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Andrea Geyer's Three Chants Modern at PICA
Reacting to Serra
Monday Links
PORT on OPB's State of Wonder
Rodrigo Valenzeula at Archer Gallery
See it Saturday
Andrea Geyer at PICA
Monday Links
Thoughts on Sigmar Polke
PSU MFA Project Events, 2014 Part I
Jesper Just speaks at PAM

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Wednesday 04.30.14

Andrea Geyer's Three Chants Modern at PICA

Three Chants Modern at PICA by Andrea Geyer (photos Jeff Jahn)

Creation myths are revealing fabrications and contemporary art in America has one. Perhaps the most telling element of which can be summoned through asking the simple question, who started MoMA? … that crucial institution of the Twentieth Century, which both championed and contextualized modern and contemporary art? If queried many would say, “Alfred Barr Jr.” (MoMA's first director and architect of that first contextual framework) or Nelson Rockefeller (who put up the money) but it was his mother Abby and her compatriots Lillie P. Bliss and Mary Sullivan who conceived and chartered the idea, bringing everyone to the table. MoMA acknowledges this fact openly but without context it remains remote and abstracted in the minds of visitors and the world at large when they discuss the museum. Where is the context?

In that absence, enter Andrea Geyer, whose research based art on display in Three Chants Modern at PICA is as much a seance that reconvenes the spirit of women at MoMA as it is a re-sequencing of the visitor's experience of the museum. Lucky for Portland, PICA is presenting the US premier of the work which consists of a photograph, an installation and a dual channel video. It is an important exhibition and it brings the current crisis at MoMA (perhaps the defining one of the institution) into sharp relief... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on April 30, 2014 at 16:41 | Comments (0)


Tuesday 04.29.14

Reacting to Serra

Richard Serra (photo Paul Middendorf)

Many will react to Richard Serra's diatribe last night as just another old man talking about how he had to walk 25 miles in the snow in order to get some lead to melt and throw in a corner. That would be a mistake though. I've always found Serra to be very thoughtful and persuasive. He's very deliberate and forms his thoughts cautiously when you speak to him.... he also takes stock of you. That and he's arguably the world's greatest sculptor and is still making work at the top of his game.

In particular, his emphasis on there needing to be a marginalized subculture has my attention. It echoes Degas' view that an artist creates for only a few people within their immediate circle. I feel he is right...


Posted by Jeff Jahn on April 29, 2014 at 13:42 | Comments (0)


Monday 04.28.14

Monday Links

I'll have a very involved review for you later today but till then here are some links:

Eva Hesse and Sol LeWitt at the Blanton Museum of Art

A short history of the Berlin art scene in the 90's

Duplex gives it to you straight regarding the Portland 2014 Biennial attempt. As Ive already mentioned when the list was announced, not enough women and no new names. Mostly it is the institution's attempt to ingratiate itself amongst others that made their reputations without Disjecta's help already and the show did nothing for anyone's careers save thye presenting institution. It is a tired model and any group show that shines a light on a scene should at least make a few discoveries to create anticipation and a climate of change rather than staleness... it was ok but told us nothing we didn't already know in more fully realized solo shows. That and it was basically a clone of every other recent group show, not embarrassing but achieves little for anyone besides the presenter.

Brian Libby on MIT's use of Big Data for mapping and architecture.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on April 28, 2014 at 9:56 | Comments (0)


Saturday 04.26.14

PORT on OPB's State of Wonder

Obligatory selfie, yes State of Wonder's Green Room is actually green

As part of my 15 year anniversary of coming to Portland I'll be guest curating OPB's State of Wonder radio program at noon today. Here is a preview interview (I was trying to use approachable language in that preview but on the show I don't pull any punches), numerous artists and interviews are part of the program.

You can tune in or check this page for links to the archive so you can stream at your leisure after it airs. I'll also include links below to topics we referenced during the show as well as expand some ideas that were tossed about...


Posted by Jeff Jahn on April 26, 2014 at 1:29 | Comments (0)


Wednesday 04.23.14


I've been very busy guest curating the State of Wonder radio program for Saturday on OPB but here are some links:

Nanobots are going to reinvent kinetic sculpture and installation, among other things.

Three views of art criticism in Europe.

Of course clay is hot these days... it has been for the past 6-7 years as the careers of Ken Price and Jessica Jackson Hutchins made plain long ago. The news is the bandwagoning that has started because of the latest Whitney Biennial. There is an art market to feed you know. The other interesting bit is how little resistance there really ever was to it... in craft circles they made it seem like the medium were persona non grata but its always been the message not the medium in contemporary art. The message has always been boutique, with limited production = value and it is tied to a larger discussion over design. It isn't craft (which is technique) that is crucial but "design" because it encompasses craft and gives it an outlet. Contemporary Art works in parallel and pantomime to the Design World, which is the bleeding edge of production. Think of Contemporary Art as the court jester to the court of culture and Design is the army.

