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End of July News
Alia Ali's Borderland at Bluesky
Mid Summer Reads
Patricia Reser Center For The Arts unveiled in Beaverton
Thoughts on the Art Gym moving to OCAC
Teeth and Consequence at Private Places
One To See: R.B. Kitaj's The Studio Where I Died
Artist Opps
Summer Show Strut
July 4th Links

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Tuesday 07.31.18

End of July News

Is it the End of July or the end of civilization? Just kidding but I have to ask it:

Klaus Biesenbach will be the new Director of MoCA. Well he does like celebrities, which is something you need to embrace if you are going to get MoCA back on track. But can they replace all the curatorial expertise the institution has squandered in the last decade like Alma Ruiz, Helen, Molesworth and Paul Schimmel. Can Biesenbach rebuild that? For an unecessary sports metaphor think of this as "a rebuilding season" because MoCA has lost so much talent. Also, as LACMA reaches the home stretch on its new building campaign will MOCA right itself and expand enough to put its permanent collection to better use? If so I challenge Biesenbach to do so that reinvigorates the tradition of intense and opinionated curatorial expertise at this crucial institution. Otherwise, I fear MoCA my not make it. From what I know Biesenbach might have the skillset, especially if his development staff is stronger. Maybe this director is the chosen one? maybe not? But at least he has plenty of examples of what not to do like squander expertise, tone deaf market lead conservatism etc. Can the reintroduction of curatorial rigor that is in close association with artists be the answer? That's what I believe... it is like the farm to table movement in food, be close to the artists (farmers)! Today's curators at major museums have mostly lost that. *Update: Christopher Knight makes a to do list for Biesenbach and he's right about the tedious Eurocentrism... why go back there when the pacific rim, which includes the West Coast of the USA is still growing into its potential far more than the already mature European continent, which is already well represented. Let's look to the future and we wish Biesenbach luck if he can please with intellectual rigor (LA has a very academically trained cognescenti who are annoyed with MoCA right now) and hollywood sparkle turned into $$$ and institutional momentum he will have what it takes. In an ironic turn it may be Michael Govan and LACMA's new expansion that can give Biesenbach another major wave to catch. That said he's got to know what seeing to catch it... experience in NYC or Europe doesnt really prepare one for the West Coast.

Laura Hoptman is also leaving MoMA but unlike Biesenbach is staying in NYC. Like a lot of curators they all seem to want to be directors. In general this is problematic as directorships are very different and it means that the best or at least most ambitious curators all see the job as a steping stone to a directorship, which is more about numbers and the daily operations of a museum. Thus, the expertise pool is depleted upon the altar of management and fund raising.

Sacha Baron Cohen flays an art advisor as part of his upcoming movie. He also created a self-hating white male Reed professor so I'm gonna have to see this... It is odd how academia has adopted this prophylactic and anti-intellectual nomenclature. A large proportion of my best friends in Portland are Reedies and most of them have satirized this trend as well so SBC is mining a well defined vein of comedy gold.

... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on July 31, 2018 at 13:49 | Comments (0)


Sunday 07.29.18

Alia Ali's Borderland at Bluesky

Alia Ali's Borderland at Bluesky

Borderland is one of the best shows Portland has seen all year and today is your last day to see it at Bluesky Gallery. Alia Ali's exhibition doesnt sit neatly into any genre and as such provides welcome relief from all the twee, "treat the gallery as a studio" shows that masquerade in pseudo-proustian shallow palimpsest hood. It also wont award anyone their woke merit badge. It interrogates nothing and in general treats language and labels like the training wheels of understanding that they are.

.... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on July 29, 2018 at 10:02 | Comments (0)


Friday 07.27.18

Mid Summer Reads

David Pagel on Mary Heilmann. I saw the 2007 show at OCMA... what I like about her is the brazenly formal means to an ultimately informal end. Also, there are still tons of female artists who are far more important than the art establishment and market can account for... Heilmann, Frankenthaler and Anne Truitt are all still under appreciated but there are plenty that are younger and just as important/active today but the museums dont seem to be willing to shake up the discussion... even when the curators are women. I have a radical art history reinterpretation regarding this.

