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End of June Links
Early June Links
City survey left out the Arts, add them back!
Late May Institutional Links
Early May links
Ending April Institutional Links
Thoughts on Tuski leaving PNCA
Mid April Links
Early April Critique of Institution Links
More Spring Cleaning
Early Spring Cleaning Links
Save OCAC protests

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Sunday 06.30.19

End of June Links

I've been traveling (will be so glad to be back in Portland) but that pile of Summer reviews is coming very soon. Till then let's look at how June is signing off:

The New Museum is going to expand and Rem Koolhaas will be the architect. Couple of thoughts: 1) It is important for keeping NYC's and by default the art world's edge as other institutions have chased audiences over art's more esoteric concerns and cultural functions. 2) Koolhaas was too radical for MoMA and LACMA expansions over a decade ago. 3) will it create a kind of preserve for Art as it is priced out of the area via condo pressure? 4) Why are buildings given more clout than innovative programming in almost every museum?

John Weber returns to Oregon as director of the Jordan Schnitzer Museum in Eugene.

Brian Libby discusses the Portland Building renovation. My question, what about the art gallery administered by RACC? I wish there were more programs like it. What's more, making that space as good as it can be is important as the scene has lost so many institutional stepping stones.

A British prize focuses on the "disappeared" careers of female artists. It's true there is an "emerging" gleam that fades quicker for women's careers but this solution also has a lot more edge than the Bonnie Bronson awards.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on June 30, 2019 at 0:43 | Comments (0)


Tuesday 06.11.19

Early June Links

I have a massive polyglot of reviews (and some even larger pieces, like my 20 year lookback etc.) for you PORT readers but to get you warmed up here's whats going on.

So what happens when a prominent up and coming artist uses someone's photo of abuse in their artwork without consent? The hypocrisy goes viral, even if it is touted as one of the 6 most daring works at the art fair. When the woke it, broke it? If this is real, its a shame and I have an intense dislike for anyone that makes money off of the pain of others.

Apparently our own Eva Lake is one of the best things at the Volta Basel art fair... she's too edgy for Portland's not so edgy art institutions etc, but Eva Lake the real deal and has been for a long time (our artists out pace our cultural organs).

Changes at MoMA via Roberta Smith, the larger the institution typically the more catch up they have to do. Thing is when they have hollowed out their expertise making curatorial subject to other modes of the day and "following the parade," they lose their intrinsic potency. An institution needs to embrace the crisis they represent rather than attempt to address it via architectural program. IE let the artists reconfigure the institution via empowering curatorial expertise rather than muting it.

Still more questionable decisions at the Barnes...

Then there is this issue over art criticism. Look, the critic's work is not there to produce a book report on the artist's source material. Criticism isnt a service industry for the art produced either. Instead, its a kind of civic test for alternate worldviews to see if the art translates and remains potent under different criteria... even to experienced observers who compare them to the history of what has gone before. That said, radical art is something so rare that it cannot be expected, especially in major museum surveys. Now expecting a show to have some edge is an entirely different thing... how close does the work skate on the thin, sometimes very uncomfortable veneers of decorum and understanding? Most institutional group shows dont really ruffle feathers any more outside of single points of outrage. The thin skin of understanding has become a brittle thing these days and professional art critics do measure the degree of suppleness on display beyond the simple questions of did I like/not like it?

The 2019 Hallie Ford fellows list was announced. It is good that a photographer was included this time, but the fact that is notable is lame. Still, artists who have to plug in their work or full on multimedia installation art are once again not in effect and as usual its not a very edgy list with artists that are super well established or are arch academicians. Sure its the Ford Foundation and they can do what they want but it actually effects artistic output... so many artists have gotten the memo. If you want a HF, use your... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on June 11, 2019 at 18:20 | Comments (0)


Thursday 05.30.19

City survey left out the Arts, add them back!


So the beleaguered Mayor of Portland, Ted Wheeler's city survey completely leaves out all mention of the arts as a form of civic participation. That's a tone deaf oversight (sorry Ted I believe you are a talented admin but do you know what makes Portland Portland?... clue its the permissive cultural climate, which is spearheaded by the arts). Keeping Portland's character means supporting the arts ecosystem, which is challenged like never before. That requires more than a namecheck on any document about this place. Yet it doesnt even get a mention.

So let's fix this as the survey has numerous places to chose "other" and write in responses. Do it, the squeaky wheel gets the oil so speak! How about access to and support of the arts (visual being my favorite but the varied ecosystem is crucial and I do have a deep background in other areas). For those who feel there are other more pressing matters, well that's a false dichotomy as what we need to support is depth of forms in the arts ecosystem as well as address the homeless and parks. The city doesnt do just one thing and we need all of its organs including the Arts which are kind of like the nerves and glands of the city. Losing great things like several entire colleges and studio buildings is tantamount to losing a coral reef or a rain forest. Get with it Ted, and yeah RRACC... get a clue too. For example, artists cannot get project grants if their work is presented at institutions that get operating funds from RACC... that's essentially a back door tax on the artists that are the lifeblood of the ecosystem. There are other complaints none of which have been addressed by RACC since being called out on them late last year (Since then they've drastically slashed support for many institutions... wrong direction Ted). The art scene does not accept RACC's silence on this and I'm merely one of the few with license to bring it up.

The link is here, have at it culturati. Deadline extended through May 31.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on May 30, 2019 at 15:39 | Comments (0)


Saturday 05.25.19

Late May Institutional Links

It's safe to say we are in a time of institutional upending, where things are being simultaneously being reconfigured, hollowed out or outright destroyed. Most of it seems knee jerk, follow the parade, performing public wokeness, a war on expertise and overall lacks strategic planning or vision (that's bad as institutions require it). After say 50 year of expansion, the art world for living artists seems to be contracting (except for blue chip commodity art and there dead = bread). Here are some links:

She's 98 and getting her first solo museum exhibition. Good news but why does this take so long? Oh yeah, she's a woman... and her concerns are less easy to commodify. Still its nice to have some good news and a sense of oversights being righted.

Looks like Josephine Zarcovich isnt planning on coming back as Linfield's curator. This is part of the overall war on expertise that all elements of the economy have been facing... from taxi drivers to tenured professors and yes institutional curators. It is coming from both the right and the left and a president with no interest in the standards of public service is the top example. Couple things though... I dont think Linfield ever technically had a full time professional curator like Linda Tesner. When I first started going there professors like Liz Obert programmed it, Cris Moss put the place on the map and he did teach as well. Hopefully Linfield can survive the current collapse of higher education and keep up a program worth tracking... the Linfield Gallery under Moss was THE reason to trek out to wine country and they can still do that... even if it is part time if they play their cards right. Another thing The Ford Foundation isnt always helping as much of their support prioritizes academic connections + traditional art forms (painting/sculpture) not the hybridized new mediums involving... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on May 25, 2019 at 13:03 | Comments (0)


Monday 05.06.19

Early May links

I've been making the rounds to a lot of galleries and polishing up several think pieces. Till those are ready (soon) here are some links:

The Venice Biennale is a kind of barometer for the art world but to my eyes it still seems to be stuck in the past with a lot of the disaster porn art we've been accustomed to... so much some are calling it the we_are_all_gonna_die-ennial though its aim was for ambiguity (I believe uncertainty is a better subject, splitting hairs but it is important). This Rugoff curated affair has the same kind of failure fetish we have grown accustomed to for a decade+ (it is kind of Rugoff's thing). At least it is more timely than a glitz-ennial, which would be wrong as would a woke-ennial. Still the choice of raw plywood (a favorite with every MFA class) is tired as can be (The MoMA Judd retrospective will expose all pretenders). Here are some more tours of Venice but what I see is a certain stagnant malaise with a longing to escape it. Perhaps that's my curse... I always insist on finding something with a fresh edge rather than some convenient failure to fetish. It is out there, but one has to be looking to see it. What's the U2 lyric, "some places have to be believed to be seen." Right now there is a kind of fetish of fatalism (often accompanied with some quote or footnote by Joan Retallack) that's always playing the victim in a coded and lame way. It has the sound of settling about it and its too easy a look to achieve.

