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Best and Worst of 2014
Top Posts of 2014
Xmas tide overs
Ntvty V
Thursday Topics
Monday Links
El Greco at PAM
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Precipice Fund II
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Kerry James Marshall at PAM
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Wednesday 12.31.14

Best and Worst of 2014

2014 was an odd, placeholder kind of year. Few exhibitions blew people away (especially the reheated attempts at mostly regional survey shows) and many artists saved their best efforts for shows outside of town. This continues to prove my thesis that Portland is used more as a base for developing international activity than as a place where you can see what is really going on... at least institutionally. That needs to change and it is a corner that must be turned for the city's cultural health. For example, if an artist is doing work that is on fire, then the community should single out and support that excellence in a serious way. That said everyone seems to be waiting for 2015. In 2015 there will be a new Maya Lin, a new bridge and we wil finally see PNCA's new 511 building become the cultural anchor of NW Portland? No institution has caught the new Portland wave of energy as well as PNCA has but that has come at a cost, rapid change and the ill fitting clothes that kind of change creates. Some call the style “Portland eclectic.” Portland will say goodby to PNCA's Goodman Building in early 2015 and in many ways it herald's thew way Portland is beginning to present itself differently. That said I will focus a lot on curatorial presentation in this list.

Goodbye to PNCA's Goodman Building

Best and Worst 2014:

Best question of 2014: Will Bruce Guenther's curatorial replacement continue to give the Portland Art Museum an...

(much more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 31, 2014 at 16:02 | Comments (0)


Monday 12.29.14

Top Posts of 2014

Time to start our string of end of the year posts, so here are our top 10 in terms of eyeballs (PORT is still the top ranked Google search for "Portland Art" and has already broken last year's record of 1.3 million unique viewers). It was an odd year where art history seemed to be on everyone's lips... almost as a balm against the market's corrosive effect on critical thinking.

Ryan Johnson and Dana Schutz (photo Victor Maldonado)

Dana Schutz and Ryan Johnson spoke to Victor at length about Portland and the odd ways their subjects find them. A must for any working artist to read.

It surprised me just how much people allover the globe LOVED this interview with Michael Lazarus... which reminds me I haven't seen him since last summer.

Three Chants Modern at PICA was perhaps the most complicated art historical project Portland saw in 2014 and this review strove for a similar sense of scope. PICA took quite a risk showing this as Portland's audience and press (in particular) aren't always the most versed in art history. Perhaps that is why I loved this show? Nice to see this being so widely read.

Amy spoke with Luc Tuymans on the occasion of his exhibition at PNCA.

Portland's art scene is constantly attracting new artists and churning out new alternative spaces where artists refine their game... sometimes before hitting the international stage so it is important that we pay attention (that takes someone who is always looking coupled with the desire to dig for the newly sprouted the way PORT does). These posts are incredibly popular and at the same time create a tremendous amount of whining.

... (there are 6 more after the jump)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 29, 2014 at 10:07 | Comments (0)


Tuesday 12.23.14

Xmas tide overs

It is just about time for our annual year end wrap ups (2013's was very popular), the Guenther era digestion and some other pieces the team have been working on. Till then here are some things to tide you over:

I love this interactive Map of New York's art history. Maybe I should do something similar for the last 15 years in Portland... perhaps the most culturally dynamic period in the city's history.

This death of painting 2014 discussion is mostly interesting for its focus on "Atemporal". It doesn't surprise me... it is very similar to the "new economy" talk that preceded the dotcom bubble crash in 2000. The only argument more tired and wrongheaded than the death of painting argument is the death of history argument. It is a pangloss and perhaps the exhibition is a kind of institutional extinction burst that behavioral psychologists describe in experiments that are an awful lot like market bubbles.

