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Final Rites at Surplus Space
Exploring Mechanisms of Perception
Save the Coliseum
Substantial Links
Weekend Picks
Stephanie Syjuco Lecture
In a Rhythmic Fashion at Hap Gallery
Weekly Links
Seeing Nature at PAM
Portlandia at 30
Monday Links
Kartz Ucci, new media stalwart revisited

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Saturday 10.31.15

Final Rites at Surplus Space

Surplus Space

Appropriately, Surplus Space is ending its run today with senseofplace LAB's curation, a title/happening that accurately describes the venue's brief existence. Instead of finely tuned exhibitions I'd characterize its output as a laboratory for inhabiting space with art and functioned almost as a kind of clubhouse. It is a kindred to other experimentally minded alternative spaces like the now closed Recess, Appendix and HQ Initiative and similarly its output tended to be more of a becoming rather than a a presenter of tight fully realized statements. That isn't a slight, interesting art cities like Portland need laboratories where things develop and these spaces need more financial support... and acknowledgement from more established institutions to complete the circle of relevance and patronage. In the past, some spaces like Haze Gallery and the New American Art Union managed to achieve both experimentation and excellence... they remain perhaps the two best programmed spaces in the past 16 years. Other newish spaces like Muscle Beach, S1 and Melanie Flood Projects carry a similar sense of influence and promise as they resemble how another now longish running alt space, False Front, always seem oriented towards putting on a good show. Sometimes a lab can just be a place of experimentation without judgement like Surplus Space... or at least it seemed a tad phobic of being judged as a final product. That's fine.

Thus, let's celebrate the diffuse nature of Surplus Space with its 5 part senseofplace LAB curated egress... here is their description:

1)Commemorative Donations as Installation

senseofplace LAB invites meaningful (to you) contributions that will become the materials for this work. Contributions can take any form, and will communicate and tell your stories.

2) Surplus Space Marker

The Surplus community is invited to design a small marker to be placed in front of the space, to mark the imprint of the gallery on the neighborhood. Markers should be made of materials that can withstand the elements, and be on the smallish side so when they are left outside they will be less likely to be removed. All the markers that are made will be installed in the gallery as part of the installation, and then placed out front as part of a ceremony during the opening.

3)Median as Commemorative Space

Over a period of two days before the opening, senseofplace LAB will invite collaboration to turn the median in front of the gallery into a location to acknowledge the gallery's presence. The space will be 'launched' during an event at the opening.

4)Markings (Surplus)

During the opening, the community will have an opportunity to fill out tags that are printed with 'This is where...' and attached to flags in the gallery as part of the installation.

5)Radial Shadows (Surplus) will be a series of site-responsive shadow drawings.

senseofplace Lab curates Surplus Space | October 31 - ?
Opening October 31 6 - 9PM
Surplus Space
3726 Ne 7th

Posted by Jeff Jahn on October 31, 2015 at 12:11 | Comments (0)


Wednesday 10.28.15

Exploring Mechanisms of Perception

Dr. David Wilson, Director of the Casey Eye Institute at OHSU

Although there is a tremendous history of science influencing art (James Turrell and Robert Irwin basically founded light and space art on it and others like Anish Kapoor or Olafur Eliasson owe much to it) the science of perception rarely is discussed openly in regards to the way we perceive art and the world around us. As part of the Seeing Nature exhibition Dr. David Wilson will present a wide ranging discussion on the brain science behind visual perception, looking at art, and the mechanisms for experiencing the world. I'm very excited about this as the subject is something I follow closely.

The Nature of Seeing | October 29 6-7PM
Portland Art Museum
1219 SW Park Ave

Posted by Jeff Jahn on October 28, 2015 at 17:00 | Comments (0)


Save the Coliseum

It came out today during a Portland City Council meeting that Commissioner Steve Novick wants to destroy the Memorial Coliseum by selling the land to a developer.


This is both ecologically and culturally irresponsible... not to mention financially since the building still breaks even in its current state. The promise of "affordable housing" with new construction also deserves some incredulity. We have discussed this before but the building is one of the very best Mid Twentieth Century modernist buildings in the Pacific Northwest and deserves to be renovated in a way that preserves this important historic aspect.

