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Saturday 12.31.11

« 2011 Wrap-up | Main | First Thursday January 2012 »

2011 in the rear view mirror

Kyle Thompson, I Hate The Sound of Guitars A: No Survivors at Recess (photo Jeff Jahn)

2011 was an interesting year that saw a lot of strong shows in the numerous university galleries and a bunch of new artists to watch. In many ways though it lacked 2010's punch (much missed were NAAU's experimental yet well conceived non-commercial shows and a satisfying major museum exhibition) so it seemed almost preparatory for 2012. Still, with solo and group shows by Martin Kippenberger, Philip Iosca, Damien Gilley and Jordan Tull, Adam Sorensen, Marieke Verbiesen, Zachary Davis, Laura Hughes, David Eckard, Midori Hirose, Matt McCormick and a few wild shows at Rock's Box and 12128 it was still a strong year. With all of the constant attention for Portlandia and Grimm it also seemed like Portland is simply a hotter topic than it has ever been before.

The Budd Clark Commons was a major architectural moment for the city.

University galleries like the Archer Gallery, the White Box, Linfield, The Feldman Gallery, the Cooley and PSU's Littman kept things lively but alt spaces like Worksound, Appendix, Half/Dozen, Falsefront, Rock's Box, Gallery Homeland (who staged a show in Houston too), Recess, Place and 12128 were where the stars of the future could be found.

Who to watch in 2012 based on their 2011 break out: Kyle Thompson (installation/video), Amy Bernstein (PORT's own award wining writer showed some very strong abstract paintings at Stumptown), Megan Scheminske (photos of artists studio spaces), Ralph Pugay (funny situational paintings) and Katherine Groesbeck (urban camo at Place)

At the same time 2011 saw several artists who were already quite prominent in the 90's fail to spark a fire in the various institutional group shows they were chosen to participate in... the Contemporary Art Awards being the most prominent of them. At the CNAA's all were solid artists but none are rightly considered to be doing the freshest or most original work right now and their close proximity only amplified the effect. The CNAA's simply failed to win respect with most critics (in Portland and Seattle) or the active contemporary scene in town. Trustees of the museum even openly made a point of telling me how little they cared for it.

It prompts me to reiterate the obvious, a lot has happened in Portland since 2000 and some of those artists are now mid career... continuing to acknowledge the scene of 90's to the exclusion of the aughts does not seem like the most relevant awards decision considering how internationally active that post 2000 group is. Still, it is Portland's alternative spaces which make this a very interesting art city not our regional art awards.

All that said the Portland Art Museum did very well with solid to excellent shows by Martin Kippenberger, Chris Burden, Adam Sorensen, Titian and John Beech.

Philip Iosca at PNCA,TROUBLE IN MIND (walls), M.M. (floor) (photo Jeff Jahn)

Best/Worst and Most/Least:

Show I most wished I could have caught: Patrick Rocks inflatable pink elephant (entered through the anus)... sadly it only lasted a few hours before dieing at TBA

Best artist talk: Alfredo Jaar put on by OCAC... some art schools take the quantity approach to artist talks, OCAC went the quality route.

Best retrospective Laurie Herrick at MOCC, this is what other retrospectives wanted to be and often were not.

Solo show of the Year: Hopefully I become the Universe by Philip Iosca. I hate bullies and I love well presented and poetically thoughtful art...

Most engaging multimedia installation: Hung Keung's Bloated City | Skinny Language at the White Box

Best Photography show: Ishimoto Yasuhiro's Katsura at Portland Japanese Garden, honorable mention Mary Ellen Mark at Bluesky

Worst place to stage a retrospective: PNCA's Swigert Commons... look both Bonnie Bronson (2011) and George Johanson (2010) simply deserved a dedicated gallery space. This space is simply too compromised for serious things like retrospectives.

Most remembered: Joan Shipley, Harold Schnitzer, Robert Hanson, John Buchanan and Bonnie Bronson

Most considered space Lumber Room: Look I'd never consider shows like Storm Tharp's Reader on a Black Background or Interior Margins to be tight exhibitions but not all group shows need to be. These exhibitions were explorations of the possibilities unlocked through proximity, ie art hung for the artists and patron to contemplate. Hardly a definitive series of shows.... these were like conversations, not essays.

Worst show: the 2011 Contemporary Northwest Art Awards (for being mostly irrelevant in an awards format designed to celebrate relevance) or Selections From The PCVA Archive at YU (shoehorned into a small room, with an inappropriate installation of a Carl Andre in a glass case this subject deserved the touch of a professional art historian and an institution capable of conveying the PCVA's immense scope with a similar undertaking).

