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Round the web 2015 wrap ups
Ellsworth Kelly the Universal Naturalist
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2015 top 10 posts by the #'s
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Thursday 12.31.15

Round the web 2015 wrap ups

I've decided to publish PORT's look back at 2015 post after the first of the new year... partly because it is so extensive and partly because I don't like simple lists and everyone seems more receptive to reflection right after the new year begins. Before that, it is just kind of a popularity contest and people don't think too hard about the year when they are at holiday parties. Like the 2014 look back 2015 will be a doozie and not merely celebratory (another reason not to put a burn notice out on anyone on New Years Eve). I already published our top 10 most popular posts of 2015 here here as a appetizer.

To tide you over here are some other year end wrap ups:

Here is Artnet's art world winners and losers list of 2015... notice how Jerry Saltz is in the winners list yet there was significant blowback at him at the beginning of the year? Lesson, good critics thrive on criticism. Killing off a critic with words and chest thumping is like trying to put out an erupting volcano with a forest fire. Fail.

Kengo Kuma has been chosen to replace Zaha Hadid for Japan's 2020 Olympic Games stadium. Kuma is designing the new Portland Japanese Garden expansion which we spoke to him about here. Lately, Olympic Games have been saturated with immense cost overruns that take decades to pay off and what I like about Kuma is his sober focus on excellence rather than flash. Leave it to the Japanese to start fixing the somewhat broken Olympic system.

Jonathan Jones is often wrong as a critic but he's right about the art world's turn to do-gooder morality art becoming stifling to the health of the art world. Art is not simply the illustration of our intentions, good or bad it is about exploring the amplitude of humanity's potential (which does have a dark side)... too much moralizing gets in the way of that. I also think his call for simple "rebellion" is just typical screed. Basically "rebellion art" and "radical art" are completely different critters and I'll take the latter. Rebellion is easy, you just point at something and say... that's bad (kinda like artists who think criticism is bad for them, it isn't). Radical thinking usually takes some brilliant thinking and makes room for even more approaches.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 31, 2015 at 13:53 | Comments (0)

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Sunday 12.27.15

Ellsworth Kelly the Universal Naturalist

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Ellsworth Kelly 1923-2015

"The things I'm interested in have always been there." -Ellsworth Kelly (1967) from Ellsworth Kelly: A Retrospective, ex cat. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum p.17

We have lost a great one in Ellsworth Kelly as the New York Times, NPR and Guardian report. For so long I have considered him the greatest living painter... and frankly, I don't feel like picking a replacement. For me Ellsworth Kelly is simply the last greatest living painter? Like many over achievers he had a difficult mother, loved to climb trees as a youth (emulating Audubon in observing birds) and was among a group of artists (along with Agnes Martin, James Rosenquist, Robert Indiana & Jasper Johns) that set up their lofts in the cliffs of Lower Manhattan in the 50's. I don't think of him as s figurative or abstract artist so much as a universal naturalist driven by close observation of his environment.

Obituaries and essays keep coming in, even a day later. I like these by the Washington Post, LA Times and these by friends like Jerry Saltz & Peter Plagens.

... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 27, 2015 at 18:20 | Comments (0)

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Saturday 12.19.15

Weekend Picks

The year is winding down so there are fewer events but the "Progressive" art galleries of Portland's downtown are having a little gallery crawl party today. I suggest starting at Melanie Flood Projects (420 SW Washington #301) from 3-5PM today. Bring food for the Oregon Food Bank.

...and from 5-8PM today there is a closing reception for Erik Geschke's Amalgam show at the North View Gallery. One of the best shows of the year.

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Jamison/Thomas 1985 area view

Last but not least there is a wrap party for the Jamison/Thomas 1985 redux exhibition at Jeffrey Thomas Fine Art. We normally don't shill for fundraisers but this silent auction supports the William Jamison Scholarships at PNCA (education is the one exception for our no fundraising rule). Overall, the exhibition has that incredible atavistic energy you saw in the 1980's. This timewarp show has all that high and low maelstrom, marinated in a punchbowl spiked with many things that still aren't legal.

Jamison/Thomas 1985
Closing Reception: December 19th 4-6PM
Jeffrey Thomas Fine Art
2219 NW Raleigh

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 19, 2015 at 13:33 | Comments (0)

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Thursday 12.17.15

2015 top 10 posts by the #'s

Well, it is that time of the year again and instead of yet another arbitrary and abbreviated list we at PORT like to start off with sheer unadulterated mathematics.

So, without further ado here is list of our top posts of the year in terms of the eyeballs they have attracted. It is a top 10 for 2015 in no particular order (many are very close to one another) and there are year end surges between now and New Years's eve. (I'll post our full year end survey around January 1 and before that an aggregate review of things we wanted to cover but couldn't fit in).

