isn't about the money stupid, it's making headway in the education department. Spaces don't educate, personalities dont educate, fundraising tallies dont educate... the only thing that educates is doing good shows for over 3 years (which is the minimum amount of time it takes to develop a true track record). So with all due respect, give Gallery Homeland a break from the hackneyed misdirected analysis and pay attention to the critical worth of their efforts, that is the measure that matters (and part of why Row's coverage is hurting the development of a better patronage base).

Also, Row's desire for one institution to be "the place" is totally misguided and too convenient. Portland is too busy an art city to have one central hub, you only get that in smaller scenes or when giant city governments undertake something like Yerba Buena. Portland's government and patrons just aren't there yet, it's still in the hands of scrappy individuals and volunteers. It's actually a good thing and more interesting than having everyone suck up to 5-10 extremely wealthy patrons with dubious taste. It's actually a magic moment of art organization experimentation in Portland. David, your fundamental assumptions are seriously flawed, smaller more specialized institutions dont seek to dominate, this isnt sports (want to duke it out in a game of ping pong, tennis or dodgeball, Ill whup yer ass there too). Personally, I'd rather see 10 150k a year art organizations than one stale bureaucracy with a budget of 1.5 million... so to that end I suggest everyone go out and see what Paul and Gallery Homeland can do at their opening on Dec 14.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 12, 2007 at 10:43 | Comments (2)

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Tuesday 12.11.07

Art Positions and the Aqua Fairs, Miami 2007

Lima.jpg
Portland's favorite chicken accessorizer Laura Lima's pagent on South Beach.

First off there were way too many fairs this year. If the fair isn't more established like ABMB, Nada, Aqua, Pulse, Art Miami and Scope it might be time to reconsider putting on an art fair. Depending how one counted it "21" fairs is simply an awful lot for any human collector to hit. Fairs like Pulse and Nada really know how to attact collectors and that is key for sattelite fairs to ABMB. Some like the Aquas seem to get by on quality, whereas other fairs like Scope seemed to be too big by half.

Here is a rundown of Art Positions, Aqua Hotel and Aqua Wynwood. NADA (which I consider it to have been the clear winner this year for sattelite fairs) and Scope will have another post. (I missed Pulse so take that into consideration... as well as the fact that Ive been very critical of NADA in the past)

LizLeachAqua07.jpg
Cris Bruch's sculpture (FG) and Sean Healy's tigers (BG)at Portland's Elizabeth Leach Gallery

...(more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 11, 2007 at 15:20 | Comments (0)

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Leach Holiday Reception

Fernando D'Agostino at Elizabeth Leach
Fernando D'Agostino, "Blue and Gold"

This week, the Elizabeth Leach Gallery is having a holiday reception to celebrate Fernando D'Agostino's Flight Studies, which is currently on view in their Video Window. D'Agostino collaborated with biomechanist Dr. Bret Tobalske, using "state of the art" flight imaging technology to capture the beautiful elegance of birds in flight.

Holiday reception: 5:30 - 7:30pm | Thursday, December 13
Elizabeth Leach Gallery | 417 NW 9th AVE | 503.224.0521

Posted by Megan Driscoll on December 11, 2007 at 10:55 | Comments (0)

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Sunday 12.09.07

Art Basel Miami Beach 2007

TerenceKohABMB2007.jpg
Terence Koh at Peres Projects (mirrors were big this year)

As expected ABMB looked the best of all the fairs and the name galleries seemed to do quite well on sales, though NADA significantly upped their ante and was probably the most rewarding edgy fair now that theyve grown up a bit beyond trying to corner the hipster clique art market. Both Aqua fairs looked good for the most part and most of the Portland artists I met milling about Miami had sales to brag about. Matt McCormick has done probably the best (besides Chris Johanson). Overall, sales at the other fairs were significantly saner or worse (ie much less than 2006.. there will be a weeding out of fairs for 2008) and on the whole I felt the general quality/excitment of the work available was lower than in 2005. Scope was pretty terrible with a few notable exceptions... I'll have more on the other fairs. Right now I want to focus on the main event, ABMB:

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Kehinde Wiley & Mickalene Thomas ( a onetime Portlander) at Rhona Hoffman (one of THE best booths this year)

CatherineSullivan.jpg
Catherine Sullivan's B&W video at Catherine Bastide was the best thing I saw in Miami ...(much more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 09, 2007 at 1:28 | Comments (0)

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Thursday 12.06.07

Fine Film

Danny Williams at NW Film Center

This weekend, PICA & the NW Film Center present a screening of the entire filmography of Danny Williams, accompanied by the live music of composer T. Griffin and Catherine McRae. Williams was a lover and collaborator of Andy Warhol.

