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2011 in the rear view mirror
2011 Wrap-up
John Buchanan 1953-2011
A generation fades, is it a call to action?
End of year lists
Helen Frankenthaler 1928-2011
Bringing Barr
Last Minute Gift Suggestions for Artists etc.
Portland2012 Biennial announced
2012 Whitney Biennial Announced
Mayor's 2011 Progress Report
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Saturday 12.31.11

2011 in the rear view mirror

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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... (much more)

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

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2011 Wrap-up

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David Eckard's Deployment at The Art Gym

I regret that I made the trek to Portland galleries and museums a little more than a dozen times this year due to the untimely death of my truck. (Readers may not know or care that I make a 120-mile round-trip.) I know I missed a lot. However, I'm happy with the essays I wrote, and must win the Most Comments Award, just with my 2010 wrap-up and the piece on Social Engagement. That said, I do have a few quick thoughts I can share:... (more)

Posted by Patrick Collier on December 31, 2011 at 20:19 | Comments (0)

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John Buchanan 1953-2011

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John Buchanan, the former director of the Portland Art Museum at a crucial time (1994-2005) has died at age 58 of cancer. It is a great tribute to his legacy that he can be credited with complicating Portland in the best way possible, leaving us questions the city still seeks to explore fully. Under his tenure from 1994-2005 the once flagging Portland Art Museum (like many of the city's institutions) was faced with the daunting task of reinvigorating its connection to its patrons at all levels.

A devout populist and francophile John was the kind of director that took a hands on approach to programming. That programming often carried a flashy theatrical flair with imported exhibitions like; Imperial Tombs of China (1996), Let's Entertain: Life's Guilty Pleasures (2000 featuring Damien Hirst, Richard Prince, Murakami etc), Stroganoff: The Palace and Collections of a Russian Noble Family (2000), The Triumph of French Paining (2003) and Hesse: A Princely Collection (2005). From 1994-2000 he and his wife stunned the city by turning PAM into an attendance powerhouse, all while making its patron parties the premier social events in the city. This was a powerful thing that made him perhaps the most loved and reviled personality in the city. John relished the job energetically and always knew exactly to whom he was talking to (a great skill)... I remember one time he crossed the street just to shake my hand and say hello after finishing a power lunch at Paley's.

The man had hustle, yet at that precise moment in 2000 he helped engineer two very serious acquisitions, the Clement Greenberg Collection and the hiring of Chief Curator Bruce Guenther. By 2005... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 31, 2011 at 12:03 | Comments (0)

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Friday 12.30.11

A generation fades, is it a call to action?

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Roberta Smith gives some more context regarding the loss of Helen Frankenthaler and John Chamberlain. But that is only the tip of a rapidly melting iceberg... we lost Cy Twombly + John McCracken too... and with as conservative as the galleries of 2011 seemed to be overall the question has to be what are we replacing them with? These were all very bright artists driven by perceptive and compelling ideals, not merely a series of calculated art world/market differentiation moves. These were artists with beliefs and this brings us back to Alex's Bringing Barr essay published earlier this week. May 2012 be the year of art manifestos... or at least an a year of art that has ideals?

One of the reasons 2010's Judd conference and exhibition were important was the way it presented the seriousness of an artist like Judd. The Rothko Retrospective in February at PAM should be another call to action.

After the continuing Occupy Movement this past Fall I see a larger interest in simply finding a new and better way to invigorate the discussions that comprise human civilization, which most of us take part in... this is simply what artists do (at certain times they do it better than others).

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 30, 2011 at 12:57 | Comments (1)

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Wednesday 12.28.11

End of year lists

Well it is that time of the year (PORT's will come out on the 31st)... and because the world doesn't revolve around just one city here is are 2 lists that are not New York or Portland centric.

Christopher Knight's 2011 list for Southern California certainly confirms how different an art region it is than the NYC scene.

... and just because people forget how good the Midwest is for museums check out this year end list for Kansas City.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 28, 2011 at 12:40 | Comments (0)

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Tuesday 12.27.11

Helen Frankenthaler 1928-2011

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Helen Frankenthaler's Spaced Out Orbit (1973) on display at the Portland Art Museum

Helen Frankenthaler, one of the most important painters of the twentieth century has died at age 83. I consider her be the most important artist of what her onetime paramour Clement Greenberg dubbed "Post Painterly Abstraction." She was the inventor of the stained canvas technique that other artists like Morris Louis and Kenneth Noland used to remove any separation between color and the canvas. What's more she differed from those who followed because she continuously used a poetic approach to abstraction that was tellingly rooted to real experiences... I see this as a strength as she makes the otherwise VERY MACHO movement much more varied than it is given credit.

