Because of the holidays November is often overstuffed with worthy shows and
not enough time to see or review all of them properly... so I thought I'd put
together a series of shorts on things you can see while shopping or walking
off the turkey. Besides the highly recommended Broadcast
at Lewis and Clark College
Design Now at PAM
here are few things that go beyond art school posturing.
As a bonus a great deal of the work comes from around the globe, Portland definitely
isn't navel gazing;
I particularly liked Arnold Kemp's debut at PDX Contemporary
. Perhaps the tightest
show put on in that gallery since Storm
Tharp's 2007 tour de force
, Kemp's effort is an interesting kind of rehabilitated
formalism related a tiny bit to Yves Klein... it is obsessed with the color black while inviting all its myriad associations
(rather than a proscriptive prophylactic discourse). I like the approach. Even
the all black paintings went over well on 1st Thursday. Sure, Kemp's
2007 solo outing in PNCA's Swiggert commons for TBA
may have been scale
challenged mess of an exhibition but here the glitter, photos, black paintings
and googley eyes play with the graphite black floors in meaningful ways. Often
curators who make art end up juxtaposing disparate yet related bodies of their
own work and Kemp's first PDX outing shows just how well this can be done. Most
of Portland's artist curators do solo shows that include too much but this is
a focused myriad... not simply an unchecked exercise in pluralism.
Across the street at Chambers
Fang Er & Meng Jin's The Hidden Depth
video is an intoxicating semiabstract
animation similar to the one included at The Portland Art Museum's China Design
Now show. See both but this installation of the video allows for more focused
Crystal Schenk and Shelby Davis' West
Coast Turnaround at Milepost5
is a Tom Sachs-ian effort that half transforms
room 405 into I-405. It's an ambitious simulacra but idea-wise it needs more
developing (the condo location is inspired though). Over the years I've seen
busts made of an artist's blood, puppies as giant topiary sculpture and anything
you can think of made of cardboard or paper mache so this feels a tad anticlimactic. Still, these two are worth watching. It's even worse that such a large scale
enterprise is up for only 8 days (ending Nov 29th). Seriously, it often takes
people 3.5 weeks to make a pilgrimage to even close in galleries and this is
way out on 82nd... part of respecting the art is allowing its audience time
enough to find their way to the work. 8 days is unfortunate and should
La Velata at PAM.
Ok is it worth it? Absolutely, unequivocally yes.
It is breathtaking and complex study in poise, slowburn-lust/love and restraint.
No painter in town should miss this as it is one of Raphael's most important paintings
etc. I also like how this doesn't feel like a blockbuster but a cozy viewing room. I even got to spend
about 10 minutes alone with painting before a midweek crowd filed in. I especially
love how Raphael painted the dark side of her face with sharper focus and the
light side of her face with a softer look. It creates an effect completely foreign
to photography and activates the painting structurally. Overall, the painting
reveals itself slowly... it's a study in subtlety, both tender and a bit wicked.
It's also interesting how it makes most of PAM's other Old Master paintings
look like trash. I'm terribly sad that both the Apex and Miller-Meigs spaces
do not have curated shows rotated into them... it's the economy and it hurts
but the Raphael doesn't still provide a reason to hit the museum... China Design
Now too. Hopefully Apex and The Miller-Meigs series will start again soon, it's
a major cultural loss if it doesn't happen soon. The museum is free on Black
Friday from 5-8PM. China Design Now will be free too but only so many people
can see it... so 1st come first served. Timed Tickets for the raphael are free then
too but they are sold out already.
Jim Neidhardt's Book
Drunk at Blackfish
is a hoot. At first glance this show looks like Barnett
Newman's stations of the cross revisited until it clicks that these are book
spines... fetished subtly and formally in a half ridiculous way. I particularly
like the way one installation falls off the wall mixing expectations for object
The Twitter Anti-painter video in Blackfish's fishbowl gallery window had a
ponderous air of inevitability...
show of Brooklyn artists predictably titled, "Antler Necklace" is
worth checking out. It has all of the typical Brooklynisms like yarn, trees,
antlers, psychedelia and ironic illusions to preciousness... yup it's just like
art from San Francisco, LA and Portland (we do it with less irony though). This
is an exciting new space in the Everett Station Lofts with probably the best
space of the bunch. Everything looked professional.
Also at the Everett Station Lofts May Juliette Barruel's "And Now We Do
What We Do" at Igloo
was an amusing turn at Tracey Emin lite. It has the Emin style righteousness
without her poetic pathos and by not showing it's vulnerability seems a bit
brittle. Interesting, hopefully the art will progress in it's depth. With Emin
we pity her, then realize we are being played, then get smacked in the face...
she's a mess but she's a truly complicated one. This show felt a little too
in control, the good news is it has got potential.
at Fontanelle. Ok I've seen hundreds of shows like this... but it doesn't
disappoint. For whatever cosmic joke of a reason all human interactions involve
some sort of gender/preference typecasting and this show does a good job showing
both the tender and the symbolic public face in a profoundly humanistic way.
Perfect for Thanksgiving weekend if you are downtown.
"The Game" at Disjecta
is probably the first fully realized show
I've seen in their over a year old Kenton space. Previously the constant string
of BFA and MFA shows + other unevenness was mostly as expected but here Fidler
makes the large space work by not overhanging and keeping the corners of the
room dark. Overall, it has good scale and plenty of impressive skill on display
but one wonders where this body of work is going conceptually? Many were worried
Fidler going to jump the shark, which she avoids... but where does one go after
going playing the fan card? These Barnaby
style works are psychedelic and successfully convey some of the appeal
and intensity of Portland's NBA basketball team... but it's a spent force. They
don't tell me anything much beyond a series of game highlights and the fact
that I like Fidler's aesthetic better than Blazer athletics but I think that's
part of the provocation here. This show succeeds but it looks like it could
be a dead end?
Riswold at Augen Gallery
is still trying way too hard. Besides, making art
about the artworld often creates the artistic equivalent of planned overs. Honestly
Riswold can do better than this current exercise but he needs a more suitable
target, something worthy of withering critique that hasn't received it yet.
Here the targets (Hirst Lichtenstein, Koons etc.)are simply out of Riswold's
Powhida's recent takedown of the New Museum
is a perfect example of a real
artworld takedown that lands its punches.
Both Gallery Homeland and Worksound
displayed German art to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin
wall this month. Overall, I was most impressed with Sanna-Lisa Gesang-Gottowt's
To Suggest a Difference (Writings on the wall) at Worksound. As a temporary
memorial and exercise in historical mimesis this works. If it were more permanent
it wouldn't work.. which is interesting.