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Friday Links
For Encarncion: Address is Approximate
James Minden at Washington Co Museum
Do's and Dont's
Friday Links
To see in January
Ponderables?
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The Fail
Powell - Basquiat Links
Vergne at MOCA
Paul Clay's Leda and the Swan

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Friday 01.31.14

Friday Links

Tavis Smiley interviews Teller about his documentary film Tim's Vermeer. Interesting how Teller is surprised at how artists and scientists were once the same vocation. Lately with artists like Inigo Manglano-Ovalle, Olafur Elliason, Anish Kapoor, Cartsen Holler and Robert Irwin/James Turrell's early work, we see somewhat of a return to this kind blurring of lines... locally artists like Kyle Thompson, Laura Fritz, Laura Hughes and Zachary Davis have all taken a similar investigative approach to applying Bacon's Novum Organum (which is rooted in Davinci's observational and trial studies). Jerry Saltz is also excited about this. The point is, given enough time and thoughtful concentration anything one human being has done can be reverse engineered and replicated.

Adrian Searle discusses Martin Creed's exhibition at the Hayward Gallery.

Carnegie Mellon University has scuttled its curator... why is this bad? Many institutions have been doing this of late and it essentially destroys the programmatic integrity of a space. A curator's voice creates continuity and a programmatic arc, which when dispensed with leaves a rudderless exhibition schedule driven by opportunistic or void-filling exhibitions with nobody to answer for their quality and execution. That "Arc" is crucial as often it isn't a single exhibition that matters but the probing variety that a curator brings. It is the difference between having a chef or putting on a pot luck affair. When no one is responsible, a program loses its voice at budget meetings... guaranteeing it will be ever more shunted to the periphery of institutional priority. Lastly, galleries are the place where the institution meets the rest of the world. Ditching the castellan responsible for that interaction means the institution will become more navel gazing and insulated.

Brian Libby and Kieth Daly debate the infinitely debatable Portland Building. I'll have an in depth piece for you soon that takes the discussion in a new direction (it is nearly complete and as usual, it draws blood).

Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 31, 2014 at 12:14 | Comments (0)

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Wednesday 01.29.14

For Encarncion: Address is Approximate

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The Light + Sound Gallery presents For Encarncion: Address is Approximate by Mark Martinez. The installation explores the impersonal map making of Google as filtered through time sensitive data acting as an emotionally distanced proxy for the artist's relationship with his grandmother. Google hasn't updated images of his grandmother's home since 2011, giving her a false kind of immortality.

For Encarncion: Address is Approximate
January 30 - February 26
Opening Reception January 30th 6-9PM
Light + Space Gallery | Living Room Realty
1401 NE Alberta and 2625 SE 26th Ave

Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 29, 2014 at 20:15 | Comments (0)

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Monday 01.27.14

James Minden at Washington Co Museum

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James Minden calls them "Light Drawings" and his show of the same name up this month in Hillsboro gives everyone another chance to catch these fascinating optical works. Just watching other people react to these "handmade holograms is worth the trip alone.

Light Drawings | January 22 - April 6, 2014
Opening Reception: Tuesday, January 28, 5:30-7:30PM
Washington County Museum @ Hillsboro Civic Center
120 East Main Street, Hillsboro, OR

Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 27, 2014 at 21:58 | Comments (0)

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Do's and Dont's

I'd put LA's new Mistake Room on the to do list. It doesn't matter where you go, LA or Portland... most institutions aren't open enough to this sort of thing. The Dia used to be the king and before that, what the PCVA did very well was take chances and actively avoid parochialisms.

Edward Winkleman on the "Don'ts" of the new MoMA expansion.

