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Architecture in Portland: Best and Worst Developments of 2013
Last Links of 2013
Excellent opportunities
Friday Links
Holiday Links
Bacon triptych now on display at PAM
NW Theme Artist Calls
Ben Buswell at Upfor
Oregon Arts Commission Vis Art Fellowships
Monday Links
Friday Links
Precipice Fund Grantees Year 1

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Monday 12.30.13

Architecture in Portland: Best and Worst Developments of 2013

Art House's gleaming metal and glass on the North Park Blocks (all photos Jeff Jahn)

There has been a subtle but important shift in Portland's architecture scene this year that hearkens to a shift in Portland's overall seriousness. I call it the year the faux brick died. To these eyes faux brick was the "humble brag" of Portland's design lexicon... simultaneously disingenuous and passive aggressive because metal and wood were too lux or direct. I'm glad that architecture in Portland is moving beyond trying to make new 10-12 story metal frame buildings look like brick. Nobody is going to do a 12 story wood clad building either.

Still, three of the most interesting projects; Kengo Kuma's Japanese Garden (check out our interview), PNCA's Cloepfil designed 511 building and the new Willamette transit bridge (which we should name after Mark Rothko because he grew up on its west banks, while experiencing all racism Jewish immigrants endured) wont be completed for some time so we have a lot to look forward to in years to come... especially if the Portland Art Museum can solidify key elements for their next expansion ideas.

Terrace area of the Sokol Blosser's new Tasting Room facilities designed by Allied Works

The clear winner of 2013 was Sokol Blosser's new tasting room by Brad Cloepfil and his team at Allied Works. Start to finish this project is probably one of the best things from Brad since his W+K headquarters... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 30, 2013 at 17:36 | Comments (0)


Last Links of 2013

2013 is almost over and before my year end reviews (starting later today) here are some worthy links:

TJ Clark's provocatively excellent review of the Paul Klee show up at Tate Modern is a must read for anyone interested in painting. Klee is perhaps the most influential modernist artist amongst today's contemporary paint slingers yet somehow this never gets properly explored. The way each work is both a poem and a game that plays against itself is so contemporary.

It is the perfect time to read Issac Asimov's speculative essay on the 2014 World's Fair.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 30, 2013 at 12:09 | Comments (0)


Friday 12.27.13

Excellent opportunities


You have just four days to apply for Signal Fire's Spring artist residencies focusing on wolves. I've been to all three locations; Gila Wilderness (NM), Boundary Waters (MN) and the Wallowas (OR) and they are definitely worth the trip. For 2014 I have a goal of circumnavigating the three sisters, somehow art world stuff and other commitments has kept it from happening. The moral of the story is you just gotta do it, so apply.

Another great opportunity the Mattress Factory is taking submissions till February 2nd.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 27, 2013 at 9:48 | Comments (0)


Friday Links

Getting back into the swing of things and some best and worst of 2013 Portland review lists that might make all the others look tame and or incomplete. Till then let's start with some links:

Ken Johnson isn't fully taken with a survey of figurative art drawn from one idiosyncratic collection.

A Miro show in Turkey gets pulled because many of the works are fakes.

Verifying authenticity is tricky stuff when it comes to minimalist/conceptual works designed to break institutional hang ups. We took a lead on these issues in 2010 by staging a conference and exhibition on Donald Judd's radical form of delegated fabrication. The elephant in the room was Count Panza of course and ironically it was announced that he had died on the day the conference occurred. It is good to see that these ideas are becoming the rule when dealing with these works... market pressures often value aspects antithetical to the spirit in which the art was conducted.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 27, 2013 at 9:08 | Comments (0)


Monday 12.23.13

Holiday Links

Let's take a breather as we gear up for some critically charged year end posts and other goodies. Till then here are some links:

The Guardian is gathering some famous artist's christmas cards.

In case you missed them check out our review of Ben Buswell's current show and my in depth interview with Kengo Kuma.

