Rocksbox at night kicked things off right...
Inside, Paintallica's show at Rocksbox
might have been yet another in a long string of testicle-spectacle shows (the ladies need to program something here soon) but the whole affair was a carnival ride to rival anything in the Rose Festival. Besides lots of penises, Ai Weiwei, guns and chainsaw art I noticed a crudely drawn caricature of a John Buck holding a martini in one hand with a chainsaw for a head (CNAA reference, see below). Maybe it isn't terribly original but there's lots of energy and has an edge. Members of this collective have shown throughout the world and some are represented by some of the world's elite art dealers.
I juried an art bike ride for Cirque Du Cycling
on Sunday. This fellow won 3rd place with a tricked out single wheel bike used in the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. These days the Chinese government continues to incarcerate Ai Weiwei
... now he is perhaps their most important visual artist in the last 500-1000 years?
Maybe the bikes aren't big A "Art" but it is artful to form a club just for riding Schwinns...
In much the same way the Allure of the Automobile at The Portland Art Museum isn't big "A" Art either but they are gorgeous. The show is really packing in the visitors, while most of the real art in the wings is blissfully uncrowded (by people, the art in the Jubitz Center IS crowded). Yes, like the Euphronios Krater
perhaps one of these cars will make the transition to relic as art object... but the guy's "Varsity" Schwinn pictured earlier is just as likely. Overall, I see the design connection with an auto show but an incredibly well curated bike show would have been more apropos. Some feel PAM has jumped the shark with this, but Portland is a design city and obviously the museum doesn't have a design department... yet. It should be popular for Father's Day.
CNAA's at PAM
After the selected artists were announced the 2011 Contemporary Northwest Art Awards
had about the same level of anticipation as Donald Trump's once relentless calls for Obama's birth certificate. At least, for the first time I can remember an institutional survey of Northwest Art doesn't look like it was over-installed by an F1 tornado. Still, this attempt is mostly about making people feel comfortable by re-emphasizing Northwest stereotypes like; extensive whittling, smudges, haziness, politeness, a little nature, handmade fussiness, and minor amounts of experimentation. Even the John Grade sculptures are tiny instead of a large commissioned installation that could have rescued this affair (ala Martin Puryear though). John Buck, who deserves a respectful late artist's treatment like Lee Kelly is pretty much intellectually indefensible as cutting edge contemporary art in the region... especially when Portland itself has been home to no less than 5 artists in the Whitney Biennial in the past decade. At least it doesn't just flirt with irrelevance, it wholly surpasses the 2001 Oregon Biennial as the least in touch show of the decade. Meanwhile so called no-name Portland artists have shown at Tate Modern etc.
As anyone can see this show isn't cutting edge (compare to Rocksbox above) and flirts with decorator style irrelevance by choosing art that quietly plays well together with muted earth tones. As we saw with the fine Disquieted
show last year, contemporary art can challenge audiences.
To be less harsh, on their own each artist in this second CNAA is fine but as a group, it feels like a ghettoization of politely hedged Northwest stereotypes. I wonder how Arlene Schnitzer feels about the prize named and funded by her suddenly becoming seen as something to avoid by Portland's scene... a kind of regionalist scarlet letter. Don't get me wrong, I'm actually thrilled this is installed well... nobody else has done it, but this just didn't work as a curatorial exercise. For comparison the 6 winners of the Hallie Ford Fellowships show just how retarde
this second version of CNAA's have turned out. Originally conceived as a SECA award style show
the CNAA's couldn't be farther from it.
detail of a Mark Grotjahn on display at the 4th floor of PAM's Jubitz Center
The CNAA's were even harder to tolerate after taking in works by Anselm Keifer, Tony Craig, Andreas Gursky and Mark Grotjahn in the Jubitz center.
Alselm Kiefer's "Entrance to Paradise" from the Winterwald series at PAM's Jubitz Center satisfied
In Pioneer Courthouse Square Bill Will's You Are Here
was a feel good bit of public art spectacle... and still had more edge than the CNAA's by having the United States filled in by blue pansies.
Matty Byloos' drawings at Worksound
make spectacular use of positive and negative space and another wall in the exhibit constitutes a visual novel. Nice stuff, I'm watching this artist.