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Saying goodby to 2016
Mid December Links
Interview With Blake Byrne
Grace Kook-Anderson appointed Curator of Northwest Art
U of O plans to close White Box
First Thursday Picks December 2016

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Saturday 12.31.16

Saying goodby to 2016

As a year end exercise let's look at PORT's most read posts of 2016. It says a lot about Portland and the international audience that PORT reaches.

[About PORT] Recently I was reminded that PORT needs to remind people how and why we do what we do because PORT is innovative (forgive us if Ive repeated this but not everyone knows the spiel). Standard stuff, PORT reaches an enormous # of readers each year (over 1.5 million unique ones annually) and with 2016 being so tumultuous our readers turned to us to give the context that our depth, experience and prescience offers. Stylistically we purposefully avoid being an uninvolved observer (the province of the rapidly dying world of journalism) and instead adhere to the sense of being an on site historical observer and interlocutor (ala Herodotus, Baudelaire and a lot of art criticism out of London over the past 25 years). . . .

It is my belief that true understanding doesn't come through consensus but rather through being intellectually curious about the perceptually divergent mechanisms that inform dissent and consent. PORT thanks our readers and sponsors who make this effort possible. [End wonky digression]

That said, here are our 13 most read posts of 2016. In no particular order, these articles collectively paint a very interesting picture of Portland's art scene in 2016. I'll publish a more probing review as 2017 begins (yes things like institutional shifts at the Japanese Garden, PNCA, Portland building, James Beard Public Market and The Portland Art Museum etc. will get the space they deserve) ... till then chew on these:

Installation view: The Human Hybrid at PNCA's 511 Gallery (from the Collection of Jordan D. Schnitzer's Family Foundation)

2016 Was definitely a year for the ladies and Victor Maldonado's interview with Wangechi Mutu was insightful. We did a lot of prep for this, bringing in anthropological subjects and in particular I felt that Victor and Wangechi would have intersecting experiences as foreigners from syncretic cultures who attended elite art schools in the USA. The exercise did not disappoint.

Littman Gallery, PSU. 9/9/2016 for Ben Glas' Inging (Variation3)

... (more including Rothko, Warhol, Amazons, New Media and Blake Byrne)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 31, 2016 at 10:44 | Comments (0)


Thursday 12.15.16

Mid December Links

It is mid December, which means the typical year end lists are making their rounds (Ill do a list of our most viewed posts soon and then a more substantial post as a look back later).

Christopher Knight's picks in the LA Times certainly look like a great Best Of list for the entire country, even though it is LA focused.

The Guardian's 2016 American art list didn't seem to get to LA or the west Coast at all... Um, considering the # of Brits on vacation on the West Coast I'm pretty sure we arent a flyover situation.

Jerry Saltz did his thing as did Roberta Smith + Holland Cotter in the NYT's... New York is is still king because they simply have more long standing career art critics and overall care about critical reception more than any other place, except perhaps London.

Speaking of critical thinking this poorly titled piece about Art World creating Donald Trump is the most useful thing Ive read since the election.

For those who really want to use Keirkegaard to understand the dark places of the internet that did partially spawn Trump this piece offers some useful contexts. Artists go to these places and have been for some time but the art World isn't really paying attention to them very much (yet).

The Oakland fire has lead to a crackdown on those crucial warehouse spaces that artists thrive in. I'm curious what Portland Commissioner Nick Fish thinks, he's calling for a committee but will it include people with real insight? Will it dig deep? So far only PICA's Precipice Fund, which just announced its 2016 awardees (I was one of the four panelists) has really has targeted the issues. The arts thrive best with non-linear thinking and actions... something government granting in Oregon has had difficulties supporting and our major art awards generally seem to favor very conservative approaches and outcomes. It must change if Portland is to retain its advantage as a hub of new ideas and ways.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 15, 2016 at 18:18 | Comments (0)


Friday 12.09.16

Interview With Blake Byrne

Blake Byrne is one of the greatest art collectors in the the country but its his approach and wonderful attitude towards collecting that makes his Open This End exhibition at Lewis and Clark College so invigorating. Speaking with him I got a sense of how art can and does exist beyond the cynicism of the age, bringing us back to core conversations about living on this planet together. Through sharing this collection and the philanthropy of his Skylark Foundation Portlanders have had a rare opportunity to get to know this one time resident. The exhibition consists of established masters like Warhol, Acconci, Kippenberger, Martin, Richter, Kelley and Nauman as well as younger artist like Wangechi Mutu, Marlene Dumas, Jennifer Steinkamp and Kehinde Wiley but its the vitality of discussion that shines through. Mr. Byrne is that rare collector who becomes a patron early in an artists career... he also owns works by some of my favorite Portland artists like Ellen George and DE May. We had a spirited discussion about life and art.