All that said, the odd things they approve of, this Breugel book and exhibition seems like a good rejoinder for those who aren't dead inside or still have a healthy habit of intellectual curiosity.

Why did this pioneering trustee leave LACMA? See comments about lame anti-intellectual mode mastering trends in the art world. The man had an edge and an understanding.

The excellent painter and favorite among those in the know Thomas Nozkowski has died. Here is a wonderful video of what it was like to go hiking with him.

Hiking with Thomas Nozkowski from Casimir Nozkowski on Vimeo.

Last but not least, Oregon's arts funding for the Oregon Arts Commission is still under threat... take action. Considering the immense amount of economic activity in Oregon it seems unconscionable that arts funding is facing cuts.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on May 06, 2019 at 15:49 | Comments (0)


Tuesday 04.30.19

Ending April Institutional Links

Whether or not it is fair, most major art institutions are caught in a crossfire these days, whether its forming a line to march in the woke parade, a sense that the 1% has unfairly rigged things too well or artwashing. Things are tense or at least sense of unsettled tension seems to background everything. I'm nearly done going through my archives for my 20 years of being in Portland post. It is about a thousand times more difficult writing about oneself, especially when you are easily bored with yourself like I am. So to distract you with more important things here are some links:

It is your last week to catch The Map is not the Territory at PAM and Grace Kook Anderson spoke to KBOO (isnt it nice to have a curator who speaks very well again at PAM? Too many curators simply perform a certain ingratiating doubletalk). That said Art in America had some problems with the show, mostly because they looked at it through a sort of lens on the indigenous. AiA made some good points but I believe it is conceived to be broader than that. I saw similar problems with The Map Is Not The Territory but attributed them to some of the hang, which for a show about crossing boundaries and communication seemed too bounded by museum conventions and layout problems. It is a difficult step in the right direction. Most group shows are not very satisfying and at this time a show about dissatisfaction might be the only thing that will feel right?

Artists, 50 of whom are in the Whitney Biennial are demanding Whitney Chairman's ouster.

The banana becomes the sigil of institutional critique in Poland.

Jerry Saltz on the upcoming Rugoff curated Venice Biennale. Look, uncertainty is the subject of the age and art as distracting amusement or a series of humblebrag artwashing declarations doesnt really cut it, and hasn't for a long time.

As expected Catlin Gabel has bought OCAC and it is over. Ill have more on this in my Portlandageddon article (coming soon, all things in the right time) but all this was needless and nobody buys the agitprop that this could not be avoided and nobody is to blame. Blame = a weak board that was out of their depth and should have stepped down instead of pursuing a policy that put all eggs into merging with another school. Merging could not happen because all tuition based revenue models of higher education are broken... I saw this immediately. OCAC had a lack of vision by creating a leadership gap which ground fundraising momentum to zero, right when they needed it. This is sad especially considering how much most of the community wanted it saved. The situation required real leadership (board and some faculty) that was not inherently fatalistic. Where was the oversight and the understanding that they were in way over their heads? I dont blame Catlin Gabel, they have a super competent board and its a hard lesson that Portland institutions continue to not learn about endowments and stewarding institutional momentum.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on April 30, 2019 at 10:08 | Comments (0)


Thursday 04.25.19

Thoughts on Tuski leaving PNCA

Outgoing PNCA President Don Tuski

The news today that Don Tuski, current President of PNCA is leaving the school after only 3 years wasnt unexpected (certain exchanges then lack of follow up were a tell). First, higher education in general is in an incredibly challenging position... that of a destabilized financial model for any tuition based school without state funding (and that's dwindling too). More specific to Tuski, who had a stabilizing influence despite the relentless turmoil of rival school closures and ultimately the decision not to merge with OCAC ... he always seemed like a genial presence rather than the dynamic one of his predecessor (needed for a time). Now that PNCA has been somewhat stabilized (by virtue of outlasting rivals) it really needs a master fundraiser to shore up endowments for scholarships and professor positions as that is the only way to weather the current storm. Seems like Tuski going back to Michigan (in addition to being back to his roots and family) is a return to funders who are trying to reinvest in Michigan. Oregon is a younger state where a lot of the money here hasnt learned how to participate as effectively, leaving only a few Oregon families to take lead roles (most of whom tied heavily to real estate). Real estate money behaves differently than industrial, lumber, financial, new entrepreneurial and tech money (all new money). The Midwest has a different mindset, they realize that without investments all the talent ends up on the coasts. I suggest the next president be a visionary and relentless fundraiser. They should also be a better talent scout than most Portland institutional leaders tend to be. Tuski did have the vision to open a new GLASS building in North Portland, providing large scale ceramics and other staging possibilities. Still, the sense is only the most ambitious and talent driven art schools with the funding to attract those students with scholarships will survive the turmoil of the current student debt crisis and massive cost of education in the coming decade. Yet Portland is full of design and other creative sector firms so the disconnect between where funding/recruitment is placed and where it is derived seems pronounced. Tuski seemed capable but unable to really capture the imagination of Portlanders, perhaps he gave them too much of what they wanted... his predecessor, Tom Manley, was far more ambitious and controversial yet one of the most crucial Portlanders of the 21st century. They both inherited very different times and institutions.

Institutionally, Portland has an allergy towards ambitious talent that it needs to get over (the ignoring of Rothko was exhibit A, but now PAM is addressing this so there is hope things are changing).

... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on April 25, 2019 at 13:17 | Comments (0)


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. As expected Foster and Partners is proposing a glass roof like their Reichtag update.

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)


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)


Thursday 03.21.19

More Spring Cleaning

I've been busy with several projects (inside and outside Portland)... including curating a somewhat informal Spring show in Portland this weekend. That said I have a large # of reviews to publish (soon, lots going on behind the scenes). Till then these links should tide you over:

With all of the terrible news its nice to hear something positive, C3: Initiative is leaving St. Johns to join the densest visual arts cluster of venues in Portland, right on the NW Park Blocks. We profiled C3 when they were new and they've done many great things since. Frankly its nice to see an organization grow and understand their niche.

Another bit of good news is the Historic Landmarks Commission has approved the Rothko Pavilion expansion at PAM. The real trick will be to tailor the Rothko painting exhibition space to his paintings. Often they are lit wrong, dont allow for intimate viewing and have weird lines on the floor to protect the paintings from the required close viewing. Yes, urban legends around Rothko still persist in Portland... all thoroughly debunked in this historic post by Arcy, here on PORT.

The sad news of the passing of Okwui Enwezor hits home. Amy Bernstein interviewed the man extensively for PORT in 2009. Other artworlders discuss his legacy here.

Here is a fine and challenging interview with Anish Kapoor in the Guardian. Intelligent and anything but fatalistic in his lifelong query via art his work is both generous and thorny.

Academia and capitalism... neither is working terribly well these days so combining the two seems like trying to turn two wrongs into a right?

The horse ring art project by Scott Wayne Indiana has become a Portland tradition.