Also, unlike many who have been writing about the Francis Bacon... we at PORT understand visual art and can wrap our heads around its appearance here in Portland succinctly and sanely. It is a great set of paintings that puts the work of favorite local artists like Storm Tharp and David Eckard (think of the colors and architectural articulations around a figure) into greater context. Some writers don't understand visual quality because they are primarily "writers" who find it easier to engage other writers more than the art itself... that's why they come off so bewildered and second hand. Not a bad thing but it is amusing to watch all the flailing. Great art does this to some who don't deal with it frequently and it is why it sets people in tail spin. It reaffirms the power of art as something beyond an academic or community building exercise. In this case just focusing on the paint quality alone is revealing, no oil painter in the Northwest has similar facility and the funny thing is that the technical ability is the most obvious and least interesting part of the work.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 23, 2013 at 11:53 | Comments (0)


Friday 12.20.13

Bacon triptych now on display at PAM

Three Studies of Lucian Freud (1969) installed at PAM (photo Jeff Jahn)

Well, gawkers and serious art fans alike... it is now on display, Francis Bacon's Three Studies of Lucian Freud triptych, as you can see in this exclusive photo (taken just after it was hung but before the small metal foot barrier was put in place).

Some will see this as an art market apocalypse and treat it in much the same way celebrity weddings or major car crashes are covered but be assured we will treat it for what it is, a serious piece of art and yes you should go see it. Seeing it on display at PAM it looks like there wont be an annoying line where you are queued up like some amusement park ride. Besides, Bacon was completely unlike Rothko, who would have abhorred all of this attention and speculation. In fact, Francis Bacon thrived on all of the drama and I see it as keeping the spirit of his work alive (obscene and elegant at the same time).... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 20, 2013 at 16:52 | Comments (1)


Thursday 12.19.13

NW Theme Artist Calls

What could be more Northwest than wood and Sasquatch?

You have until December 21st to enter the Bellview Art Museum's Knock on Wood Biennial. It costs a whopping $40 to apply which is incredibly lame but their themed Biennials tend to be alright if a little crowded. A more focused mostly invitational survey that takes submissions would be smarter.


Last year's salon hung Sasquatch show at the Arbor Lodge in NoPo (1507 Rosa Parks) was a hoot and brought out a lot of talented artists and designers. Consider this year's Wild and Woolly Sasquatch event.

Here is the PR:

"The Arbor Lodge is seeking submissions for Wild and Woolly: A Sasquatch-Themed Art Show, running Feb 2--March 15, 2014. The show is open to those living in Portland and all mediums are welcome. Submissions should be ready for hanging, family friendly and include the artist's name, title of the piece (if applicable) and price if for sale. The Arbor Lodge will not take any commission from artwork sales.

Please send a jpg and dimensions OR a description and dimensions to Jolynn at events@thearborlodge.com prior to the deadline so that we can prepare for hanging. All submissions will be included in the show unless unrelated to the Sasquatch theme or if we are unable to hang or display the piece in the shop. Pieces are due February 2, 2014 at The Arbor Lodge from 5-7pm. Submissions are limited to one piece per artist.

Cash prizes will be awarded at the closing show on March 15, 2014 based on the community's votes throughout the six weeks that the show is up.

1st prize: $200
2nd Prize: $125
3rd Prize: $75

For any questions, please contact events@thearborlodge.com"

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 19, 2013 at 11:54 | Comments (0)


Tuesday 12.17.13

Ben Buswell at Upfor

Ben Buswell's We Live Only Through Ourselves

Since Picasso and Braque's introduction of analytical cubism, followed later by Robert Smithson and today Doug Aitken, Josiah McElheny etc. , faceted images and the subsequent defraction or dislocation of experience have established themselves as important threads in contemporary art.

To that pedigreed history add Ben Buswell's first Portland solo show at Upfor gallery, which mixes the artist's personal history with design and landscape as Smithsonesque crystalline objects... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 17, 2013 at 10:47 | Comments (0)


Monday 12.16.13

Oregon Arts Commission Vis Art Fellowships

The Oregon Arts Commission has announced its visual arts fellowships this year(in the sum of 3K each):

Avantika Bawa, Portland (Joan Shipley Fellow)
Modou Dieng Portland
Laura Fritz, Portland
Surabhi Ghosh, Eugene
Anna Gray, Portland
Sabina Haque, Portland
Allison Hyde, Eugene
Anya Kivarkis, Eugene
Ryan LaBar, Enterprise
Ellen Lesperance, Portland
Ralph Pugay, Portland
Samantha Wall, Portland
Terri Warpinski, Eugene

Looks like for once more women are receiving awards than dudes (a correction was in order). It is a good list (yes some are close acquaintances but I prefer the fact I don't know all of these people) but one thing that this critic has noticed is that the OAC does not release the names of the panelists making these decisions. Also, the way those panelists are chosen is similarly oblique. RACC by comparison always releases the names of panelists who make the decisions. With recent shake ups at the OAC, this change is required, especially since easy connections to certain groups in the state can be extrapolated from lists like this... the real meat comes from the composition of the panels.