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PNCA's massive new skylight and helix-like cable system (all photos Jeff Jahn)

The Pacific Northwest College of Art's move to a new headquarters at 511 NW Broadway was the biggest cultural story of the year in Portland and we covered in it two parts. It was rewarding for me personally as PORT was the first media outlet to see the potential for the 511 building and how it could transform the school and city's character. It was heartening to see it all come together and... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 17, 2015 at 11:54 | Comments (0)

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Monday 12.14.15

Monday Links

It is that time of the year again and everyone is doing their best of 2015 lists (PORT waits till just before or after January 1st to really dig into things and make it more than a list). Still, The New York Times and The Guardian are already making their lists. Jerry Saltz too. To my eyes, early 2015 seemed like a year where an impulse of "kill the King" reigned... where every major art impresario from Klaus Biesenbach to Jerry Saltz & Roberta Smith were thought of as passe. By the end of the year that sentiment had waned and yes it is good to be king... but it is even more important to recognize what gives certain people staying power as cultural voices. The great ones do get complaints, partly because they are great... even Great enough to make mistakes occasionally and STILL matter.

Trolling the art world is a thing and some of this has little basis, some of this is hilariously valid.

Jerry Saltz makes up with MoMA... kinda. It is true that most museums are experiencing a tremendous identity crisis these days trying to balance popular and serious pursuits but the real issue is how well thought out the new MoMA expansion plan will be. MoMA has deservedly received massive blowback for losing their edge and seriousness recently but the new building configuration will cement or correct those errors. Everyone is watching this (Jerry does not sound enthused after seeing the latest designs). This is all the more important since the Whitney and Metropolitan are both poised to usurp MoMA's place in NYC (and the world's) in the hierarchy of relevance. The thing is other museum's tend to follow their lead but I'm not convinced any of them are on the right track. Museums are in a difficult position as they occupy that difficult place between patronage, populism and relevance, the last seems to consistently get the short straw because the quality of and institutional trust in curatorial expertise has been slipping.

OPB did an exit interview with Tom Manley but it doesn't tell us much other than he did not seek out Antioch, they invited him to apply. PORT broke the story locally (even before PNCA) but it was strangely quiet when it was announced he was leaving the city. It was also incredibly wrong because Tom was the single most influential leader in Portland over the past 12 years... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 14, 2015 at 1:18 | Comments (0)

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Friday 12.11.15

Erik Geschke's Amalgam

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Detail of Erik Geschke's Arena (2015), all photos Jeff Jahn

At the end of the year there is always at least one really worthwhile exhibition that sneaks in before the calendar runs out. Currently, there are lots of fine iterative exhibitions that present incremental artistic strides in Portland right now but Erik Geschke's Amalgam at PCC Sylvania is the most satisfying. In no small part this is because Amalgam gives us the real scope of Geschke's recent work, allowing us to explore and absorb his somewhat twisted practice in multifaceted detail... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 11, 2015 at 15:51 | Comments (0)

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Wednesday 12.09.15

Tammy Rae Carland Lecture

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Tammy Rae Carland

As one of the artists in the excellent Alien She exhibition at PNCA and MoCC Tammy Rae Carland will discuss her multifaceted role as a voice for the more recent versions of feminism. Whether it is photography (sometimes for bands like Bikini Kill), zines or video art distribution she's been a force.

Tammy Rae Carland Lecture | December 10, 6:30 - 8:00PM
PNCA (Mediatheque)
511 NW Broadway

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 09, 2015 at 10:45 | Comments (0)

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Monday 12.07.15

Monday Links

We are just putting the finishing touches on a review for you. Till then here are some links.

Kenny Schachter dishes on ABMB in a way that isn't just anecdotal fluff. But no, art history survives this because that is what history is... the survival of what mattered or will matter.

Martin Puryear is one of those artists whose work seems to have always existed... yet it is made. There is poetic genius in that kind of approach.

Christian Viveros-Faune on why Art Basel Miami Beach puts the cart before the horse then kicks the horse. True that this has been written a million times but this article gets at the meat of the matter.

An idiosyncratic curator who likes to call herself "a director" because it is "more modest." Ok, I can't buy that but I do like the other aspects of her approach, which is mostly about giving artists what they need rather than the other way around.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 07, 2015 at 1:06 | Comments (0)

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Thursday 12.03.15

First Thursday Picks December 2015

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Within Within at Nine Gallery

Jerry Mayer and Ellen George always seem to do something interesting with the Nine Gallery and Within Within featuring 200lbs of colored pearl rice looks like the most promising thing on display during First Thursday.

Within Within | December 3 2015 - January 3 2016
Opening: December 3, 6 - 9PM
Nine Gallery (within Bluesky)
122 NW 8th Avenue



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Melody Owen is one of those artists whose work is strongest when it seems to be the stuff of waking dreams... familiar yet surreal. Her Ever Drifting exhibition with its conifers and boats looks like a great holiday installation at W+K. More Portland buildings with extensive and often under used lobbies should partner with artists like this.

Ever Drifting | December 3 - 23, 2015
Opening reception: December 3 6-9PM
Wieden + Kennedy
224 NW 13th Ave



... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 03, 2015 at 14:05 | Comments (0)

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