Portland's Jim Lommason traveling exhibition What We Carried is getting attention at the Japanese American Museum LA.

PORT pal Paul Middendorf reports on a house exhibition in Houston. Portland has been doing a lot of house shows for decades now. The difference here is the extreme informality of presentation.

London's design museum hosts an arms dealer as a patron and resistance design at the same time... something has to give and what side the take says a lot.

I am definitely not comfortable with the level of contemporary shrug Ralph Ruggoff's Venice Biennial is accepting. I disagree completely, Art can do something... not just subtle shifts and slight moves towards understanding. My curatorial senses tell me he's making a huge mistake. Mark this.

On a similar note Olafur Elliason criticizes Governments as using culture simply as promotional tools. He'd know.

Temporary asks, Are you being Preached to Again?... while discussing Adrian Piper.

Fruit, murals and prisons at Manifesta 12. More on Manifesta 12.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on July 27, 2018 at 20:21 | Comments (0)


Wednesday 07.18.18

Patricia Reser Center For The Arts unveiled in Beaverton

Patricia Reser Arts Center at night (art gallery is at the far right and main lobby at left)

Yesterday the Beaverton Arts Foundation unveiled the 46 million dollar Patricia Reser Center For The Arts or PRCFTA. With a lead gift of 13 million dollars by Reser it features facilities for dance, speakers, music, theater, art classes and of prime interest to us an art gallery. It is a place making opportunity for Beaverton (a major Portland suburb of 96,000 people, which up to now has suffered what Gertude Stein once said of America, "There is no There There." Well, there is now... or will be soon! I'll give special attention to visual arts, which have been in a lot of turmoil lately and have needed good news like this. The 46 million dollar center is now 80% funded, with commitments of 21 million from the city of Beaverton and 1 million from The Harold & Arlene Schnitzer CARE Foundation.

Lead gift patron Patricia Reser discussing the eponymous arts center

you can see from this view how prominently the art gallery (front right tip of building) is positioned, essentially greeting those who turn onto the road and will be visible from cars as they go by.

... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on July 18, 2018 at 12:03 | Comments (0)


Thoughts on the Art Gym moving to OCAC

OCAC student using the Jean Vollum Drawing, Painting and Photography Building (Photo Jeff Jahn)

The Art Gym has announced that it is moving to the Oregon College of Art and Craft. PORT was the first to point out the program could move. *Update: There are complications with moving the endowment that supports the Art Gym in that Oregon's Attorney General must act on what to do with the funds when the Marylhurst University dissolves? Specifically, the AG will take input ... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on July 18, 2018 at 9:10 | Comments (0)


Sunday 07.15.18

Teeth and Consequence at Private Places


Portland has seen a lot of excellent private art openings and events this weekend but here is an artist organized event we can point you to. Organized by Christopher Russell and Bobbi Woods Teeth and Consequence at a space called Private Places explores violence in an intellectual way via the writings of Jean Genet. Unfortunately this subject matter is completely relevant today.

"I give the name violence to a boldness lying idle and hankering for danger. It can be seen in a look, a walk, a smile, and it's in you that it stirs. It unnerves you. This violence is a calm that disturbs you." - Jean Genet

I'm always suspicious of artists leaning on writers when exploring things that emerge from the lizard part of the human brain (because I think the artists understand better than the writers) so lets see how Heidi Schwegler, M. Page Green, Sweaterqueen and writer Dennis Cooper do. It is certainly has the markings of a classic summer group show and being in an artist's studio shows how Portland's artists still drive our scene.

Teeth and Consequence | July 15 - August 26th
Opening Reception: July 15 3-5PM (by appointment after)
Private Places
2400 Holladay Street

Posted by Jeff Jahn on July 15, 2018 at 9:44 | Comments (0)


Saturday 07.14.18

One To See: R.B. Kitaj's The Studio Where I Died

R.B. Kitaj, The Studio Where I Died (2005)

This show brings together over a dozen works that span the artist's career with a special suite of late work in the back rooms. Many of these gems were painted in Los Angeles in the 2000’s.