Hyperallergic catches some parents letting their kids use a Judd stack as a bunk bed. I wish this were just some outlier episode but these sorts of things are pretty common. Museums and art going in general has gradually taken on the same audience pandering as other "entertainment venues." There has a been a general lowering of the respect quotient in art production and it has been replaced with a sort of funhouse mentality. This cues parents (who obviously need to reign in this sort of misbehavior) to treat the art experience like a playground. Obviously, this doesn't describe every parent/child situation but because a Judd is involved it is heightened. Judd took everything very seriously. The problem with positioning cultural production as "entertainment" certainly has its pitfalls.

This online exhibition of Judd's woodcut prints by the Judd Foundation makes his seriousness all the more present.

Jerry Saltz on selfies... do or don't everyone online today is expected to ha an online persona, but few are prepared to do much with it.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 27, 2014 at 11:16 | Comments (0)

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Friday 01.24.14

Friday Links

Holland Carter discusses Carrie Mae Weems' retrospective at the Guggenheim. Portland born, we were treated to this show last year at PAM.

Is the CRC finally dead as the WWeek says? Kitzhaber (whom I otherwise respect) has been trying to push this ill conceived project through for years and it serves as a cautionary tale for needing a good design rather than the cheapest most backroom pedaled one. Good design builds consensus!

Japser Johns testifies against foundry owner.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 24, 2014 at 11:03 | Comments (0)

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Thursday 01.23.14

To see in January

January is almost over but there are some great chances to catch up on what you should see in the next few days.

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The "must see" thing in Portland right now is the excellent Francis Bacon Triptych on view at the Portland Art Museum. As luck would have it the museum is free on Friday night from 5-8PM. Do it, anybody who thinks there is a figurative painting more worthy of your attention in Oregon simply doesn't know very much about visual art.


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Kara Walker at the JSMA

Also happening on Friday 6-8PM the Jordan Schnitzer Museum in Eugene is presenting, Emancipating the Past: Kara Walker's Tales of Slavery and Power, from January 25 to April 6. A MacArthur Fellow, Walker is perhaps America's premier artist when it comes to the untidy history of race and power.... (More)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 23, 2014 at 13:27 | Comments (0)

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Ponderables?

Phillipe Vergne seems to be indicating that MOCA will return to being, "The Artist's Museum," as it was originally designed to be. This is crucial as so many institutions have become or always were all about their institutional growth (MOMA etc.). At the same time, "enabling curators," doesn't necessarily make MOCA an artist's museum... only certain types of curators do that and they are extremely rare. In many ways museums have become victims of their own success at hoarding presciently collected art. Question is... is it MOCA's turn and if so does that mean they will ever have room for their permanent collection? Deaccessioning doesn't seem like a great idea either but objects/pieces do put conditions on resource allocation for institutions. Vergne wasn't all that successful at returning the Dia to its glory days as the world's greatest art patron but he might have an easier time achieving such aims at MOCA. Controlled growth that creates more options rather than limiting them is a key but can Vergne really back up that ambition? He certainly needs to keep MOCA hungry and risk taking but it remains whether they can actually turn back the clock a bit?

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How can Portland support so many new restaurants asks Oregon Business? It is a visual art related question because it indicates where we spend our entertainment dollars and why Portland IS special (hint it isn't corporate). It is also where a lot of the artists, musicians etc find both employment, restaurant design/branding gigs, which helps explain why Portland is the best place to network in a genuine way if you want to center your life on a moral ethos rather than a corporate one. Not that jobs are easy to come by but it does explain why we are so vibrant. The artists move here and make it more interesting... the restaurants help pay the bills (barely) and elevate a necessity like eating into something sublime. The artists, musicians etc. then channel this... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 23, 2014 at 11:33 | Comments (0)

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Tuesday 01.21.14

Tuesday Links

Philippe Pirotte on Kerry James Marshall's incredibly canny reconstitution of imagery in Western Civilization's visual history.

The Brooklyn Rain devotes an entire issue to Ad Reinhardt. Makes me think we should do a Mark Rothko essayfest sometime.

Check out the first of four Glasstire videos with Dave Hickey.

