It's done now but 2007 was a big year and here is how PORT's Ryan Pierce, ex-PORTer
and new Beaverton Arts Comission board member Melia Donovan, Matt McCormick, Micah Malone, Jesse
Hayward and my own dull self rated the year.
At PORT's home office with our ever expanding international readership, growing
pool of writers, and reputation for relevant in depth visual arts focus we
made real strides as a serious publication in 2007. We even got props for
blazing new ground as one
of the best art blogs on the planet. Please forgive me but this chest thumping is obligatory for publications... of course being successful (both in
readership and some adverting $$'s) means that some other publications get pissy,
but that comes with success. There is more to do though and it's important that
PORT continue our tightrope walk between Portland coverage and international
relevance. Portland may be a microclimate corner of the art world but that doesn't
mean we are guilty of navel gazing or simply assuming that whatever happens
elsewhere is more important. In fact there is a sense that Portland something
really important might be happening here. PORT isn't a hipster clique concerned
with being cool or a mildly disinterested/interested newspaper. It's a loose
confederation of relevant voices from within the Portland art scene who have
great enmity for ignorance and love the difficulties, joy and variety art presents.
Thanks to our sponsors & staff: Jenene & Katherine (behind the scenes)
+ Megan, Amy, Arcy, Ryan and Sarah... couldn't do it without you.
So let's get it on, here is what Matt, Melia, Micah, Jesse, Ryan and I thought
Tharp at PDX Contemporary Art
Show of the Year: Storm
Tharp's We Appeal To Heaven at PDX Contemporary Art. Look it's easy to write
reviews like that when the show is that good... Storm has a lot to live up to
for his next effort. The show managed to create some international buzz even.
It's your basic overnight success story that took a decade.
Also notable: Bruce Conkle (shows in New York, Iceland and Rio
de Janeiro), Storm Tharp (tons of press and a show in Switzerland), Matt McCormick
(simply Portland's best loved creative person who was showing at the Moscow
Biennial etc.), Red 76, Terry Chatkupt, Matthew Picton, Jenene Nagy, Patrick Rock (Queens Nails Annex
+ Rock's Box gutsy shows), Quality Pictures and New American Art Union (both
of which threaten to become THE contemporary galleries of note in town... probably
spurring better shows everywhere). PNCA which suddenly looks like the most important
art institution in town with shows like Beth
Campbell, a new MFA program and a 511 building bid.
Tivey's Building White/Eclipse. I loved it when Liz Leach went and did her
own unofficial addendum to the TBA festival... a light and space experience
on a grand scale this installation really showed em how its done. Of course
it was impossible to photograph properly.
Best Show Title:Portland?
Fuck Portland, at Rock's Box. It was smart and full of inside jokes about
Oregon by hard to find native Oregonians
Curator/Director of the year: Cris
Moss at Linfield College, with Re:
Dude's Night Out, False Flat and Usufruct he's really put this beautiful
but out of the way venue on the map... but dear hell it's a trek... plan a day
trip a hit some of the great wineries nearby (Panther Creek is just across town...
and Mcminnville is a small town)
Runner ups: Jenene Nagy and Josh Smith co-directors
of Tilt, it's small but THE place in the west side core for serious, consistently
challenging art. Anyone who thinks otherwise isn't well informed. Unlike Many
of the nonprofits in town they have a program. Also we cant forget Bruce Guenther,
Jennifer Gately and Terry Toedtemeier at the Portland Art Museum, their new
Director Brian Ferriso is really lettiing them curate and with shows like Damien
Hirst, Kehinde Wiley, Wes Mills, Elliot Erwitt and Ursula
Von Rydingsvard (which is still up) they had a really solid year. Don't
take the museum for granted, every serious contemporary art person in Portland
should be a member and if you want great access and openings for the Miller-Meigs
series you should consider joining the Contemporary
Art Council. It's a great way to get more savvy or just stay on top of the
contemporary scene (disclosure Im VP of the council, but many of the top curators
and patrons are members, this is an easy way to get plugged in).
New discoveries:Terry Chatkupt
(at Art Basel Miami Beach and Retinal
Shiroma (at 114 and It's kind of endless at QPCA), Jason Traeger (he's still
in school but It's kind of endless and PCC
Cascade in particular serve notice), Gordon
Barnes and Shelby Davis and PNCA's
Bocci, one of the best installation artists on the west coast... where was
Best Video show:Retinal
Reverb (part of the PDX
experimental film fest. With a lineup like Terry Chatkupt, Vanessa Renwick,
Dan Gilsdorf and Laura Fritz... it made this show the strongest all video group
show weve seen in years too bad it lasted for only 4 days.
