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

recent entries

Resist: Inauguration at Una Gallery
Early February links
First Thursday Picks February 2017
Dead tree media & dead horse flogging news
Post Snowpocalypse Weekend Picks
More Disjecta'd
New Year opportunities
Monday Integrity Links
First Thursday Picks January 2017
Jason Berlin + Alanna Risse at Rainmaker
Saying goodby to 2016
Mid December Links

recent comments

Sasha
inexile

categories

 

Book Review
Calls for Artists
Design Review
Essays
Interviews
News
Openings & Events
Photoblogs
Reviews
Video
Links
About PORT

regular contributors

 

Tori Abernathy
Amy Bernstein
Katherine Bovee
Emily Cappa
Patrick Collier
Arcy Douglass
Megan Driscoll
Jesse Hayward
Sarah Henderson
Jeff Jahn
Kelly Kutchko
Drew Lenihan
Victor Maldonado
Christopher Moon
Jascha Owens
Alex Rauch
Gary Wiseman

archives

 

Guest Contributors
Past Contributors
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005

contact us

 

Contact us

search

 


syndicate

 

Atom
RSS

powered by

 

Movable Type 3.16

This site is licensed under a

 

Creative Commons License

Monday 12.22.08

« Snowy Hopes | Main | Yes Virginia there is a MOCA in 2009 »

Corey Arnold's Fish-Work

Matthew_and_the_SleeperSM.jpg
Matthew and the Sleeper

Sadly, of one of the best contemporary art exhibitions of 2008, Corey Arnold's wry and accurately titled FISH-WORK at Charles A.Hartman Fine Art ended during the blizzard last weekend. If you missed it PORT will try to make up the difference. Sure, we have seen Arnold's work in occasional group shows but this collection of images is particularly strong...and sometimes devastingly fresh.

Arnold_Fish_Work_SM.jpg
FISH-WORK installation view

We should also make note because the Portland based Arnold, with representation at LA's Richard Heller Gallery and minor cult status fame from the "most real" of reality television shows is going to go far. Why? Mostly because his work transcends and outflanks our uncertain times through even more tenuous images… images that expose the depths of human perseverance that go beyond mere irony, jokes and even fear. Truth in uncertainty is something all sailors learn.

The_Wave_SM.jpg
The Wave

Today, the weather might be extreme (by mild Portland standards) but the tough conditions in these photos give some rare and valuable comparative scale to the world's pressing economic and existential problems. It's all the more poignant as the context comes through the extremely hazardous lens of extreme crab fishing. Sure, times are going get tougher in 2009 but if these fishermen are any indication, the human spirit is up to the challenge, surviving… simply out of habit.

opilio_morning.jpg
Opilio Morning

The theme is well illustrated by the first two photos in the show, Opilio Morning and Icy Bow. Opilio Morning's roiling seas, steeply pitched ship deck and matter of fact work scene speaks volumes about the human spirit's persistence amid massive uncertainty and forces way beyond human control. In this image, the ship is quite literally "the workplace", which is tossed by a truly hazardous business "environment".

The image also stands as totemic evidence of human activity, and as stoic photographic proof of survival through routine. It sure beats those cheesy office posters with words like "adversity" and "teamwork" next to some natural scene. Instead, as hard won stories from the edge, Corey Arnold's photographs are proof that specific experience beats blanket sloganeering every time.

icy_bow_w.jpg
Icy Bow


Icy Bow is somewhat more in the stoic and romantic mode, with its crusted ship's bow acting like some sort of existential arrow into the unknown. It is a quieter more sublime image in the mode of Caspar David Friedrich or something more abstract like Richard Diebenkorn.

Like all shows at Charles Hartman, this show is beautifully hung and each image supports and reinforces the other but it's the photographer's intense "toughness" and stark sense of grim humor that elevates each image in what could be seen as an almost ecclesiastical state of transcendence. That's right, much of this work more legitimately resembles the saints, martyrs and vanities' of old master painting than the highly manicured staging's of Gregory Crewdson… whose work looks oh so 2003 compared the truly stoic oceanic sieges depicted here.

Lonliness_Arnold_SM.jpg
Loneliness

Instead, images like Matthew and the Sleeper, Opilio Bed and Loneliness clearly define the grim humor of this show. Simultaneously goofy, work weary and stoic the gallows humor here draws stark but incredibly thin lines between the living and the dead. This reminds the viewer that Arnold isn't merely just some tag along photographer… crab fishing has been an integral part of his life for a long time and it is heartening to see contemporary art produced with such traction from intense real world experience.

In other words, Arnold may have gone to grad school but it is hardly the most defining experience of his life or art practice. Honestly, I could see Richard Serra (arch duke of the old garde tough artists of yore) appreciating this work.

Gulf_CrossingSM.jpg
Gulf Crossing

Other works like The Wave and Gulf Crossing, have an almost El Greco sense of scary teal verticality, reminding me of Thor Heyerdahl's incredible journey in Kon Tiki, or Melville's Moby Dick… the book that has profoundly shaped my (and most other literate Americans consciousness's). The Wave and Gulf Crossing both left me wondering if the sea is the new West… or maybe it was always the only true west. (apologies to Sam Shepherd)

Bering_Sea_BirthdaySM.jpg
Bering Sea Birthday

Or maybe happiness comes from choosing one's struggle... such as my favorite image in the show, Bering Sea Birthday. In it a lone figure upon a canted deck and tossing seas swings a rod at the piñata… and it all seems utterly more gratifying than obsessively trying to harpoon a white whale.

This is work that is both of and transcendent of its times and this Portland-based photographer may be the best shooter I've come across since Justine Kurland. Arnold is a legitimately daring art world offering, and how often do we see that?

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 22, 2008 at 12:06 | Comments (2)


Comments

Good to see this show get some coverage. I saw this work at Heller and was excited to learn he lives in Portland. Arnold has a great eye for dramatic composition and subtle humor.

Posted by: inexile [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 23, 2008 04:18 PM

Aside from being in the line of duty, this exhibition was really lacking in terms of quality images. There seemed to be something that fell short in every image in this exhibition, except for the exceptional Gulf Crossing which was both large format and crisp. Overall, one cannot be sure how long Arnold has been using a camera, perhaps digital here. I saw the show the first week it opened with high expectations, having heard the high praise, but what I saw was so different from the wonderful supplemental materials which are far greater than the actual work. Posing with dead fish is what seamen do, it seemed a bit silly in several of the images here, awkward, and not in an arty sort of way, like his fellow Portlander Holly Andres does so well (though her work is lit with a sense of perfection, and printed with storybook unreal color and high definition). If Arnold's work is documentary, then be that, but it seems to wiggle in an incredibly awkward place that only tends to vacilate thinly. The environments are exciting, but the end result is just rather eh, not at all like described here. The book is lovely, as is the show card, but don't climb a snowy peak for this one. And if you are interested in similar terrain try out a real Seaman's work - Camille Seaman to be specific (ref. http://www.camilleseaman.com).

Posted by: Sasha [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 26, 2008 02:23 PM

Post a comment

Thanks for signing in, . Now you can comment. (sign out)

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)


Remember me?


s p o n s o r s
Site Design: Jennifer Armbrust   •   Site Development: Philippe Blanc & Katherine Bovee