As far as the artists chosen... most, if not all of the artists have been more active outside the region than inside Oregon, which is a good thing since Oregon art awards have lately skewed towards parochialism. This is not a parochial white dudes list for once!

Congrats to all!

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 16, 2013 at 11:57 | Comments (0)


Monday Links

The latest on Detroit... can the public avoid being looted?

PAM will we showing the record breaking Francis Bacon triptych of Lucian Freud, this Saturday. I could care less about the price but it is nice to compare it with last year's Bacon single painting show.

William Kentridge believes South Africa let Mandela down?

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 16, 2013 at 10:38 | Comments (0)


Friday 12.13.13

Friday Links

It is important to have negative reviews... they ask important questions even when the conclusions are wrong. For example, Ken Johnson is about Roni Horn. That "teetering" place between art and design is a very important place and artists like Donald Judd and Dan Flavin exploited it, Roni Horn was the next gen... overall using the term "minimalism" is a bit of a red herring in understanding that type of art. Portland has its own version with; Damien Gilley, Jordan Tull, Ben Buswell, Brenna Murphy, Zachary Davis, Ellen George, OPS, Laura Fritz, Paula Rebsom, Matthew Leavitt and Jesse Hayward etc. Many of whom are now more active outside Portland than in the city limits. Teetering is good for art and Portland is a design/art city.

I'm not certain that a cultural center in Taiwan that looks a little like an amusement park is sending the right message.

Is there a global art esthetic? Sadly it comes with the global market... for example, most auto manufacturers make vehicles that are only slightly differentiated from one another. Why should art be any different? (actually it should be) Want more differentiation? differentiate your markets...

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 13, 2013 at 11:42 | Comments (0)


Wednesday 12.11.13

Precipice Fund Grantees Year 1


Earlier this year we were very excited to break the story that an arts organization was taking on the woeful lack of funding for difficult projects and in particular alternative spaces with $75,000 in grants funded in part by the Andy Warhol Foundation. This Precipice Fund is incredibly well placed since Portland's alternative spaces are perhaps the best cultural incubators and producers we have.

It was also especially interesting because PICA (like most arts non profits) is usually scraping for funding themselves. They even have a Kickstarter campaign for next year's TBA festival so devoting energy to this is... well, outlandishly broad minded of them.

This year 18 recipients and teams will each receive up to 5k and the list includes many key players in the alternative space scene. I'm especially happy to see 12128, Patrick Rock and False Front who are 3 of the most crucial and accomplished presenters in town. Here's the list:


Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 11, 2013 at 1:15 | Comments (0)


Monday 12.09.13

Monday Links

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 09, 2013 at 11:32 | Comments (0)


Friday 12.06.13

Rathbun closing at Archer

Attend, Mike Rathbun at Archer Gallery

There are a lot of shows ending this weekend at the Art Gym, Lumber Room and Appendix is closing for good tonight (Eutectic has a nice holiday show opening too)... but perhaps the most satisfying of them is Mike Rathbun's large scale effort "Attend" at the Archer Gallery, which closes Saturday December 7th.

Attend | October 8 - December 7
Closing Reception and Talk: December 7, 12 - 1PM
Archer Gallery | Clark College| Penguin Union Building
1933 Fort Vancouver Way, Vancouver Washington
Gallery Hours: T-Th 10AM to 7PM, F & S noon to 5PM

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 06, 2013 at 11:48 | Comments (0)


Friday Links

PDX, aka Portland's airport is changing its carpet... we design oriented people in Lil Beirut are very interested in this. Honestly PDX should have simply commissioned artist Damien Gilley to do the redesign.

