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Travelogue look back at 2017
Pertinent links
Josh Smith at Northview Gallery
L&CC Faculty Exhibition 2018
Early February Links
Hanakago at the Portland Japanese Garden
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Wednesday 02.28.18

Travelogue look back at 2017

To describe 2017 as the most intense of years does not begin to do it justice. It was a year of upheavals... and the death and births of many things (my father and many others included). 2017 was also the year I logged the largest # of travel miles (all without leaving the USA or even visiting the East Coast from my West Coast base in Portland Oregon). Every time I turned around I was either unpacking or preparing for another sojourn. But now as 2018 is now solidly under way I'd like to revisit many of the most memorable things I saw and why... what is travel after all if you can't think back and take stock?

Richard Serra Prints at Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas Texas

One of the very best things I saw was also one of the first. A Richard Serra print show at the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas. This was the first time 2D work has been displayed in this gallery designed specifically for sculpture. The image above shows just how powerful and ideal it was. Imagine an ivory colored cathedral festooned with black forms that acted almost like music notation on the page... (more)

Stephen Whisler, Walking the Bomb at the 2017 Treenial, Joshua Tree California

Later I visited Joshua Tree California for their Treenial weekend art festival....

The Kerry James Marshall Mastry exhibition at MoCA was extremely memorable.... (more) site_new_santa_fe_sm.jpg We also took in the newly reopened Site Santa Fe designed by SHoP architects. Basically it no longer has the warehouse feel of the old Dave Hickey Beau Monde Biennial and has replaced it with a slicker experience. Its likely more functional... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on February 28, 2018 at 9:36 | Comments (0)


Wednesday 02.21.18

Pertinent links

Jerry Saltz skewers the "woke" biennial. I agree with all of this (and am preparing a response, curatorially). To cut the bull... "liberal elites" still are smelling their own curatorial farts and the more radical segments of Portland's art scene all sneer at academicians and curators who use the word "woke". Despite these being very interesting times (too interesting) is this not a great period of institutional perceptual acuity... and the main problem is one of "chasing the parade." Strong curation in times like these can still follow "issues" but they need to curate against form to keep from coming off like pious careerists. Part of the problem is sytematic since curators have lost their backbone as directors need for "outrage mitigation" have supplanted much of the very pointed curatorial expertise that was in force until recently. Overall, the best ideas right now have deeper roots that are rife with tension, treason and a need to disagree together in the same room. The best ideas dont claim understanding and lack smugness... that pax curatora age is over but most major museums dont understand this. The parts of the art world who get annoyed with Jerry and other real critics miss the message... the art world is not the court illustrator for the liberal elite or an asset class. Art is not the pet of the rich. It is an instrument panel that measures various systems within human civilization... and a lot of things that have been red lining are being ignored (though some venues are wising up like the Art Institute of Chicago's Leigh Ledare show, hint "uncertainty" is the true subject of the day). This whole institutional dampening effect mitigates subtlety... we live in messy times so group shows like the New Museum's Triennial should be a heightened version of that mess... rather than a tip toe tap dance through the tulips. In other words... toughen up and buckle up, this is a bumpy ride age... yet somehow museums are in full ingratiation mode. Curators used to be like great surfers, good at reading and riding risk like the big surf that breaks on the beach. Lately they have become more like lawyers (risk mitigators) concerned with career (hopefully becoming directors) over culture. True some directors are excellent curators but its a hard edged to keep sharp. Museums everywhere are in trouble as the front lines between the haves and have nots and by and large they have an attitude problem... irrespective of them being left or right leaning politically. Overall, it is good that the New Museum engages in this exercise but it is in danger of becoming just like the Whitney Biennial... something that serves an institution more than the culture it supposedly serves. Hyperallegic presents another view... with photos.

The single brightest human being I have ever encountered is Robert Irwin and he has new work up in LA.

Overall, I agree that institutional curators really are not where the action is at anymore... it just seems like a broken system. Independent ones can be a force still though. In particular Id argue that artist/curator/critic combos have always held the greatest fulcrum of leverage on culture. Artists like Kandinsky, Judd, Murakami etc... aren't just measured by their own works. They articulated and presented things that reach farther while their works ground and reaffirm their principles. Its kinda like having a legislature (curatorial) , court (criticiism) and executive branches (artist). Most major institutions have difficulty with multi-modal individuals in the arts and just deal with them 1 element at a time... credit to the Portland Art Museum for doing the John Yeon show last year, which was decent. The David Bowie show that was touring was even better... hopefully I'll get to see it in Brooklyn but I have a feeling it will annoy me, but museum shows arent supposed to be about satisfaction and they arent supposed to be the earliest of adopters. I do know that calling Bowie "woke" seems extra trite and laughable.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on February 21, 2018 at 9:40 | Comments (0)


Monday 02.19.18

Josh Smith at Northview Gallery

Joshua W. Smith at PCC's Northview Gallery

I've always liked Joshua W. Smith's work as one of the best artists to graduate from OCAC he always seemed to walk the tightrope of design and art without getting hung up on the conventions of either one. He lives in LA now but his latest show, Every truth blocks another is a good time to catch up in one of the more interesting gallery spaces in Portland (if mid century brutalism is your thing, and it is definitely Josh's). Not certain if I buy the zero sum concept but that seems built in doesnt it? ... absolutely an appropriate subject at the moment.

