Even though every day in Portland is Halloween, October has some of the best shows of the year. Perhaps it is because the bar has already been raised? Here are some short reviews I suggest you check out (yes the big Portlandaggddon essay is coming soon):
Far Right Nancy Grossman's Cob I, at PAM's Modern American Realism from the Smithsonian Museum
Perhaps one would expect a show titled Modern American Realism: Highlights from the Smithsonian's Sara Roby Collection
to be about staid Americana but the opposite is true. In fact one could just as easily call this American Surrealism. The iconic Edward Hopper has such a mood, Louise Nevelson's work is like a gothic child of surrealist assemblage and wood from the first portion of the industrial revolution and Paul Cadmus owes a lot to Georgio de Chirico with its long shadowed architectural arcades. Jack Levine's Inauguration is a surreal fantasy combining three separate presidents being sworn in, playing with the electorate's projections of the assumption of power. But the best cases are Nancy Grossman's Cob I and Theodore Roszak's works which all the Goth's are gonna Love.
The exhibition is full of first rate works coming from the Smithsonian and it is a wonderful reminder of how wierd American Realism can be.. and still is. It is a national strength, the acceptance of so many alternate realities and it is a perfect show for these scary times and looming election, whatever your politics.
Modern American Realism | October 20 2018 - April 28 2019
Portland Art Museum
1219 SW Park
Work by Sonnenberg, Dwyer, Endo and Maldonado
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.
That said the exhibition is a bit overhung and some of the best works are in too much competition for space. The highlights include Anthony Sonnenberg's big sparkly naked men, Victor Maldonado's Lucha Chapel, Alexander Wurts's festive Current Vibe video, Junko Iijima's big pink fabric adventures, Naomi Shersty's hauntingly retro The Following and everything by Wynde Dyer. Perhaps with some editing this could have been an all time great show for the region but being too ambitious for the amount of space it suggests larger venues (like the old Art Gym) should have taken this on at this scale.
I Say Radical, You Say Feminist | September 25 - November 10
Closing Reception November 6 2-4PM
1933 Fort Vancouver Way
Wendy Given at Vernissage Fine Art
True, I find a simple restatement of stereotypes like; trees, rain, and more trees to be a Northwest narrative that doesn't really require another show but a better way to look at it is, "what kind of wilderness?" Is it a deep dark, conceptual one triggering the lizard parts of the brain and filtered through modern concerns? It sure can and Wendy Given is one of those area artists who goes into the woods so to speak with her latest show... You, Darkness
. It is a major theme in the region that has international reach... see Twin Peaks (which is just one instance of this strong artistic subject mater regarding the unknown, nature and animals).
The show is a bit of a survey of her work but in particular I find Given's moth photos arranged on a deep dark forest wallpaper installed on the far back wall to be the most arresting thing in the show. Given has a knack for the slighly unsettled that is completely at home in its surroundings, reminding us how we are the newcomers and guests.
You, Darkness | August 7 - October 30, 2018
Vernissage Fine Art
Closing reception October 29 5-7PM
1953 NW Kearney Street
Tel: (971) 277-4118
Mark Smith and Maria T.D. Inocencio at Lewis and Clark College
Arguably the strongest and easily the most intensive two person exhibition in Portland this month is Loss of Material Evidence
by Mark R. Smith and Maria T.D. Inocencio at Lewis and Clark College's Hoffman Gallery. It is a tour de force in material as memory and pattern as personality translated via sustained activity/interaction with family members and other loved ones. This exhibition successfully goes into places where contemporary art often fails, specifically the persistence of the personal and the building of meaning. It doesn't hurt that the two artists themselves constitute a family unit but I also appreciate how they both integrate and separate their individual voices. Perhaps, one can think of this as a memorable Thanksgiving dinner? For myself that what this constitutes, an extensive extended family feast... with all the simmering conflicts and savored time spent in reminiscence.
Overall, the Hoffman Gallery serves up a meal of materials and one collaborative piece Perennial Host even served up fresh apple pies at the opening. That's pretty down home. I'll write a much longer review but this show starts strong with Time Tunnel and builds to two of the most brilliantly expressive works Portland has seen in years. This show deserves to be seen several times and is perfectly timed for the Fall season.
Loss of Material Evidence | September 8 - December 9
Lewis and Clark College