Here is a very interesting article on the Centennial Mills building at the north end of the Pearl District. What really gets my attention about this project is the way Frank Gehry and Maya Lin are name checked and Jordan Schnitzer states, "We're not going to do this project unless it is right." (Disclosure the Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation is a PORT sponsor) This is a corner that Portland needs to turn since growth/density is inevitable but the quality of those spaces aspire to wont rise without vision.

Also, Gehry is no stranger to these sorts of reuse projects like the much larger Atlantic Yards but it is also all about keeping the historical record visible as a variegated urban edifice of human use. For example, think about Venice and the way it is built upon itself. Saving the Centennial Mills preserves the stories of a part of town that has already lost most of its history. Still, someone like Gehry signals some promise of progressive thinking about this very visible bit of Portland's waterfront... besides the East Bank Esplanade and the new transit bridge Portland has mostly ignored the Willamette river. The trick will be to keep the convivial Portland ethos and still pencil the project out.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 23, 2014 at 10:35 | Comments (0)


Sunday 12.21.14

Ntvty V


It started 5 years ago as a parody of holiday nativity scenes but these days the annual display by Xhurch (it is housed in a former church) is now simply spiritually pluralist cacophony. I think of it as a more artistic take on this sometimes crass season. Cyber-Vikings, Excessive Yogurt Yogis, Trekkie Twitter Tolkienists, Donut Sandwich Apocalyptics, Block Party Federalists and Sea Monkey Capitalists unite? Overall, one thing I appreciate about Portland is the the way most everyone can get on without trying to homogenize everything. Embrace the season like the Portland art scene does...

NTVTY V | December 22-24
Hours: 6 - 9PM
4550 NE 20th Ave

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 21, 2014 at 12:42 | Comments (0)


Thursday 12.18.14

Thursday Topics

It's a slow time of year and I'm making my final "avalanche push" on the mountainous Guenther piece with several other interviews, a year end piece and reviews also already in the works. Here are some excellent posts to consider:

Brian Libby has done a great job covering this early part of Snohetta's James Beard Public Market design process. The egalitarian spirit seems to fit Portland... and it needs to because this is going to be a public space... perhaps the most significant one to be designed in the Northwest since Seattle's Olympic Sculpture Park. Hopefully the mandated public art will be of similar caliber as Jorge Pardo's streetcar stop on the other side of the river? Instead of just plonking down some moderately ingenious metal in front of the building the art should be a kind of brilliant amenity (a Portland sentiment).

8 museum directors choose their favorite art... fine idea but honestly why not ask curators? Perhaps because they are more specialized they would choose from their department?

Police killings lead to a more overtly political art? Well, yes but I believe there is a deeper wave of discontent moving through the art world that comes from the real world. It put Obama in the White House with one word, Change. I feel like the Occupy Movement, police killings, continued violence/silence towards women and broadening income inequality are all just indicators of a tempestuous 2015. Art should be a part of the discussion not just an island floating on a buoyant market and games of certainty. These themes are so pervasive that Art can address them without losing its ability to speak to the ages.

...(more including the CNAA list analysis)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 18, 2014 at 12:12 | Comments (0)


Monday 12.15.14

Monday Links

Getting to know the artists that make other artist's work.

The 2014 year end best of lists have started here in the New York Times. Yes to Robert Gober, but somehow no Hockey and Matisse cutouts because they originated outside NYC venues. (I always like to wait with PORT's lists).

The Guggenheim and other museums are set to start "big data" gathering on you as you move around the museum.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 15, 2014 at 16:00 | Comments (0)


Friday 12.12.14

El Greco at PAM

On view at PAM, El Greco, The Holy Family with Saint Mary Magdalen, 1590-1595, oil on canvas, The Cleveland Museum of Art, Gift of Friends of the Cleveland Museum of Art in memory of J.H. Wade (all photos Jeff Jahn)

As the latest of the Portland Art Museum's very successful Masterworks series, El Greco's The Holy Family with Saint Mary Magdalen, is now on display a few days early.