McCormick's Future So Bright... next time use curtains to darken the space
more but this was also a solid effort. With lots of international exposure in
2007 was a big year for McCormick.
Hook Up ... amusingly controversial simply because all of the artists will
have upcoming solo shows and it was seen as a kind of fated Whitman's sampler
amongst these lucky and apparently well connected artists (myself included).
Maybe it was the title but but severe resentment and high praise deluged NAAU
for the month of June (something engineered from the outset by its curator Jesse
Hayward who is amusingly controversial himself). Fact was, The Hook Upwas just
a solid "what's up in the studio" show that gave some good indications
of what will be important in solo shows to come... basically a celebrity artist
dance off that was good enough for people to keep talking about.
Worst curatorial farce:Pairing
Devendra Banhardt and Paul Klee at SFMoMA for Abstract Rythms. I see what
they were trying to do but it was a massive kiss ass failure as a show, though
it probably brought some new people into the museum. Klee = genius, Banhardt
= whimsical doodler but not good enough to share a room with the best/ most
influential draughtsman of the 20th century.
Finally someone designs a car I can Love: The Jaguar
XKR, after spying one in a blur as it passed me I chased one through Oakland's
freeways trying to find out what the hell that gorgeous thing was (my old, juddianly
boxy but not limp volvo's turbo got a nice workout and kept up). Sure, I know
my Love for this Jag is bad. It is a gas guzzling monster but I haven't loved
car design since the late
70's till this. I don't care about cars much but design is another thing
all together and this thing reminded me why Cannonball
Run was such a favorite movie when I was a wee lad. Sadly, I suspect bloggers
and curators just don't drive this Jag, or maybe Gary
Garrels has one? (ha) At some time every intelligent person has to ask,
should I be culturally relevant or dedicate my life to the avarice that makes
supercar ownership justifiable?
I also found driving down Sunset Blvd to see Eden's
Edge at the Hammer Museum to be enlightening. I like visiting LA a lot but
Portland is where certain things are happening in the US that aren't happening
elsewhere. I also saw that LA is just destroying New York in terms of architecture,
Nouvel can't save you... for many of the exact same reasons Jaws was so
much better than ET.... LA already is the next New York.
Most important "in their prime" artists of 2007: Karen
Kilimnik- the Dean of informal, laser accurate fence riding kitsch/nostalgia
painting. The child of Claes Oldenberg and Velasquez and aesthetic mother of
Harrison - the Dean of informal, laser accurate fence riding turbocharged
kitsch sculpture. Also the child of Claes Oldenberg and Velasquez
Isa Genzken - Poet laureate of informal, laser-accurate fence riding kitsch
sculpture. The child of Rauschenberg erasing a Rauschenberg who gets pregnant
by that and births Genzken
Richter - makes Hernan Bas, the Leipzig painters etc look weak. The child
of Jorg Immendorf, Edvard Munch and Georg Grosz... Peter Doig bores me by comparison.
Cao Fei - Most chinese
contemporary art is derivative and too eager. Conversely, Fei is one of the
best new media artists on the planet.
Most Overrated: Richard
Prince, with so much buildup only someone like Serra
could deliver. I saw this coming years ago, a spent force. He's not bad, just
Worst show: Cosima
Von Bonin, I can see how she's influential... the ideas just don't survive
the in depth lookthat her large retrospective at MoCA put on.
Artist who is good but maybe still too aware of his "audience" Olafur
Elliason ... he's going to get better
Totally unscathed: Damien Hirst, no artist has controlled his own destiny so
well since Picasso... for both it was all about the making the game of art better
and no artists in the history of this planet can claim similar success at said
Marko Lulic's installation in Reed's quad
In no particular order...
Outside of Portland:
Marclay's Guitar Drag at PS1 in Organizing Chaos
The most chilling and poetic 'art piece' I saw this year. Made in 2000, it recreates
the brutal murder of James Byrd Jr., who was dragged to death behind a truck
by white supremacists in Texas. Marclay substituted an electric guitar, which
howls and moans though tortured humbuckers during its arduous 14-minute death.
2. Wack! Art and the Feminist Revolution
at the Geffen Contemporary in LA.
Porn, paint-pours, and power dynamics looked freshly shocking and more relevant
than ever. The resurgence of a dialog about feminism was quickly consumed and
relegated to an art-world trend, and that's sad. Here's hoping reminders like
this can occur often enough to keep us boys from feeling comfortable.