I'd also argue that without Frankenthaler there would be no Clement Greenberg. As a couple the two would tour... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 27, 2011 at 16:15 | Comments (0)

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Bringing Barr

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Alfred Barr Jr.

It's been seventy-five years since Alfred H. Barr Jr.’s exhibition Cubism and Abstract Art. If you go to any museum that has modern art, his influence is visible in the organization and artists selected. Throughout the museum and curatorial world Barr’s shows and clout are controversial topics - and should be. Why should it be controversial? Anyone that has been that successful in creating a paradigm that still exists today has to be examined. It also happens that the paradigm that Barr created is the common understanding of modernism. On the one hand, it is not possible for everyone to have such clarity of thought on such new and difficult subjects, and on the other if there were a first rule of modernism, it would be to overturn the rules of your forefathers. So lets take a look at how Cubism and Abstract Art interacts with the notion of modernism and the period.

Hindsight makes the past clear. There is one caveat about modernism that is often overlooked: every modernist statement was active within a time period where all these manifestos, artists’ statements and methods of science and industry were emphatic, pointed, aggressive, unquestionable, didactic - something to... (more)

Posted by Alex Rauch on December 27, 2011 at 14:44 | Comments (0)

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Friday 12.23.11

Last Minute Gift Suggestions for Artists etc.

If you are like me you have some last minute shopping to do and it's mostly for aesthetically conscious thinkers. Over the years I've found that photography books always go over very well. So here are two of my favorites that are in stock locally in Portland. Todd Eberle's Empire of Space and Winter by Jeffrey Conley

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Known initially for his defining photographs of Donald Judd's spaces Todd Eberle has gone on to produce a compelling photographic retrospective of architecture, art, portraits and design in book form, Empire of Space.

It isn't just that Eberle has great subjects like, Bill Clinton's desk, Judd's Marfa spaces or MoMA curators, think of it as a tour de force in the power of aesthetics and the aesthetics of power (which are two different and slippery forces that he keeps in well balanced tension). Eberle has an almost ancient Egyptian eye, in that his near hieroglyphic images always make a dispassionate and intelligently descriptive study of the staying power in people, places and things (against the forces of time)... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 23, 2011 at 15:21 | Comments (0)

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Thursday 12.22.11

Portland2012 Biennial announced

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Detail from Ahihiko Miyoshi's Abstract Photograph 2011

Disjecta has announced the list for their Portland2012 Biennial (curated by Prudence Roberts and opens February 26) with lots of artists that have already established their reputations in town and a few names like Ahihiko Miyoshi who haven't.

The list:
Ben Buswell
Hand2Mouth Theater
Akihiko Miyoshi
Vanessa Calvert
Grant Hottle
Wendy Red Star
... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 22, 2011 at 16:41 | Comments (0)

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Wednesday 12.21.11

2012 Whitney Biennial Announced

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The Whitney has announced its 2012 Biennial and for once a New York institution isn't trying to get a piece of Portland's cool... there are no Portlanders in it this time. (Though it does feature Charles Atlas whom we saw at TBA in 2010)

In fact, over the past decade 6 Portlanders have taken part so we are a little ambivalent to the whole thing.... call us when you give a Portlander a solo show or do a show about how Americans are re-evaluating what American values are (which is what Portland excels at). Before Occupy Wall Street, artists started occupying Portland in the late 90's.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 21, 2011 at 18:41 | Comments (0)

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Tuesday 12.20.11

Mayor's 2011 Progress Report

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Mayor Sam Adams has released his 2011 progress report for the arts in Portland. For high points there are the increases in TV and movie production as well as the increases in funds for arts education are both huge moves in a long term strategy but the increase in the Work For Art (workplace giving) to $764,830 2010-2011 for RACC is a major and unexpected victory in this bad economy. It says a lot about how Portlanders respect the arts.

Overall, this report highlights an obviously very arts friendly administration and yes the arts platform will likely determine who the next mayor is. Still, to date there is still one HUGE gaping hole in how the city funds both alternative spaces that don't have a 501.c3 and independent curators... both of whom are the backbone of the art scene. It is an area where just a little money would go very far.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 20, 2011 at 19:10 | Comments (0)

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Monday 12.19.11

Monday Links

It is end of the year wrap up time and Holland Cotter felt like the NYC Museums delivered, while the galleries were complacent. I mostly agree with his assessment.

