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Saturday 06.01.13

« Openings Tonight: Team Kristan vs Team Holly | Main | Sunny Southern Links »

Eight Years of PORT


It is hard to believe, but June marks PORT's 8th anniversary as Portland's most fearlessly critical and in depth source of visual arts discourse and information.

We've gone from those early days in 2005, when people wondered if the internet was even an effective place for art criticism... to 2007 with notice from the Walker Art Center and an Art in America Round Table. For 2012 alone we boasted over 1.3 million unique readers and a nod from the Wall Street Journal.

One of the things I'm most proud of is the way the site has allowed a group of writers to articulate themselves as a variety of strong voices and we have interviewed the likes of Catherine Opie, Ed Ruscha, Ai Wei Wei, Okwui Enwezor, Richard Serra and Critical Art Ensemble (just last month). What's more we have a backbone, noted for independent critical analysis of institutions and regional tropes and are often first to point out major turning points like PNCA's eventually successful bid for the 511 building or OCAC's new Vollum Center. We often break stories, like the Portland Art Museum's new identity and PICA's Precipice Fund.

Criticism isn't simply a description or a parroting back of the artist's statement, which does nothing to improve the state of the arts. Instead, we ask difficult questions and pursue an understanding of the way art operates and comes into being.

Ultimately, it is this commitment to defining and relevant reviews + essays that are at the heart of what we do. Here are ten examples that that celebrate what PORT does:

Storm Tharp 2007

William Kentridge 2007

Rothko's Portland 2009

Alfredo Jaar and Carsten Holler 2011

No Painting Left Behind 2011

Interior Margins 2012

Folkert de Jong 2013

We pay especially close attention to developing artists like Travis Fitzgerald and Gary Robbins or Chase Biado because criticism brings feedback at a crucial time.

There is something about criticism that makes the discussion broader, more present and sharper for everyone. Criticism, especially that with a finer edge actually can motivate discussion. That type of true criticism is inherently inconvenient and perhaps the best corrective to the constant packaging and pure public relations that even art is subject too. Criticism helps us step back from ourselves and re-examine our priorities and experiences through a different understanding. A "Critic" brings experience beyond opinion, often sussing out the more arcane motivations and effects of art. It all takes time... in the case of PORT (a community of writers) it takes 8 years.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on June 01, 2013 at 22:01 | Comments (0)


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