...(more on OCAC + social practice)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on March 21, 2019 at 20:05 | Comments (0)


Saturday 03.02.19

Early Spring Cleaning Links

First, the BBC takes an incredible look at some long hidden Dr. Seuss, who is still so relevant.

The OCAC saga continues as the board met yesterday with no official announcement. Students protested again on Thursday but as usual certain faculty members set out to shame them into suppressing their concerns. Apparently OCAC comes with lessons in fatalistic suppression? bad form. Look, what has been wrong with this entire thing has been a suppressive attitude from the board and a few faculty enforcers who have taken a similar hospice-like approach with an yen for quashing all critical discussion. I feel for all sides (even the board, which seems out of its league) this is a tough situation with a DOA higher education business model but a cult of fatalism at OCAC is how this mess painted itself into a corner (there are other models). The lack of transparency has been turning natural allies into a Dunning-Kruger polarized mess. Take a breath, find a vision or 4 and turn this crisis into an opportunity by playing different views off each other. It has only been a few weeks since the closure of OCAC was announced and I see how tired everyone is. That makes it a good time to step back... and really is this board capable of giving fresh eyes to this? If its Catlin Gable School, if its a sell and lease back, if it is an aromatherapy spa with a craft brewery and an artist's residency, if it is an artist's park, if its a center for craft that helps veterans off the street all could have positive outcomes but the trick is to pivot the model from a loss to an opportunity. Degeneration of all this into a cycle of fatalism and mistrust (both self fulfilling prophecies)is the first cycle to break before making better decisions.

A study finds that artists become famous through their friends not the originality of their work. Ok, one could read that as bad news for the original... though there is a cult of fatalistic/mediocre contemporary work out there where the good is the enemy of the great but Ive found that those patrons and curators with a real eye still exist and are more influential. For example Kahnweiler and Peggy Guggenheim did have an eye and generally its not the richest taste makers who have this ability. It seems like the merely good artists and art institutions are going through a bit of a bubble correction at the moment...

Southern California gets a new art center... note to Oregon higher education institutions, enhance not scale back your galleries.

A philosopher argues why AI cant be an artist. Really? Im not sure seems like being a mediocre artist isnt that hard and has identifiable trends... like putting studio rags on a wall as paintings or stacking grotty ceramics and some other detritus on a wood grained plinth or some scaffolding with meat hanging from it.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on March 02, 2019 at 11:51 | Comments (0)


Wednesday 02.20.19

Save OCAC protests

activists protesting to save OCAC

This morning protests to save OCAC were ongoing as the board met after moving to an offsite location. Many, including us at PORT have been critical of the secrecy, assumptions and overall tone the board has operated under since the crisis became public... even voting to cease higher education classes at OCAC 2 weeks ago. Word on the street is they are mulling over 3 proposals but as the protester's activity indicates anything other than saving the school is not going to be accepted by the community (whereas the board seems spooked, perhaps understandably but a leadership vacuum is worrisome). A group called The Council To Save OCAC has been formed and the an already existing organization the Friends of OCAC has called for a town hall next week (you can still sign the letter). Those concerned should sign up for both. This is too important to just give up on and sure the business model can be adapted to something sustainable but it takes some leaps of faith... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on February 20, 2019 at 11:00 | Comments (0)


Tuesday 02.12.19

February links to Love

Stuart Emmons is going full William Wallace on a community charge to save OCAC in this op ed. What is hinted at in the op ed is there is a last ditch community effort underway and I agree, a school is not a simple for profit effort, more like a cultural utility and OCAC represents a lot of the true Portland Ethos acting as a repository and training ground for our values. Clearly, the model and vision still needs to change if there is a bailout but still, the community must try. This is a battle, not a simple balance sheet. Simply selling off assets to retire debt isnt the only way and the community knows it. As far as a new vision, I can see many ways to shift the model away from the broken one of pure higher education, degrees are not the only form of education and this moment in history can desperately use what OCAC offers.

Look, high culture doesnt just pander to one's instagram feed... the higher aims of culture challenges one to grow. It isnt likes that makes the world go round, at the end of the day it is Love... which is more difficult.

Nan Goldin stages a die in at the Guggenheim to protest opioid money and deaths.

I Love this story about finding an art experience to resonate with.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on February 12, 2019 at 8:46 | Comments (0)


Thursday 02.07.19

The end of OCAC?

OCAC student using the then new buildings in 2010

There is some incredibly sad news as the Oregon College of Arts and Craft's board of Trustees has voted to cease academic instruction after the final graduating class of 2019. This is an incredibly painful outcome after a seemingly short death spiral that began publicly last summer.

Recently, OCAC's board has explored mergers with PNCA and PSU but I never saw those as viable since each school has such a different culture and yet the same underlying weaknesses that all higher education faces today. They needed a new model but could not find one, perhaps simply not being up to that kind of visioning task or perceived risk? Since last Fall OCAC's governing body appeared to be a board that simply wanted another institution to partner in fixing fundamentals at a time when the fundamentals for all higher education are broken. I could liken this situation in higher education to the lifeboats of the Titanic or a hospital patient given a grim prognosis... there are no easy answers but many in the scene still want to fight to save OCAC. In today's statement OCAC's board essentially claim they have run out options and with an interim president the vision gap here was pronounced. I'm seeing immense anger and sadness from many of the arts community regarding this outcome, as well as frustration with the short timeline. Mostly the anger comes from a sense that the board never gave the community a chance to rally and save the school. Those emotions are to be expected but are also energies that can lead to new options and perhaps a better outcome?

... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on February 07, 2019 at 16:01 | Comments (0)


Sunday 01.27.19

End of January Links

The latest in the OCAC saga is that PSU has decided not to acquire the rival-ish school. As a public school this PSU idea was always a long shot for the private OCAC but not impossible (it takes a bold vision and Portland isnt known for bold institutional thinking). Still, the school needs to be saved, as OCAC is a crucial, even unique entity. The main issue I see is one of vision in the face of a higher education system that is broken, forcing schools to constantly grow enrollment if they dont have prodigious endowments. Vision comes from leaders and OCAC currently does not have a visionary leader... just an understandably spooked board and an interim president (faculty member thrust into this). Plenty of people want to see this school saved but perhaps the best answer is to bear down and draw a line in the sand with a direct campaign. This will take a vision statement and plan that people can rally around (not something that Portland boards ever do). The school itself is quite unique being craft centered and that needs to be highlighted as the asset it is. Let's remember PNCA was in a similar state before Tom Manley came in and helped that school realize some of the untapped momentum it was sitting on. In my mind OCAC needs to remain small and specialized to survive the current crisis in higher education but it also needs to pragmatically innovate. This is something that requires vision... I can see several ways to make the school an innovation leader so it can reposition itself and shore up its fundamentals. The enrollment itself has been stable... unlike Marylhurst University which closed last year. Hopefully the board recognizes... (more)

Contemporary female artists are obsessed with the grotesque... Louise Bourgeios, Eva Hesse and Maria Lassnig were just early pioneers that Marlene Dumas, Tracy Emin, Wangechi Mutu and Kara Walker (to name just a few) have built upon. It is a huge genre in the Northwest too and overdue for a regional survey.

Sarah Cain has a lot of good painting moves down in LA.

NPR has a great general story about how reaching out to others unlike you generates creative thinking. It is an important reminder.

Herzog and de Meuron has revealed their wooden/brutalist mashup design for Vancouver's new art gallery downtown. The use of wood is something PAM should take note of for their coming expansion.

Portland Architecture chats about Will Martin (designer for Pioneer Square) with a co-worker.

