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Monday 04.15.19

Mid April Links

Most of the world has been watching in horror as the 800 year old Notre-Dame Cathedral has been burning. The tall steeple above the nave collapsed but authorities are reporting some of the structure will be saved, including the two north towers of the belfry. *Updates: How close it came to being a total loss and the forests that provided what burnt are nearly gone. In an exciting move France will hold a competition for a new design for the replacement tower that was destroyed and built as part of a 19th century restoration. This is good as an 800 year old cathedral is a living building. I doubt this would happen in the USA as we tend to treat old buildings as antiques rather than living structures tied inexorably to their current age.

The most powerful work of art Jerry Saltz has ever seen.

PORT friend David Anfam, the world's leading Rothko Scholar and Curator of the Clifford Still Museum discusses the Rothko being auctioned off by SFMOMA.

I am not a fan of this deacquisition to buy other works by less represented artists but SFMOMA does have better Rothkos and they dont display it very often. That's terrible logic and if SFMOMA were truly committed to telling new stories through their collection they should do it without selling the work by one of the USA's most lauded immigrant artists! It is absurd and unfortunate. This Koons in the collection would be a far better choice (yes yes a partial gift that isnt wholly SFMOMA's but I think PORT readers get the point).

That the current Desert X Biennial isnt very sensitive to its surroundings is no surprise... too often art in the desert relies on its otherness rather than compound the situation presented. Some of my favorite works by Walter De Maria, Smithson, Judd and Michael Heizer all understand their inability to compete as an insertion with the site and in fact create "an incompletion" instead. If I were to curate a desert foray... it would have to operate that way (I've actually lived in a desert or 2 and that helps).

Not surprisingly the Zumthor LACMA design was approved. Frankly, I liked this design better when it had more gallery space and the curatorial offices were not farmed out to a rental building. Also, I actually like the curving single floor plan. I just dislike the banishing of curatorial expertise... (its a bigger museum problem as less and less curators are expected to be experts and act more like assistant directors). I like Govan's ideas about interdisciplenary non-timeline reliant hangs but it actually takes more expertise to do that right... like having 2 or more great chefs cooking together but now it feels like the curators are being sent a corrosive message. Museums are not just the storage lockers and tax havens of the rich... they are exist as the keepers of culture and that requires human expertise put on display (and it isnt just the art alone... it is the considered display and interplay... when I last visited LACMA there were problems in the displays of interplay).

Posted by Jeff Jahn on April 15, 2019 at 14:29 | Comments (0)

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Friday 04.12.19

America's Whispered Truths closing at Archer Gallery

America_Lynching_shirts_sm.jpg
Willy Little (fg) and Reneee Billingslea's Lynching Shirts (bg) at Archer Gallery

It ends Saturday so dont miss America's Whispered Truths at the Archer Gallery, which I reviewed recently within a cluster of related shows. In this duo exhibition Renee Billingslea and Willie Little dont pull any punches as they each explore the not so subtle violence of racism through powerful assemblage and installations.

If you want a truly unvarnished yet nuanced exhibition, America's Whispered Truths screams in silent terror, giving scope and sobering scale to the whole discussion of racism in America.

America's Whispered Truths
February 19 - April 13
Closing Reception: April 13, 3-5PM
Archer Gallery
Clark College, Vancouver WA.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on April 12, 2019 at 11:30 | Comments (0)

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Saturday 04.06.19

Early April Critique of Institution Links

Things are coming to a head in LA for LACMA's Zumthor design as funding comes to a vote and detractors have noted it has less space for the permanent collection. Much less apparently. I'm not against this expansion like many voices in LA are but I think the single floor design is a problem as is the decrease in permanent collection space. (Solution add a second floor for curatorial offices and some special focus exhibitions for the permanent collection?) Lately, museums have been having problems activating their permanent collections as well as downgrading the role of expert in house curators. It is part of what Ive been calling the war on expertise (from both ends of the political spectrum). It's terrible and must be countered. Museum expansions should deepen an institution's connection and scope of appreciation of art by lay people and experts alike... they need each other. True intellectuals and artists challenge administrative planning and institutional framing any design that cannot accept that kind of thought pressure isnt the right design and will be seen as culturewashing for the 1%. Zumthor is talented enough to address this as he is one of the world's very best architects. The trick is to make this a gift/investment to LA and not to the 1%. I know Portland with its own looming expansion or two is watching this closely.

In related news, intellectuals and artists are demanding that Kanders be removed from the Whitney board. See above^

I've been saying this for years but uncertainty IS the ultimate subject in contemporary art now, see Venice Biennale... also, a certain artist I am very fond of is the master of this... museum show coming this summer (just being up front about this rather than hinting). I also think Inigo Manglano Ovalle, Jorge Pardo, Anish Kapoor and even Yayoi Kusama also make it a major component of their work. It is at the heart works by Stanley Kubrik, Robert Irwin, Robert Smithson as well as the unmooring of floor and wall in Donald Judd's work are both related as well (I suppose an essay should be undertaken). Overall, it requires a certain unmooring of viewers from reality yet a partial anchor to it (related to the sublime).

The Hudson Yards and the Shed have rightfully come under a great deal of critical fire.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on April 06, 2019 at 12:06 | Comments (0)

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Thursday 04.04.19

Spring Cleaning Cluster Reviews

This month marks my Twentieth Anniversary of moving to Portland and arguably that decision changed Portland in many ways (addressing history history with, Judd and Rothko, and a new appreciation of new media with Pipilotti Rist, Hank Willis Thomas and Cao Fei + talent scouting locals, etc). Simply put, I challenge Portland. There is still much more is to be done as the city doesnt effectively support its best artists yet (other cities do it for us... but still cmon). Considering all this, I've been spending a lot of time looking at art, with a one night Spring Equinox show as well (it was very underground on purpose). As part of my spring cleaning process here is a cluster of reviews, with an eye towards exposing some common threads and themes. Key: "*" Indicates show still open and "**" indicates it is still open for today's First Thursday (yes PAM is open for First Thursday). As you can see Portland's art scene is far from dead, challenges sometimes strengthen things and I see evidence of it here.


Map_not_the_Territory_PAM_1_sm.jpg
Main exhibition space of The Map Is Not The Territory with Charlene Vicker's Remember Redwing (fg)

The Map is Not the Territory is the Portland Art Museum's revolving triennial replacement for the Contemporary Northwest Art Awards (which among artists was nicknamed the conservative art awards). For this program instead of a stereo typically "Northwest" approach to traditional materials and subject matter like rain, glass, trees and fetish of effortful handwork the show has thankfully taken on an anthropological approach, which is essentially an expose on the human experience. I found it more satisfying than the CNAA's or any of the other weak institutional regional surveys Portland has been routinely subjected to recently. Mostly that is because this show felt connected to the times rather than trying to ingratiate itself among various special interest patronage factions. In short the work felt personally involved rather than a checklist of token inclusions. Themes like border crossings, ancestors, roots, food, shelter and the uneasy dance of the natural and man made are all topical and relevant, if a little obvious themes to explore. Think of this a as a show where PAM evolves from merely a map to patronage to one that asks the broad question of, "What are we doing here?"

Willy_Heeks_Archer_sm.jpg
Willy Little (fg) and Reneee Billingslea at Archer Gallery

... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on April 04, 2019 at 13:07 | Comments (0)

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