3. Huang Yong Ping, House of Oracles, Vancouver Art Gallery
This retrospective showed the Chinese- French artist's penchant for spectacle:
ambitious sculptures that made one wonder if the side of VAG pops off for installation.
It included documentation of the controversial critter-fight piece that was
yanked from the show and a space for the visitors to express their feelings
on the situation. How considerate.
Edge: Fifteen LA Artists at the Hammer Museum, UCLA
No one from LA seemed particularly impressed by Gary Garrels' first regional
survey as the Hammer's new senior curator. But I appreciated an introduction
to Rebecca Morales' creepy drawings and Matthew Monahan's museum-sandwich sculptures
(which looked even better at MoCA). There was also good work from Elliot Hundley,
Liz Craft and Jim Shaw, who was everywhere this year.
5. Steve Kurtz (lecture) at SFMoMA
The government did their satanic best to ruin this guy's life and instead of
talking about his own tribulations, Kurtz gave a modest and hilarious tour of
Critical Art Ensemble's various encounters with authority over the years. This
included being mistaken for terrorists in Nova Scotia, violating German brewing
law, and concluded with the assertion that, as artists, our own internal censor
is the most dangerous authority of all.
Tharp, We Appeal to Heaven, PDX Gallery
He just keeps getting better and better. Tharp tightened up his look for this
show and it worked: a strange and beautiful portrait gallery complemented by
emptier textual musings. We appeal to Tharp to keep bringing us the unexpected
Watts, Disinformation, at PICA's TBA Festival
I left this performance feeling inspired, violated, confused, high, and possibly
pregnant. It turns out that what I presumed to be the most tightly scripted
dance/ video/ rant/ dinosaur-beat-boxing extravaganza in memory was largely
improvised. Reggie took part of my soul that night.
3. The Winter Solstice Puppet Show, Liberty Hall
Made by an ever-changing collective of geniuses with ever-changing names, it's
not really advertised or even rehearsed much. It's always free and funny and
amazing. This year was dedicated to the 'former' planet Pluto and featured the
most elegant shadow puppets yet, as well as a hand puppet skit where the Pope,
Deepak Chopra and Starhawk are looking for a housemate on Craigslist. Viva Pussymouth!
4. Mirah and friends cover Fleetwood Mac (at Holocene)
Have I died? Is this heaven? Why is Stevie Nicks wearing spandex? "Women,
they will come and they will go," but Mirah, you will always have a place
in my heart.
5. Double bike lanes on the Hawthorne Bridge
If this isn't art, well then I dunno...I think there's room for at least eight
more bike lanes there. Now, if they would just put a little jump in the middle
so cyclists can cross the river when the bridge is up, while the rest of you
sad saps sit in traffic. Welcome to Portlandsterdam, fuckers!
Claire Cowie Homunculus (queen) 2007
foam, Aqua Resin, urethane resin, gesso, watercolor, sumi color, and ink
Best Artist’s Lecture • Chris
Johanson at PAM
A layered socio-political performance, which on the surface seemed naïve
and cluttered revealed a thoughtful and consciously pointed pursuit
Best new Portland Art Blog
Despite a wish for more people to comment and a desire to see more than paintings
(even though that’s their focus) this could be a great place to “discuss”
the work that’s up now.
the Fourth Annual West Coast Giant Pumpkin Regatta
Since 2003, the annual regatta takes place in Taulatin Oregon and pits the regions
giant gourd growers against each other in a competition of size and speed. While
it sounds both impossible and crazy, it is in fact what the name suggests; it's
a boat race, but the boats are giant pumpkins. The competing farmers/captains
grow giant pumpkins, carve and hollow them out, put them in a lake, get in them,
and then race them as if they were kayaks. Qualifying size for race eligibility
is 600 lbs, but most of the giant pumpkins competing in the regatta weighed
in at twice that (the biggest pumpkin was 1408 lbs). They all had to be lifted
into the water with the help of a forklift, and many of them were decorated
with designs ranging from airplanes to turtles to giant mushrooms.