Biggest splash: Midori Hirose. She's been around for a while but she started to hit her stride with COLLECT FOUR and Interior Margins stealing the scene in both instances.

Best painting show: Adam Sorensen has always been good but never has he painted at this level. Nice to see a museum show catch an artist as they hit a new plateau

Best multidisciplinary installation: Damien Gilley and Jordan Tull's Re/Activate at Weiden + Kennedy's headquarters. Individually each has been good but the collaborative effort allowed them to reach a new level.

Most improved institution: Newspace

Best New Gallery: Blackbox is doing really great contemporary photography shows in a group format.

Most inspired hiring decision: Jeffrey Thomas for director of the Museum of Contemporary Craft

Least decisive/relevant art critic: David Row who publicly quit writing half interested reviews for the Oregonian, only to later write (is it art?) drivel about Philip Iosca's nuanced exhibition... the guy just has little feel for anything intellectually layered. Most artists in town consider an "eh" review by him to be a more valuable than a positive one.

Alternative space of the Year: Half/Dozen, maybe never my favorite show each month they are consistently challenging and completely unpredictable.

Most overexposed: Ryanna (aka Ryan Wilson Paulsen and Anna Gray... as recent grads omnipresence is part of their strategy. They’ve been consistently solid and smart every time, but never great or the best thing on view at the time, yet Ryannna simply showed virtuoso promiscuity to edge out David Eckard and Laura Hughes who were also everywhere, all of the time.

Most consistently good programming: Archer Gallery/Bluesky

Best new alt space: Recess

Overdue and major solo shows I particularly want to see in town: Modou Dieng, Eva Speer, Jordan Tull, Patrick Rock, Kyle Thompson, Midori Hirose and Zachary Davis... all are at a point where a serious statement show could put them over the top locally (fact is some of them may not care about a local show).

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 31, 2011 at 23:24 | Comments (3)


Having examined the progress & explorations of all the artists listed deserving future solo shows here or elsewhere, one that strikes me odd is Jordan Tull's progress & exploration. It isn't quite there yet as an original artist with depth and poetics that make it come together professionally. Having spoken to him about the mapping of his thought process & meaning about his sculpture shapes & shifts, it is convoluted and random without reaching a thesis or language that makes coherent sense. Maybe that is why much of his work is 'Untitled' and some with shallow titles (www.jordantull.com) ... To a degree, it comes across as shallow geometric objects with no meaning, like 'one-off's.' One off's because it is not an original idea that possess multiple possibilities, it is a rip-off of another art idea. Similar to his installation called 'Frame.' How did the idea derive & what is minimalism to him? Hmmm perhaps the website Dezeen shall prove my point of another installation artist with the original process first.

Passing by the Window Project at PDX Contemporary this week, it again proves that Jordan's thought process is a rip-off from someone elses pure idea. Just a thought, the window project might as well say Damien Gilley, because the work seems too similar to Damien's 'Small Multiples' RACC Vacant Store Front installation downtown SW Morrison/ SW Park. Foam core & tape? I would have thought Jordan Tull would have used his skills with metal for that opportunity? Why is he deviating from what he knows? Perhaps pressure or perhaps no clue to a pure idea?

Damien Gilley brings forth intelligent art, and looking at past works he deeply goes to the root of deconstructivism & its exploration & the language of it. I certainly hope that Damien isn't giving his ideas away to Jordan, perhaps Damien doesn't even care. T only goes to show Damien's confidence about his originality.
I hope on his own style & exploration that Jordan Tull can explore depth & originality because art as such will become a mere hobby than a true profession.

Posted by: derek [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 3, 2012 11:51 AM

There are lots of words to describe Jordan Tull or his work, convoluted is not one of them. It just sounds envious.

It also seems like you see Jordan's friendship/collaboration with Damien Gilley as threatening... that is just odd. They are two artists with a lot of similar interests (perceptual, kinesthetic and graphic strategies... and they both approach art like design).

Something is blinding you to the obvious here and perhaps your time is better spent looking for it's true source?

Posted by: Double J [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 4, 2012 01:26 AM

To be completely frank, I never warmed to Jordan Tull personally...

*[This portion of the comment removed by admim. PORT is not a forum for airing opinions on artist's personalities, plus it truly reflects poorly on the commenter. Consider this a warning.]*

...Yes we are in a small community of dedicated and intellectually serious artists, I firmly believe in my conviction and think tension between artists and critics is truly interesting.

Posted by: derek [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 9, 2012 09:14 AM

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