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Sunday 04.13.08

« PNCA seeks to purchase its currrent home as well | Main | Opening this week »

Damien Gilley at Portland Building + other Portland space rangers

Gilley's Plus Minus at the Portland Building

Portland's art scene is host to pretty much every genre imaginable but spatially concerned installation work has become a very prominent element over the past 6 years. It's time to add Damien Gilley to the ever-growing list of first rate to promising practitioners of the genre. This focus on redefining space makes sense as Portland is currently reimagining itself as a city (many would argue that it is a city state built on civics rather than corporate greed).

Gilley's Plus Minus at Michael Graves' history making Portland Building makes use of vinyl tape to render and conflate the cityscape and interior space on a wall based web. The effect isn't unlike a city planner's PowerPoint slide manifested in real life by some giant graphic design obsessed spider (it is so very Portland).

Plus Minus (detail)

In this successful first attempt Gilley focused specifically on 5th Avenue streetscape in front of the Portland Building as well as Grave's interiors nearby the RACC run installation space. The resulting ghost world of outlines is simultaneously disorienting while evoking the specific local of the installations immediate neighborhood.

For example, if the viewer looks around they can pick out details like Porlandia in profile, the security turnstiles in the Portland Building as well as some of areas where street workers have cordoned off construction sites. Some of Graves' signature decorative embellishments also feature prominently. The city as depicted seems friendly but strangely irradiated and the blue color reminds me of some of Rauschenberg's x-rays.

In this case Gilley's rasterisation and displacement of linear outlines has an interesting effect, essentially turning the gallery space into a Tron-like alternate universe… not so much an inhabitable place as a kind of plan for space and the kind of civic energy it exudes. It also reminds me of the way architect Daniel Libeskind or an artist like Julie Mehretu utilizes lines to indicate history or coordinates of civic activities. This could become even more interesting if further installations could go beyond describing existing nearby space and dealt with deeper histories and potential future changes to the site.

more detail

Up close the vinyl tape acts like a model, reinforcing the blueprint like gestalt of the whole installation. This is an interesting first foray into this type of installation and could be improved if it took place in a larger space or possibly extended to the floor and ceiling. As it stands now Plus Minus is a tantalizing hint at what Gilley, a PSU MFA student and co-operator of IGLOO gallery, can do. We want to see more.

Also, April seems to be awash in strong space-related shows, here's a list:

Jenene Nagy's s/plit at The Portland Art Museum is a must see

As is The Video Gentlemen's BYOTV at NAAU (not only is the gallery filled by a giant triangle but their short range TV signal is a kind of invisible use of space.)

James Lavadour at PDX conjures space from stains like no other, he's the best living abstract landscape artist on the planet in fact he's way better than Arthur Dove.

Laura Fritz's haunting Interspace installation and Mark Hooper's uncanny photographs at Quality Pictures are ultra tight explorations of inhabitation and space.

Jesse Hayward + Jenene Nagy and Stephanie Robison (this is her break out show) at The Art Gym

Chris Held's Maya-like tower of microwaves at Jace Gace (another strong addition to the SE)

Scott Wayne Indiana's pretty damn funny Door Man at Ogle

InTensions at Worksound has several spatially intensive works (an exciting new space in the SE)

Paula Rebsom at Tilt

Some deluded blond guy who hung out Robert Irwin some and now thinks he is an artist at PNCA

Alex Fradkin's bunkers at Blue Sky

Posted by Jeff Jahn on April 13, 2008 at 22:09 | Comments (3)


Did every curator in Portland get together and decide by committee to put on fantastic shoes this month? The last few months had me questioning what the hell was going on in Portland, but this month has reignited my flame.

And hey, at least you are some deluded blond guy that actually MET Robert Irwin. I am just some deluded blond guy that thinks he's an artist because he knows of Robert Irwin.

Posted by: Calvin Ross Carl [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 14, 2008 11:58 AM

Are you both joking. Jeff for throwing in that he met with Irwin and Calvin for thinking that matters AT ALL.

Posted by: JDavid [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 22, 2008 05:10 PM

A very large part of my artwork is being purposefully derivative of the descendants of Modernism that came before me, and recontextualizing their work from a modern day American workers viewpoint. So Irwin's aesthetic has been extremely influential to my work. I would say that matters. So meeting Irwin would be rather inspiring to me.

To each his own though. You are what you eat, and I choose to consume other artists. Is there any artist you would love to meet JDavid?

Posted by: Calvin Ross Carl [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 23, 2008 03:05 PM

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