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Hanakago: The Art of Bamboo and Flowers at Portland Japanese garden
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Saturday 03.24.18

Hanakago: The Art of Bamboo and Flowers at Portland Japanese garden

Spring in Portland is incredibly dramatic and the latest exhibition Hanakago: The Art of Bamboo and Flowers at Portland's Japanese Garden is the perfect instrument to sharpen ones senses and appreciation for the season as life awakens around us. There is something about the dried and shaped bamboo among recently cut flowers that suggests the withered husks of life as vessels of contemplation, grace and virtues in life. Both the bamboo and flowers highlight both control and variation through respect. They are perceptual paths to awe and understanding. When the viewer is among these bamboo and flower objects... the weave, the intention and care catches the light and filters our perception towards the fragility that forms constructed in webs of respectful intention entail. We live in an age where consideration and grace can be on short supply so Hanakago is a refreshing respite.

A breeze from long ago, Chinkuunsai III (2012), all photos Jeff Jahn

Hanakago is comprised of an impressive array of bamboo baskets and art from Portland collector Peter Shinbach's collection. Many are further brought to life with the ikebana art of Mrs. Etsuho Kakihana and those who study with her...


Posted by Jeff Jahn on March 24, 2018 at 22:01 | Comments (0)


Saturday 03.17.18

Louise Bourgeois in Pendelton

Louise Bourgoise at Pendelton Center for the Arts

One of the best shows to see in the Pacific Northwest at the moment is the surprise appearance of Louise Bourgeois' work in the small western town Pendelton, mostly known for its rodeo and woolens. The Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation continues to do good things by making important work available to audiences and places that wouldnt otherwise have access to it. I also found the Pendelton Center for the Arts with its excellent architecture, being a former Carnegie Library to be more than just another white box gallery space... it brings out an almost baroque aspect to Bourgeois' surreal imagery.

Bourgeois is incredibly topical right now with her focus on the the psychological positioning of women and judging from the very well attended opening last night its going down well in cowboy country where the crowd was more varied than anything I've ever seen considering the ages, backgrounds and ethnicities present. Pendelton itself has a long tradition with women breaking ground through its rodeo so I cant help but think the combo would have pleased her.

In particular the Crochet series of prints with their focus on knotwork, texture and routine... often evoking

... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on March 17, 2018 at 12:29 | Comments (0)


Friday 03.16.18

Mid March Links

I'm polishing off a very long review of one of the best exhibitions in recent Portland memory. (Portland memory as a term... hmmm.) Till then here are some links in an eventful week.

The departure of Helen Molesworth from MoCA is the news of the week. Some have characterized this as institutional manspreading. That is simply too simplistic and I see something deeper underlying it... the growing intolerance of museums for strong curatorial voices. I loved her Kerry James Marshall and Catherine Opie shows last year. It is part of the whole war on expertise that is going on both the left and right of the political spectrum. Does being a woman factor into this?... of course it does (leaving her more exposed than a man) but this is more complicated than that. Paul Schimmel is no longer at MoCA either and he was a giant, also Alma Ruiz is gone (Molesworth reportedly was key in that). That constitutes a great hollowing of expertise... when I was growing up in the arts I looked up to curators like Schimmel... professionals who shook up assumptions with overwhelming experience, saavy and knowledge and they understood the artists. Molesworth was of that ilk, close to the artists and full of expertise in an era when curators seem to farm out their shows, subcontracting to those outside the museum with expertise they professionally do not want to risk acquiring. In the past museums had in house expertise... slippery slope and any curator that keeps a higher profile is sadly in peril. *Update: the LA Times comes to a similar conclusion somewhat reversing their initial assessment. Thing is this isn't just MOCA... the entire museum industry is pushing back at influential curators. I consider it a purge of expertise and the influence that comes with it. What got Molesworth into trouble was daring to go farther than the board's agenda. Solution... hire curators that make their ideas inspiring to their board (you dont get that without expertise and even more daring). Art as an "asset class" rather than an intellectual prompt is hurting museums in very obvious ways.

Matthew Collings takes on a very complicated Tacita Dean show with an equally complicated and tricky review. There arent many critics out there who can do this.

I like Hans Ulrich Obrist as a curator and he has good ideas, but AFC is right his lectures like a lot of his imitators in the drain the life from what is exciting about art. As someone who can speak well and with passion, I bemoan the dearth of it and I do see it as a way to lower the stakes, which is odd because the stake at this time are higher.

Does Dora Maar deserve more credit for Guernica? Well yes, but not as the author for the brilliant final work but as part of the brilliant ecosystem of thinking and aesthetics that went into it. In that sense, absolutely she was involved. Like Helen Frankenthaler to Greenberg, she's crucial and without her you dont get the breakthrough work. Overall, there is no singular artist and if we can look at the entire cadre that these great works require it will make are understanding of richer. There is just too much zero sum thinking.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on March 16, 2018 at 10:48 | Comments (0)


Tuesday 03.06.18

Early March Links

Internet artists infiltrate MoMA with a virtual reality exhibition among the Jackson Pollocks. Is virtual reality infiltration the new drip technique? nah... but it furthers the position of museums in the crossfire. Currently major institutional curators seem to be less skilled than they were 20 years ago and act simply middlemen who hire those with more expertise for specific shows. The problem with that is that museums require expertise to legitimize themselves and artists see a schism in this gig economy phenomenon. Why buy into something when you bypass the mid-level managers and exhibit directly on the internet or a VR overlay?

Team Gallery is done with art fairs... why? Long story short, they feel terrible. For quite some time art fairs have been dealing from a marked deck and if you dont like how its stacked why participate? A lot of smaller to mid level galleries have closed up as galleries all together as a new consultant class has developed to work in a more hidden way. This even more shadowy art world isnt exactly an improvement but at least Team is retaking his own scene and remaining a gallery to visit and experience.

Mondian's heirs claim a museum has stolen the artist's work. That said I just love these 4 paintings shown in series.

Olafur Elliason's Reality Projector looks like a must see... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on March 06, 2018 at 5:11 | Comments (0)


Thursday 03.01.18

First Thursday Picks March 2018

Ma'at Mons (installation view at PDX Contemporary)

After the 2016 presidential election the constant stream of intolerance and hate has made it difficult for many artists to produce work (and have been collecting pitchforks and torches instead). Still, the mark of a true artist is they need not a vocational requirement to make art, its simply what they do. Storm Tharp is one of those artists and he has been busy. This work, provides the viewer room to breathe as well as vent... a series of large scale prints, it is very different from anything we have seen from him before, though the lumpy forms do evoke his sculpture... recalling the work of Morris Louis and Ellsworth Kelly it is surprisingly Apollonian.

Ma'at Mons | February 28 - March 31
First Thursday Reception: March 1, 6-8PM
PDX Contemporary
925 NW Flanders

Sadly it is the last show for Una gallery at the Everett Station lofts but they have provided a needed haven to see emerging POC and queer work. This last show Portland in Color is a fitting photo biography.

"Since the summer of 2017, Celeste Noche Photography has been collecting the stories and experiences of creatives of color living in Portland, through the photographic blog series Portland in Color. The project is simple and honest in nature, yet yields vulnerable and empowering portraits of artists actively creating and organizing in a town deemed the whitest city in America."

Portland in Color
First Thursday: March 1 6-10P
Una Gallery
328 NW Broadway #117

... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on March 01, 2018 at 14:24 | Comments (0)

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