Blake Byrne with Kehinde Wiley's Saint John the Baptist II

Jeff Jahn: I dont know if you have been able to travel to see this exhibition in Portland yet but part of what I am intending to do by conducting this interview in the gallery is to at least give you a vicarious sense of others looking at what you have so graciously ... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 09, 2016 at 13:07 | Comments (0)


Thursday 12.08.16

Grace Kook-Anderson appointed Curator of Northwest Art

Grace Kook-Anderson

The Portland Art Museum has announced that Grace Kook-Anderson will be the next Arlene and Harold Schnitzer Curator of Northwest Art. Congratulations are in order as the position is the chief connector of PAM's curatorial program to the very active art scene. There is a challenge inherent in this as the Museum is somewhat disconnected from the more cutting edges of a nationally and internationally active local scene, often doing a better job of focusing on Seattle and Montana than its own back yard. Challenges are a good thing and it seems like PAM is aware of them because Grace's background seems to address these issues.

The Museum's statement:

"I am thrilled by the appointment of Grace Kook-Anderson as the Arlene and Harold Schnitzer Curator of Northwest Art," said Brian Ferriso, the Portland Art Museum's director and chief curator. "Grace's highly regarded tenure as the Curator of Contemporary Art at the Laguna Art Museum, coupled with her recent work in Portland as...(more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 08, 2016 at 12:00 | Comments (0)


Monday 12.05.16

U of O plans to close White Box

Breaking news, PORT received word that the University of Oregon plans to close its wonderful White Box exhibition space in Portland after this school year. Curator Cris Moss will carry out programming through June 2017. Another institutional change is that the John Yeon Center will be directed by core faculty members and not Randy Gragg as it is now. Overall, it seems like a very rash decision that hurts the U of O's reputation as a serious art school since the White Box is one of the premier exhibition spaces in the State of Oregon. It also gives the school legitimate roots in the very vibrant Portland art scene. They should reconsider, as it will damage the school's reputation immensely by shuttering it without exhausting every avenue (not just AA&A's very Eugene-centric avenues). Earlier this year we helped lead the outside charge to successfully save PSU's Littman gallery from administrative undersight. Big schools have silos and galleries usually are at the short end od most budgetary sticks, despite the fact that they are major connectors to the community and the good will/resources they bring.

The current Christopher Michlig exhibition at White Box through December 10, 2016

All of this is very sad news and puts the U of O's Portland Campus commitments into question. Disclosure, I have a long history with the White Box, co-curating the Donald Judd exhibition and conference in 2010. It was one of the first shows there and of the very highest caliber. This past April Cris and I co-curated the extremely adventurous Habitats multi-media exhibition so I have a lot of insight into how things are in that building. The current Christopher Michlig show was one of my picks for First Thursday this month and indicates how highly myself and others consider this exhibition space's role in the community. This is terrible news as Cris is among the most thoughtful, adventurous and rigorous curators in Oregon.

The Dean of the School of Allied Arts and Architecture Christof Lindner's statement was, "White Box has served as a valuable extension of A&AA's academic mission in Portland for the past seven years. We are particularly thankful for Cris Moss' contributions in ... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 05, 2016 at 17:08 | Comments (0)


Thursday 12.01.16

First Thursday Picks December 2016

Cauleen Smith at PNCA's 511 gallery

Recently the list of Whitney Biennial artists came out and Cauleen Smith, whose show Asterisms... currently on display at PNCA is one of them. Now, Im not exactly wild about the WB list and have my misgivings about this show which according to the artist, "collects, arranges, projects, and draws connections between bodies unrelated, which together, create space and place. Objects from the collection of the Museum of Contemporary Craft intermingle with objects from the artist’s own personal collection to create the mise-en-scene for cinemascapes that require an a curious and slow-looking eye." (seems strained and MoCC collection feels strained. Still, I like the fact this is a new media show. Besides, it is a sneak peek at everyone's favorite group show train wreck in the Spring and frankly I like going to shows that I am deeply skeptical of. Art simply isn't about seeing your ideas and values reflected back upon you, though that's part of my criticism of this work so have a look and see what you think?

Asterisms | November 3 - January 6, 2017
First Thursday: December 1, 6:00-8:00PM
PNCA (511 Gallery)
511 NW Broadway


Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 01, 2016 at 15:10 | Comments (0)

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