Mack McFarland interviews the gang over at Appendix in Bomb. Appendix does the alternative project space thing right. Here at PORT we always pay attention to what they are doing because they are important as a self-selecting group of talented and very intellectually engaged individuals.

RACC awards a record sum for Project Grants. It is important to note that they convened some multidisciplinary panels to evaluate projects like Ben Young's... a clear step in the right direction. Sure, some of the grants went to embarrassingly dippy projects to people who repeatedly get some of the larger project grants but the new names like Young and Bund are encouraging. Honestly, I've never bothered applying for a project grant because it seemed like a waste of my time (I am a critic/curator and thus infinitely capable of pissing off panels of my so-called peers even when I'm not trying to alienate people... it comes with the territory if you call a spade a spade). Yet with these special multidisciplinary panels I'm reevaluating my opinions of RACC's project grants now... perhaps now can they handle high level independent curatorial projects? Venues like Rock's Box, Appendix, Worksound, Gallery Homeland and Recess are the backbones of the scene but dont get support except when individual artists get a grant. That said congrats to those who did and don't suck! Im hard on RACC but if any of the projects they funded are excellent I'll be sure to give them the props they deserve.

The new federal budget plan cuts the NEA and NEH.

On Friday artist Robert Hanson died at age 75 and PNCA covered it best. I don't want to attempt a eulogy (I only do that for those I knew well) but I what noticed most about Robert is that unlike many others of his generation you'd see him out and about taking in the new shows each and every month... usually with his wife Judy Cooke (always such a wonderful couple). That curiosity speaks volumes about the man. Our thoughts are with Judy and his family as he will be missed. Hanson's work will be the subject of the next Apex show at the Portland Art Museum.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 19, 2011 at 13:44 | Comments (0)

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Saturday 12.17.11

Place for the Holidays

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Gabe Flores' Intimate Historical Fictions

Conveniently located in Pioneer Place mall for holiday shopping and gallery hopping Place is still going strong. So just when you thought the art season was over for 2011 Place holds five openings:

Stephanie Simek's On Golden Records
Takahiro Yamamoto's Meet Someone
Palma Corral's The Red String
Gabe Flores' Intimate Historical Fictions
Rashin Fahandej and Krista Dragomer's 160 Years of Pressure

Opening reception• 6-9pm • December 17
PLACE @ Pioneer Place Mall • 700 SW 5th • 3rd floor • placepdx@gmail.com

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 17, 2011 at 14:51 | Comments (0)

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Friday 12.16.11

Mark Rothko Retrospective at PAM

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Mark Rothko, Untitled, 1957, oil on canvas, (c) 2011 Kate Rothko Prizel and Christopher Rothko

In 2009 PORT gave you a head's up that it was coming but now the Portland Art Museum has released the dates and some details about its Mark Rothko Retrospective in February 2012.

Spanning Rothko's entire career, the 45 works in the exhibition may constitute the single most important exhibition of the 21st Century for the Portland Art Museum and all eyes will be on this show. It is sure to be a watershed moment and the exhibition will not travel.

For background, Rothko from age 10-18 grew up in Portland and had his first solo exhibition at the Museum in 1933-34. In 2009 Arcy published this very important post on PORT detailing the city's most famous son's relationship to Portland. Also, it illustrated how overdue such a retrospective was. In fact, even today many Portlanders (and some artists) aren't even aware of Rothko's connection to Portland. In short this retrospective simply had to be done and I personally feel the new transit bridge over the Willamette currently under construction should be dedicated to Rothko as well (he often painted the spot). Then there is my ultimate hope, that the Portland Art Museum creates a special Rothko gallery according to the artist's preference for low level natural light, low ceilings and his works alone when they next expand their campus in the next decade. If Denver can have a Clyfford Still Museum I think Portland (a city overrun with artists) should be a venue for seeing Rothkos the way he intended.

PAM's retrospective is made possible through key loans from the Rothko family, the National Gallery and private collections. This exhibition was a lifelong dream for the recently departed Harold Schnitzer and though he didn't get to see it that dream was crucial in making this happen.

Mark Rothko Retrospective • February 17 - May 27th 2012
Portland Art Museum • 1219 SW Park Ave

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 16, 2011 at 1:28 | Comments (0)

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Thursday 12.15.11

Martin Kippenberger at Portland Art Museum

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"Larry Flynt (The Anarchist's Choice), Mephitic Millowitsch, Martin Kippenberger, 1984

Thank the art gods Martin Kippenberger was a terror. His paintings and drawings at PAM (on view until February 19) relay an enfant terrible at his finest, mocking and menacing, a salty and ingratiated middle finger raised to the art world like a lighthouse,. . .(more).

