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Wednesday 07.01.09

« First Thursday Picks July 2009 | Main | First Weekend Picks July 2009 »

The New Faces of the Portland Art Scene

Whether the economy is bubbling or collapsing Portland continues to attract new faces (often with new spaces). With more and more leaders to our ever growing and evolving scene there is most certainly yet another new wave in effect. Here are just a few of the new faces everyone should have on their radar (I'm certain there are many more... it's impossible to keep track of the in flow so feel free to nominate them in the comments).

Justin Bland is a 2008 PNCA graduate who has been very active as a curator of shows like Monster at Appendix Project space and the impressively professional Green Oregon (a much bigger survey like this is in order). In Miami's 2008 art fair he participated in Deitch Projects "Rad Moon Rising: Portland Art Now, curated by Nathan Howdeshell.

Justin Alpern is a 2007 Linfield College grad who has set up his new gallery at 2552 NW Vaughn as the front end of his video production business. The space is excellent for solo shows and though he's just getting started with programming he expects the space will focus mostly on experimental installations and performance by late fall. Right now he's getting his feet wet. Add this to the growing list of new alternative spaces that continue to make Portland's visual art scene exciting.

Christina Olsen joined the Portland Art Museum as their new Director of Education and Public Programs this past spring, coming from the LA's prestigious Getty Center. She's sharp as a tack and her presence is already connecting the museum and community at large to the art scene more with a higher profile series of museum talks and educational outreach programs (that I hear about through my friends with school age children).

Charles Olson, a 2007 U of O intermedia grad who has been putting on some of the best up and coming solo shows in Portland at his Everett Station Loft alt-space Tractor (this space has previously been home to the exceptional Nil and Field galleries which launched a lot of careers). As an artist Olson is a bit of a mad scientist technologist and he's got some big time design world experience... so definitely watch this guy.

Micah Malone is originally from Portland, but he spent a long time on the East Coast honing his chops in grad school then as a executive editor of the online arts journal, Big Red and Shiny for whom he still writes as well as Artforum's website. Micah's one of the most knowledgeable and outright intelligent artists one could hope to meet and I really enjoy our intense impromptu street corner conversations (only my similar conversations with Storm Tharp are as intense). His show of installations at PSU this past winter gave notice to all that he's an inquisitive artistic force. Even more amusingly we look more like brothers than my own brothers do... so occasionally some confounded young gallerist or curator complains that I didn't spend enough time in their gallery (except the fact that I was in Chicago). Thus, before blaming me... know that there are several tall blond people in Portland's art scene who may get bored quickly with your show. (the good news is we are looking, but if we are gonna see it all we will be moving very fast)

Nathaniel Shapiro, his installations at PNCA got my attention and longtime gallerists like Elizabeth Leach and Jane Beebe rather liked his installation at VOLUME, a show I curated last year. He's talented, with a very dry wit and sense of presentation. He's also a member of Oregon Painting Society (OPS) and considered to be one of the most detail oriented artists at work in the scene today (the man has serious skills).

Jason Traeger is probably the most visible member of the rather neopagan/rauschenbergian-combinesque-meets-area 51 inspired Oregon Painting Society. I like his sculpture and installations a lot more than his paintings. His solo show at the Cascade Gallery at PCC Cascade was notable and we'd like to see another even more developed solo installation effort.

Proprietors of the newish Appendix Project Space, Joshua Pavlacky (right) and Zachary Davis were former studio mates while attending Wesleyan University. In 2008 they made the ballsy move of trying to program an interesting alternative space in a reconfigured garage off of Alberta street. Pavlacky has a solo show at another important up and coming alt-space Tractor this month. This is a major strength of Portland where all of the alt-spaces support and develop one another.

Salvatore Reda 's painting, photography, installations and video delves in architecture and video as fantasy and nostalgia. He has exhibited all over the world including the Santa Monica Museum of Art and last years VOLUME. He is currently a full time professor at the Art Institute of Portland and received his MFA from Art Center College of Design in 2001 where he studied with Mike Kelly.

Blake Shell moved here in 2008 and as reported on PORT was just announced as the new director of the Archer Gallery at Clark College. Her own photography is often concerned with stretching image technology and pop culture.

The attention getting Jhordan Dahl caught our attention as an artist in 2007 at the Affair at the Jupiter hotel in Mark Woolley's bathroom (while still a PNCA student) and her most recent curatorial effort White Noise. She's serious, smart and sweats the details with a lot of edge... setting her apart from most of the softer slacker/hipster wannabe artists we spend a lot of time ignoring. I'd like to go on the record stating there haven't been enough young, independent female curators active in Portland... (a few years ago it seemed overbalanced with to many alpha male efforts.. many of which were more alpha male territorial exercises than concerted curatorial efforts). Let's hope she pulls together a solo show of her own work or another group show this summer.

Corey Arnold's photography has found international acclaim and his solo debut in his new home town definitely made a few Portland shutterbugs a little green with envy. I'll stand my ground and contend he is one of the most exciting photographers Ive come across since Justine Kurland. (oh and he's also been on the Discovery Channel's Deadliest Catch) Corey's a really nice guy to boot and Portland's glad to have you.

Modou Dieng not only holds Lucinda Parker's old post as a painting professor at PNCA he is also runs Worksound, an alternative art and music space. A connected international artist, Modou mixes music, culture and assemblage in his paintings and his willingness to experiment with Worksound like Jhordan Dhal's White Noise or my VOLUME shows help do a lot of necessary cloud-seeding for the scene. That cloud seeding usually bears more fruit in later solo shows but the group shows give artists traction. Also, group shows allow artists to develop their ideas amongst their peers.

Peter Burr (a Carnegie Melon grad) came to our attention in 2006 with a duo show at NAAU and since then he's been very active traveling the country with Hooliganship, doing artist residencies and his Cartune Xpres video screenings but a solo show of this often neon hued artist is long overdue.

Arnold Kemp is the new chair of PNCA's MFA in Visual Art (a story PORT broke last week). He has extensive experience as a very connected curator (Yerba Beuna, etc) and as an artist. He's no stranger to Portland either, taking Part in 2007's TBA festival and PSU's PMMNLS lecture series. His presence (along with MoCC's Namita Wiggers) definitely beef's up PNCA's once languishing (now enviable) curatorial expertise quotient. He's definitely very different than the NYU educated MK Guth whom he replaces and it will be interesting to see how what effect that will have on the new program.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on July 01, 2009 at 15:00 | Comments (2)


It's good to see some of my chums on there. I'm proud of you all (you know who you are).

And I can't wait for Arnold Kemp to get into the full swing of things at PNCA. I hate to see MK go, but change is good right?

Posted by: Calvin Ross Carl [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 1, 2009 05:17 PM

Thinking about who I left off... Anna Gray and Ryan Wilson Paulson probably deserve to be on here... Ill wait till their first full solo show. Also Stephen Funk is a another face.... as is Eva Speer.

There are always so many new people and all of the recent MFA grads from PNCA and PSU have a bit of time to assert themselves... I often wait till they are out of school for a bit.

Oh and I purposely left seceral PORT-stars off... Ryan Pierce has a solo show at Liz Leach, Alex ran around "faux" naked in bluesky (ok pinned to a wall) and Arcy's paintings have started to cause quite a stir as well. Both Arcy and Ryan have shown they can sell in this economy.

Posted by: Double J [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 1, 2009 08:38 PM

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