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Tuesday 12.30.08

« Woolley's 15 and Smith is Ecumenical | Main | Jerry Walker & cary doucette »

Looking back at 2008 on PORT

2008 may be the year that most everyone I know can't wait to leave behind but it was easily PORT's best year ever. I'll post PORT's annual year in review soon (it takes a while to compile).

Till then, here's a list of just a few of our standouts from 2008:

Arcy and I interviewing Brad Cloepfil in a marathon 2-part art and architecture geek fest... we kinda good cop/bad cop'd him but the man is a aesthetics machine

Arcy's interview with Ed Ruscha, AKA the world's greatest living painter

Ryan's interview with Storm Tharp, ending with the most intriguing hamburger discussion of the year

Amy's critical takedown of Ethan Jackson's Couture show at NAAU

My review of Paul Sutinen at 9 Gallery

Arcy's historical piece on Donald Judd at the PCVA... uncovering an important show in Judd's development.

Arcy's review of Robert Rauschenberg's final works at Bluesky

My review of the Contemporary Northwest Art Awards

Megan's heartfelt review of Jim Lommason's Exit Wounds at NAAU

Arcy's digestion of Shiro Nakane's lecture at PNCA

My interview with Fritz Haeg at Reed College

Alex's interview with Garth Clark

Amy's review of Video Gentlemen at NAAU (see a trend here, the Couture series has been a critical favorite)

My review of Keith Boadwee at Rock's Box

My review of Jacqueline Ehlis at NAAU

Arcy's essay on Barnett Newman's 18 Cantos

Megan's tough but fair analysis of Disjecta with some very constructive advice... which happily seems to have gotten through

My analysis of PAM's new direction with Brian Ferriso

My review of Gertrude and Otto Natzler at MoCC

Amy's interview with Jonathan Lasker.... this is a clinic on how to do a smart, informed interview for an art audience.

My analysis of the I-5 Columbia River Crossing, AKA the 4+ billion dollar bridge

Ryan's interview with MK Guth

Arcy's interview with Vito Acconci

So please bear with me, it's time for me to be "The Publisher" and toot our own horn:

Content-wise PORT 2008 was peerless in the area's arty discussion, which isn't a slam on other publications... we serve the art geeks and cognoscenti (and maybe, just maybe push others to work harder or justify greater space for their important contributions). The truth is other publications serve more generalist audiences which usually require some combination of; gossip, gawking at dollar signs and a snarky distrust of art. Fact is, journalists love bad news and in-depth analysis puts their editors and audiences to sleep... but PORT's readers know what they want, an expanded peer-driven discourse with different objectives than filling the news hole.

There is a huge difference between being a reporter and being a specialized analyst and in this era of greater specialization PORT serves the area art niche. No, you can't keep up on Brangelina, dish on our dull private lives or get that schadenfreude feeling here, but if you love art and design with a critical edge and somewhat conversational tone... then PORT is for you. Thank you dear readers and sponsors, we are a trade publication put out by insiders... it takes a lot of hard work to do this and I couldn't be prouder of everyone who has a part in making this happen.

So... it is time to take a bow everyone, no other mid-size city in America (much less one with such a young art ecosystem ) can boast of something quite like PORT.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 30, 2008 at 13:53 | Comments (3)


Congrats on a good year. Smart of you to define your role so precisely. I'm no art insider or specialist, but even I've learned a lot from reading the posts here, and I appreciate the passionate devotion you bring to the Portland vis art scene, which needs informed critical judgment more than hype as it develops. Thanks, and keep it up!

Posted by: brett [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 30, 2008 02:38 PM

Not a lot of articles by women (4 or 5 maybe out of these 24 links) and not a lot about them either (3 or 4..?). Not to detract from your efforts... we like and need PORT... but but but....

Posted by: lsd [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 8, 2009 06:21 PM


That is an interesting point, but it can depend how you parse this statistically... for example female gallerists and curators clearly dominated this list.

...but... but... but that isn't the most important point, in art its "quality" not statistics that matter. So do Ehlis and Guth dominate the list if we focus on local artists covered... yes they do both qualitatively and quantitatively. Ehlis and Guth also hold two of the most important university positions in the city, because they kick administrative/educational ass... not because they are women. Still, it is nice that people now realize Arcy is very much a dude.

Also, statistics are problematic, things like bridges and institutions don't have a gender and they command a lot of our attention so it isn't just a male or female equation (this reminds me of how the German language has masculine, feminine and neuter forms).

There is also the art historical male bias legacy. PORT looked at a lot of artists from the 70's in 2008. *Note PORT currently has 2 interviews with exceptional artists that happen to be women in the works for this month.

Our policy is also telling, PORT doesn't use quotas when assigning stories... because we don't assign stories. Instead, each writer decides what to write about. Our approach is based purely on qualitative not statistical processes... this isn't government or higher education, PORT is a confederacy of art writers.

Lastly, I'm always looking for good writers and very self aware of the fact that strong female voices are needed to balance out mine. Megan (aka a very strong writer who happens to be a woman) and I discuss this often. In past years PORT had more female writers than men, 2008 just happened to have more long posts by guys. Still, I believe Megan makes more posts than any other PORT writer...

So, will I use this to goad Megan and Amy to do more long pieces... you betcha! I'll also redouble my efforts to get more female art writers. If you fit that criteria you can email me at Jeff @ portlandart.net... art writers are rarer than artists, gallerists and curators and I'm always on the lookout for talent because it typically has to be developed. Please remember I am picky, it takes more than interest... even Arcy spent a year wood shedding before we published him (I actively recruited him, and there is even one young woman I've been working on for 7 or 8 years, you know who you are).

Overall, a good art writer needs to be pretty thick skinned and have years of background experience. It even takes about 6 months of regular articles to really find your voice, art critics arent born, they develop. If you think youve got what it takes, PORT wants to hear from you.

Posted by: Double J [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 9, 2009 01:13 PM

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