Franco a credibility problem for the art world? Basically, it is all too easy and anybody who gets too wrapped up as "for or against" is wasting their time on an easy mark. For the first time ever I'm linking without reading the article. Click at your own risk.

Yes MoMA is jumping the shark and it sounds just like Deitch did during the MOCA debacle. Lowery's claim of being radical doesn't hold water... they are very thin gestures at new media and genres and doesn't really address the bigger problems MoMA already has since it has started diminishing the scholarship... the kind that was a step above academics. By always meeting in the middle ground Lowery is going down as the man who ruined MoMA. His days are numbered (but probably not this year) but the question is will MoMA ever recover?

Posted by Jeff Jahn on April 23, 2014 at 12:03 | Comments (0)


Monday 04.21.14

Rodrigo Valenzeula at Archer Gallery

Rodrigo Valenzuela at Archer Gallery (photo Jeff Jahn)

Chilean born and Washington State based Rodrigo Valenzeula's work deals in all sorts of labor and his latest show "Help Wanted" at the Archer Gallery looks like it could be one of the best shows on view this April. Dealing in everything from mining to odd jobs and construction Valenzeula interacts with laborers and Clark College students to explore the unofficial labor forms that economies rely upon.

Help Wanted | April 8 - May 3
Opening Reception: April 23, 5 - 7PM | Artist Talk: 7-8PM
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 April 21, 2014 at 12:36 | Comments (0)


Thursday 04.17.14

See it Saturday

Clement Greenberg looking at a Kenneth Noland

Blackfish is 35 this year and Blackfish member and Reed College professor Michael Knutson noticed coincidentally that Clement Greenberg's much hated and yet relentlessly referenced essay Avant-Garde and Kitsch is celebrating its 75th birthday as well. It was kismet so Knutson set about convening a panel of art writers, critics and historians to discuss both Greenberg's most famous work and the way its influence becomes a lens on art today. Greenberg later he recanted many of his definitions of kitsch. Panelists include; Randy Gragg, Eva Lake, Barry Johnson, Paul Sutinen, Sue Taylor and myself. It should be an interesting mix as our backgrounds vary from artists like Lake and Sutinen to journalists like Gragg and Johnson to historians like Taylor and myself. Knutson will moderate and we have been asked to discuss some of our favorite exhibitions as well so it should provide ample opportunity to learn some insights into your local art press corps, all in one convenient place. I've lived here 15 years and Portland has never convened a panel like this.

Avant-Garde and Kitsch Today | April 19th, 2:00PM
420 NW 9th ave

Josef Albers (American, b. Germany, 1888-1976) Homage to the Square, edition 35/125, 1967 screenprint

If you are in the Bellingham area catch Radical Repetition: Albers to Warhol at the Whatcom Museum. Culled from the Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation's collection of international prints and Northwest art the show explores the effects of serial sequencing in art imagery in figurative and abstract art.

Radical Repetition: Albers to Warhol | April 19 - August 17
Whatcom Museum
Bellingham Washington

Posted by Jeff Jahn on April 17, 2014 at 16:49 | Comments (0)


Tuesday 04.15.14

Andrea Geyer at PICA

Andrea Geyer, Three Chants Modern

It has been obvious that 2014 is the year of heightened attention on women's representation in the art world and roles in its history. So it is exciting that PICA has tackled the subject head on by presenting the U.S. premiere of Andrea Geyer's two-channel video installation, Three Chants Modern. Geyer will also speak tomorrow at PSU's Shattuck Annex, April 16th at 7:00PM.

The video was, "Commissioned by the Museum of Modern Art, New York during a research residency at the museum in 2013 and made possible by MoMA's Wallis Annenberg Fund for Innovation in Contemporary Art through the Annenberg Foundation, Three Chants Modern looks at the network of women thinkers, social and political activists, artists and philanthropists who were the creative drivers and institutional pillars of the Modernist Project in New York in the early part of the 20th century. Three Chants addresses how history and power are constructed, in part, through the undeniable legacy of these women in contrast to their sparse representation in the formal history of the period."

Andrea Geyer: Three Chants Modern | April 19 - June 21, 2014
Opening Reception: April 19, 6:00 - 9:00PM
Artist Talk: April 16, 7:00PM, PSU Shattuck Hall Annex
415 SW 10th Ave, Suite 300
Gallery Hours: Tuesday - Friday 11:00 - 6:00PM | Saturday 11:00 - 4:00PM

Posted by Jeff Jahn on April 15, 2014 at 16:25 | Comments (0)


Monday 04.14.14

Monday Links

Brian Libby says goodby to PNCA's Goodman building. It is no secret that PNCA has been undergoing growing pains... experiencing both massive growth and contractions at the same time (in different areas like enrollment, new departments and physical plant). This gets more painful the larger the institution is. Let's hope the 511 years lead to a stable golden age for the school as it consolidates more around the North Park Blocks. The Goodman building's commons area has been Portland's arts oriented living room more than any other space in the city can claim, though they were also difficult for some uses.