Jerry Saltz on Dana Schutz's latest paintings. I believe the Whitney curators screwed up by not giving the work the right kind of context but as our interview with Schutz shows, bodies are part and parcel of her ouvre. Just because she is white doesn't mean she cant touch that subject matter but it did require far more context in the exhibition.

There is a showdown brewing between W.A.G.E. and the Whitney Biennial and its based on the growing sense that artists are underwriting exhibitions by wealthy museums. It is wrong and artists should be compensated fairly for these shows... everyone else at the museums, including installers are paid, why not the artists?

Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 27, 2019 at 9:36 | Comments (0)


Monday 01.07.19

2019 1st links

Zaha Hadid's estate is in turmoil. This isn't good for anyone involved, her legacy involves both her kin and those who made her firm great.

These new city rules for brick and mortar buildings in Portland is terrible and threatens to destroy so many venues that make Portland a creative hub. City Council must act in a way that acknowledges the way cultural buildings... even if old and less earthquake resistant are the backbone of our position as a creative center. The arts involve risks, lets acknowledge them and support them.

A new movement in British art, research architecture?

Italy's government wants a sculpture at the Getty back.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 07, 2019 at 15:05 | Comments (0)


Thursday 12.27.18

End of 2018 Links

2018 is nearly over, Ill post a list of our biggest stories Saturday and Portlandageddon is coming right at the beginning of 2019. Till then here are some links to tide you over:

Here is Edward Winkleman on the history of art galleries on Artsy. The sense is the business is now driving galleries out of business. Art used to be the refuge of more marginal business mindings.

Here is a treat, Amy Sillman on Delacroix.

then there are the year end lists (ill just publish our top posts tomorrow):
New York Times
Dayton Ohio, looks like they had a good year

This interview with David Lynch in Plazm isn't quite ruined by the annoying and cloying tone the interviewer takes.

*Update: the Art Gym's records are headed to the Portland Art Museum. So a program becomes an archive... I must note that the PCVA's even more storied archive lives there as well. Overall, Im curious about what will happen to the Crumpacker Library archives after PAM's planned renovation/expansion? Hopefully this opportunity to make the library better known and accessed is seized upon. Also, the space vacated by the library will become a large contemporary gallery space. All that said, any move of the Art Gym away from its Marylhurst site changes things... one really can't turn back the clock. The thing is Portland should be creating more ideal organs of culture to serve its crucial art scene rather than just reshuffle the decks.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 27, 2018 at 14:10 | Comments (0)


Friday 12.14.18

PNCA + OCAC Merger Off

PORT was just notified that the proposed merger between Oregon College of Art and Craft and Pacific Northwest College of Art is for now off after PNCA and OCAC board meetings. To us at PORT this merger never made sense other than for the fetish of this # of 1000 students but its clear that the much smaller OCAC needs a fairy godmother of sorts and the main problem is that higher education as a system seems to be collapsing under costs and student debt. OCAC has grown but I just cant see it having 1000+ students, ever. I suspect that would kill what is special about the college. Ultimately, PNCA and OCAC simply shared the same inherent needs/weaknesses and I likened the idea as trying to find a date for the holidays only to wonder about the long term feasibility? Instead, I think OCAC should think outside the box (how about OHSU, or a massive save craft campaign? Nick Offerman will be in the area in April folks, he's the face of craft... engage him). What's more PNCA should do what it has been doing by focusing on deepening their disciplines. The point is there are competitive advantages that need attention that a merger would be a distraction to. An art school that loses focus doesnt survive, it is just that simple and OCAC is special as a craft focused school. That said no one wants to see OCAC close like Marylhurst University recently did so OCAC needs a capital campaign and this is a major donation time. Ultimately OCAC is without an experienced president and therefore has a vision vacuum at the moment. (The whole merger was originally presented as a fait accompli, which seemed hasty).

Here is PNCA's statement:

"Over the last three months, Pacific Northwest College of Art (PNCA) and Oregon College of Art and Craft (OCAC) have explored the potential of consolidating their two institutions. Today, PNCA's Board of Governors has made the determination that a merger at this time is not a feasible option and voted to decline the opportunity with OCAC.

Both institutions entered these conversations with strong intention and dedicated rigor, engaging in an inclusive process that included faculty, staff and members of the board from both institutions. The PNCA community holds our colleagues at OCAC in high regard, recognizing their contribution to the American Crafts movement, art education and the rich legacy of the arts and creativity in the Pacific Northwest. OCAC has stated its intention to remain dedicated to providing the highest level of arts education in the City of Portland and throughout the Pacific Northwest. We wish them only success in moving forward."

Here is OCAC's statement:

"During the last 3 months, OCAC and PNCA have completed a due diligence and negotiations process to understand the potential benefits and challenges of merging our two institutions.

Today, both OCAC's Board of Trustees and PNCA's Board of Governors made the decision that a merger at this time is not a feasible option for our respective organizations. OCAC and PNCA remain dedicated to providing the highest level of arts education in the City of Portland and throughout the Pacific Northwest.

The OCAC leadership is exploring other exciting opportunities to ensure the sustainability of our college and campus. We continue to be fully committed to finding the best possible pathway to a brighter future."

Perhaps an innovative public private partnership? Perhaps a non art school? Either way nobody wants to lose OCAC and a committed campaign with vision needs to be mounted.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 14, 2018 at 15:11 | Comments (0)


Tuesday 12.04.18

Hoffman Gallery Changes at Lewis and Clark?

2016's Open This End at the Hoffman Gallery (L to R) Jack Pierson, Andy Warhol, Agnes Martin, Tony Smith and Rita Mcbride

**There will be updates as they come in

Lewis and Clark College, known for being perhaps the most liberal of all of Portland's Liberal Arts Colleges has decided to "change....toward a more student-centered and student-responsive gallery experience at the end of this school year." That means their excellent curator Linda Tesner has been laid off and according to the school, "we plan to look for a faculty member to lead that process." The question remains is that a professional curator? Linda did shows of startling international caliber but also mounted excellent student and faulty shows that all benefited from a higher level of competence. Portland institutions are terrible at assessing caliber of cultural programs and it will be very difficult for this development to not become a downgrade. How does an institution that touts itself as, "A private college with a public conscience," defend an inward navel gazing + likely cost saving measure? How do the today's students feel now that they are being expected to program their own art experience when for 20 years previous students had a very interactive, socially conscious high caliber professional curator?

At first I heard that the space was closing at the end of the school year, which seemed incredibly short sighted as this is one of the jewels in Portland's cultural scene and nothing could be more crucial to a Liberal Arts education than the actual "Arts." For years there has been bureaucratic pressure (like renting the gallery space etc.) but now the director+curator Linda Tesner has been laid off, despite having done an excellent job curating shows like: The world class: Open this End and this stunner and Alison Saar. Reading between the lines this move seems to devalue the curatorial expertise and contributions just like the the closure of the White Box did to their director. (Changing leadership when someone is doing a great job and is popular always looks odd to art critics). Then there was the way the Art Gym's cancelled move to OCAC displaced longtime OCAC staff (its bad to have institutions displacing each other). I can say I never heard L&C art students complain that the Hoffman wasnt challenging or current or engaged enough, the opposite actually. Instead, it was without a doubt one of the best run spaces in the West Coast but always seemed to lack support from some higher ups. Will that change? contact L&C's president and tell them what you think: president@lclark.edu The irony is deep as now L&C President Wim Weiwel will have the main gallery of PSU's new art museum named after him and I know for a fact he likes attending art exhibitions.

Many in the arts community consider this a crushing blow and an act of philistinism in a school with an otherwise enlightened reputation that is being tarnished, needlessly. True this is happening all over the country but L&C is a wealthy with a very progressive reputation. This is extremely unfortunate and The Hoffman rightly drew accoclades from Peter Plagens in the Wall Street Journal in 2012 for its student exhibition.

