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Friday 03.28.08

« Nagy APEX lecture | Main | Portland Funbook 3 »

Last weekend round the corner reviews

There are lots of interesting solo shows coming down this weekend and a few of them deserve a little more critical attention. Conveniently all are within 2 blocks of eachother:

Adam Satushek's Puddles (2005) at Rake Gallery

One exciting discovery is Adam Satushek at Rake Gallery. His large format photographs of decay, debris and human activity comprise one of the tighter solo shows in Portland for the month of March. It satisfies my need to see photography do more than just depict the more pleasant aspects of civilization and nature and much of it is unintentional earth art. This fellow is one to watch if the work doesnt get too overtly preachy. Last day is Saturday March 29th. He has another solo show in Seattle at Gallery 4 Culture in July.

Ethan Rose's Player Piano at Tilt

Ethan Rose's Player Piano at Tilt creates an interesting problem for me. As an instrument for musical performance the modified player piano is captivating with an ethereal composition (his music is used in Gus Van Sant's film Paranoid Park) and the general mechanical proceedings are engrossing. Yet somehow I don't feel it "visually" acts as a powerful art object or a sound experience. It is a performance, and acts something like a very cool cd player. Unlike Jean Tinguely or Roxy Paine this machine simply doesn't do anything more than one would expect a player piano do… i.e. play music. It doesn't quite twist or challenge my assumptions the way I want contemporary art to... instead it sates my preferences for modern music nicely. I think it's a powerful musical performance and maybe I'm handicapped because I'm a composer myself, which leads my brain down those synapses dedicated to those persuits. Also, music tends to override all other art forms (note the often blunt but effective use of music in films to create emotional resonance that the acting and plot wouldn't otherwise possess) and one has to be careful not to let it become a crutch. Here's my question, "is Rose producing good art here?" Yes, but it's basically a musical performance and that's how Ill judge it as it doesn't reflexively attempt to be anything more like a contemporary "visual" or "sound" art piece needs to. Last day is Saturday and it's right around the corner from Rake (Igloo gallery is between the 2 and their current group show Animal Magnetism is worth a look too).

Raphael Goldchain at Bluesky Gallery

Raphael Goldchain's Familial Ground at Bluesky is a fascinating exhibition where the photographer recreates characters from his own family tree to research his roots. The results are completely different than Cyndy Sherman's guises as Goldchain's artifice are melded with very real genetics and familial tales to create a kind of method actor's version of genealogy through photography. Some of the transformations like Goldchain as David Ryten (a bearded Ukrainian) are mostly convincing while others are humorous, but ultimately it's the research and diasporas over the globe and history that bring one man's family tree to life as an exhibition. It made me consider who I resemble in my own family tree and I could see families engaging in such efforts as a way to enrich their own interests in genealogy.

Jim Riswold's Selling Jesus installtion

As a body of work Jim Riswold's Selling Jesus at Augen Gallery is actually his best show to date but it's hampered by a "too full" hang that makes it seem like a slapdash production or a show for the sake of having a show. The Jesus subject seems more topical (Easter time) and slightly less dull than the Chairman Mao or Last Supper work which felt like cliff notes cribs from the Andy Warhol artist manual. His production values don't phase me, lots of Portland artists... not to mention Damien Hirst, Takashi Murakami and most of Art Basel Miami Beach actually leave him in the dust.


Heuristically speaking Riswold is talented, everyone can see that, but one always sense he wants to be an "Art-ist" too damn much and his connections as former creative director for Weiden and Kennedy have a double edged sword… in the art world where it's just as important how one gets places as where one goes and there are a lot of secret handshakes to learn (Paul Gauguin's rise has parallels). Somehow Riswold's work hasn't addressed whether he's just a tactician and he needs togrow deeper roots(and even then he's no Warhol or Hirst or Jake & Dinos Chapman in terms of tactical moves so far). None of this is fatal though and Ill give him the benefit of the doubt… the War show he curated at Guestroom gallery had an awesome array of John Wesley prints… Riswold needs a bit of Wesley's ability to keep the viewer off balance. As a bit of constructive advice, nothing he's done so far has that has a similar effect. My best advice, make the next show count and maybe look at these 3 polemic artists George Grosz, Otto Dix and Max Beckman for some radical roadmaps.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on March 28, 2008 at 12:38 | Comments (1)


What is art? What is Illustration? Jim will teach you.
Illustrations communicate visual info quickly.
what are some things that can make illustrations successful? Jim can help you!
They are original and funny.
Did I mention that good illustraion is original.
Jim, have you seen the book full of church signs? Have you seen "basketball Jesus"? Have you seen similar Mercury covers?
Jim, Look at Levinthal right next to your work.
Thats called "Art"
Next time try submitting to a magazine. No, no editors would take this wornout stuff. Sorry, I can't forgive this crap.

Posted by: Joshua [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 29, 2008 05:06 PM

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