A wooden skyscraper design wins competition.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 21, 2014 at 11:14 | Comments (0)

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Monday 01.20.14

The Fail

Gallerist Edward Winkleman has a great post on young artists and how seriously they approach their next show... and the difference between being an art star and a rock star. It is also about how shows fail and my sense is that it is always "both" the gallery and artist who fail in their understanding of one another. This results in a massive dud of an exhibition because neither side understands their own position in relation to the other (which is what really matters). Of course both will usually try to distract blame away from themselves but at the root is a kind of dysfunctional collaboration. For non profit shows the situation works the same...

Ed's take (as always) is very New York centric, cogent and makes a point about the necessary game of self-deluding that most young (and old) artists make about their lifestyle choices but it applies to Portland as well.

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It really applies to any place with a scene, i.e. somewhere where enough artists and other art world resources have congregated so that a "Community of Desire" as Dave Hickey calls them in his essay My Weimar are capable of creating an ecosystem where peer review and audience are generated. The professional critics are both... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 20, 2014 at 10:00 | Comments (0)

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Friday 01.17.14

Powell - Basquiat Links

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Jean-Michel Basquiat Reclining Nude, by Paige Powell

Portlander Paige Powell has a show of her photos of Jean-Michel Basquiat up in NYC now.

Interest in Basquiat continues to intensify year after year, perhaps because of all the 80's painters his work is the biggest cipher. Unlike say Schnabel or Clemente... no matter how much we learn or hear of Basquiat, it somehow never seems expended. Some artists simply have a mystique... others make far too many pains to fabricate it. Basquiat is the former.

Last year I wrote a little essay about the very unique Basquiat painting Powell has on long term loan to the Portland Art Museum.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 17, 2014 at 13:29 | Comments (0)

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Thursday 01.16.14

Vergne at MOCA

MOCA announced Philippe Vergne as its new Director late yesterday. Here is the very short first interview.

A couple of thoughts... this is good, partially because this gets Vergne out of the Dia Foundation. Vergne is a curator at the core but somehow his 5 years at the Dia were somewhat unremarkable and staid. His fundraising resorted to... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 16, 2014 at 10:26 | Comments (0)

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Wednesday 01.15.14

Paul Clay's Leda and the Swan

One of the most successful things about the embattled Portland Building is its art programming in the lobby. As one of the few spaces that specifically caters to multimedia installation art, it even supports the artists by providing a stipend for the work and has been instrumental in the careers of artists like Damien Gilley, Bruce Conkle and Laura Hughes. All found a way to engage the otherwise oppressed workers in this flawed office building and I'm a little surprised such spaces aren't more common considering the success of this program run by RACC (from 2002-3 I was on the selection committee) .

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Leda and the Swan by Paul Clay at the Portland Building

The latest exhibition, by interactive video artist Paul Clay, Leda and the Swan, deserves mention on that list of noteworthy new media artists as well... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 15, 2014 at 16:17 | Comments (0)

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Bridge Names Not Bold

Well I am not surprised that the Trimet panel didn't shortlist Rothko for the transit/pedestrian bridge name and a lot of people will be disappointed. Perhaps Rothko as a name was doomed by the need of the panel to be unanimous? No panel can ever be convened that will return a unanimous verdict on Rothko... or any artist of any sort of greatness.

Being Jewish and an immigrant didn't help Rothko either (Portlanders do have a bias, see William Pope L's new show at PSU). Not disappointed though, it brought Portland's allergy to acknowledging greatness (old school arch-regionalist and anti-immigrant bias [read the comments]) in its midst to the fore of people's minds. All great artists are polarizing and unanimous panels don't reward that kind of frisson, despite the fact that Rothko grew up in the Bridge's neighborhood and painted the site repeatedly. These biases cannot be overcome overnight but I will call out anyone who proliferates them. The less navel-gazing, more worldly Portland that has taken hold here isn't playing checkers it is a chess match.

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Thoughts on the bridge name options?

