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Saturday 01.27.18

Last Chance: Wyeth family reunion at PAM

Andrew Wyeth, On The Edge (2001)

This weekend is your last chance to catch The Wyeths: Three Generations at the Portland Art Museum, which feels more like a family gathering than a museum survey of the Wyeths. Frankly, that is exactly what this is, a family reunion ...and it is very 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 exhibition 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 Wyeth, whose painting of empty adirondack chairs sums it all up. Family, it is a thing...

The Wyeths: Three Generations | October 7 - January 28, 2018
Portland Art Museum
1219 SW Park Ave

Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 27, 2018 at 9:33 | Comments (0)


Tuesday 01.09.18

1st items of 2018

Earlier today, Nick Fish and the Portland City Council unveiled its preliminary working report on what the city could do to preserve and expand, "Affordable Arts Space in Portland," you can read it here. First of all, we've been calling for many of these things for more than a decade here, here, here and here. The thing is the art community now has City Hall's attention since Portland's identity as an cultural tourist destination is at risk to rising costs. So yes, a clearinghouse of spaces and incentives is crucial. I'm also glad the cultural liasson position is coming back to City Hall, I made use of it when we did the Donald Judd conference. The thing is the "corner" that Portland needs to turn isnt just about affordability. Technically, Portland cant roll itself back to the dirt cheap days. Instead, it needs to reframe this discussion not just as a return to affordability but as a more pro-active and assertive use of its support resources for cultural use. That means getting the resources (money, spaces, prestige awards and networking) into the right hands and for reasons that raise expectations. Portland is frankly terrible at being serious about support even when its clearly a big deal (think "Portland Polite" and "humble brag" rather than recognition of achievement). Instead, there is an infantilism around the discussion of cultural support. In fact, there is a kid's photo as the first image on the report. Culture creates serious careers, roles and spaces, why the kid photo? Also, of all the stake holders listed there is no active working artist advisory group and most in the visual arts scene dont know anything about this 2 year to date project. Frankly, that's like forming an action plan for getting resources to doctors without asking doctors what they need. Yes, other cities have done similar things, but Portland has some unique challenges and it will take local know how to make it effective in implementation (hint not the same old). Still, this is great news and I have been repairing a topical and very long think piece I hope to get published here soon. This new arts plan is is a needed step in the right direction but it needs to be reframed from "Affordability" to a one of distributing effective support for the brightest lights... because those are the people Portland needs to keep. Just supporting quirkiness isn't enough when resources get scarce and ever more crucial. Currently many outdated practices form barriers that have no place in 2018. February 15th will be the next time the Council meets on this and I'll have an article that goes far beyond the City Council's scope... though it is a crucial pies of the benign neglect policy the city has pursued until now. This is about Portland keeping its edge and cometitive advantage against other cities, that requires a few new moves that I'll get into later.

The Met is now Charging admission, especially for those who are visiting NYC and the critics at the New York times hate it. It smacks of elitist class warfare and puts the museum in the crosshairs of the massive income inequality issue. Not good, all major museums are trying to negotiate this issue and the Met just wiped out on this wave.

On the same topic, Hyperallergic interviews the Met's Director who tries very hard to do damage control... but it reminds me of some uncle caught in a nerf battle between 10 kids on Christmas morning.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 09, 2018 at 14:35 | Comments (0)


Thursday 01.04.18

First Thursday January 2018 Picks

Robert Frank, Santa Fe - New Mexico, from the book The Americans

He's ultra influential and considered by many to be one of the father's of street photography but Robert Frank's work is rarely seen. To remedy this situation Frank and Gerhard Steidl concieved of a travelling exhibition of photos, books, and films. Rather than as ultra precious objects Frank's images are printed on sheets of newsprint and hung on the walls or from the ceiling. This is one not to be missed.

Robert Books and Films 1947 - 2018 | January 4 - February 25
First Thursday Reception: January 4, 6-8PM
Blue Sky
122 NW 8th

... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 04, 2018 at 14:51 | Comments (0)

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