With one foot firmly in 2019 now is a good time to look at what the Portland art scene has on view with some short reviews.
Residual Membranes at PCC's Paragon Arts Gallery (fg) Exuviation
Amanda Triplett is a serious talent and everyone should take note of this exhibition at PCC Cascade's Paragon Arts Gallery. Combining recycled fabric crafts and coupling it to some of Eva Hesse's postminimalist forms she joins a few of my favorite artists like Ellen George
and Laura Fritz
as artists who explore the borders of the natural and unnatural through material comportment. It is a form that seems ill understood by a lot of dudecentric artworld dialogics.
The most standout work here, Third Skin, is a riot of oranges and pinks made from reclaimed fibers arrayed like the offspring of a fishermen's net and the small intestines of a Jabberwocky make it both fantastical and a colorist's tour de force. Yet, its material presence hints of the wastes that fill our landfills. It works because it is so lyrical, and instead of trash it seems oddly sacred, almost like happy childhood memories of a pastel laundry room? Other works rounded floor and wall based works like Exuviation, Specimin and Vestigial are like gardens or colonies of creatures dependent on one another... or is it a disease? Another work Placenta are pretty self explanatory and I wish it had been better installed as it is on a movable wall that undermines it. A floor based video work Reflecting Pool doesn't quite rise above its Sid and Marty Krofft or Jim Henson precedents but if it were more immersive and stranger overall it could be a good direction (think Pipilotti Rist). It just seems orphaned and a better install may help it. As it stands though its the hanging intestinal works Like Through the Veil (seen above hanging in the center of the gallery) are Triplett's strongest cards to play. Everyone take note and yes our community college galleries are shining even as major university Galleries like The Art Gym and Hoffman Gallery at Lewis and Clark are faltering. Perhaps the Paragon Gallery is the New Manuel Izquierdo Gallery that we lost when PNCA moved to the 511 building? I think its better.
Residual Membranes | January 9 - February 9
Paragon Gallery @ PCC Cascade
815 N Killingsworth
Manga Hokusai Manga at Portland Japanese Garden
The latest show at the Portland Japanese Garden, Manga Hokusai Manga: Approaching the Master's Compendium from the Perspective of Contemporary Comics
, takes a look at the connection of early Manga to today's modern form. This is the US debut for a traveling show, which compares acknowledged masters from all eras. The show takes us from Hokusai to today's best and brightest. I'm personally struck by the way all forms are stylized visual compendiums, like stored visual thinking about basic and sometimes capricious aspects of life that are normally fleeting or nigh impossible to capture in photography or words. One could call it a kind of essential visual theater on the page.
Manga itself seems to be in a continual feedback loop with other forms of human culture and in one early 20th Century wave artists like Edgar Degas and Henri de Toulouse-Latrec were profoundly influenced by Hoksai's caricaturizations of people going about their routines. More recently, Murakami brought it back into the museum and high fashion worlds but really it never leaves. As someone who was influenced by Speed Racer, G-Force
and Star Blazers
and a consumer of today's anime like Black Clover this show shows the perseverance of Manga as an ever changing art form. Just like Jazz, there are relationships to the past but it is not analogous to it. What I get from Manga its its variety of style and expression and the way reproductions of often black and white continue to fascinate.
Manga Hokusai Manga: Approaching the Master's Compendium from the Perspective of Contemporary Comics | December 1 - January 13
Portland Japanese Garden
611 SW Kingston Ave
Matthew Dennison's 20 year survey, Birth Mark, at the Alexander Gallery
Matthew Dennison's Birth Mark claims to be a 20 year retrospective but due to space constrains it is more of a 20 year survey. What must be said though is how needed this survey is. There is a lot of discussion about masculine malaise and for the most part it is completely warranted. That's why Dennison's images of often sullen and even more frequently pensive figures (usually men but not always) is so timely. Overall its a theater of self conscious empathy that his figures engender, as if they are all dolls in some terrible game of playing grown up that none of the characters seem to master.
Highlights include paintings like Story Chord (seen above) , Synechia and Nemoral Trosper but the gallery layout makes it feel like you've just stumbled upon some moody family reunion (he should paint the Senate). His latest works here feature faces on book covers that give the exhibition a less cloistered impact that could have been expanded more. Though the gallery is one of the nicest in the state it feels cramped with this show by the way it is hung. Worth seeing to be sure but perhaps something more focused than a 20 year survey would have been a better curatorial choice? Am I expecting too much of a community college? Yes, but with the loss of so many larger university spaces it needs to be addressed. Still, this exhibition show's Dennison to have a wonderful command of situational psychology and fascinating surfaces and colors. A real retrospective is due, but that takes the proper curator and the right space and if nothing else this show whets the appetite? Imagine an old Georgian or Victorian mansion filled with these works?
Birth Mark | January 7 - February 1
Clackamas Community College
Jason Vance Dickason at FalseFront
It is good to see FalseFront programming once again and Jason Vance Dickason is one of my favorite painters. His cold shards of paint have a lot more mist in their sublimated slabs now and the work feels very current. No gimmicks like pieces of meat hanging for these works just good old fashioned painting this work feels like the mists coming of water in the morning... which is to say fresh. Is this winter finally thawing or is this the existential ice shelf calving off into the sea? Good to see either way.
Jason Vance Dickason | January 6 - February 10
4518 NE 32nd Avenue
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 weird 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