I like the adventure and mental challenge that looking around an interesting art city like Portland can provide. There really is no substitute for experience. Here are some things the truly adventurous should have a look at:
Ann Hamilton's Habitus in Portland
I appreciate having an Ann Hamilton piece around to look at but Habitus in Portland
might have gotten away from the artist and curator. Restaging an idiomatic installation piece in a different city, with different materials is tricky. In the Philadelphia version the soft fabric, which contrasted with hard concrete was replaced with Tyvek and a soft dusty floor with less spatial compression here in Portland and did it no favors. Thus, Portland's Habitus lacks the dreamy frission of contrasts + scale of the original. You can look at the Philadelphia version of Habitus here, it is far more successful
for those reasons and many more. Go and see for yourself... also definitely catch these two more rewarding shows by R.B Kitaj and Jenny Holzer though
Guns in the Hands of Artists at Moloko
Brian Borrello's Guns in the Hands of Artists series of collaborative exhibitions
is incredibly relevant ongoing project but most of the time its taking place far away from the artist's home base of Portland. That why I relished the opportunity to view this research and development installation for turning guns into a coral reef at Moloko, Portland's coral reef cocktail lounge
. I like the way it insinuates itself into a less formal art environment, though Moloko is an artist hangout.
This just in, Portland's Mayor Wheeler has reassigned the Arts and Culture Liaison to Commissioner Chloe Eudaly
. Frankly, City Comissioner Nick Fish has always cared and done a decent job till now
but Wheeler is right the city is at a crossroads. Notably, I appeared before the council 6 months ago and let them have it for their arts affordability plan
. It doesn't get at the real issue... where Portland has to become serious about its intentions and how it allocates resources it already has (RACC requires an overhaul, they have improved but still lag behind the cities international cultural ecosystem). The insulting photo of a child at play with paint on the cover of the arts affordability plan pretty much infantilized what is a serious industry in Portland. I heard from a lot of movers and shakers right after I appeared in front of the council, beseeching them to get serious. It really isnt an arts "affordability plan"... its a plan to keep Portland's dynamic cultural edge. We need to look at why, when and how we support the arts and have a clearly articulated plan. In front of the council I mentioned how Houston always considers how it is an international arts hub. Portland is a player, and has been for a long time but the city's leadership and institutions generally have suffered from a lack of vision. Sure there have been steps like PNCA
, PSU's new Museum
and the Japanese Garden
, there has been a lot of growing up in the past 20 years but its time for city hall to pursue a plan other than benign neglect in regards to its artists, which are its main repositories of cultural cache. Congratulations Commissioner Eudaly! You will need to be on point, and no the experience of other cities and your own background in the community will only go so far. Most in the arts in Portland are working only in their institutions or businesses and they really dont get to do a lot of big picture thinking. That is what is necessary, and yes that article I've been working on is coming soon.
The Grey Market continues to look at the Biesenbach appointment at MOCA
. Look, a lot has been made about rebuilding administratively but I do believe they need vision. They do need more space so the Panza collection and other holdings can shine but they also need an intellectual vision... the right curators can do that but they need to take risks. MOCA has made huge errors by being intellectually risk adverse lately. Biesenbach needs to alter that but he also needs to avoid LA's solipsism (curate a show on LA's solipsism and be done with it) and instead be the point museum on the pacific for global perspectives. Also, nobody has said it yet so I will: "The reason everyone is looking at LA and the west coast is because the East Coast missed the boat and produced the Trump/Hilary situation... the west coast was not excited about either one and California/Oregon/Washington is now the seat of progressive thinking. We are no longer looking back at East, but certainly all good ideas are welcome." There, everyone wants LA to grow up so the whole country can get on with a more mature phase.
Portland looking beyond Portlandia
... ofc, yeah we were beyond it before it even aired but this fluff article has a good title and I've been thinking a great deal about it. Portland is the capital of the USA's conscience, maybe not the only place involved in the discussion but it is ground zero for the main event.
Ai Weiwei's studio has been demolished
Seattle art fair going for the quirk hype Portland is pretty tired of
Jenny Holzer at PNCA
Jenny Holzer's work couldnt be more relevant at this moment in history so her Use What is Dominant in a Culture to Change it Quickly exhibition at PNCA's 511 gallery is especially timely. Consisting of the artist's Sentences and Sentiments from the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation the artist holds forth on the questioning of power through words and the redaction of words. It is also part of next week's Converge 45.
Use What is Dominant in a Culture to Change it Quickly | July 19 - August 22
First Thursdays 5-9PM
Opening Reception August 9, 5-7PM
511 NW Broadway
Kitai at Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education
Perhaps the strongest exhibition on display in Portland at the moment is R.B. Kitaj A Jew Etc., Etc. at the OJMCHE. A virtuoso painter who scraped the paint ever so lightly on the canvas here... Kitaj romances his life as a Ohio come British transplant to LA, influencing today's LA painting scene significantly. Even though my British art friends have grown callous to him we hardly ever see Kitaj in the Pacific Northwest and this one is full of quality. On full display at OJHCHE Kitaj romances the studio and his outsider status as well as drawing upon the chilling loss of the love of his life. So many of the noted painter's best works are on display and every First Thursday goer should stop by the OJMCHE. Check out Jesse Hayward's more in depth look at one Kitaj painting that stars in the show
R. B. Kitaj A Jew Etc., ETC. | June 6 - September 30
Open Free on First Thursday
Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education
724 NW Davis