Left: Sara Greenberger Rafferty, Right: Mike Womack
On Saturday it is time to toast the artists in The Infectious Corruption of Color; Calvin Ross Carl, Laura Hughes, Sara Greenberger Rafferty, Amanda Wojick, Mike Womack. It is likely another worthy group show from the Archer Gallery... the gallery with perhaps the best group show track record in the past three years. I'm personally terribly disappointed that Director Blake Shell's run is coming to an end in June due to budget problems (more on this at the end, first let's discuss this show).
The PR says, "Color is messy; it is corporeal. It bleeds and overwhelms. It opposes the contained, neat, and clinical. It may show us the natural world in comparison to the manmade, or, in turn, it may become the hyper-real and psychedelic in our perception. The nature of the duality of color, the two sides of seduction, can result in desire or in repulsion. We want and love color, but even when we don't, it creeps into us. Archer Gallery presents The Infectious Corruption of Color, an exhibition of works by Calvin Ross Carl, Laura Hughes, Sara Greenberger Rafferty, Amanda Wojick, and Mike Womack. Each artist deals with color in a combination of ways: through concept, formal relationships, personal experiences, visual perception, and experimentation."
Look, I see a ton of group shows and the Archer Gallery's are the only ones I consistently look forward to seeing. They have always been well considered mixes of local, Seattle based and national artists. That kind of consistent effort ONLY comes from a dedicated curator putting in a lot of hours to craft a coherent program. Blake does that. Which is why this latest news from Clark College is just terrible:
"Due to the college's difficult budget situation, the Archer Gallery Director's position has been re-structured to become part of a full-time faculty member's load. Effective June 15th, 2012, Professor Carson Legree will take over the Archer Gallery Director position. The gallery will remain open and continue with the same robust programming schedule, carrying on as one of the most prominent venues for contemporary art in the region. Blake Shell's 3-year tenure as Director of the Archer Gallery was marked by energy and adventurousness."
First off, could Vancouver possibly save this position? Blake certainly isn't pulling down a huge salary and Vancouver does have plenty of commuter residents who work in Portland and save on property taxes... AND Blake's program is literally the single brightest cultural jewel in Vancouver. Is it simply too good for Vancouver? ...well no but I think this is an opportunity for the smaller city directly north to step up and disabuse Portlanders of the idea that they don't care about culture. Will they? I think this Saturday reception should be packed and everyone should go simply as a way to show support for Blake's program to this point.
Second, there is no way will the Archer can realistically, "continue with the same robust programming schedule, carrying on as one of the most prominent venues for contemporary art in the region." ...with a staffer who is not primarily focused on programming. Look, Legree is a fine person but this effectively kills the program, which has made huge strides in the decade plus when she originally ran the gallery. In effect this action destroys over a decade of increasing professionalism and relevance to what is now one of the best college gallery programs in the Northwest. I'm asking if a true last ditch attempt to save this program really been undertaken? That said, let's all show up Saturday and discuss. I suggest Clark College's decision makers and The Columbian (who thinks the arts are surviving)
drop in too because Clark is throwing away a decade and a half's worth of work for one budgetary cycle's challenges. Yes, last ditch fundraisers can work, but literally rolling back a program back to the beginning never does.
Reception: Saturday March 3rd | 6-8pm | Through March 13th
Clark College Archer Gallery
• 1933 Fort Vancouver Way, Vancouver, WA• 360.992.2246
Thank you for your support and kind words, Jeff. Yes, pack the show reception! I really love this exhibition and I think y'all will too.
The state Senate Democratic leadership presented its operating budget proposal, which has no cuts in Higher Education. I def. don't know the details but reconsidering may be in order.
Yes, thanks for your support of Archer Gallery programming, but I think you underestimate the strength and commitment of Clark Community College and the Art Department as we move forward. This is also evidenced in the continued success of the Clark Art Talk Visiting Artist Lecture series, which is now in it's fourth year, http://www.clark.edu/news_events/archer/art_talks.php .
Additionally, it appears you have yet to meet Professor Carson Legree, as SHE has been a driving force in the department here for a long time. We are excited about Carson returning to her previous role as Archer Gallery Director, and a fantastic exhibition line-up for next year. Stay tuned!
**(Editors's note) Gender fixed, but you can understand our extreme skepticism when Clark College's own history of the Archer gallery describes how Blake's predecessor and Carson's immediate successor, "Marjorie's (Hirsch) exhibitions over the twelve years expanded the reputation of the Archer Gallery as an outstanding contemporary art venue in the Northwest." Blake Shell went even farther than Hirsch so a 15 year rollback doesn't sound like progress to most ears. The eyes will definitely be on this new program. Hopefully Clark doesn't underestimate the scope of this change and a reconsideration would be incredibly well recieved, perhaps Clark underestimates how much Blake's program is respected?