Alumni Response:
2012 graduate Drew Linehan described the news as, "remarkably disappointing."

2003 graduate Leah Emkin was shocked saying, "The Hoffman was an integral part of our arts program. Linda was very inspirational as a woman leader in the arts."

Other Alumni indicated how the Hoffman under Tesner made the campus less isolated and brought the world to the wealthy enclave in the West Hills. How does looking more inward institutionally help a supposedly ultra-liberal arts college? Something does not sit right... a bit like a big hospital without a surgeon and replacing them with a part time medic. It just isnt the same thing unless the caliber of director remains and from everything I heard over the years it may have contributed to some bureaucratic aca-envy. Linda's program mounted large scale shows for local artists and L&C faculty as well as international artists. This exhibition and cultural exchange with Cuban artists and L&C students is a prime example of the great things Linda did that apparently was not valued.

What this seems to be is a bureaucratic push for a different director so the question must be will it be be for someone of comparable expertise and program of comparable caliber? With the loss of so many institutions like the Museum of Contemporary Craft, White Box, Newspace, Art Gym etc. it seems like depth of long term curatorial experience that informs challenging shows doesnt seem to be valued very much. Agendas in higher ed can be some of the most political. Yet, what I liked about Linda is she was one of the most fair minded people in the art scene. The arts arent just a mouthpiece, they are an exploration and I'll be watching this closely. What is sure here is that Linda leaves very large shoes to fill as the Hoffman is not a tiny gallery. It is a large museum style space that requires a lot of experience and preparations to program. Its not the sort of space a faculty member can just pull off as a side gig and in general I fear for the state of L&C's art program.

Lastly, let's all go and show our support this weekend. The current exhibition is one of their all time best and will host a closing event on Sunday December 9th from 2-4PM with a Gallery Talk and Pie Tutorial.

Loss of Material Evidence | September 8 - December 9
Hoffman Gallery
Lewis and Clark College

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 04, 2018 at 12:30 | Comments (0)


Saturday 11.24.18

Giving Thanks Readings

How to talk to kids about art? I dont have kids but I spend a lot of time talking to kids about, partially because they see things adults do not. maybe I should do an article about how kids teach adults to look at art?

A Tinguely is restored to its commotions! Art doesn't always sit quietly in the corner.

The artificial divide between textiles and art? In some ways this battle is already over intellectually but not in markets or museum space (hidebound by conservative investment conventions rather than intellectually)).

Francis Bacon on how to be an artist

The Menil's new Drawing exhibition facilities set new standards of seriousness.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on November 24, 2018 at 14:40 | Comments (0)


Wednesday 11.14.18

Meet RACC's new leader Madison Cario


RACC (Regional Arts and Culture Council) and the main public granting agency has finally announced that they have chosen a new executive director, Madison Cario. Cario seems to have an easy, direct but informal way about them that should fit in well in Portland. As a former marine and someone who didn't grow up with arts and culture they seem well placed to inject the decisiveness the agency (which used the word "quirky" too much [even once is too much] and "excellence" hardly if ever in communications). Over the years artists have asked for a lot of reforms and to be sure some have been adopted but the sense is the agency aims too low in terms of ambition... coming off at least a decade or more behind the bleeding edge of Portland's very dynamic cultural scene.

Luckily, Casio has been a curator (science and technology oriented visual arts even) and not just a bureaucrat. The question will be if they will merely implement token multiculturalism or if Cario can make the agency become a more important cultural ally in keeping Portland's cultural edge keen? Till now many of its practices have had a dulling effect as Portland likes to pat itself on the back without really challenging the status quo (some important art does make people uncomfortable). Most of our exhibitions institutionally try a little to hard to soften their criticisms, yet the sharpest artists themselves have a great deal of edge. I call this Portland's Artist/Institutional schism and RACC is central in this discussion.

You can watch this video to get a sense of Cario:

Contemporary Talks: Madison Cario from Jason Parker on Vimeo.

Now with City Council calling for an arts affordability plan (it needs to be an arts sustainability and retaining/encouraging creative edge plan) RACC is crucial to executing that effectively. To do that the agency needs a lot of reforms that the cultural scene has calling for decades now.

Here are a couple of things that really need to be looked at immediately:

... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on November 14, 2018 at 12:43 | Comments (0)


Tuesday 11.06.18

Early November Links

Weve got a huge amount of stuff coming for you including reviews and Portlandageddon. But first lets look at some news:

One time Portlander and long time PORT pal Paul Middendorf has re-launched the institution he started in Portland and continued in Houston. Paul is the best kind of person and a hero of the Portland (artists into the city) and Houston (real water) floods... but some well known Portland art scene figures didn't support him (you know who you are, I'm talking institutional people and it wasnt simply money). Well he's proven himself in Houston (just like Portland) yet he's been appreciated more there. Portland's City Council and other leaders who are looking at Portland's art scene need to ask... huh, what could we have done better and apply it to those who are still in Portland? Sometimes Portland's art scene politics are detrimental in their parochial character. That said lots of new, great things have sprung up since, Open Signal, Carnation Contemporary, regime change at Disjecta etc. (History lesson = Paul was Disjecta's first and last non guest curator and the only male staff curator ...though Cris Moss did curate a biennial.)

Daniel Nord's almost skeletal sci-fi might seem a bit unsettling but it is exactly the kind of work that is relevant now.

Perhaps the art world might be sick of laughing at the same old jokes about itself?

Chicago's Mayor does the right thing and pulls a Kerry James Marshall mural from a Christies auction. Look, public art isnt just some asset to flip when the street repair fund is low. Think of it as a public museum collection that enriches the city, not a rainy day fund. The artist said as much in an interview today. Essentially these are civic treasures held in trust by government... the fact that this was actually considered shows how atrophied civics have become in the quantification of assets as some sort of portfolio to manage.

Speaking of civics, the biggest story in Portland right now outside of the elections is the now planned merger of OCAC and PNCA. This is hardly a done deal though it is being presented as such. There has been precious little info with no public statements but Im of two minds on this and nothing has changed since my initial assessment. For history's sake I'll point out how I worried far more about the previous Museum of Contemporary Craft merger than any other media, which sadly turned out to be correct so take that into account. PNCA has informed their staff and students more than OCAC has, and OCAC is operating in a leadership vacuum with an inexperienced interim president and a board that likely got spooked by something after the State of Oregon's Attorney General started looking into the Art Gym's move to OCAC (timing suggests this). Non profit boards in Oregon tend to be That means a weak bargaining position. The thing is(just like the MoCC merger, and I was the only media to mention this) is they need a kind of autonomy and checks and balances that come from an endowment. I've heard numerous times about a 5 million dollar endowment drive, which is needed whether or not the schools combine. That's good as higher education is broken, with only endowments to support general fund, teaching positions and scholarships as the only protection. The thing is this merger really only makes sense if it produces an institution with greater vision than PNCA and OCAC already have. Considering the way committees seem to run higher education Im deeply suspicious of happening (which means Id love to be wrong/surprised). The way we are hearing only 1 narrative seems to be building suspicions among staff and alumni for both schools... and the way OCAC staff, students and alum are very wary of reprisals now is not ideal (all stemming from a weakness in the board and placeholder interim president (not slight intended she's been thrust into this and would be difficult for a seasoned pro). All that said the best MFA program in the state is the joint OCAC+PNCA Applied Craft and Design and a new combined school that keeps the core mountain village community that OCAC represents, with a more focused PNCA all under a new name (please no Portland Institute for the Arts and Crafts aka "PIAC") could be good if it has vision. Instead, right now I see something akin to a human relationship where both schools are afraid to be alone in some drive for 1000 students as a quorum of safety? So what happens after the holidays?

