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Brexit thoughts
Ethan Rose + Parallel Studio as Houseguests
Construction update: Portland Japanese Garden
PNCA's new President Don Tuski
Monday links and news
Hot Picks June 2016
First Thursday June 2016 Picks
Matthew Barney's River of Fundament at NWFC

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Monday 06.27.16

Brexit thoughts


The Brexit vote sent shockwaves everywhere last week, how will it effect the art world? Better question which art world? There isnt just one.

In the short term it puts Great Britain in question as the cultural center of Europe for sure... will Scotland leave? Will there be another vote? More likely will there be a chance for a counter offer from the EU to trigger another vote? Certainly the world uncertainty has a clearer face after the vote.

Here is what Artnet had to say about the Brexit. Many artists like Damien Hirst, Anish Kapoor and Wolfgang Tillmans campaigned for the IN vote. The arts always suffer from reactionary sentiments. I suspect Great Britain will renegotiate but till then expect young contemporary art to be seen as riskier than it was and older history book art will become even more of a hedge against uncertainty. Short term, it certainly isn't good for living artists and such things tend to embolden reactionaries... not a good thing for anyone who isn't interested in consolidating power. In the USA everyone is anxious about what might come next.

Look for more artwork that explores uncertainty and those that try to explore the roots of reactionary impulses.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on June 27, 2016 at 16:07 | Comments (0)


Thursday 06.23.16

Ethan Rose + Parallel Studio as Houseguests


The Houseguest public art series for Pioneer Courthouse Square, aka "Portland's Livingroom", is showing great promise with their latest project by sound artist Ethan Rose and Parallel Studio titled, Exchange. Described as, "a contemporary, interactive sound and light experience.... 'Exchange' invites passersby to create their own sonic performance through movement.... The work draws from a new technological future that is shaping the city, while recounting Portland's history of intimate scale and small city connectedness."

I love the idea of an interactive outdoor sculpture space (at night) and it will only exist for 3 days. Also, with a serious budget of 25k per project it also gives artists the respect and resources they require rather than trying to fund as many artists as possible with a meager amount.

Exchange | June 24-26, 2016 (free)
Friday 6PM-12AM, Saturday 9PM-12AM, and Sun

Posted by Jeff Jahn on June 23, 2016 at 15:49 | Comments (0)


Saturday 06.18.16

Construction update: Portland Japanese Garden

The Portland Japanese Garden's Kengo Kuma designed cultural village expansion is easily the most ambitious cultural building project the city of Portland has seen since Pietro Belluschi designed the Portland Art Museum in 1932. You can also read our extensive interview with Kuma-san here.

The buildings wont be complete until 2017 but here is a view of the Portland Japanese Garden's exciting new cultural village expansion. By expanding the grounds, the garden area itself wont be forced to absorb all of the 300,000+ annual visitors like a tsunami... instead allowing capacity staging in the village all while experiencing; a new tea house, class rooms, galleries for the permanent collection, a library and several new types of gardens all of which expand the garden into a center for Japanese culture.


... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on June 18, 2016 at 12:21 | Comments (0)


Thursday 06.09.16

PNCA's new President Don Tuski

Don Tuski PNCA's new President (Photo Mike Weymouth) this is an image Portlanders will like...

PNCA has a new president, Don Tuski, from the Maine College of Art. Tuski's record at MeCA indicates a deepening commitment to documentary studies and the largest gift he brought in was 3 million dollars, the largest in that school's history (though not huge esp. by East Coast standards). He seems eager to embrace PNCA's fluid culture of design and art without a lot of barbed wire, that is a good thing as Portland's greatest asset is its opportunities for change married to being a leader in 21st century ethics.

His predecessor Tom Manley was a friend and we had some long brainstorming sessions on growth strategies for the school but Tuski has inherited some challenges. By absorbing the Museum of Contemporary Craft and recently dissolving it serious blowback has occurred. Also, the education industry wide problem of relying heavily on underpaid and under appreciated adjuncts has also caused strife but where PNCA and Portland are different is the school is expected to find a solution for this gargantuan problem (answer = endowments for teaching positions, also very rare today).

In many ways PNCA has moved very far and very quickly...... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on June 09, 2016 at 10:00 | Comments (0)


Monday 06.06.16

Monday links and news

Bullseye Glass and the State of Oregon have reached an agreement. This is good as Bullseye is a part of the arts economy, while at the same time the kinds of materials that were being vented into the air were simply unacceptable. The problem was relaxed regulation of most industries and there are plenty of other industrial air quality polluters in the city that have also been exploiting the same loopholes (hopefully this gets addressed and soon). For example, Overlook neighborhood residents hope that enforcement is uniform.

At age 70, Mary Heilmann's career is red hot, but why does it take so long for many females? Retrospectives for women are rarer and prevailing wisdom in museums always tends to follow patronage money rather than taste and importance... not having many critics to assess that makes it twice as hard.

Do art spaces = gentrification?... often yes but that's like shooting the messenger. It can also work in reverse, like PICA's new home. The question in Portland is creating funding sources that support formal arts entities when informal ones are out-priced. Formalizing affordability for artists is the key but that takes serious know how as the people who did Milepost 5 (they kinda stumbled through it and it takes a bit more cultural seeding).