Install view R.B. Kitaj A Jew: Etc., Etc. at OJMHCE

In these paintings we see a colorful tragedy, a piquant blend of West Coast light and European winter. Kitaj was born in the US but trained as an artist and lived mostly in England where he maintained a life long friendship with the painter David Hockney.


Posted by Jesse Hayward on July 14, 2018 at 9:46 | Comments (0)


Monday 07.09.18

Artist Opps

It is summer time, the time that stronger artists are working and all the wannabes screw off. Here are a few things you might consider applying for:

It is time again to apply for the annual Betty Bowen awards. What I like about it is it is supposedly aimed at under-recognized artists (results debatable). What isn't debatable is the Betty Bowen awards are often far edgier than the awards in Orgeon, whose panels seem to always choose artists who ruffle zero feathers and unsettle no one... focusing instead on effortful craft (ie work that draws attention to its exertion or "making") sometimes that's a good thing but often it distracts and looks vain or pretentious. That said Contemporary Art gets at the tension and uncertainties of the age. The Betty Bowen seems to grasp that concept, that said they still have an ultra lame $10 entry fee. That said, perhaps the in person presentations at the second round weeds out the edgeless who cruise in the no-wake zone of Oregon awards. Deadline: August 1, 2018

PDX Airport has an ongoing call for submissions. I for one appreciate having sometimes surprising work scatted throughout the airport and it reminds me what Portland is all about. BTW there is no $10 fee because... PDX airport is more evolved than that.

RACC has a call out for the monthly Night Lights projected art series. Sometimes the series has produced some of the most striking work you can see on a First Thursday. Deadline: July 26, 2018

Chaco Canyon is amazing Unesco world heritage site and I visited this immense ruined city complex just last year. Chaco Canyon also has an artist residency program. It isnt cheap to apply ($55 or $110 for couples) but if you arent hokey there is a real opportunity here. Yes a yurt is involved. Deadline: October 7, 2018

Posted by Jeff Jahn on July 09, 2018 at 16:59 | Comments (0)


Thursday 07.05.18

Summer Show Strut

Many art cities check out during the Summer but Portland's weather is great and San Francisco + NYC residents vacation here in droves. The net result is "summertime" is a strong time for shows. Sure there are the ubiquitous summer group shows but these solo efforts are incredibly strong and relevant. Nobody knows the art scene better and here are my picks with short reviews:

Eva Lake Anonymous Woman #63

Eva Lake's collage work has been the strongest and edgiest overtly feminist work in Portland for years now... but Portland generally doesnt give awards or accolades for being relevant and edgy. Please defy that embarrassingly idiotic and cliquish logic (in an otherwise very relevant and edgy city) by checking out her latest show Through the Ages at Augen Gallery, where she takes on fetishes of ruined antiquity and fresh feminine beauty as the anthropological paradox that it is. The show is a bit of a mini surver going from 2018 work way back to the targets. One of Eva's latest Her Highness #3 with its skeletal body of an enlightend bodhisatva and a model's face alone gives me chills. Eva's been doing well in NYC and internationally... so as it typically is, Portland usually neglects its strongest artists only to let the world pick up the slack. Yes, see it... this is a strong group of works that posits the idea that power is an edifice that asks women to jump through an extra series of hoops for paradoxical trade offs. Like local awards panels, sometimes those hoops are even other women and men simply arent as hard on each other.