Cascadia - is incredibly weak consensus building panel process detritus name... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 15, 2014 at 11:38 | Comments (1)

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Tuesday 01.14.14

Willam Pope L.'s Claim

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William Pope L.

PSU, has increasingly asserted itself as a key player in Portland's contemporary visual arts scene and with William Pope L's Claim, featuring extensive research into Portland's not so hidden history of racism... it should kick 2014 off with a boot to the head. I consider Pope L's eRacism exhibition at PICA in 2003 to be one of the very best exhibitions I have experienced in Portland in the past decade and a half. Let's just say that Pope L. is a master of summoning conflicted reactions; intellectually, viscerally and habitually.

Lecture begins at 7 and the exhibition will feature performances by students in PSU's School of Music.

Claim | January 15 - February 18, 2014
Opening reception: January 15, 8-10PM
Lecture: Wednesday, January 15 7PM | Shattuck Hall Annex
Performance schedule TBA
Littman Gallery | PSU Smith Hall, Room 250
1825 SW Broadway | Gallery hours M-F noon-4PM

Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 14, 2014 at 10:56 | Comments (0)

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Monday 01.13.14

Monday Links

Jerry Saltz's open letter to MoMA's board urges a rejection of the current expansion design. It just doesn't measure up to the standards we hold MoMA up to... try again. Also, Michael Kimmelman at the Times was uncharacteristically cutting on the subject as well... we shall see soon if critics mean anything to MoMA?

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Paul Clay's interactive Leda and the Swan at the Portland Building opens today

Randy Gragg chimes in on the fate of the Portland building. I disagree that photos would somehow fill the gaping hole in history a demolished Portland Building would leave. My extensive piece is coming soon but in general (like Randy) I think people are severely undervaluing the place making that the Portland Building brings to the downtown. Also, moving the beloved Portlandia sculpture anywhere else is naive. BTW Paul Clay's video installation at the Portland Building looks promising and it opens today. It is a great reason to visit this embattled and flawed landmark soon.

Sculptors and designers, the possibilities of walking 3D printers must be exciting.

Private funders and foundations have pledged 330 million+ to save city owned art from auction by Detroit's creditors.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 13, 2014 at 10:22 | Comments (0)

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Friday 01.10.14

I.M.N.D.N. at the Art Gym

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Hachivi Edgar Heap of Birds

I.M.N.D.N. or Native Art for the 21st Century at the Art Gym features the work of seven contemporary Native artists reconceptualizing what is meant by Native art. It features; Rick Bartow, Joe Feddersen, Hachivi Edgar Heap of Birds, Wendy Red Star, Nicholas Galanin, Peter Morin and Terrance Houle.

Guest curator Todd Clark's statement, "I.M.N.D.N. will expand visitors horizons with works by seven contemporary Native artists from the Northwest and Canada who are reinventing the concept of what contemporary Native art is. The exhibition will explore Native mythologies, colonization, identity, and much more, through the smart and talented lens of Native artists in touch with their past, but firmly rooted in the present. With clear vision and lacking romantic overtures, these artists embody the idea of what it means to be a Native artist in the 21st century."

I.M.N.D.N. | January 12 - February 14, 2014
Gallery hours: Tuesday - Sunday, 12 noon - 4 PM
Reception: January 12, 3 to 5 PM
Gallery Talk: Thursday, January 30, 12:30 PM
Art Gym | Marylhurst University
17600 Pacific Hwy

Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 10, 2014 at 19:43 | Comments (0)

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Wednesday 01.08.14

Architecture Wednesday

Well, this Wednesday has dropped a ton of architecture news on us.

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MoMA's new art bay, reminiscent of a garage

The biggest story is MoMA's new expansions by Diller Scofidio + Renfro. Jerry Saltz HATES it but I do see the value in the "bays" that open like a garage to the street (they are just very timid descriptions of space considering their aims). The more problematic disappointments are the lack of expansion for the permanent collection and the intensely antiseptic white and glass design schemes that have no idiomatic texture or place making. It is institutional, with all the charm of a pharmaceutical research lab. It speaks of mall-like vernaculars + aspirations.