It is difficult to stylistically pigeon hole the Spanish Baroque painter El Greco (Domenikos Theotokopoulos) but his incredibly stylized elongations of the human body connect him to Italian Mannerists though his explosively empathetic compositions even remind me a little of the Carracci school (Ludovico in particular). Still, perhaps only the later Rembrandt can be considered his rival for supernatural presence and curator Dawson Carr has done a great job in bringing this truly stunning painting to Portland on loan from the Cleveland Museum of Art. Religious or not, it is a must for all lovers of painting and is nothing short of remarkable as all of these Masterwork Series works have been.

Born Crete in 1541... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 12, 2014 at 14:30 | Comments (0)


Weekend Picks

Though the year is winding down with lots of year end parties and held over group shows there are still a few openings this weekend.

It is the giving season so artist Jesse Hayward is doing a kind of autobiographical exhibition, showing many of the works that were given to him over the years at galleryHomeland tonight. Exhibition includes; Olivia Brown, Elias Crouch, Sally Finch, Bryan Friel, Nathan Gibson, Bill Hayward, Midori Hirose, Byron Kurtz, Hannah Lockhart,Mark Moore, Lisa Mir, Jarrett Mitchell, TJ Norris, Tim Schwartz, Sibel Sunar, Liz Walsh.

Givers | Opens December 12 6-9PM
galleryHomeland Portland
2505 SE 11th Ave

Thomas J. Gamble's latest show at S1 titled "It's Really Cool To Be Here" focuses on the here and now. The the show title is taken from an interview the night the Eric Garner protests started.

Opening 6:00PM
4148 NE Hancock

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 12, 2014 at 12:04 | Comments (0)


Thursday 12.11.14

Precipice Fund II

Just some of the crowd at the PICA's Precipice Fund announcements

Now in its second year The Precipice Fund was designed to foster the otherwise difficult to fund projects and alternative spaces that have become a major hallmark of Portland's very active art scene through a regranting program administered by PICA. Overall, it is good to see so many in round II that PORT have pointed out in our previous 3 New Faces segments here, here, and here.

19 artist/collaborations/spaces will receive a share of $75,000. What is incredibly valuable is the way it funds somewhat unproven/experimental projects that broaden the programming scope of projects that in most cases would have taken place even without this aid. This is all very important as it is essentially an exploratory progressive grant rather than one that is backloaded on previous history (though progressive Portlands funding sources tend to be safer rather than risk taking). Congratulations everyone. Here's the list as described by PICA::

... (the list and more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 11, 2014 at 19:26 | Comments (0)


Monday 12.08.14

Monday Links

I and other PORTsters are still working on half a dozen major pieces for you (I know, Guenther its coming... it is very close and it is some of my best work but I want it to be done right and we covered so many of his shows that PORT constitutes an important archive of his tenure). Till then:

I just Love this story about a dieing Japanese town where a woman has made scarecrows to repopulate it.

The Art Newspaper reports that curators really don't discover new artists at the fairs. I've found this to be true, the art fair experience generally doesn't provide enough information. Though I did find Hank Willis Thomas' video work at a fair before he became big (video work that needs just a screen or two does work).

Here's the best and most comprehensive collection of Miami art fair images.

Yes the Greeks are incensed about disputed pieces of the Parthenon being lent to Russia.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 08, 2014 at 12:31 | Comments (0)


Saturday 12.06.14

Kerry James Marshall at PAM


With all of the racially driven strife bringing people across the US out into the streets, perhaps Kerry James Marshall's talk at PAM is the most contemplative thing Portlanders can do on a cultural level to address this moment in history. Afterwards, catch the Richard Mosse Enclave show for an unimaginable humanistic perspective on a situation with far fewer solutions.