I encourage everyone interested in this to write: Mayor Charlie Hales at mayorcharliehales@portlandoregon.gov, Commissioner Dan Saltzman dan@portlandoregon.gov, Commissioner Amanda Fritz, amanda@portlandoregon.gov and Commissioner Nick Fish nick@portlandoregon.gov

Posted by Jeff Jahn on October 28, 2015 at 14:30 | Comments (0)


Tuesday 10.27.15

Substantial Links

The Walker Art Center was nice enough to publish Alexander Blauvelt's catalog essay for their Hippie Modernism exhibition titled Aesthetic Radicalism. It brings up a number of good points though I think the dichotomy he makes between minimalism/formalism and psychedelic art are an unsustainable argument. For example, Smithson was obsessed with Judd's crystaline fragmentation and Judd's own love of John Wesley and Claes Oldenburg's work undermines his argument's premise. He is right in that the art market, most historians and museums did separate them. Hopefully, this exhibition will help break down some of the very bad art history done on so called minimalism the 1960's and 70's. This is the sort of design/art aesthetic/societal movement show we should see in Portland more often too... I curated this show last year.

Artinfo asks if can single venue galleries survive? Good question... answer of course is no. Gallerists must mix and show outside their brick and mortar spaces, art fairs are crucial but oversaturated so choosing the right one or two matters tremendously. The real question is how do you develop a brand and following?

...(more, including a tough review and thoughts on Paul Allen)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on October 27, 2015 at 10:36 | Comments (0)


Friday 10.23.15

Weekend Picks

Custom Paradise wallpaper for Fallen Fruit at PAM

This Saturday is your best chance to catch a lot of great shows at the Portland Art Museum because it is the Miller Family Free Day. Once there you can take in Paradise by the collective Fallen Fruit, which opens Saturday 10/24 with events all day (I contributed an abstract photo of apples to Bruce Conkle's contribution). The exhibition mines the museum and the Northwest's ideological, physical, sociological and metaphysical relationship to the apple. It is also great compliment to Seeing Nature. There are great show by two of my favorite artists Anish Kapoor (final weekend)and Margie Livingston on view as well.

Miller Family Free Day | 10/24/2015
Portland Art Museum
219 SW Park


Another great bet includes two of my favorite artists in Portland PORT's own Amy Bernstein and Patrick Kelly at Nationale. It is an interest choice in contrasts... Kelly's deep and dark textural abstracts couldn't be more different than Bernstein's abstractions of partially digested semiotic societies.

Bernstein & Kelly | October 21- December 4
Opening Reception: October 25 2-5PM
3360 SE Division

... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on October 23, 2015 at 16:02 | Comments (0)


Tuesday 10.20.15

Stephanie Syjuco Lecture


As part of the Alien She survey at PNCA and MoCC, installation artist and sculptor Stephanie Syjuco will give a talk on her production and strategies. A Guggenheim Fellow, she often incorporates vending machines and other inversions of consumer culture... leveraging, "open-source systems, shareware logic, and flows of capital, creating frictions between high ideals and everyday materials."

Market Forces: On Errant Productions and Improper Consumptions with Stephanie Syjuco
Lecture: October 22, 2015 6:30-8:00 PM
Bison Building / MFA AC+D Studios
421 NE 10th Ave.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on October 20, 2015 at 15:04 | Comments (0)


Saturday 10.17.15

In a Rhythmic Fashion at Hap Gallery

In a Rhthmic Fashion at Hap Gallery (all photos Jeff Jahn)

On the whole the quality and sophistication of art exhibitions in Portland has improved in the last few years, but in that same time the # of fully realized, surprising and meticulously executed ones has declined as of late. The current Alien She, Seeing Nature and recent Ai Weiwei shows can be excluded because those are Museum shows... what I'm talking about are exhibitions by lesser knowns. Perhaps it is because most of the energy worth paying attention to here has fractured into small experimental spaces and individual artist studios where they save their best work and most realized efforts for exhibitions around the globe rather than at home? Portland has a lot of very active globally active contemporary artists. In fact, I've heard it straight from the artists themselves that they save their best efforts for elsewhere. Thus, despite the sudden spate of rent hikes Portland is still a great place to create and workshop experimental work among peers and export it. We are still far cheaper than other west coast cities.

Still, venue-wise Portland can be weirdly conservative, half-baked or pedestrian/patronizing. Example: putting one or two humblebraggy objects in a white room. That's very weak sauce and curatorial studies 101. It means something has been missing and though I enjoy discussing the promising new artists who have just been discovered it is also nice to see a show that top to bottom owns and executes in a way that is clear, layered, challenging and resonant beyond the artist's statement and circle of friends. In other words, a truly world class show that you happen upon rather than expect... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on October 17, 2015 at 12:38 | Comments (0)


Thursday 10.15.15

Weekly Links

Hermann Nitsch's work isn't academic or formalist, more like a religion of signs without being tied to beliefs. His work is getting a lot of consideration now because it also isn't terribly commodifiable becuase how do you put a price on provocation?