It's been up and down and mostly down for Trailblazers fans over the past seven
years, but the current team, which is the third youngest team in the history
of the NBA, is giving us cause for hope. Whether they actually win more games
or not, these youngsters play their hearts out, are fun to watch, and seem like
a decent bunch of dudes. And they are actually starting to win, which makes
it all the more fun.
the Shins covering Pink Floyd's 'Breathe'
the Crown Motel Sign (and efforts to save it)
The Crown Motel, along North Interstate Avenue, is slated for demolition in
January of 2008. Interstate Ave, the old highway which was the main north-south
thorofare through Portland before I-5 was built, was once populated by numerous
art-deco and neon-clad motels, diners, and other road-side American ephemera
such as the Crown, but today the icons of that era are gone or going fast. A
last minute, grass-roots push to save the Crown Motel sign is underway, and
hopefully will be successful.
sweet old dog!
BEST INSTALLATION Larry
Took my 3 year old son. He didn't want to leave. I
BEST PAINTING SHOW
Forget about it. The self-portraits just kill.
Seriously, forget about it.
Tony Labat... ROCKS BOX
Centered around an Easy Rider BBQ, this was a had to
1. The Wire
Of all the cultural hubris I witnessed this year; no book, sculpture, painting
or film captured me as much as the television series "The Wire." The
HBO series is by far the most intelligent, captivating series on television,
perhaps ever. The ensemble cast is fantastic, however, the most important character
representations do not come from individuals, but the fucked up post-modern
institutions that make the police department, the street, the shipping port,
the political offices and the education system in Baltimore as crooked and frustratingly
parallel as they are.
2. Chris Burden's
"The Other Vietnam Memorial"
I saw this well-known piece for the first time last month. Although 16 years
old, this "memorial" stands as relevant today as it did when Burden
reacted to Maya Lin's version. It captures the arbitrariness of war and the
monuments that pull at your emotional heartstrings. But like most of Burden's
work, his emotional content is simultaneously void of "real" emotion
and inexplicably tied to the exact mechanism that triggers it. In other words,
he displays how one is "supposed" to feel in front of a memorial,
yet uproots that feeling with cold, calculated details (names from a phonebook)
that make you shutter.
This rising British artist choreographs ridiculous gallery moments that reading
about make you cringe with suspicions of triteness. In one, a paid security
guard dances around when people walk in exclaiming, "This is so contemporary!"
Other performances consist of dancers subtlety recreating famous kisses from
history paintings. While the discourse around Sehgal is often about "interaction"
and the "temporal" moment in an exhibition space, I find this aspect
somewhat familiar. However, no one has so explicitly laid out how one must pay
for this temporality. Since ANY documentation of the performances is forbidden,
Sehgal's true creativity is in the very structure of his dissemination. With
nuanced and specific exchanges to purchase a piece (one must speak the exchange
in front of a notary), Sehgal has developed the most disciplined approach to
economic distribution and production. Best of all, if people get bored with
them, there is no cumbersome storage; they will just not be performed again.
4. The Nine
Jeffrey Toobin's fabulous biopic narrative of our current supreme court is probably
the best book on the subject. Toobin did extensive interviews with all of the
justices, leaving out attributions as to who said what, giving readers an inside
track on the inner workings of our current high court. Toobin has spent a career
covering the court system making the balance between public and private knowledge
wonderfully balanced. All of the justices become human, no matter how atrocious
some of their ideologies might be. My favorite justice is David Souter, or maybe
She's makes the most spellbinding sculptures that ultimately frustrate more
than "give." However, if Harrison's last show at Greene Neftali proves
anything, it is that she is far ahead of the game in terms of forcing viewers
into good old-fashioned connoisseurship. What does it mean to have Dick Cheney's
face on the back of a mannequin? How do these beguiling sculptures actually
embody their referents? She plays fun games, but ultimately has embedded so-called
"social critique" within her sculptural practice.
6. Changing of the guard?
While the majority of the major New York galleries still reside in the art mall
that is Chelsea, the lower east side has demonstrated that if the mall isn't
moving, then at least different models of operation can exist. I love the sensibility
of a number of these spaces, including the fact that most are open on Sunday.
7. "if this were art "
I don't know who scrawled these sayings across North Portland, but they make
me smile every day I drove by. The propositional nature of "if this were
art you'd be in a gallery right now" or "If this were art you'd be
rich" says many things about the role of public art, but also, given that
they were executed on construction sites, made me think about 1% commissions,
the hope of democratic "pure" art in the public realm that everyone
could "own." However, these works (if they are works of art that is)
do not presume anything. In fact, they presume to not be works of art at all,
making their poetry all the more satisfying.
thanks for asking me to participate, but now i see that my list is probably not exactly what you were looking for! thanks for posting it anyhow, and great seeing everyone else's list. and FYI- it's the subjects in the pictures on my list that are the 'best' and not the pictures themselves!