The best editor I ever had was Karen Wright (back in Modern Painter's excellent London days) and she thinks the Turner Prize needs to be more substantial and less a series of affected ploys. I agree with her, though Portland has the opposite problem... much of our discourse is mired in hobbled and antiquated discussions of craft that dont acknowledge the skills in computers, other tech and design or that somewhat irritating aspect of art that drives people crazy... some call it "edge". Besides skill alone doesn't truly make art powerful, it takes a sense of an "edge of understanding"... rather than the ploy of being edgy. Having a true edge seems to embody and encapulate the flux between the known and unknown. In Portland our talking points often scratch at craft, the environment and often a very token discussion of diversity, whereas challenging male Mexican artists or anyone with and incisive edge are far too threatening to show with the group or be given awards (Hallie Ford Fellowships and CNAA's to name names). Portland and London could and should have more exchanges as both places have excellent international art scenes.... Portland is full of weird woodshedders and London is full of people who are unapologetic about being unapologetic (aka the antidote to the humble brag).

Posted by Jeff Jahn on June 06, 2016 at 15:24 | Comments (0)


Saturday 06.04.16

Hot Picks June 2016

Portland has record breaking heat this weekend, here are the coolest things to check out:

Installation view of a Clyfford Still painting and models of the Still Museum at PAM

Brad Cloepfil and his firm Allied Works Architecture are the most notable building design firm from Portland Oregon... leading Portlands transformative path from architectural underachievers to an emerging design capital. It is great that the Portland Art Museum is presenting this exhibition chronicling past and current projects. Unlike most architecture model exhibition it isnt merely models but a kind of catalog of material/spatial test cases that the firm uses to understand and design structures developed with an inherent and essential understanding that arose from playing with these materials and spaces. What's more the models have mostly been displayed in wunderkammern display cabinets... making the viewer's experience more intimate and playful as one discovers the architect's own discovery process.

PORT has covered Brad's career extensively... perhaps more so than any other publication has, here are some of the major pieces: Interview's part 1 and 2 reviews of the PNCA's 511 part 1 and 2, Sokol Blosser winery and an early exhibition at PDX Contemporary, whose galleries they designed.

There will also be a talk on Sunday June 5th and we are curious how this exhibition might influence any expansion plans the museum might have in the near future... currently the museum does not make good relationship to the South Park Blocks.

Case Work | June 4 - September 5th 2016
Opening Talk: June 5th 2 - 3PM
Portland Art Museum
1219 SW Park


Posted by Jeff Jahn on June 04, 2016 at 11:35 | Comments (0)


Thursday 06.02.16

First Thursday June 2016 Picks

Last month's shows were so good that June feels like going back to school, literally.

I may be Portland's toughest critic but there is no beating what the King School is up to today... the kids just upstaged the Pearl District's art offerings. Today, the King School Museum of Contemporary Art presents That's Old School, "a guided tour and exhibit based on interviews with Steve Willis, the head of school maintenance and an alumni of King School."

I love this... these will be guided "museum tours" where visitors will experience the King school through the eyes of the maintenance staff, and learn evolution from past into present. King students will conduct the tours during the opening reception on June 2. Leave it to kids to make social practice MFA's seem tired. They also just ate the lunch of museums around the world who keep trying to open their experiences to be more porous.

That's Old School | June 2nd
Opening reception 4-6PM
KSMOCA-King School Museum of Contemporary Art
4906 NE 6th Ave

Caitlin Rooney, Do You Like Music

In case you missed the openings a little while ago PNCA's thesis exhibitions at the 511 NW Broadway headquarters and the former MoCC building are still going on. Standouts include Caitlin Rooney's skewering of "art school" fetish of hypocrisy, Anastasia Greer and Brianna Rosen at the 724 NW Davis space and Margaret Parsons, Alexandra Husey, Kanani Miyamoto, Colin Cheong and many others at the 511 building.

PNCA Undergraduate and Graduate Thesis Exhibitions | May 22 - June 17
Reception: Sunday May 22, 2016 6-9PM
Pacific Northwest College of Art
511 NW Broadway (and 724 NW Davis)


Posted by Jeff Jahn on June 02, 2016 at 12:45 | Comments (0)


Wednesday 06.01.16

Matthew Barney's River of Fundament at NWFC

Still from Matthew Barney's River of Fundament (2014)

With the current heat wave Portlanders have an excellent opportunity to wait out the heat while taking in a marathon of screenings of Matthew Barney's River of Fundament. The two part film is an opera-scale cycle involving Norman Mailer, an Egyptian quest for immortality, mixed with an undercurrent of majestic American industry and landscape this is a challenging commitment to watch (for mature audiences). Is Matthew Barney the USA's 21st Century Picasso or a bloated and excessive caricature of himself like Salvador Dali became?

River of Fundament | June 3 - 5 2016
$10 - $25
Northwest Film Center (Whitsell Auditorium)
Portland Art Museum
1219 SW Park

Posted by Jeff Jahn on June 01, 2016 at 12:02 | Comments (0)

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