Last night the Manor
of Art and The
Grid shows at Milepost 5 both seemed to achieve the desired effect of attendance
reminiscent of shows like The Modern Zoo in 2003 and the Charm Bracelet's
meeting people in 2002 or the perpetual stew at the Everett Station Lofts. Each exhibition had more than just a few things worth seeing but
granted these are essentially group shows that focused more on group than the
show. This is not necessarily a bad thing as art thrives on proximity and social
interaction. The resulting good energy in an odd smelling building in need of renovation is the sort of thing that opens up new possibilities to artists from time to time.
For me Cris Moss' video installation in Room 306 was the highlight of the evening.
Though definitely good intentioned but somewhat oddly located on 82nd Milepost
5 is an non profit effort to establish an artist community in a city where
artists tend to cluster, divining the next hot neighborhood on their own (in
the past 2 decades it has been the Alphabet District, the Pearl District, North
Mississippi, North Williams an now near N. Interstate). In fact, other projects like
the Falcon Arts Community on N Albina or the Everett Station Lofts seem to be doing well because they are
close in. Whereas Milepost 5 has always seemed like a well intentioned herding
activity on the outskirts rather than actually tracking the where artists would
naturally colonize. That said, if the economy turns around MP5 could be successful.
The die has already been cast so this whole stunt is an exercise in wishful
thinking... not a bad thing really. I think everyone involved would have done
this differently in hindsight... like a location in North Portland or the central
east side industrial district.
As expected with over 100 artists and only a few established names the art
at the Manor of Art show was a mixed bag ranging from the awful, to decent but
unoriginal to a handful highlights. Cardboard and tree clippings were very popular materials.
Jonothan Stanish's room full of devils was an over the top effort worth noting.
Gary Wiseman and Meredith Andrews work made use of the creepy institutional feel of the building.
A little video from the third floor.
Amy Ruppels "Mean Birds" series
Video Installation in Room 304 by Jason Squamata and Andrew McKenzie
Brennan Conaway made reference (literally) to the plaster lathe construction of the rooms and their role as end of life "passage" as an old age home.
TJ Norris reconfigured the benches from his NAAU show last year, successfully channeling deconstructionist architecture with a soothing sound component
Kieth Rosson, like TJ was a veteran of the Modern Zoo show in 2003... this show lacked some of the large interesting spaces of that effort. Overall Manor of Art was filled with a lot of iffy but energetic stuff with a handful of things that made the trip worthwhile.
TJ Norri's curation of the Grid Show at the MP5 Condo's lobby stepped the general level of art up quite a bit. My favorite was easily Heidi Schwegler's creepy clown titled "Juggernaut".
One thing, TJ's group shows over the years like Grey|Area, meta and invisible.other
all seem to be VERY similar to one another. In this case the show was laid out as a grid. It is always a worthwhile show but somehow they are a bit anonymously interchangeable. I chock it up to TJ being more of an artist that curates around his artistic interests rather than having a programmatic/institutional outlook. It's a valid stance and who says artists must abdicate the right contextualize their peers work? Still, what MP5 really needed was a strong anchor exhibition space to make it an important player in Portland. Giving a good artist/curator TJ Norris a mere lobby doesn't quite cut it in terms of putting MP5 on the cultural map on a persistent and critically noteworthy basis.
Now that MP5 has played its group show card it will get increasingly diminished returns from that format in terms of attention... unless of course it manages to sell a lot of condos (in a major economic downturn)or actually renovate the phase 2 rental units.
The video installation that you reference was created by Jason Squamata and Andrew Mc Kenzie.
As someone who has been out there was some frequency (but doesn't live there) I can say that the space in the condos is beautiful but also completely out of so many artists' price range. I'm no economics expert, but it seems that some money could be made on 'The Manor' if it were to undergo absolutely minimal renovation and the spaces were rented out as strictly studios at rock-bottom prices. I think I can speak for a lot of artists when I say that there's no way I could afford to pay $300+ monthly for a studio space, but I could almost definitely scrape together a hundred bucks for a scratty room in a derelict old folks home. This would probably appeal to a number of artists living in southeast, especially those on relevant Trimet lines.
That being said, Gavin and Chris did an excellent job and the show went off very well, considering the time there was to set up, and the volume of participants.
Posted by: Owen Hunter at August 23, 2009 09:46 PM
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