Let's revisit the past. Perhaps, I miss spaces like Louis Kahn's Kimbell Museum of yore? Also, there are better museum architects like Renzo Piano. True, Piano does design too many museums but The Menil is astounding. Those spaces I just listed have intimacy, aspirations and yes personality. The MCA in Chicago has similar vaults to the Kimbell. I love those MCA spaces (curator Bruce Guenther was partly responsible) and its that lack of curatorial nuance that many new extensions have that leaves them unremarkable. Renzo Piano's Art Institute of Chicago wing is ok but I hate what happened to the Ab Ex area where it used to have a big scary room with Clyfford Still, Pollock and de Kooning's excavation all holding court. The "transparency" of the new design kills that mystique and MoMA seems to be another victim of the architectural language of transparency. Museums which offer nothing but generic space miss the point. They should create place, not merely space or worse, square footage. In a Museum the art holds court and staircases are mostly just there like pickled ginger to cleanse and reset the palette. I also keep thinking about how great Steven Holl's design for MoMA was and how the tanking of the Bellview Art Museum in Seattle likely cost him the gig. Holl's proposal was bold but not as radical as Rem Koolhaas' design. There was a vernacular to build upon and it retained an idiomatic aspect that was open, not merely transparent. Holl's Nelson Atkins expansion showed just how well that can work out. Somehow D+S R has lost their edge on this project. It seems very conservative... even moreso than their new Broad museum in LA or the new Whitney building to be finished on the West Side.

The fact that the Williams and Tsien's folk art museum wont be saved isn't surprising... I'm certain they wanted to save it but the client's needs overrode anything truly inspired. The fact that William's and Tsien took on the Barnes collection project... essentially looting a national treasure for greater attendance only makes this karmic-ly fitting. There is always a bigger fish... will MoMA eventually swap its digs for a place where it can do it right and the current galleries will become a true mall or sports stadium? Maybe in 100 years? I'm certain it will still be packed until that day comes... but geeze New York, between the Freedom Tower and MoMA you really aren't setting the bar with your designs and places like Denver do seem more progressive.

In more local news there is also an international preservationist firestorm brewing over the rightfully maligned Portland building. Now that the city council is openly considering demolition of the Portland building, it has become the single most threatened/high historical value building on the planet... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 08, 2014 at 17:52 | Comments (0)

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Tuesday 01.07.14

Jenene Nagy's The Crystal Land at PCC

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Jenene Nagy at PCC Sylvania's Northview Gallery

Today marks the first day of PORT alumni and former Portlander, Jenene Nagy's The Crystal Land at PCC Sylvania's North View Gallery. Though she moved she's still quite active in the scene here (a prodigal Portlander?) and her work generally conflates landscape and the build environment through materials. I have a quixotic soft spot for this brutalist gem of a space so it is interesting to see more artists engage its architecture.

The Crystal Land | Jan. 7 - Feb. 8, 2014
Artist lecture and closing reception January 29 at 2pm
Northview Gallery
Portland Community College - Sylvania Campus
12000 SW 49th Ave.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 07, 2014 at 13:02 | Comments (0)

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Tuesday Links MOCA edition

Looks like there will be a new director named at MOCA very soon and the NYT's confirmed that all of the front runners are museum professionals not art dealers like former director Deitch. Toby Kamps would be my first choice, though he is a curator's curator and being a director involves a lot more fundraising so I am not certain he would want the gig. MOCA does need to rebuild its reputation as perhaps the USA's top contemporary art institution... it has degenerated into a salesroom of sorts as of late.