Kerry James Marshall | Critical Voices
Artist Talk: December 7, 2-3PM (free to members, $15 non, $12 seniors and students)
Portland Art Museum
1219 SW Park

*Update, for those who could not attend

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 06, 2014 at 21:03 | Comments (0)


Friday 12.05.14

First Weekend Picks

Lots of interesting things going on this weekend in the Portland art scene. Here are my picks:


Worksound International presents Spiderland an installation by Mitsu Okubo. Hailing from San Francisco the work mimics the cacophony of numerous voices all speaking at the same time with no real comprehension. Okubo then translates this universalized disconnect onto canvas.

Spiderland | December 5 - January 23
Opening reception: December 5, 6-9PM
820 SE Alder St


Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 05, 2014 at 13:49 | Comments (0)


Friday Links

Read this fascinating review of the Pierre Huyghe retrospective at LACMA. It makes sense that cacophony would improve rather than detract from the experience. Some artists thrive on cognitive dissonance and Huyghe who showed at PAM in 2006 is definitely one of them.

If you are curious about the cacophony of Art Basel Miami Beach this ridiculous article and these images are good surveys. This year with rioting in the streets and an art market that seems less calibrated to reality than profits it seems intellectually irresponsible to expect Miami to be a true bellwether or leading indicator these days. Seems like everyone is expecting more from the art world in 2015 already. Stunt performances jumped the shark a while back, can we be less vapid now?

Portland architect James Harrison gets a little love from Architizer for his Land Yacht project. It has a Olafur Eliasson meets conestoga wagon aspect to it.

Philippe de Montebello former Director of the Met answers questions... including if Museums are really the best place to view art?

Eligin Marbles to be lent to Russia? Wow... perhaps the most disputed artifacts on earth to be sent to a country that the rest of the world is trying to isolate and pressure into better behavior. The Greeks (or anyone paying attention to this tricky issue) cannot be happy with this. Many major museums seem to be tone deaf these days,. it isn't confidence building and loaning these disputed artifacts is akin to giving Bill Cosby an award while amidst very serious allegations. The Greeks understandably consider these pieces of the Parthenon to be a kind of cultural rape. More here.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 05, 2014 at 9:20 | Comments (0)


Thursday 12.04.14

First Thurday Picks December 2015

December is always the oddest month for Portland's art scene since many of the main galleries are showing in Miami, group shows are the default and numerous other venues are holding over shows from last month so you can check our picks from last month too. Also, check out the Gabriel Liston show we just reviewed. It is held over as well. Here's what is new:

Sandra Rouxmagoux

Sandra Rouxmagoux is one of the very best paint handlers in the Pacific Northwest and her juxsapositions of the man made and nature skewer that often tense conversation with tragicomic zest. Even more surprisingly she is beginning her second term as the Mayor of Newport. Thesecond half of this dual person show Oriana Lewton-Leopold explores intens emotional reactions of women from the Olympics to Arthur Miller's The Crucible. Blackfish should be the place to check out expressionistic brushwork in Portland for the Month of December.

Sandra Rouxmagoux and Oriana Lewton-Leopold | December 2-27
Opening: December 4 6-9PM
Artist's talk: December 6, 11:00 AM
420 NW 9th Ave

... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 04, 2014 at 14:37 | Comments (0)


Monday 12.01.14

Monday Links

On the eve of the Miami art fairs (somehow they don't feel as crucial anymore) here are some links. We have 3 great interviews in the works for you this month and right after this post I'll be finishing up the Guenther report for you ... it's a major history project that is as much about Portland as it is Guenther and it just keeps getting better. It is very very close to done and I'll publish when it is ready but very soon. Till then enjoy:

Matthew Barney talks to the Guardian.

Michael Kimmelman blasts the new World Trade Center. This is nothing new and critics nearly unanimously (PORT included) all had this pinned long before it even broke ground. The weird thing is that MoMA's expansion is drawing very similar criticism and hasn't been scuttled or at least completely revamped yet.

Will the James Beard Market by Snohetta transform Portland's neglected waterfront? It certainly raises the bar for architectural planning in town.

Drunk German Soccer fans steal a Emil Nolde painting...

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 01, 2014 at 10:01 | Comments (0)

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