An interesting discussion of higher education and art. The sheer # of art schools and students isn't so much the problem as is very low standards for being a "lifestyle artist" these days. Pedagogy and being able to explain yourself doesn't make you an artist. When the few strong curators and critics can't fully explain why they keep paying attention to you, but still do it because you are leading the way into something nobody fully understands but need to... then you are probably an artist. The trick is that "tracking" that occurs and though art schools are important they are kind of a side bar to the art world... kinda like the relationship of butterfly hunters to butterflies (which isn't necessarily trivial, but no where as important as the butterflies actual environment they live and die in). Think of it like salmon raised completely in captivity vs wild ones. The question of "who" is benefitting from the education system is important though and one problem I see with all these school expansions is they don't endow their new programs like they do the buildings. Free tuition is interesting but I can't see it being the norm.

The Met is commissioning Cornelia Parker for its rooftop. I've always liked this model of museum's as patrons... it gives room to push boundaries where individual collectors or galleries that rely on them can be timid or simply space constrained.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on October 15, 2015 at 15:30 | Comments (0)


Saturday 10.10.15

Seeing Nature at PAM

Detail of Gustav Kimt's Birchenwald (1903) at PAM (all photos Jeff Jahn)

Today, Seeing Nature drawn from Paul Allen's collection opens to the general public at the Portland Art Museum. The traveling exhibition originated with PAM in conjunction with the Seattle Art Museum is a kind of survey of landscape paintings throughout history and as such maps the shifting expectations that viewers have for looking at what we consider the outdoors. One thing I very much like about the exhibition is the way it treats cityscapes as a part of nature and the landscape, thus to "See Nature" we have to see our own role in it..... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on October 10, 2015 at 12:01 | Comments (0)


Tuesday 10.06.15

Portlandia at 30


Perhaps the first litmus test for anyone's basic knowledge of Portland is whether Portlandia calls to mind a cable tv show or a sculpture which serves as the focal point of Michael Graves historic Portland Building. Well it turns 30 this week and RACC is throwing a bash on Thursday featuring Mayor Hales, former Mayor Clark and Nick Fish from 12:00- 1:30PM October 8th.

Still, it is very important that the sculpture isn't considered just a stand alone cultural feature. Instead, it is a kind of hood ornament for the first Postmodern building... an anthropomorphic totem that conveys the then radically humanistic aims of the entire Graves designed project (the interior is dismal). Sure, we remember the hood ornament on a car but its kind of an introduction to the spirit of the design and in this case it is a historic building that is designed to be a kind of gallery for the sculpture. That was a radical move and it is troubling how many feel the only sculpture itself is important. The world renowned building needs to be saved and rehabilitated sometime in the near future. Besides, without that building Portlandia simply becomes a big neo beaux arts sculpture, but upon its pedestal it is a kind of spirit of what Portland's government (with offices within) should aspire to.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on October 06, 2015 at 12:36 | Comments (0)


Monday 10.05.15

Monday Links

Well I'm back from my travels. Riding other transit systems and looking at bridges will inform my comprehensive review of Portland's Tillikum Crossing bridge and the art around it (stay tuned, I should have it polished off soon... yes I will finish off the Guenther history piece as well, but the bridge is first and far less complicated). Both look at the big picture as well as the details.

Till then check out these links:

Can art still shock? ...especially in the selfie age when artists are expected to create art that panders to the audience's need for their expression? This pushes art deep into a polarity of sycophantic or narcissistic strategies for resonance but that's just the mediocre stuff. The great work like Anish Kapoor's bean (Cloud Gate) in Chicago rises above the pandering by pushing that need to commune into an ecstatic outdoor cathedral devoted to humanity as a macro-organism.

On a similar note the new Turner Prize lineup does look ultra-earnest, pandering and therefore extremely dull. By pandering to narrow and cliquish sensibilities the work is guaranteed to speak to a small group of people who expect pandering on their narrow pet subjects. That's why so much research art is mediocre, it achieves predictable aims because it researches things it has already formed a kind of fetish for. There is a lots of earnest navel gazing art these days, much of which looks like post-minimalism or other 70's art (fetished white walls used as a foil for raw wood constructions, performances where someone does something with a liquid and or nudity etc.). Stronger work gets lost in its own needs and emerges from the development process very different and it confuses the hell out of you when you encounter it.

