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Friday 09.26.08

« Cloepfil's 2 Columbus Circle | Main | First Wednesday? »

End of September Reviews

It's the last days for several worthy exhibitions, so here are some quick reviews to pique your interest:

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Installation View, Bored Meeting (L), Invincible Air (R)

Sean Healy's Life in Black and White at Elizabeth Leach Gallery presents his solidest work to date but it's somewhat undone by a hang that diffuses the themes of power, security and posturing. The install simply doesn't seem to amplify the intellectual posture of the show spatially. Also, the seriality of related pieces should reinforce one another... prompting viewers to create their own narrative. Instead, the multiple tiger and airstream works kinda sit across from one another at odd angles like a 7th grader who doesn't know how to approach a pretty girl.

Taken in small vignettes the show works though. For example, Bored Meeting and Invincible Air both resonate with anyone who knows the business world… it's all about selling some truth between all the posture and ambition. Sometimes the truth is ugly like the vulture-like eagles of Invincible Air. The standout of the show though is Good Fences Make Good Neighbors. It is a series of picket fences made from credit cards and it simultaneously nails the issues of regulation in financial markets and the use of credit amongst consumers, too bad it seems cramped (it should be installed at Washington Mutuals's HQ's in Seattle. Still, you can't keep good work down, in a further complication of it's meaning the piece has been sold. Catholic Guilt is another telling and insightful piece. As a combination of ferocity and doilies, a mandala of passive agressivity.

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Catholic Guilt, 2008

Overall, there is some great work here and the only thing that kept it from reaching the heights of Storm Tharp and Jacqueline Ehlis was the install. These days you have to follow through to the finish to stand out in Portland. Healy's recent show in Houston didn't seem to have these problems. Ends Saturday Sept 27th.


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Mary Randlett, Lucinda Parker 1972

Mary Randlett's photos of historic Northwest artists and landscapes at Laura Russo Gallery are a real treat. So you want to see a photo of Lucinda Parker when she was young enough to pass for a member of the Partridge Family with some very Barnett Newman looking forms on the wall? Want to see how seriously Morris Graves carried himself when a photographer was around?

My favorite is Mel Katz, because he has this certain swagger and there is this piece of paper straining against gravity behind him. Instead of being different than the newbie's to Portland and the Northwest today all seem quite similar to my generation. They all wanted to be left alone to do their own thing, though they seem affect a somewhat less self-conscious air than many younger art school grads today (still most of the new guard of leaders have that same air of self confidence). It's also telling to compare Mel Katz, Jack Portland or Lee Kelly's image to one of the many mountain peaks images on display here as well. I'm not certain how many people here fully understand their contributions to the landscape here but I'm a historian and this is an important document of those times. Show Ends September 27th


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Justin Long at Jace Gace

Floridian Justin Long's The Coma Off Point Loma at Jace Gace is a hilarious show that uses the America's cup yachting metaphor to parallel the state of our nation. It's almost better now that very little of it still works and it's very telling. It's like a graveyard of ships now or a breeding ground for algae and other slime. I'm a fan of entropy and sometimes a show works better when it breaks down.

This is just one of the many new and increasingly ambitious alt spaces in town Jace Gace makes a serious case for why Portland's art scene really works. Sure we could use one $1,500,000 art center but Ill take 10 Jace Gaces, Rock's Boxes, Worksounds, Ogles, Gallery Homelands, Igloos, Newspaces, Rerarto's, Tractors, The Life and The Nine Galleries instead if push comes to shove. Portland is in the midst of an alt-space revolution and some are very sustainable models that in the long run will educate Portland's young but rapidly growing cultural/philanthropic base. Some are doing very important shows by very established artists. To that end the city and or RACC should find a way to support the best of these efforts. Also, the O is kinda lazy and only seems to care if $$$'s are attached to a space and ignores most of these efforts…weak. Through September 29th


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Eugenia Pardue at Linfield College

Eugenia Pardue's Anomaly at Linfield College is a bold break for the artist but it is still wandering between the worlds of painting and installation in a yet indecisive way. The best work in the show is simply made of paint and uses the walls as a support. The square paintings in particular are often confused in their use of a homogenized surface/support and didn't need to be here. All that said it is an exciting direction if she can commit to either traditional easel painting or paint as an installation art medium, the biological references are particularly rich vein to mine, she just needs to paint like a plant grows. Ends October 4th, it's a nice drive and visit some wineries for a complete day trip


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Henk Pander's Ort (L), The Dream of the Bombadier (M) and Raum (R)

Last but not least is Henk Pander's History and Topography at Laura Russo Gallery. He's definitely breathing real life into the tradition of history painting genre here. Pieces like The Dream of the Bombardier evokes the devastation that WWII brought upon places like Dresden or Hiroshima and reinserts us into the fevered nightmare of that scene and other images take us to places that were once concentration camps that then became soviet era prisons. In the case of my favorite painting, Raum, Pander has compiled several German/Soviet rooms into one. For instance the stairs and stage like area were from one room and the peeling accretions of the German oil based then Soviet latex were from another. It's a sumptuous kind of gloom alchematized into new paint as space. It is powerful study in the large scale and organized misuse of power.

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Enola Gay Hanger - Wendover Utah, 2008

Other works like Enola Gay Hanger - Wendover Utah and The Gift of Vision, with its vanitas skull with glasses on top of a pile of books would each look like an artist stretching for significance if they weren't painted so well. Instead, they come off as experience personified, unafraid to be amused and horrified at itself. Show Ends September 27th

Posted by Jeff Jahn on September 26, 2008 at 17:03 | Comments (0)


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