The LA Times reports that MOCA is now financially solid.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 07, 2014 at 10:46 | Comments (0)

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Monday 01.06.14

A Light Spray at PMoMA

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It looks like the group show to kick off the Portland art scene's 2014 is here and it is at the Portland Museum of Modern Art. A Light Spray looks like a great combination of video artists including Chase Biado, Brenna Murphy, Donald Morgan, that guy who is always funnier than Jimmy Fallon and Ralph Pugay (who is funnier than that guy who is funnier than Fallon).

A Light Spray
Opening: Tuesday January 7th, 8:00PM
Portland Museum of Modern Art (inside Mississippi Records)
5202 N Albina

Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 06, 2014 at 10:46 | Comments (0)

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Friday 01.03.14

First Links 2014

The Village Voice looks at the art world's worst kept secret about the market.

Skylab's just approved tower for the Burnside Bridgehead is a stunner.

Edward Winkleman on earning that uppercase "C"... no not critic or curator, that's a different process but "C"ollector.

Cornell's newly approved Tech Campus on Roosevelt Island designs are worth a look.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 03, 2014 at 8:54 | Comments (0)

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Thursday 01.02.14

First Thursday January 2014 Picks

Ready or not, it is here and since First Thursday is mostly a social event it is a good way to get the feet planted in the new year. Here are my 3 picks:


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Christy Wyckoff, Displaced Grove (2013)

Blackfish Gallery is 35 this year and to kick off this important collective's anniversary they have organized, "Becoming Blackfish," which features 38 current and former members; John Alberts, Dyann Alkire, Robert Bibler, Barbara Black, Pavel Boboia, Sharon Bronzan, Mario Caoile, Judy Cooke, Priscilla Carrasco, Jonnel Covault, Dennis Cunningham, Julia Fish, Susan Freifeld, Sheryl Funkhouser, Deborah Gillis, Robert Hanson, Jim Hibbard, Harold Hoy, Kanetaka Ikeda, Michiro Kosuge, Colleen Kriger, Paul Missal, William Moore, Howard Neufeld, Barry Pelzner, Esther Podemski, Richard Rezac, Eileen Senner, Manya Shapiro, Margaret Shirley, Kate Simmons, Arvie Smith, Stephan Soihl, Rick True, Lynne Woods Turner, Gary Westford, Harry Widman and Christy Wyckoff.

Becoming Blackfish | December 31 - February 1, 2014
First Thursday Reception: January 2, 6 - 9PM
Blackfish Gallery | 420 NW 9th



...(more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 02, 2014 at 14:37 | Comments (0)

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Wednesday 01.01.14

Last Words: Portland's Visual Art Scene in 2013

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Jorge Pardo's Streetcar Stop for Portland (detail inside at night), Best Installation 2013 (all photos Jeff Jahn)


Complacency is a state of mind that exists only in retrospective: it has to be shattered before being ascertained. -Vladimir Nabokov


Portland's art scene was incredibly active in 2013 so I wouldn't describe it as year defined by complacency but like some aspects of 2012, specters at the institutional level still linger (mostly a divide between too much interest in old regional stereotypes to the exclusion of an immense influx of more varied and internationally relevant work). Still gains were made, such as when RACC changed their grant language to invite independent curatorial projects and new media to apply for project grants. The other fact is that Portland's living art scene still remains a meritocracy largely underinfluenced or spoiled by the art market.

Since Portland is both small and hot in terms of international interest, complacency should be our chief area of concern. Do we support what we already know better than what challenges us?

I counter that criticism is a cure for complacency, and by that I mean real criticism... not the kinds that merely flatter and reiterate artists statements as a kind of marketing for friends, community support and favored galleries or simple rants. I'm writing specifically about criticism that expands the discussion and illuminates the pressure points, right or wrong it matters not as long as there is informed intellect and integrity at work. Criticism will ruffle feathers (even when positive) and cannot be expected to go down any smoother than the visual art can be expected to. Practicing this type of criticism is an earned errand and 2014 marks my 15th year in the city.... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 01, 2014 at 18:45 | Comments (0)

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