Here is an interesting interview with Kate Rothko on how the art world sought to cheat her after her father's death. Considering Rothko's connection to Portland I feel like more here need to be aware of what happened.

One bright spot was the first Nasher sculpture prize going to Doris Salcedo. She isn't being "authentic" or fetishing an era of art gone by... her work evokes a serious sense of loss and longing for what cannot be recovered. It is powerful because it is hard to wrap your head around it physically, intellectually and emotionally... as strong art should be.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on October 05, 2015 at 18:04 | Comments (0)


Sunday 10.04.15

Kartz Ucci, new media stalwart revisited

Kartz Ucci's work at the Archer Gallery January 2011 (photo Jeff Jahn)

Only a few years have flown by since Kartz Ucci passed away (obituary here) so it is a fitting tribute that a 2 location show will examine her work. The one at the Art Gym opens today. She was a friend and I always appreciated her unvarnished assessment of students and various new media forms. As I mentioned at the time of her death, she was one of Oregon's biggest proponents of new media pioneers (something that pretty much guarantees you wont get any of the big awards... something which is both wrong and sad). I look forward to revisiting her work at both the Art Gym and at Clackamas Community College's excellent and under utilized Alexander Gallery space where her last work 256 shades of grey will be installed from November 9 to December 11.

Kartz Ucci - an opera for one |October 4, 2015 - December 5, 2015
Art Gym Opening Reception- October 4, 4-6PM
Screening of Ucci works at Hollywood Theater and catalogue release | October 25, 7:30PM

Posted by Jeff Jahn on October 04, 2015 at 12:14 | Comments (0)


Friday 10.02.15

Jason Hirata at Muscle Beach

Jason Hirata

Muscle Beach has been doing impressive things and the latest features Jason Hirata (seems a little like a David Byrne project from the teaser image... not a bad thing).

Jason Hirata | October 2 - November 2
Opening Reception: October 2, 6 - 9PM
Muscle Beach

Posted by Jeff Jahn on October 02, 2015 at 13:21 | Comments (0)


Thursday 10.01.15

First Thursday Picks October 2015

I'm back from my recent travels and looking forward to seeing everyone on First Thursday. A theme of technology in art has presented itself this October... something welcome when so much of the discussion of art in Portland gets bogged down in retarde definitions of hand made craft. Look, a lot of bleeding edge technology art involves a kind of craft, be it coding, the fetishing of glitches or gene splicing. "Craft" is more simply an expression of technique and sometimes tradition, whereas "Art" acts more like the absence of clear definition... a rebus we project our understanding of the world and ourselves upon (Art and Craft are not mutually exclusive of course).

That said, here are the technology art shows I suggest you see this month (PNCA's Alien She and Malia Jensen at W+K from last month are still up as well):


I can't think of anything better than the faux pop up shop Dynamic Horizons in the Everett Station Lofts at Composition Gallery to punctuate the tech theme. Described or positioned as a, "Premium trend start-up Dynamic Horizons Ltd. debuts new line of ephemeral wearable technology in a stock Portland-style pop-up shop.... The Intangibles line of ephemeral wearable technology meditates on the shifting nature of place, self, and access in the climate of fiber-optic-fast obsolescence. Comprised of 3 chimeric amalgams of preexisting wearables, the line conjectures at the form factors of future gadgets as they grow more intimately on and into us.

Technology is often tritely described as ethically neutral. This is to ignore the built in complexities of new technologies as well as the inherent goals of their makers (i.e., profit.) Determination about the fundamental purpose of a thing is foreclosed well in advance of its use, swathed in impenetrable terms of service. Moreover, the devices and services we use also change us. We become bots in their net. This intent and tendency can be redirected, but requires cognizance, cultivated skill, and solidarity among creative networks, both IRL and URL.

Intangibles devices are made from the 'biodegradable' plastic, PLA*, popular in disposable table ware, and will rot for compulsory participation in the upgrade culture."

There is a lot of sci-fi related work in Portland (the three best practitioners being Brenna Murphy, Damien Gilley and Laura Fritz) and the tongue in cheek Dynamic Horizons Ltd: Intangibles was designed by Tabitha Nikolai, deSolid State, Matt Dan, Jason N. Le, and is funded in part by the Regional Arts & Culture Council.

Dynamic Horizons | October 1 - 31 (Saturdays 12-5) Product Launch & Opening: October 1, 6-9PM
625 NW Everett St. Suite 102 (on 6th)

...(more Upfor and Albatross)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on October 01, 2015 at 14:07 | Comments (0)

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