Posted by Amy Bernstein on December 15, 2011 at 11:18 | Comments (0)

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Wednesday 12.14.11

Body Gesture

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Jenny Holzer (L) and Nancy Spero (R) in Body Gesture

For the conclusion of the Elizabeth Leach Gallery's 30th Anniversary program it presents, "Body Gesture, an exhibition of historical and contemporary feminist art.... Through their work many female artists of this era critiqued prevailing power structures, took increasing ownership of their personal sexuality, exploited assumptions about domesticity, and highlighted the institutional marginalization of women and minorities. These artists employed, and radicalized, many of the same formal and conceptual strategies practiced by their male contemporaries. Ultimately, Feminist artists' multidisciplinary, performance-based practices, engagement with process-oriented and conceptual methods, and use of film and video proved to be remarkably influential on subsequent generations of artists, both male and female. In fact, the argument could be made that Feminist Art definitively altered contemporary art, shifting the conversation back toward narrative and personal experience, while aiding in the legitimization of performance, video art, and multidisciplinary practices.... By pairing works by important female artists of the 1970s and 1980s with work by emerging female artists Body Gesture attempts to investigate the role of Feminism in art today."

Gotta love it when a group show actually makes an art historical argument. It is even better when a few of my favorites like Lynda Benglis and Mickalene Thomas are involved.

Features works by: Lynda Benglis, Andrea Bowers, Sophie Calle Nicole Eisenman, Jenny Holzer, Rachel Lachowicz, Ellen Lesperance, Alice Neel, Elaine Reichek, Martha Rosler, Carolee Schneemann, Amy Sillman, Lorna Simpson, Alexis Smith, Nancy Spero, Mickalene Thomas, Hannah Wilke

Holiday reception • 6-8pm • December 15
Elizabeth Leach Gallery • 417 NW 9th • 503.224.0521

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 14, 2011 at 11:19 | Comments (0)

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Tuesday 12.13.11

See the Magic?

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See the Magic?

For See the Magic? Shelby Davis and Crystal Schenk in collaboration with Weiden & Kennedy have produced a mythologically promiscuous holiday installation. Since the architecturally significant building is chok full of trade secrets you only have two remaining chances to take a guided tour of this otherwise closed space on December 15 and 20th at 5:30 PM SHARP (no lagging and lollygagging folks). RSVP required: crystalaschenk-at-gmail.com

Please meet in the downstairs gallery just inside the front doors.

Guided tour • 5:30PM (must RSVP) • December 15 & 19
Weiden & Kennedy • 224 NW 13th avenue, Portland, OR• Required RSVP to: crystalaschenk (at) gmail.com

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 13, 2011 at 11:28 | Comments (0)

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Monday 12.12.11

Monday musings

David Lynch (who was partially raised in the Northwest) has published a book of his sketches, take a look at them in the Guardian.

German forgeries in the market detailed in the Art Newspaper.

...(more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 12, 2011 at 12:40 | Comments (0)

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Friday 12.09.11

Friday links

Well, the art world's still in the predictable post ABMB entertainment/money confluence backlash mode but as I pointed out just before the East Coast/Saatchi started publishing screeds... it really does matter how the artist and institutions lay the ground rules (Alfredo Jaar requires carte blanche). Here's the latest:

Anselm Kiefer (sometimes one of my favorite artists) believes art is, "not entertainment." Well he's right when it comes to his art, but there is certainly room for entertainment in art... for example Paul McCarthy's and Richard Serra's sheer audacity is entertaining. By simply suspending the humdrum of the everyday an artist can create big A "Art". In Kiefer's case he's working within an exceedingly serious historical discussion and his show at Tate Modern along with the New Clifford Still Museum are foregrounding a much needed counterpoint to the sometimes grating follies of art. I like to think of it as very responsible "older brother art". Maybe I'm just projecting... I am the oldest in my family so; Still, Judd, Newman, Serra, Martin and Kiefer all appeal to my "seriousness" fetish. Which isnt to say I don't enjoy classic Damien Hirst, Murakami, Tracey Emin and Jason Rhoades as art brats who fulfilled the need to laugh a little bit at how we fetish seriousness/higher aspirations.

Linda Yablonsky addresses the Miami hangover directly.