File under odd, Cyndy Sherman responds to James Franco. He's a good actor and a forgettable artist but I appreciate his appreciation of visual art.

Francis Bacon Triptych recently on view at PAM (during install)

This is very stale news in Portland's scene but the NYT's has finally taken notice of something that has been going on for over a decade in Oregon, showing art bought at auctions in our museums. It can blind some (like traditional journalists) with a less broadly based art historical backgrounds and it makes the discourse reactionary and short sighted. First of all, some arguments are more than a little specious. Arguably, the history of arts patronage has always been related to tax avoidance, but perhaps that is the wrong term. Museums have always trafficked in that grey area interchange between wealthy collectors and sharing with the masses. Thus, in a way they take the mostly hidden impulse to hoard treasures and turn them into cultural/economic boosters (bringing people downtown etc). Museums are one of the few places the rich are taxed more proportionately... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on April 14, 2014 at 10:57 | Comments (0)


Friday 04.11.14

Thoughts on Sigmar Polke

Works by Sigmar Polke from the Nicolas Berggruen Charitable Trust on display at the Portland Art Museum in 2013 (L to R) Providentia-Schleife (1986), Untitled (1989), Druckfehler (1986), Lumpy Hinter dem Ofen (1983), Untitled (1983), photo Jeff Jahn

With the opening of Sigmar Polke's retrospective, Alibis at MoMA, there has been a sudden and massive interest in his work. PAM had a wonderful and very strong exhibition of Polke's work last year (which Victor reviewed), including a couple of key works in the Polke retrospective.

Polke's work has always left me conflicted. Back in the 80's and early 90's you couldn't take in a major museum without confronting one or two of his works, each generally very different from the last. It was incongruous work that reveled in its own capricious quality that dealt in the seams of various pastiches while being exhaustively inventive in its general dolor. That wasn't a bad thing. It was a lot like a less hopeful version of Rauschenberg's quilts of material and imagery but suffused with a German cynicism of history that isn't present in the major American work that preceded it... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on April 11, 2014 at 10:24 | Comments (0)


Tuesday 04.08.14

PSU MFA Project Events, 2014 Part I

Perry Doane Carbonaut

In the past 5 years or so PSU's MFA and BFA project shows for their studio arts program have become one of the few reliably exciting student exhibitions in Portland. PSU's program has produced artists like Damien Gilley, Holly Andres, Chase Biado and Derek Bourcier and too many others to list. To kick things off this year there are 3 MFA candidates with openings and artists talks on PSU's campus; Perry Doane, Mark Martinez and Isaac Fletcher Weiss.

Opening Receptions for all 3 (in respective galleries): April 10, 6-8PM
Exhibitions: April 7 - 21, 2014
Perry Doane - Carbonaut - Autzen Gallery
Mark Martinez - CREAM - AB Lobby Gallery
Isaac Fletcher Weiss - Musings in the Face of Certain Death - MK Gallery
Artist Talks: Perry Doane & Isaac Fletcher Weis @ Shattuck Annex @ Wednesday, April 9 2014, 6-8PM
Mark Martinez @ Shattuck Annex Wednesday, April 15, 2014, 6-7PM
Portland State University galleries & Shattuck Annex

Posted by Jeff Jahn on April 08, 2014 at 16:15 | Comments (0)


Jesper Just speaks at PAM

Jesper Just spoke at the Portland Art Museum last Sunday but you can watch much of it here. Catch his exhibition on dislpay at PAM until June 1st.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on April 08, 2014 at 10:36 | Comments (0)


Monday 04.07.14

Monday Links

Finally some hard stats on women in the art world... basically 70% of represented artists are men. I'm uncertain about how those stats bear out in Portland but it is definitely true that men generally get statistically more representation in awards and group shows (Portland2014 being just another example, as is the far more consequential Whitney Biennial). Why is this? I think it is generally the way women are penalized for being ambitious and or promoting themselves, whereas men are encouraged. It also comes down to complicated interpersonal politics (who has kids, who doesn't, who teaches with whom, a cultural preoccupation focus on the events in a woman's life rather than the work) that are almost always more loaded for women. In general, the dudes are simply less complicated even though to my eyes a clear majority of the strong to excellent artists in a place like Portland are women.

Check out this tiny self portrait Caravaggio snuck into one of his most famous works. See?