Some ideas:
If this does happen, try to find a way to put the Craft Collection on better display (OCAC has a small but important collection too) and an exit strategy if it doesnt work out as planned because ultimately both schools problems are brought on by a broken higher education system. Otherwise I cant see how that narrative gets redirected to something more positive without some real visionary planning and some clear checks and balances (OCAC needs its own senior fundraising officer if it merges). Still waiting on details and a whole public mea culpa for OCAC's board has to be done just as it was for the MOCC, which held public meetings. It is delicate, I appreciate that but Portland is in no mood to lose another crucial institution without some transparency and it would be smarter to release some basic statements that set some expectations because with the MOCC failure most will assume similar outcomes. I personally dont believe that but as I speak to others that's the tone things have mostly taken. Of all the conversations Ive had only a few have expressed great faith in preserving what makes OCAC so special.... that's a failure in the rollout of this story, though it is correctable.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on November 06, 2018 at 10:14 | Comments (0)


Tuesday 10.23.18

Countdown to Portlandageddon?

photo: Joseph Gallivan

The Portland art scene is due for a thorough physical and KBOO's Joseph Gallivan interviews me as a bit of tease for what's in store today at 11:30AM. Look back later here for Part I of Portlandageddon a thorough anatomy of the scene at the moment and recent past with some predictions for the future. It isn't all bad news either. True criticism isn't a beat down, its a way to gain a more faceted and focused view to address concerns and shortcomings as well as celebrate and further support advances that have already distinguished themselves.

I take a look at most every major institution and trend in trendsetting Portland but if you want background and a refresher before then please check out these articles:

This critical look at what little we know about the potential OCAC/PNCA art school merger. So little is known but it is supposed to come before the boards of both schools by the end of the month.

Much of what I wrote here in 2012 hasn't changed but what I foresaw way back in 2000-2003 has already happened. Portland needs to turn a corner or risk what makes it special... some of this is finally happening with City Hall's Arts Affordability Plan but its scope and vision is too limited. Portlandageddon will point out many of its biggest holes (good news no new organizations or taxes are required but it does require a clearer purpose in our arts funding mechanisms).

Posted by Jeff Jahn on October 23, 2018 at 10:00 | Comments (0)


Friday 10.19.18

Mid October Links including PNCA/OCAC merger talks

I've been traveling for nearly a month but some big things are afoot. Time to catch up.

The biggest story in Portland right now is the proposed merger of PNCA (Pacific Northwest College of Art and OCAC (Oregon College of Arts and Craft), but it doesn't seem to have received much press besides this Oregonian piece (with their characteristic lack of critical thinking). Well, that changes now. I've worked with both schools extensively and even served as a mentor for their joint MFA in Applied Craft and Design, so they have shown they can combine forces effectively. Thus, on the surface it seems like another one of Portland's typical, let's combine forces, moments but I wonder what is really driving it? OCAC's President stepped down September 10th so that means that its really OCAC's board driving this. I have a lot of questions as both schools are so different and am suspicious of a march towards monoculture and inherently prefer different types of schools with autonomy. That said higher education currently has major systemic problems. Here are a few starter questions:

1)Why the short time frame for such a major decision? How dire is this?

2)Is the current board at OCAC and interim President's administration still fundraising?

3)It seems like PNCA and OCAC share the exact same problems regarding enrollment and the inherent issues all higher education seem to be awash in. I dont see how this improves either's situation except short term, so how?

4)We have seen a lot of institutional mergers and like the Museum of Contemporary Craft with PNCA they havent resolved optimally. How is the vision here different? How to ensure the identity of each is preserved? (hint it takes an endowment but if that's the case OCAC should just do an endowment drive itself... perhaps the board doesnt feel up to the challenge and is just being expedient... that isnt a good reason to do it).

*Update On Friday night a meeting with concerned OCAC Alumni and OCAC's Administration took place. By all reports it was one of those tough meetings that everyone was glad reconnect to each other with such dire news. Ive heard conflicting reports that attendees were, "asked not to discuss it with those who were not at the meeting ,"(they simply cant ask that and yes people are talking). Another report indicated they were encouraged to share info with other alums and the community. (so far there has been no official position for me to refer to, but both sides seem pretty clear in their own understanding). Apparently the meeting was open to press but was not indicated as such and those that understood it as a closed discussion, along with the timing drove many away that wanted to attend. I've also heard that OCAC never really indicated what was driving this rush to merge. More importantly, only one option "Merger" was presented as an inevitability. Many alumni and I myself question the lack of options and creativity in the situation. At this point both OCAC and PNCA probably need to make a public statement (that Oregonian article doesnt count) and my questions for OCAC's board remain.

How engaged is OCAC's board? It seems like only one option is being pursued... which seems like a board giving up on fixing it themselves and counting on PNCA to be a deus ex machina to save the school. Portland has seen a lot of that lately and lost too many crucial arts institutions like the Museum of Contemporary Craft, Marylhurst University, the art institute of Portland, The White Box at the U of O, etc (all without a proper fight to save the institutions). I also think City Hall should chime in on this and this is Chloe Eudaly's first test as the New Arts Commissioner. Mayor Ted Wheeler also needs to show an interest. If PNCA is the only way to save OCAC Id be behind that, but the case and details for it have not been made. Also, I worry about PNCA's health if a merger takes place (both schools share the same problems). Overall, Portland's very active residents are in no mood to lose or weaken the very core arts institutions that help make Portland what it is. It appears there is some crisis driving this, but a crisis creates special fundraising opportunities. There has been the customary talk of "transparency" but a lack of official statements and a limited meeting without key information indicate something else and this needs to be handled better. I do think everyone involved is acting in good faith but the main questions regarding vision, current situation and options are main questions for OCAC's board.

There will be more press on PORT and elsewhere

The Manny Farber exhibition and Helen Molesworth's final curatorial contribution at MOCA look invigorating. Why are museums so adverse to strong curatorial presences these days? So often today the major museum curators just subcontract out to guest curators and though I enjoy a good guest curated show as the next person I also see a lack of curatorial backbone with a preference for ingratiation in the practice.

Bruce Nauman reappears and the NY Times pays attention. What Nauman does best is create a kind of crisis of attention, what could be more current than that?

David Anfam reviews a new Pollock book that is too academicized. Odd how being arch academic has become anti-intellectual, but it has been the trend for years now. Every artist who goes to art school to rationalize their use of hanging sausages, spray foam, stained tarps (dropcloths?), grotty ceramics and or raw plywood shelves, tables or plinths is also a product of this drive to out humblebrag eachother and its a wasted effort in a world that has so much serious stuff going on.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on October 19, 2018 at 9:06 | Comments (0)


Monday 10.15.18

Paul Allen, philanthropist and arts champion dead at 65


CNN is reporting that Paul Allen has died at age 65 and implies he was fighting cancer aggressively.

For me he always seemed like an arch geek (this is a compliment) and unlike most tech billionaires was very involved in the visual arts (including numerous Pacific Northwest art institutions). I reviewed part of Allen's art collection here when on view at the Portland Art Museum. I never met him or I might write more but as a fellow guitarist I imagined Id chat with him about those simple things someday. It wont happen but I hope this spurs others on to do more with the means they have... The problem with most cultural support in the USA is that it falls to too few donors to be deus ex machinas of culture.