Edward Winkleman addresses Yablonsky and does a nice job of discussing the 99% and the influence of money. Though I think he's wrong about the naming rights superseding the work that director's do in the history books. For example if the Menil's can't overshadow Walter Hopps legacy in the history books... then no one can! At the Portland Art Museum both the current... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 09, 2011 at 12:09 | Comments (0)

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Thursday 12.08.11

Interior Margins conversation

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Interior Margins

Like a dinner party with a theme... the predominantly white, black and grey (or at least color muted) color scheme tips viewers off that Interior Margins isn't so much of a survey of Northwest abstraction as it is a salon conversation starter amongst 11 ladies with a close connection to drawing in their work. Curious about that that conversation? Join curator Stephanie Snyder and Interior Margin's artists Saturday for a guided conversation at the Lumber Room.

Guided Conversation • 11am-1pm, Saturday • December 10
lumber room • 419 NW 9th • info@lumberroom.com

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 08, 2011 at 21:09 | Comments (0)

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Wednesday 12.07.11

The Score III

There were numerous excellent shows I simply did not have time to cover over the last 6 months and The Score as an ongoing series of reviews is a way to catch up and take note. What's more, three very good shows; Museion, David Eckard's survey (feature article coming soon) and The Bonnie Bronson Fellows show all end this week.


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Museion at Reed College (photo Jeff Jahn)

Museion at the Cooley Gallery ends today so it is your last chance to see what Reed has in the vaults. For example ,they have a more varied and numerous collection of Milton Avery's than PAM has. Also, their Rothko is strangely fleshy... (more Recess, Half/Dozen, Worksound and Apex)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 07, 2011 at 12:12 | Comments (0)

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Plazm 20 years, closing reception

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It probably belongs in a design museum but the Archer Gallery's Plazm: 20 Years of Art and Design ends Saturday, so it's your last chance. The dense exhibition traces the rise of the magazine from "collaborative creative resource" to "high profile cultural force," also detailing the design ventures that support its publication.



Art talk • 6-8pm • December 10
Closing Reception • 6-8pm • December 10th
Clark College Archer Gallery • 1933 Fort Vancouver Way, Vancouver, WA• 360.992.2246

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 07, 2011 at 11:50 | Comments (0)

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Monday 12.05.11

Monday Links

Well it was ABMB weekend and refreshingly instead of the obligatory and inane pieces on how art is a hot investment there were numerous substantial opinion pieces on the state of the art world. Art, no matter how much it costs is simply a way to understand that which resists understanding... it should be as much if not more of a personal existential investment as it is a monetary expenditure. That is the one thing I really like about collectors in Portland, nobody... no matter how much they spend is doing it just for show.

Jerry Saltz takes on the Carsten Holler (AKA art as playground) show. On a similar note I discussed and compared Holler and Alfredo Jaar at length last week. The sense is that this type of show is designed to draw in audiences rather than hit the right notes... ie be challenging rather than diversionary entertainment put on by the 1%. Let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater though, sometimes a carnival show can shake up the status quo.

Charles Saatchi blasted art oligarchs who collect and inflate the blue chip art market rather than develop a deeper relationship. This typical art rant means something only because Charles Saatchi is saying it and therefore has the weight of a man who has been wrongly accused of much the same thing. The difference is he has taste, faith in the difficulties of Art and has catalyzed not just careers but entire art movements; YBA, Leipzig etc. There is a learning curve and serious collectors like Saatchi and Broad are special. They have done it for a long time and it is obvious they keep their own counsel as patrons... they aren't simply acting on the tips of advisers, they developed a certain personal biography through the art they collect and present.

To get at the issue from a different angle, how about a look at the crossroads of art and neuroscience. I'm always shocked at how much the art world doesn't look at or exploit scientific approaches.

Also, it is Turner Prize time... if only Northwest shows at major museums like the CNAA's had similar ability to generate discussion? Too often they are a cavalcade of already past their prime names or a bouillabaisse of so many artists that an actual curatorial thesis is impossible to form... making the institution's intrigue the defacto subject rather than the host of avenues for new understanding.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 05, 2011 at 12:06 | Comments (0)

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Friday 12.02.11

First Friday December 2011

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Jesse Reiser's Christmas in America series

Newspace promises to have the most irony laden festivities of the weekend... tis the season you know! A solo show of Jesse Reiser's Christmas in America series puts the holiday season in the proper perspective. Also, Newspace will be showing Chris Willis' personal collection of illuminated plastic Christmas figurines. Lastly, to keep things extra festive they invite you to wear your over the top Christmas sweaters at the opening. This can't miss! Reiser also gives a talk on Saturday at 1 PM as well.

Christmas in America • 6-9PM • Dec 2nd
Newspace • 1632 SE 10th • 503.963.1935


... (more: Worksound, Half/Dozen, galleryHOMELAND)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 02, 2011 at 12:04 | Comments (0)

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