Larry Sultan and Mike Mandel's altered billboards in Juxtapoz.

Seattle buys some Ai Weiwei baubles.

Namita Wiggers on Craft in the Brooklyn Rail. First of all, the term accidental primitivism doesn't work, its terrible jargon. There is nothing "accidental" about utilizing a centuries old tradition, and it is... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on April 07, 2014 at 11:02 | Comments (1)


Thursday 04.03.14

Reflecting Pool


Lewis and Clark often graduates art scene leaders who create interesting venues like Kyle Thompson and Caitlin Ducey (12128), Jack Shimko (Haze), Justin Oswald (Gallery 500) or even Katherine Bovee who invaluably helped to launch PORT itself back in 2005. Here is this year's crop of L&C Seniors in a show titled Reflecting Pool.

Larissa Board
Flynn A. Casey
Tony Chrenka
Matt Cogdill
Matthew Colodny
Sophia Dagnello
Kelsey H. Davis
Hilary Devaney
Jonas Fahnestock
Rhianna Feeney
Elaine B. Fehrs
Stephanie Kudisch
Chloe McAusland
Matt Mulligan
Savannah Prentiss
Samantha Sarvet
Camille Shumann
Helen Regina Rosenbaum
Taylor Wallau
Amelia Walsh
Kelsey Westergard
Julianna Winchell
Rachel Wolfson
Em Young
Irene Zoller Huete

Reflecting Pool | April 4 - May 11
Opening Reception: April 4th, 5-7PM
Gallery Hours: Tuesday-Sunday 11-4PM
Ronna and Eric Hoffman Gallery of Contemporary Art
Lewis & Clark
0615 S.W. Palatine Hill Road

Posted by Jeff Jahn on April 03, 2014 at 14:20 | Comments (0)


First Thursday Picks April 2014

Eva Lake's Anonymous Woman #55

Eva Lake is another of those Portland stalwarts that really makes Portland what it is. She is from Oregon but has put in her time in New York, London and San Francisco etc. To a certain degree (like all artists and in particular female ones) she was taken for granted but when her fantastic collages of women were debuted that all changed and she started to get a following in New York and Switzerland. I was the first to point out how good this work was and it is exciting to finally see another of her shows in Portland. This series focuses not on Hollywood Starlets of the Target Series but on those anonymous faces that seem to be perpetuated in the media. It is the way she amplifies anonymity that she gives the work an even stronger surrealist charge.

Anonymous Women | April 3- 26
Augen Gallery
716 N.W. Davis

...(more Blackfish and Mies van der Rohe damage)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on April 03, 2014 at 11:46 | Comments (0)


Tuesday 04.01.14

15 Years in Portland

Photo Jeff Jahn

Today marks the 15th anniversary of my moving to Portland. I chose this place because there was already an art scene but it seemed like Portland was ready for much more. Also, on the West Coast culture is a growth industry. In general, Portlanders are passionate and driven people who have chosen this place for moral not economic reasons.

Back in the early aughts many who had lived here for a while didn't think it was possible for Portland to be something other than a remote place where people went to avoid the rest of the world. They were quite simply, wrong. Now the world increasingly comes here and it isn't uncommon for an artist to have a national/international career showing at major venues. That said most of our larger institutions have not been crucial in facilitating that kind of export career and it is something to work on, even though there has been some headway made like the Precipice Fund. Also, many old school Portlanders who are hold overs from before "the revolution" of 2001-2003 have a difficult time addressing greatness/ambition within Portland's city limits... for example, Mark Rothko (where PAM really stepped up), Robert Colescott, the details of PCVA's programming and the city's very active alternative spaces still don't get the respect/civic ownership deserved somehow because they ceased or are transient in nature. That very serious snark aside, I've been very lucky that Portland and its citizens have been so supportive of a role that is both of Portland and also acts as a go between for the rest of the world.

To celebrate the anniversary (or for some, their chagrin) this April is chok full of events where I'll be making appearances as Portland's most visible curator/critic combo. For starters a panel discussion on challenging art and Clement Greenberg on April 19th, 2PM at Blackfish Gallery for their 35th anniversay and I am guest curating OPB's State of Wonder radio program on April 26, where I'll reveal a few new projects I've been working on. Other announcements, essays, interviews etc will take place throughout the month (including the trailer for my first movie, Cardenio on the 26th) and the beginning of PORT's series of pieces on contemporary patrons who are actually patrons, not just market speculators. There will also be an essay on art criticism posted before the talk on the 19th but this short piece on the subject is a good preview.

Like a lot of Gen X, Y and Millennials I chose Portland because the city had a more granular non-corporate civic character. This character makes it porous to people who want to make a mark based on merit rather than resume or market capitalization. Portland was a ... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on April 01, 2014 at 17:26 | Comments (0)

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