For the past year or so I've noticed that First Thursdays have been waning as other parts of Portland have frankly been more ambitious and noticeably fresher than our main gallery enclave in Northwest Portland's Pearl and Old Town districts. This is partially due to the fact that smaller galleries everywhere have had it tougher as mega galleries have ruled the universe. Obviously, Portland has no mega-galleries and that is part of our charm.
Well, this May's First Thursday looks like it is back with a vengeance serving up perhaps the freshest and most ambitious collection of exhibition receptions in perhaps a decade (anchors like PNCA and the U of O are in full effect after lots of changes but there is depth everywhere). What's more, not a single traditional media exhibition makes the cut. Nothing against them (obviously) but no oil paintings or cast metal sculpture are to be found on this list... we did that last month with 2 out of the 3 I picked
. Another trend in may is women who are not academics or graduates of local art schools also making themselves felt. (Both new media and non academically affiliated females as groups are routinely and embarrassingly ignored in regional art awards... if you want an award over 5K prize one typically has to be a man, do traditional media work and or have some tie to a larger local art school as an alum or faculty). This is simply wrong as many of the ignored artists have national/international careers and frequently education from more elite schools. It makes us look clubby and closed minded, when in fact Portland has a very international, otherwise supportive and porous scene with excellent variety of traditional and cutting edge media.
Ellen George, Untitled (Elemental 14) at PDX Contemporary
It has been a while since we have experienced a solo show from Ellen George... one of the most interesting and lyrical artists on the West Coast. Her latest titled May looks like another tour de force
. Specializing in something akin to manageable installation art, few artists can claim to be as consistently excellent and poetically graceful as Ellen George.
May | May 3 - 28
925 NW Flanders
Memory Theater at Upfor
Installation art at PADA galleries is understandably rare but Upfor has taken on new media work like few west coast galleries. Their latest is
Srijon Chowdhury's Memory Theater. According to the PR the artist, "reimagines 16th century inventor Giullio Camillo's theory of The Memory Theater, a universal storage and retrieval device. His invention, veiled in the occult and hermetics, was a radical shift in the philosophy of memory from the scholastic to the organic—a memory geared to the universe (Frances A. Yates, The Art of Memory, 1966)." It is a lovely installation and further pushes Portland towards accepting installation art at the institutional level... will there be collectors both private and institutional?
Memory Theater | April 13 - May 28th
929 NW Flanders
Eva Lake, Torso 24
It took decades but 6 years ago Eva Lake broke out and went international (PORT was there first to point out that she was doing something very important)
. Her latest at Augen called Fashion Items continues here exploration of women as iconic landscape through collage (once a disparaged 3rd tier medium, not hot). In this case she presents just the clothes and the formalities these forms connote.
Fashion Items | May 5 - 28
Diane Jacobs' Homage at W+K's gallery looks back and forward to the legendary Amazons.
"In a world where violence against women is rampant and women's reproductive rights are subjugated, Jacobs found solace in reading Adrienne Mayor’s book The Amazons: Lives & Legends of Warrior Women Across the Ancient World. In the book she unravels the myths associated with the Amazons and offers evidence that sheds light on the warrior queens’ legacy. The skilled horse riders wore trousers, adorned themselves with tattoos, invented ironworking, and fought valiantly using recurve bows, battle-axes, slings and lassos. Jacobs' intention for her exhibition is to pay tribute to these Scythian heroes—a paean—to their ability to honor and respect individual strength as well as foster communal wisdom.
Homage | May 5 - 27, 2016
Opening reception: may 5 6-9PM
Wieden + Kennedy
224 NW 13th Ave
Still from Julia Oldham's How To Escape a Black Hole at the U of O Portland
Julia Oldham is doing some very interesting video work involving animation and was one of our favorites last year
. Her latest work, How to Escape a Black Hole continues her interest in outer space, empathy and myth as part of a 3 person show titled Optique in the grey box portion of the gallery. Definitely, make the trek on down to the U of O Campus (beneath the Made in Oregon sign).
How to Escape a Black Hole | May 5 - 28, 2015
Opening Reception December 5, 6PM - 8PM
White Box (University of Oregon Portland Campus)
24 NW 1st Ave
Habitats (installation view), Styrobot (bg) Michael Salter, Alvarium (fg) Laura Fritz
We are giving everyone another chance to catch Habitats
, perhaps the most "multi" of new media art exhibitions in recent Portland art history this also takes place at the University of Oregon Portland, just down the hall from White Box). I offer no apologies as PORT is a sponsor and I'm a co-curator but its a big production with virtual reality, drones, hypothetical human organs, hacked video games, lots of projectors, a digital honey beehive installation, a giant robot, a hacked video game and what has become a ghostly memorial to the recently slain OR-4 wolf. People should see it as it treats all forms of media and craft (digital or otherwise as equal. You can see images of Habitats here
. The point being we all inhabit whatever media we are using and interacting with... the distinction of handmade or electronic media is old fashioned so we draw no distinctions and hopefully shows a way forward for the art scene dialogically.
Habitats | April 14- May 14
Light Court Commons
70 NW Couch St. (White Box gallery hallway works too)
University Of Oregon, Portland
PNCA as one of the main Fisrt Thursday anchors have numerous things going on
including pop art master James Rosenquist but the show I most wish I could see is the 1 night only projection art heavy Eco Void, comprised of new media students.
Eco Void | May 5th 6-8PM
511 NW Broadway
A young painter who gives the canvas a twist, Morgan Buck, is someone Ive been keeping an eye on. A recent OCAC grad his work challenges support as form and surface. It is always good to check out what the new talent is up to.
Morgan Buck | Crumple paintings
Opening Reception: May 5th 7-9PM
1100 NW Glisan, Ste B2