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Tuesday 10.31.17

End of October links

Hyperallergic looks at the Istanbul Biennial... exploring what makes a good neighbor (in the Middle east, ugh). Interesting how the smaller biennials seem to get how art needs to relate to the unspoken things that grease the wheels of our world. The work itself?... a tad too illustrative and reliant on cues that it is contemporary art, but I'm not expecting bold moves.

Most any intellectual worthy of the word has found Artforum of the past 20+ years to be a an avoidable style guide for looking like the boorish art inteligencia... and should applaud that the magazine is vowing to turn over a new leaf after its former head stepped down in scandal. Now David Velasco is the new Editor in Chief. Congrats to David who has contributed to PORT in the past!

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Posted by Jeff Jahn on October 31, 2017 at 19:39 | Comments (0)

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Thursday 10.26.17

All Hallows Picks

True, every day in Portland is Halloween... so I dont particularly celebrate it other than as an excuse to explore that which humanity has a tenuous understanding of. Still, artists are the masters of the kind of exploration... here are my picks of the best things to see during this holiday.

Noh2_JG.jpg
photo: Yamazaki Kenji

The Portland Japanese Garden is one of our premier cultural gems and the latest exhibition Mirrors of the Mind: The Noh Masks of Ohtsuki Kokun is perhaps the ultimate exploration of sophisticated mask creation. Noh masks are incredibly subtle as they are meant to be animated by the slightest turn transforming mild into sly and the demonic into loyal or honorable in the hands of a capable actor. This gives Noh masks an otherworldly aspect that draws viewers into a kind of phantasmagorical understanding/experience of why and how faces convey complex meaning through manipulation of light and posture. Master mask maker Ohtsuki Kokun elevates what in the USA has been thought of as merely an entertaining past time into something more sublime and hard to pin down. Certainly these mask reflects on a place of shadow where humanity dwells and communicates... masks can reveal the ghost in the machine. On top of that the Garden in Fall is simply outstanding.

Mirrors of the Mind: The Noh Masks of Ohtsuki Kokun | October 14 - December 3rd
Portland Japanese Garden
611 SW Kingston Ave



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Bill Will, House of Mirrors

What could be more frightening than the state of the USA at the moment? (Ok there are worse moments in human history so lets hope things arent heading there). To that end perhaps no Portland artist illustrates the risks that have always been present than Bill Will. Will is one of Portland's biggest trickster satirist installation artists and in times like these what could be more appropriate than a lil art sideeye? Funhouse at the Hoffman Gallery is just what we need, a reminder of just how wrong we have always been as a nation. The entire menagerie of installations themselves form a funhouse with a specific route of whirling twirling theatricality that the viewer completes as a participant... predictably ending in a gift shop.

Funhouse | September 10 - December 10
Ronna and Eric Hoffman Gallery of Contemporary Art
Lewis & Clark College

0615 S.W. Palatine Hill Road


Posted by Jeff Jahn on October 26, 2017 at 18:16 | Comments (0)

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Wednesday 10.18.17

Mid October links and news

With the Weinstein reckoning an artist whose work touches on this reality of abuse has been removed. Should the prophylactic response be used here? Do we remove anything that might be provoking or address inconvenient truths? It certainly wasnt Weinstein-enabling, if anything it addressed his type of behavior when others wert gym curator re turning a blind eye. Earlier this year Sam Durant's piece at the Walker made sense to remove... those gallows were simply like dancing on graves though it worked when initially shown at Documenta (why was the Walker so tone deaf and not understand that it worked in Europe but not the USA?). The difference here is the Hollywood day bed was more nuanced... perhaps too much for a retail setting but that's popular culture failure not the artist's or the work's. True freedom requires dissent and the mainstream left can cause greater harm to itself by by policing culture and general dissent. As a critic I try to engineer pressure points where the inconvenient is foregrounded and to try to drive these upsetting things back into the background is a kind of censorship.

The Art Gym names Ashley Stull Meyers as its new Director and curator. Good that she has a background in marginalized communities... but how is she on dissent? Portland is a city of dissonance but its arts institutions are mostly very safe... rewarding those who sit on panels but not work that causes an uproar or provoke discussion. It is a civic weakness that requires correcting rather than mutual congratulation societies. We wish her well and hope she has the full support of the university as these programs have come under increasing pressure. What's more Portland is a notoriously tough place to fund raise and being new often means 5-10 years of proving yourself.

