Midwesterners are pragmatic folk and I grew up there. In the Midwest if there is a need for something one can go ahead and judge but you are also expected to go out and fix it if possible. That sort of what I call "initiative pragmatism" leads to a lot less armchair complaining and posturing. Also, though I visit there often I'm always surprised how it has lead to numerous gems in unexpected places.
Thus, on my latest trip to Chicago and Central Wisconsin while accompanying my partner as she conducted her architectural research, we came across many of these intitiative pragmatism sites. All of which conduct idiomatic psychological shifts of locale... even in an areas we had visited many times. More specifically, the pragmatic display of art made even familiar environs novel and provocative, perhaps even more so than visiting than the main museums we usually hit because most museums are a bit similar to one another. Sometimes, it pays to avoid the well blazed trails and find the out of the way gems. Here are some favorites from this last trip:
At the Manilow Sculpture Park Tony Tasset's weary and careworn Paul Bunyan sculpture, "Paul," seems to portray the giant lumberjack having a major existential crisis in the prairie. Not enough trees for a giant lumberjack, eh? What does this hipster guy with his hat topped with a red ball need? Will Paul take up farming, or perhaps politics?
David Wallace Haskin's Skycube does a great job of bridging the Elmhurst Art Museum's main building with its Mies van der Rohe McCormick House, moved to the site and a more typical museum structure. Haskins Skycube is on permanent display but it also compliments his temporary Polarity exhibition in the two buildings adjacent...
Gaylen Gerber's exhibition Supports at the Arts Club of Chicago
was a wry look at the way plinths can cue objects collectively. Here in the main galleries it looks like the exhibition has been swept into a storage space... amusing and interesting, its the sort of art about art show that plays well in an arts club.... (more)
October is usually one of the premier months to see work in Portland's art scene. Perhaps partly because every day in Portland is Halloween the bar for standing out is already pretty high and October becomes a double down. Here are my picks:
Ghosts and Venus by Maximiliano and the collaborative trio of Rise x Fall shows just why the Littman Gallery continues to be one of the Portland metro area's most challenging art spaces. Most of Portland's University galleries are pretty conservative in their embrace of liberal values (more Hillary than Bernie or Ocasio-Cortez) but the fact that the Littman is programmed by PSU's students means it is closer to its student body and Portland's far more progressive citizenry. Here in another multimedia exhibition Maximiliano's still developing work explores the gauzy liminal veils of understanding between gender identity, the USA's Imperial posturing and its citizenry's somewhat haunted interface with society's so called norms.
"Rise x Fall is an ongoing collaborative series of both video and live performances by Maxi Miliano, Ruben Marrufo and Jaleesa Johnston. Using the veil as an indicator of otherworldly presences, rise x fall explores the liminal terrain of transition, between stability and instability, and the rise and fall of empire. Taking inspiration from the crashing of the waves against the earth, this piece inhabits a space of the simultaneous pain and fear of death, as well as the hope and growth of rebirth."
Ghosts & Venus | October 4 - 25
Live performances October 18 & 25 at 6PM
Littman Gallery (Smith Student Center, 2nd floor)
Portland State University
Victor Maldonado at Archer Gallery
I Say, "Radical!" You Say, "Feminist!"
is one of those shows about gender, identity and the human body that you'd think had been done a million times in the Portland area, but in fact I havent seen this sort of edgy survey of artists working in the subject attempted in a very long time. Way to keep a keener edge 'Couv and people who are really fired up should find it to their tastes.
At the Archer you will find a who's who of up and comers as well as experienced guides like: Roz Crews, Kelly Bjork, Wynde Dyer, Emily Endo, Alexa Feeney, Klara Glosova, Junko Iijima, Tyler Mackie, Victor Maldonado, Patricia Melton, Matthew Offenbacher, Alyson Provax, Kelly Rauer, Maggie Sasso, Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Ann Leda Shapiro, Naomi Shersty, Alisa Sikelianos-Carter, Anthony Sonnenberg, Alexander Wurts. Though to tell the truth they could probably restage the show every year for 5 years without using the same names. The thing is the show seems to be actually curating work that invigorates and bounces off each other... none of the old, "who can humblebrag the best" that has become a cul-de-sac of tepid liberal elite thinking. With today's news nothing could be more relevant than visiting this show.
I Say Radical, You Say Feminist | September 25 - November 10
Closing Reception November 6 2-4PM
1933 Fort Vancouver Way