Every truth blocks another | February 20 - March 25th
Talk then reception: Tuesday Feb. 20, 2 - 5pm
Northview Gallery (hours M-F 8am-4pm and Sat 11am - 4pm
PCC Sylvania (Communications Technology Building)
12000 SW 49th Ave.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on February 19, 2018 at 13:09 | Comments (0)


Monday 02.12.18

L&CC Faculty Exhibition 2018

Barely There (right), Jess Perlitz

I like how Lewis and Clark College doesn't just do some faceless group annual faculty exhibition. Instead, it puts a dual show and this year it features professors, Joel W. Fisher's Abridged Proof and Jess Perlitz's Forever washing itself exhibitions. Both seem to traffic in the unreliability of information so it makes sense to pair them. Having seen the show it counts as one of the best things to see this winter in Portland... well worth the trip.

Overall, I find this school's faculty intriguing because they always seem to consistently produce an interesting crop of students every year (along with OCAC), whereas it comes and goes with most of the others.

Abridged Proof and Forever washing itself | January 18 - March 18, 2018
Artist's reception: 5-7PM, February 13, 2018 Ronna and Eric Hoffman Gallery
Lewis & Clark
0615 S.W. Palatine Hill Road

Posted by Jeff Jahn on February 12, 2018 at 12:42 | Comments (0)


Sunday 02.11.18

Early February Links

The Ellsworth Kelly Chapel is nearly complete... but it is silly to think of this as some sort of transcendence competition with Houston's Rothko Chapel. I love both artists and in many ways those two projects are fate to never be those artist's best works. Very important, yes... but I Love them as painters of rather portable things rather than site makers. That said... I will go see it.

Well the USA could use a Jasper Johns retrospective right now if it ever did, right?

Here is an interview with Mark Dion... wunderkammern never seem to go out of style in contemporary art. I have a lot of thoughts on this but mostly I think it is the discreet spatial experience viewers are already groomed for... you know, look in here for a second, its furniture so how bad can it be? Furniture comes with a lot of cues that most 1st worlders are comfortable with and by being discreet objects are a bit easier to sell/ship/store than many all out installation environments.

An architect has used Vanta Black for a pavilion at the current Winter Olympics. It is unique so makes sense that Anish Kapoor would want to secure it for his use only in art but its just a matter of time before very similar blacks become available so ultimately its more of a stunt gesture. In the past artists had to create their own paints so most colors were closely guarded proprietary secrets... which only makes this whole subject seem like a throwback.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on February 11, 2018 at 9:40 | Comments (0)


Sunday 02.04.18

Hanakago at the Portland Japanese Garden


For my money the real super bowl this weekend is the Hanakago (flower basket) exhibition at the Portland Japanese Garden. It features bamboo basket masterpieces from Portland collector Peter Shinbach's bamboo art collection, further brought to life with the ikebana art of Mrs. Etsuho Kakihana. Kakihana is a master teacher of ikebana of the Saga Goryu School at Daikakuji, Kyoto. It is one of the oldest and most revered Buddhist Temples in Japan. I think it is important to remember there are things to be gained from 2 different things working together... if only the world could follow this modus operandi more, eh? The exhibition encourages a closer look in an age lacking much of that.

For a long time the Garden has arguably and consistently put on the strongest craft exhibitions in Portland (if not the West Coast) but what I love is how each exhibition are treated as living, iterative and evolving practices... like Jazz. Instead of some simple collector's vanity show the Garden's efforts are charged and expanded through the inclusion of flower art in the baskets.

I am not a football fan, and in contemporary art (and this is contemporary) this use of vessel and object has been of prime interest to so many artists like Eva Hesse, Anish Kapoor, Lee Ufan, Damien Hirst, Rachel Harrison and Michael Heizer. Locally MK Guth, Midori Hirose, Ellen George, Laura Fritz and so many others also focus on the display support as part of the object... an interrelated charge that goes beyond surface and support. It is often a delicate visual ecosystem that can be traced to Asian traditions that Brancusi then brought to modern art museums and furthered by Noguchi. hat I like is the way life animates art, it tells us that art history is still made in the present, besides what could be better than spend the super bowl in quiet contemplation?

Hanakago | February 3 - April 1, 2018
Portland Japanese Garden
611 SW Kingston Ave

Posted by Jeff Jahn on February 04, 2018 at 9:46 | Comments (0)


Thursday 02.01.18

First Thursday February 2018 Picks

Robert Frank (installation view) at Bluesky

He's ultra influential and considered by many to be one of the fathers of street photography but Robert Frank's work is rarely seen because of the fragility and value of the work. To remedy this situation Frank and Gerhard Steidl conceived of a traveling 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 Frank Books and Films 1947 - 2018 | January 4 - February 25
First Thursday Reception: January 4, 6-8PM
Blue Sky
122 NW 8th

Portland's Winter Light Festival at PNCA

Portland's Winter Lights Festival seems to get a little more serious every year. Some of it can be just eye candy spectacle for burners but some of the venues like PNCA are focused on the art... not just arty aspects of light. Portland is an installation art town though none of our festivals and institutions seems to make a point of featuring it... could the Light Festival be that venue some day? 24 different installations by artists are spread throughout the PNCA grounds.

Winter Lights Festival at PNCA | February 1-3 (6-9PM), 2018
First Thursday: February 1, 6:00-9:00PM
511 NW Broadway

... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on February 01, 2018 at 13:07 | Comments (0)

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