Major landscape artists on display at PAM from Paul Allen's Collection in 2015

Some will complain that he was mercurial and to be sure less charitable sorts will complain about his on again, off again interest and support in projects and organizations but I maintain that sort of intense involvement also drew attention to the need for broader support to ensure continuity of programming. Allen dreamt big and sometimes cut things off abruptly but put his foot down to launch the Seattle Art Fair and other projects that loom large in Seattle and Portland (where he was very active). He did hundreds of more important things besides the visual arts but his passion was what I respected most. Without passion we just have a dull progression of culture, which defeats the purpose of culture.

Rest in Peace... if every tech billionaire got as involved as he did the arts and culture as a whole would be valued differently.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on October 15, 2018 at 15:59 | Comments (0)


Sunday 09.30.18

End of September News

It isnt so much the end of September but the beginning of Fall, that said there are some serious things afoot:

Back in July PORT was the first to uncover the important involvement of Oregon's Attorney General in the transfer of the Art Gym to OCAC, namely the status of the endowment. Yesterday, it was announced that both parties were walking away from that plan after the AG needed to look deeper into the situation of the Art Gym. This is certainly a more perilous situation and throws the Art Gym's survival into doubt. My take is that perhaps thousands of people have donated to the Art Gym and the AG wants to research their wishes. There is an endowment... and I hope the AG is doing this to ensure the endowment is allowed to support the Art Gym? If it is about Marylhurst University assets (like the Art Gym) coming into play in some larger financial entanglement? ... then I am wary. Also, is something moving into the Marylhurst campus that could allow the Art Gym to stay on the grounds? The Art Gym is important to the cultural scene of Oregon and I want it to stay that way. Contact the Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum here, especially if you ever donated to the Art Gym.

Ai Weiwei discusses the destruction of his studio.

Was Starry Night influenced by Great Wave?

Kboo interviews new artist run space Carnation Contemporary.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on September 30, 2018 at 9:09 | Comments (0)


Wednesday 09.19.18

Mid September Art News

I've seen so many shows and there are some great reviews and a pretty massive article on the way but to tide you over here's what is new:

Jeffrey Deitch returns to LA...

Here is a wonderful review of David Wojnarowicz's retrospective at the Whitney in the Washington Post.

Here's a fascinating take on art criticism... that it is becoming more common, less judgemental and somehow quite similar no matter where it is being perpetrated? Lots to disagree with there and I've found most dont understand what art criticism can really do and the loooong article I've been working on forever really gets into it, with some new wrinkles. Let's just say the that the ambitions, pecadilleos and greater failures of the moment are laid bare in criticism and most art writing isn't actually criticism. The way a critic conducts themselves is actually a kind of theater that determines a lot of the effect... and worth of what they do. Let's just say that simply tossing a few stones only creates ripples on very calm waters.

Joseph Gallivan of Kboo interviews Dana Lynn Lewis for her upcoming public art piece.

A review of Avantika Bawa's latest show at PAM's reinvigorated APEX Program series. I still prefer her installation art but it is a very good show and I'm curious how it will shift her career? Shows at PAM that alter careers... what a much needed development that is.

Nan Goldin responds to Sackler patenting an anti addiction drug for Oxycontin.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on September 19, 2018 at 19:50 | Comments (0)


Monday 09.10.18

Early September Links

I've been looking at so many shows and writing so much (+other things behind the scenes)that I havent had time to do many posts. Till then here are some links:

The Tate is outsourcing its biographies to Wikipedia. This is what happens when museums get away from their relationship with artists.

Rising costs in Berlin are affecting artists like most other interesting places. The question is what can cities do about it... Ive got some ideas for Portland.

Chistopher Chichocki's art looks at the Salton Sea.

Jerry Saltz on Hilma af Klint.

And Brian Libby writes about a Portland home (full of art) in the New York Times.

An interview with Liza Lou on her latest show.

*Update Brian Libby interviews Brian Ferriso and one of the architects working on PAM's new expansion. I interpret all of this as a good direction. The original renderings were very vanilla, plain almost to a fault but now that the pathway is to remain open it also affords an opportunity. Ferriso and I have discussed connecting to the parkspace and the community for years now... with lots of warning from me about being "too museumy") and it seems like an enhanced level of that integration and transparency will now be a goal. Of course funding gets put into the mix there but it is a complicated site and requires some innovative thinking... an off the shelf museum-style solution isnt enough. Think like a garden amenity etc. Losing the staircase is good, it was clunky. As with all things becoming more obsequious/elegant in architecture costs more but only a little more and is worth it. I met with Vinci Hamp last winter and their interior details are impressive. I challenge everyone from City Hall to PAM and its architectural team to dream a little harder... it will make funding easier as the middle of the road is the best place to be hit by the bus of mediocrity. Yes, Brian you'll be my first call if I draw a winning lottery ticket to facilitate this and in liu I'm challenging PAM's patrons to expect a bit more as well. Museum expansions are rare things. This expansion should be a reflection of the ethos Portland has grown into and signal towards what we as a city seek to become. Right now the renderings lack the detail to judge on those terms and the details are everything. So far this revision signals good things but the details really matter. Before the details get finalized though a full reckoning of what this means to Portland has to get shaken out. Ive got a huge article in the works and I dig in to most everything. Stay tuned.


Posted by Jeff Jahn on September 10, 2018 at 14:20 | Comments (0)


Monday 08.27.18

Museumy Links

Here is a fascinating look at the history of deaccessioning in Museums. It wasn't always a negative thing but today it always seems to be some money grab letting the 1% pilfer the public good for profit.

Andrea Fraser has a new book exploring art and political contributions.

The occult in art is an interesting curatorial exploration, for some reason we never see shows like this in Portland, they would be incredibly popular but we just dont do that many interesting group show in Portland.

Brian Libby looks at the implications of Avantika Bawa's solo show at PAM's now rejuvenated APEX series. Portland isnt good at valuing things of excellence in its midst unless you put bacon on it... PAM is starting to buck that.

PAM is looking at building an under the pavilion walkway to keep from obstructing pedestrians with the Rothko Pavilion. They should figure out a way to turn it into a window display venue. Design-wise it is a great opportunity to engage the city but often institutions in Portland never think outside the box... its odd because Portland loves breaking with formalities. Make the breezeway and exciting design element and turn it into a positive win-win.

Last but not least here is a great interview with an influential former Director of MOCA. I agree MOCA needs vision... not just simple nuts and bolts type leadership. Museums are too caught up in their own administrative risk management and not in how they serve their communities... they gesture towards community and education but what they really should do is become talking points for larger ideas within civilization. Now celebrities are kind of a mcguffin... they dont all suck (only most of them). Some adventurous ones can help move things forward and MOCA needs to reinstitute a culture of adventurous expertise. The trick is to be rigorous and smart not pandering and cloying, nobody really wants a museum to be their friend. Instead we want it to be a gym for the mind and eyes, with some heavy equipment and kick ass trainers.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on August 27, 2018 at 15:38 | Comments (0)


Friday 08.17.18

Mid August Links

I am polishing off a pretty massive article but until then here are some good reads:

A controversial mural depicting slaves in Kentucky receives an elegant treatment that highlights the oppressed. Stuart Horodner (the best = edgiest+challenging visual arts curator PICA ever had) was involved in this solution. Bravo!

The world's formost expert on Abstract Expressionism (and PORT reader) David Anfam reviews a show that tries to connect abEx and Impressionism.

Ai Weiwei responds to the destruction of his studio. PORT interviewed Mr. Ai years ago.

Berlin artists not having an easier go at it. Not news, but it is that way everywhere, yet art has never received such clout economically.