The whole attempt to "monetize" the Detroit Institute of Art's collection is simply wrong and is just a drop in the bucket. Tyler Green digs a little further into why it is such raiding party... turning public assets into private gain.

Last but not least, Jerry Saltz discusses the big MFA bubble situation. It is true, there is something about academia that blunts artistic development after a certain point... I'm talking about the professors, not the students. About 95% of the art professors I watch seem to plateau when they start teaching full time (I attribute it to a defensive/careerist attitude they adopt), the other 5% are simply the sorts whose progress cannot be slowed by anything short of an asteroid impact (they also take pains to not be wholly owned by academia). From the student perspective arts education has become a kind of puppy mill situation. Overall, I prefer BFA programs that concentrate on fundamentals like OCAC and Lewis and Clark do. Any MFA program should be considered with a realistic goals and a very sober assessment of the school's true capabilities beyond the hype.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 06, 2013 at 10:50 | Comments (0)


Thursday 12.05.13

First Thursday December 2013 Picks

It is an odd time of year when most of the art venues have just put up holiday group shows or held over an exhibition while they do the Miami art fairs (The best of which is Ann Hamilton at Leach). Still there are usually a few gems to be found. Here are my 2 picks:

Anne Appleby Lackawanna

PDX Contemporary leads the pack with Woods by the ever impressive Anne Appleby (who is part of this year's CNAA's at PAM). Her abtract paintings always have a distinctively vegetable toned chromascape to their impeccable and nuanced surfaces. An eternal springtime?

Woods | Anne Appleby
December 3 - 28, 2013
PDX Contemporary
925 NW Flanders

Ben Buswell

Beb Buswell came to everyone's attention during the 2006 Oregon Biennial but is another one of those very promising young artists that hadn't found a gallery adventurous enough for him... until now. His debut at Upfor, We Live Only Through Ourselves, attempts to offer, "a meditation on loss and mourning tinged with the unrest of personal politics." He's got a poetic flair for structure and materials and I've been waiting for a solo show like this for years.

We Live Only Through Ourselves
December 5 - January 25, 2014
Opening Thursday December 5, 6 to 9pm
929 NW Flanders

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 05, 2013 at 14:07 | Comments (0)


Blake Shell New Director of Art Gym

blake Shell

We are thrilled that Blake Shell is the new Director of the Art Gym. She did an excellent job at Clark College and lost that position through Washington state budget chicanery. You can check out her curatorial philosophy in our last curatorial roundup. Frankly, we appreciate her more here across the river... Congrats... this is who I privately hoped for, but it is rare that the right person gets the right job like this.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 05, 2013 at 10:54 | Comments (0)


Tuesday 12.03.13

Swan Island Industrial Park


Portland based photographer Alain LeTourneau has taken on the necessary and perhaps under appreciated industrial subject of Swan Island for his latest photography series. He's got an interesting conceptual framework for the work, which considers the "geography of production" and the division of "labor space." It is a part of Portland that simply plays by different rules of spatial conduct.

Opening reception: Tuesday, December 3 | 6-9PM
By appointment: December 4-8 | 503 231-6548
5232 N Williams Ave

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 03, 2013 at 0:01 | Comments (0)


Monday 12.02.13

Monday Links

It's true Britain and the USA are very different in the way they produce and consume art talk. Britain is certainly more critical, whereas in the US we tend to have a lot of product placement or "community" attention spotlighting... neither of which is criticism as I've discussed before. I'm still working on a more in depth essay on the subject but I do like how Portland is a little more British than say New York or LA tend to be (where power and money are way more important than ideas).

Bavaria is considering a change to their laws to deal with the stash of Nazi war seizures.

It is Art Basel Miami Beach time again, the HuffPo has their list of 20 things not to miss.

Then there was the news that YU now owns its building... that's great except without a professional director capable of leading a multimillion dollar fundraising campaign the news is somewhat mitigated. YU was s-l-o-w but has implemented many things we pointed out initially, like a true board of directors and a curatorial team... but since the departure of Sandra Percival they still face a major flaw in their strategy as the director is perhaps the most key position at this point. Will this just be an endless subsistence campaign for a huge building they can't afford to full use? This is the question only a very capable director can address.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 02, 2013 at 11:25 | Comments (0)

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