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Friday 06.03.11

« Bud Clark Commons: design to save lives | Main | 2011 Hallie Ford Fellows announced »

Friday Links

The Oregonian for once is asking basic questions about the YU project. Welcome to the world of competent analysis. PORT asked these questions 8 months ago when we were the first to write about YU Contemporary Art Center), better late than never and it's always ironic as hell when DK uses quotes from others to editorialize (that's not a slam, it is genuinely entertaining passive aggressive writing that often reveals a lot about the quotee's). Still, his analysis is a little wrong headed. To be more precise, "secrecy" isn't an issue, it's accountability. Instead of spending so much time on innuendo DK only grazed part of the biggest problem, the lack of a board of directors who are not staff. Board members are the best indication of a project's potential and as I mentioned again last month, I do not understand how or why YU thought it was OK to go public without at least a proto board (say 3+ respected members of the community with contacts and deep pockets), some lead gifts and a detailed plan that satisfies those board members. It's art institution 101 and it's partly why the Portland Art Center failed (well that and not realizing they were out of the league/institutional expertise or able to take good advice). Last month I also noted a completely inappropriate installation of Carl Andre pieces at YU's inaugural exhibition as well *Update: on KBOO this week Curtis Knapp stated the Andre's are archival but he's wrong, other similar pieces from the PCVA show are in MOCA and the Guggenheim's permanent collections. At least YU has some seed money and a general art world sophistication several tiers above Disjecta and the Portland Art Center (who always talked a better game than they could ever deliver, that's not a slam just a reality check. They were never true contenders for anything other than large alt-spaces of local shows with eager artists that cut them slack). Analysis: YU has now reached a point where they need to shape up, and it is not like they weren't given this same friendly advice a long time ago. Let's hope they can turn it around.

For the WSJ, Terry Teachout blasts museums like The Milwaukee Art Museum (my old hometown haunt) for being complicit with the Chinese Government who continues to hold Ai Weiwei, NOW their most famous contemporary artist. Last month I vowed to mention Mr. Ai in any article regarding China until he is freed.

Jerry Saltz takes a swing at some embarrassingly weak American art at the Venice Biennial.

There were 2 major new "white box" Museum designs for SFMOMA and The Whitney last week. Of the two the SFMOMA is better, the Whitney's design isn't even as good as Renzo Piano's recent addition in Chicago. Why? Because it just luxuriates in its "whiteness of the whale" rather than engaging or at least a few idiomatic floorplans and ideas that integrate surprising sight-lines within the city around it. IE it is too generic. Overall, I'm tired of this white box thing, in fact it is why I like the current Breuer designed Whitney with it brutalist slate floors and dark gridded ceilings is so endearing to me.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on June 03, 2011 at 14:49 | Comments (3)


I will write something because I respect you and I believe you are doing a disservice to your readers.

I believe you have picked the Disjecta scab raw one to many times. By continuing to pick you are discrediting vast amounts of work put in by a group of people who care deeply for what they do. Nothing is perfect and everything is always evolving. But what Disjecta is providing right now is a compelling series of exhibitions curated by Jenene Nagy(the curator in residence)and this summer a venue for three local colleges to exhibit thesis work.

The ax is sharp Jeff. So stop grinding it and put it to use providing us with what I think you do best....good art criticism and yes sometimes scathingly insightful commentary on the movements in the Portland art scene.

Posted by: jsmith [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 3, 2011 10:46 PM

Perhaps you missed the words so I will reiterate, "that's not a slam just a reality check." Disjecta and Portland Art Center simply are not projects comparable to YU's scope and scale (though they have at times brought up institutions like Mass MOCA and Yerba Beuena... which are much more in the multi-million dollar wheelhouse of what YU is trying to achieve). So, explain the disservice in making finer distinctions like that? Disjeca is a fine large alt space where your wife curates and you have a studio (what's wrong with that, why get touchy about the truth?). Perhaps you mistake the light of day for an ax... which has often been a problem with things in Portland. Lately Ive warmed to disjecta again despite their best efforts to achieve the opposite (I was one of their best early advocates). The YU people have never acted in such a way.

PORT and my service to the community is in making such distinctions and providing perspective... you are one of the brightest artists around but perhaps you are closer to and thinner skinned than you need to be here. Besides, what I wrote was mostly about YU in the first place (which is perhaps the real issue here).

Posted by: Double J [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 4, 2011 12:51 PM

while i have always been a fan of Disjecta, i have to admit i found it hysterically ironic that DK seemed to position Bryan Suereth as some sort of arts administrator who has done things with transparency and by the book.

DK's article may have asked a couple fair questions, but it was way sensationalized and some simple truths seemed to fly right over his head during his search for controversy- but then again we all know what sells daily newspapers.

Posted by: matt_mc [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 4, 2011 02:29 PM

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