Through The Ages | July 5 - August 4
Opening Reception: July 5 6-8PM
Artist Talk: July 14, Noon
Augen Gallery
716 NW Davis


Dust to Dust is doing an intriguing job of bringing somewhat functional art to N Mississippi ve in the back of Beacon Sound and their latest show Vala Rae is every bit as 1970's as it sounds. Comprised of milky ceramics with occult markings and lots of pre-columbian references including the Moche culture, the whole thing comes off like wandering into some evolved pleasure society ala Zardoz or Logan's Run movie sets. Even Jorge Pardo did similar almost kitschy things at LACMA years ago. Or maybe it is a combination of the Isis mystery cult from Roman times combined with a Florence and the Machine video set? What I truly enjoy the most though is the way this hybrid space is addressing the pressure traditional galleries are facing. True, Vala and Rae are both alumni of Motel Gallery (perhaps the original Portland hybrid) and other hybrids like Nationale and Land have been in effect for a long time but somehow this show feels like a journey that unfolds in ways those other hybrid spaces rarely did. There is a movie set like concentration to it being in the labrynthine back of the shop and the artist's use of mirrors and tables create a staging that is an engrossing summer adventure.

VALA RAE | June 22 - August 5
Dust to Dust
3636 N Misssissippi

Venus Retrograde @ PAM

Perhaps no show fits the summertime agenda more than Hannah Piper Burns Apex series show at the Portland Art Museum(open for free on First Thursdays). Titled Venus Retrograde it explores my least favorite television show of all time, The Bachelor. Not that Burns particularly condones it either, she pulls apart its reality show grammar of engineered emotional trainwrecks and predictable dating orthodoxies and heteronorm cliches. The expectations are of course for some sort of exploitative emotional gladiatorial battle. I have a hard time with reality TV and the Bachelor in Paradise would qualify as my personal hell. Still, there is a lot to consider here. Reality TV lead to our current president and his ratings based moral code. Also, so many adopt what they see on these shows as benchmarks for their own lives. Honestly the whole thing makes my skin crawl and I find the way reality TV stars in these shows become emotional restaveks, repugnantly selling themselves for ratings. The value here is that Burns' morbid fascination and deconstruction of this media phenomena reveals how the sausage is made. Kudos to the curator who has focused the Apex series... it has been been waffling since its strong inception then slide away from consequentiality but with Sam Hamilton , Dawn Cerny and now Hannah Piper Burns has turned away from show after show of artists who reiterate the most common cliches of Northwest Art (traditional craft and figuration) to challenging expectations with multimedia shows by artists who arent over exposed locally, yet often active outside the region. Apex is reintroducing the museum audience to the fact that what we think of Northwest Art really cannot be tidily summarized then performed to a captive audience. Its reintroducing us to the diversity of practices here and the fact that they are showing all over the world regularly. Shouldn't we know ourselves better than the rest of the world does? Often that hasn't been the case? Now, its better and the series is showing us a plethora of multi media artists who arent playing to to stereotypes (which were never more than a 3rd of what the region produced since the 21st Century began). We arent used to the Portland art museum being relevant to the very international local art scene so this is a huge positive.

Venus Retrograde | February 24 - August 14
Open for Free on First Thursday 5-8PM
Apex Gallery (Schnitzer Center of Northwest Art)
Portland Art Museum
1218 SW Park Ave


Posted by Jeff Jahn on July 05, 2018 at 14:02 | Comments (0)


Wednesday 07.04.18

July 4th Links

We have been hard at work on reviews over here at PORT... till then:

The brilliance of Ocasio-Cortez's design for her campaign.

LACMA's drive to finish their building campaign. I'm all for having more of the collection on display and shaking up the art historical cannon but it takes more intellectual rigor and ideas behind it. The architect simply provides a box and the director should be about making the box and ideas possible through funding... but what I'm not seeing are curator's with interesting programmatic imperatives. Without the intellectual rigor it is simply economic grandstanding. Prove me wrong LACMA... MoMA too? There is a reason the best and brightest curators are consistently working outside of the museums... there is a too big to fail problem with so many of these 300 million dollar plus expansions but it follows the problem of blue chip art as an asset class. Im not certain that museums can be saved from themselves but Ive got clear ideas on how. One thing Govan is very right about is funders of bold museum expansions fund other projects too.

The ICA Water Shed (lol, good one ICA) opens today.

More coverage of Rick Bartow's important traveling exhibition. I have a lot more to say about this but he was a friend and I want to see the show before I comment more.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on July 04, 2018 at 11:19 | Comments (0)

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