Artnet asks who the most influential curators were. That's an interesting question, mostly because curators... particularly those at museums have been losing cache (going mostly to directors, most who act like curators but often arent... when they are both the split attention can be a blessing or curse). I wont make a silly top 10 list but here are my picks: My favorite was likely William Rubin (whose time at MoMA explored risk as cultural currency), other MoMA greats like Alfred Barr, Kirk Varnedoe and Robert Storr all matter. Im a fan of Lynne Cooke and I want to name Ann Philbin who is technically a director. Pontus Hulten, Okwui Enwezor, Hans Obrist, Paul Schimmel and the brilliant Walter Hopps come to mind as well. We just dont have that many brilliant curators at major museums any more... they typically act like investment portfolio managers managing risk rather than ... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on October 18, 2017 at 14:30 | Comments (1)

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Saturday 10.07.17

Weekend Picks: domestic edition

AWyeth_On-The-Edge.jpg
Andrew Wyeth, On The Edge (2001)

The Wyeths: Three Generations at the Portland Art Museum feels more like a family gathering than a museum survey... because that is exactly what it is. It is a good thing. Whether you love Andrew Wyeth's bone ghostly landscapes or his masterful wisps of existential hair in hardscrabble Americana or not this exhibition extols a waspy New England generational presence, like a Thanksgiving Day rendezvous with all the familial dramas, humor and warmth simmering underneath. That said, I am an unrepentant Andrew Wyeth fan despite the work never really being couth in Greenbergian... then Artforum circles (a sign he was on to something) and I also grew up appreciating N.C Wyeth's illustrations. All of which contributed to a more fluid appreciation of visual culture that doesnt put artificial barriers up between graphic art and Art. As a family, the Wyeths cover the whole spectrum... but Andrew Wyeth is the great one and the reason there is a traveling exhibion of his family's work. There's a vitality in this filial arrangement. Patriarch N.C. Wyeth has a fantastical bent, Andrew's world is haunted and Jamie brings humor and nature's animus. True, this a lot of waspishness here in a time when all white male Newenglanders are reviled as a kind of LLBean clad Brahman class in the US socio-political landscape but I am a firm believer that no one be they Mexican, Jew, Irish, Italian, Nordic or Hmong should have to apologize for what they are and what their culture brings to the table. There are some truly marvelous works, especially the large Andrew Wyeths that are not behind glass, several N.C. Wyeth oil paintings that became book illustrations and a witty conclusion with Jamie Wyeyth, whose painting of empty adirondak chairs sums it all up. Make certain to stream Victoria Wyeth's sold out talk on Sunday on PAM's Facebook page (It wont be archived so you have to watch it real time)... Victoria is a hoot and really brings the family history into perspective.

The Wyeths: Three Generations | October 7 - January 28, 2018
Granddaughter talk: October 8th 2PM
Portland Art Museum
1219 SW Park Ave


Coded_Albumen.jpg

The latest show at Indivsisble, Coded Albumen, features artists Bukola Koiki and Angelica MarĂ­a Millan Lozano. The work explores the way immigrant women have always been crucial instigators of political action though code. Just to restate the obvious I love how Indivisble brings art into a domestic space and in many ways this is what contemporary art at the institutional level has lacked... a sense of extraordinary connection to everyday life... hopefully this latest show at Indivisble distills this important thread...

Coded Albumen | October 7-28
Reception: October 7, 6-9PM
October 14, 21, 28, noon to 5PM, and by appointment.
Indivisible
2544 SE 26th Ave

Posted by Jeff Jahn on October 07, 2017 at 9:35 | Comments (1)

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Thursday 10.05.17

First Thursday October 2017 Picks

Calvin_wuss_Carl_Russo_Lee_sm.jpg
Calvin Ross Carl is one of those bright spot artists in Portland who effortlessly combines design and art into the restless tensions of the age. His latest works at Russo Lee Gallery titled, "I am here till I am not," are perhaps his most realized to date, combining the exciting patter work of years ago with the hipster sloganeering of his recent series. It seems to have deepened, becoming both abstract and poetic, not just merely cool and positioned. He's maturing into something special, not just the latest pop-spoit-splainer.

I am here till I am not | October 5 - 28th
Russo Lee Gallery
805 NW 21st



Maxi_ESL.jpg
The final exhibition for Compliance Division is Maximiliano's drwned cities. Maximiliano is one of my favorite new Portland artists and always has an incisive take on gender, fashion and identity. Too bad it is Compliance Division's last show but it is best to go out strong and Everett Station Loft Galleries are always turning over. 2-5 years is all that can be expected of them and Compliance Division has been memorable.

drwned cities | October 5th 6-9PM
Compliance Division
NW 6th between Everett and Flanders, #101





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Posted by Jeff Jahn on October 05, 2017 at 13:07 | Comments (0)

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