Screening: 7:30pm | Saturday, December 8
NW Film Center | PAM's Whitsell Auditorium | 1219 SW Park AVE


czech modernism at NW Film Center

Also starting this weekend: The NW Film Center's Czech Modernism series. The 12-part retrospective explores Czech film from the silent era to the Communist takeover in 1948, exploring the work that built the base for the more well known Czech New Wave Cinema. The first film is On the Sunny Side (1933), directed by Vladislav Vanura. The films run from December 7 - 30. Click here for the full schedule.

First screening: 7pm | Friday, December 7
NW Film Center | PAM's Whitsell Auditorium | 1219 SW Park AVE

Posted by Megan Driscoll on December 06, 2007 at 15:46 | Comments (0)

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First Friday Picks December 2007

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Cory Clayton Jones

Pushdot Studios is relocating, and having an open house this First Friday for people to come check out their new space. The gallery will have its grand reopening celebration in early 2008, and Pushdot is looking for submissions of digital, multi-media, and film work. So come down this Friday to explore the new space and learn more about submitting your work.

Opening Reception • 5pm • December 7
Pushdot Studio • 1021 SE Caruthers • info@pushdotstudio.com

(more)

Posted by Megan Driscoll on December 06, 2007 at 9:06 | Comments (0)

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Wednesday 12.05.07

Getting closer to the artist

Kurt Weiser at the Museum of Contemporary Craft
Kurt Weiser

Kurt Weiser is speaking this weekend in conjunction with Eden Revisited, his exhibition that is currently on view at the Museum of Contemporary Craft. Weiser's work explores the interaction of traditional ceramics and intricate, hand painted narratives.

Artist lecture: 6pm | Friday, December 6
Museum of Contemporary Craft | 724 NW Davis | 503.223.2654


Jenene Nagy at the Troy Laundry Building
Jenene Nagy, "Slope"

If you want to get even closer to the artist, come down to the historic Troy Laundry building this weekend. 20+ artists are having open studios, including PORT's own Jenene Nagy.

Open studio: 5-9pm | Friday, December 7
12-6pm | Saturday, December 8
Troy Laundry Building | 221 SE 11th

Posted by Megan Driscoll on December 05, 2007 at 14:27 | Comments (1)

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Tuesday 12.04.07

First Thursday Picks December 2007

Michael Brophy at Laura Russo Gallery
Michael Brophy, "Ruin"

Coming back strong after September's studio fire, Michael Brophy is exhibiting this month at the Laura Russo Gallery. Here There Nowhere "explore[s] the evolution of the Northwest landscape." His subtle, elegant paintings build upon historical reference to create a "mythic impact."

Opening reception • 5-8pm • December 6
Laura Russo Gallery • 805 NW 21st AVE • 503.226.2754

(more)

Posted by Megan Driscoll on December 04, 2007 at 13:56 | Comments (1)

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Guide to Portland In Miami 2007

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Vanessa Renwick's Trojan #2 at ABMB

Portland's art scene will be well represented during this week's Miami Art Fair madness with greater visibility than ever before. Portland galleries and artists are seeminly everwhere this time. Sure, Portland artists, curators and galleries are already veterans of such fairs but after years being stalked by the media in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, CNN, Art Forum, Modern Painters and Art in America etc. it now seems Portland has buzz for being different and it shows in the art. In fact, art is central to Portland, no other large metropolitan West Coast city can claim that... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 04, 2007 at 13:34 | Comments (0)

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A better bridge design

PORT's bridge design contest is really going well with some truly interesting designs from some very adept minds worldwide.

But with Miami etc. going on we wont be posting the final results until after Dec 21st. so we are extending the deadline till that day. Net result, you've got a little more time to send us your best bridge. Actually, PDX gallerist Jane Beebe suggested a design that would incorporate cultural spaces for artist groups to use... a kind of Rialto for culture instead of shopping. I'd like to see a sketch for that submitted. Also, so far it's been mostly professional designers not say installation artists, comic book artists, ecologists or architects who have provided designs... so let's fix that eh? All it takes is a sketch. More details here.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 04, 2007 at 1:00 | Comments (0)

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Monday 12.03.07

William Kentridge at Lewis and Clark College

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"Weighing and Wanting" Installation Shot Hoffman Gallery

Despite the discouragement of the weather and the natural predilection for hibernation during this time of the year, there is soulful reason this month to bundle up and get out. Lewis and Clark's Hoffman Gallery is currently exhibiting "Weighing and Wanting" an animated film and associated drawings by William Kentridge.. . . .(more)

Posted by Amy Bernstein on December 03, 2007 at 9:30 | Comments (0)

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New Orleans Slide Lecture

Stewart Harvey at 23 Sandy Gallery
Stewart Harvey

Tomorrow night, photographer Stewart Harvey will discuss his collection of New Orleans images. The three year project spanned pre- and post-Katrina, and is both visually and narratively rich in its portrayal of the city and its inhabitants.

Artist lecture: 7pm | Tuesday, December 4
23 Sandy Gallery | 623 NE 23rd AVE | 503.927.4409

Posted by Megan Driscoll on December 03, 2007 at 9:29 | Comments (0)

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