An artist visualizes Big Data.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on August 17, 2018 at 9:47 | Comments (0)


Wednesday 08.08.18

Early August Art News

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, Rothko 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?

Posted by Jeff Jahn on August 08, 2018 at 17:01 | Comments (0)


Tuesday 07.31.18

End of July News

Is it the End of July or the end of civilization? Just kidding but I have to ask it:

Klaus Biesenbach will be the new Director of MoCA. Well he does like celebrities, which is something you need to embrace if you are going to get MoCA back on track. But can they replace all the curatorial expertise the institution has squandered in the last decade like Alma Ruiz, Helen, Molesworth and Paul Schimmel. Can Biesenbach rebuild that? For an unecessary sports metaphor think of this as "a rebuilding season" because MoCA has lost so much talent. Also, as LACMA reaches the home stretch on its new building campaign will MOCA right itself and expand enough to put its permanent collection to better use? If so I challenge Biesenbach to do so that reinvigorates the tradition of intense and opinionated curatorial expertise at this crucial institution. Otherwise, I fear MoCA my not make it. From what I know Biesenbach might have the skillset, especially if his development staff is stronger. Maybe this director is the chosen one? maybe not? But at least he has plenty of examples of what not to do like squander expertise, tone deaf market lead conservatism etc. Can the reintroduction of curatorial rigor that is in close association with artists be the answer? That's what I believe... it is like the farm to table movement in food, be close to the artists (farmers)! Today's curators at major museums have mostly lost that. *Update: Christopher Knight makes a to do list for Biesenbach and he's right about the tedious Eurocentrism... why go back there when the pacific rim, which includes the West Coast of the USA is still growing into its potential far more than the already mature European continent, which is already well represented. Let's look to the future and we wish Biesenbach luck if he can please with intellectual rigor (LA has a very academically trained cognescenti who are annoyed with MoCA right now) and hollywood sparkle turned into $$$ and institutional momentum he will have what it takes. In an ironic turn it may be Michael Govan and LACMA's new expansion that can give Biesenbach another major wave to catch. That said he's got to know what seeing to catch it... experience in NYC or Europe doesnt really prepare one for the West Coast.

Laura Hoptman is also leaving MoMA but unlike Biesenbach is staying in NYC. Like a lot of curators they all seem to want to be directors. In general this is problematic as directorships are very different and it means that the best or at least most ambitious curators all see the job as a steping stone to a directorship, which is more about numbers and the daily operations of a museum. Thus, the expertise pool is depleted upon the altar of management and fund raising.

Sacha Baron Cohen flays an art advisor as part of his upcoming movie. He also created a self-hating white male Reed professor so I'm gonna have to see this... It is odd how academia has adopted this prophylactic and anti-intellectual nomenclature. A large proportion of my best friends in Portland are Reedies and most of them have satirized this trend as well so SBC is mining a well defined vein of comedy gold.

... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on July 31, 2018 at 13:49 | Comments (0)


Friday 07.27.18

Mid Summer Reads

David Pagel on Mary Heilmann. I saw the 2007 show at OCMA... what I like about her is the brazenly formal means to an ultimately informal end. Also, there are still tons of female artists who are far more important than the art establishment and market can account for... Heilmann, Frankenthaler and Anne Truitt are all still under appreciated but there are plenty that are younger and just as important/active today but the museums dont seem to be willing to shake up the discussion... even when the curators are women. I have a radical art history reinterpretation regarding this.

Portland's Jim Lommason traveling exhibition What We Carried is getting attention at the Japanese American Museum LA.

PORT pal Paul Middendorf reports on a house exhibition in Houston. Portland has been doing a lot of house shows for decades now. The difference here is the extreme informality of presentation.

London's design museum hosts an arms dealer as a patron and resistance design at the same time... something has to give and what side the take says a lot.

I am definitely not comfortable with the level of contemporary shrug Ralph Ruggoff's Venice Biennial is accepting. I disagree completely, Art can do something... not just subtle shifts and slight moves towards understanding. My curatorial senses tell me he's making a huge mistake. Mark this.

On a similar note Olafur Elliason criticizes Governments as using culture simply as promotional tools. He'd know.

Temporary asks, Are you being Preached to Again?... while discussing Adrian Piper.

Fruit, murals and prisons at Manifesta 12. More on Manifesta 12.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on July 27, 2018 at 20:21 | Comments (0)


Wednesday 07.18.18

Thoughts on the Art Gym moving to OCAC

OCAC student using the Jean Vollum Drawing, Painting and Photography Building (Photo Jeff Jahn)

The Art Gym has announced that it is moving to the Oregon College of Art and Craft. PORT was the first to point out the program could move. *Update: There are complications with moving the endowment that supports the Art Gym in that Oregon's Attorney General must act on what to do with the funds when the Marylhurst University dissolves? Specifically, the AG will take input ... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on July 18, 2018 at 9:10 | Comments (0)


Wednesday 07.04.18

July 4th Links

We have been hard at work on reviews over here at PORT... till then:

The brilliance of Ocasio-Cortez's design for her campaign.

LACMA's drive to finish their building campaign. I'm all for having more of the collection on display and shaking up the art historical cannon but it takes more intellectual rigor and ideas behind it. The architect simply provides a box and the director should be about making the box and ideas possible through funding... but what I'm not seeing are curator's with interesting programmatic imperatives. Without the intellectual rigor it is simply economic grandstanding. Prove me wrong LACMA... MoMA too? There is a reason the best and brightest curators are consistently working outside of the museums... there is a too big to fail problem with so many of these 300 million dollar plus expansions but it follows the problem of blue chip art as an asset class. Im not certain that museums can be saved from themselves but Ive got clear ideas on how. One thing Govan is very right about is funders of bold museum expansions fund other projects too.

The ICA Water Shed (lol, good one ICA) opens today.

More coverage of Rick Bartow's important traveling exhibition. I have a lot more to say about this but he was a friend and I want to see the show before I comment more.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on July 04, 2018 at 11:19 | Comments (0)


Monday 06.11.18

Early June Links

Tablet has a very interesting article on cultural appropriation that everyone in creative fields can take something from. At a certain point culture cannot be a proprietary exercise... do I find the PSU Vikings mascot odd? Yes... but does everyone making pizza have to be Italian? It fails the logic test and the curiosity one. I've found that sharing culture (respectfully) actually promulgates understanding... and liberal elites who protest too much are undermining their arguments. There is a sensitive respectful way to share, lets not be so prophylactic but I think simply dry humping other cultures for design inspirations doesnt go far enough. Dig in, find out what makes a culture what it is. Consider Anthony Bourdain please... Perhaps this was all just a tribute to him?

Brad Cloepfil is finally getting a new ground up project in Portland. Is Portland's allergy to ambition and realizing it finally losing its grip???? Yes, but very slowly.

The LA Times did a longish article on Rick Bartow, who is much missed. Id love to see a major museum with the balls to do a show of art by veteran's... Think how great Rick Bartow, HC Westermann, Dan Flavin, Robert Rauschenberg and even Paul Klee could be? Sadly museums seem to have lost their mojo when it comes to being cultural lightning rods (showing what is expected instead of where the tension needs exploring), but by adding in different countries and time periods it could be great and thought provoking.

Al Held is always worth another look.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on June 11, 2018 at 16:28 | Comments (1)


Thursday 05.24.18

Carol Yarrow one of Portland's Best


It is with a heavy heart to report that Portland has lost one of its finest citizen's, Carol Yarrow. A prodigious and talented photographer who focused on the humanity of her subjects, she will be greatly missed. She was involved with Bluesky and she was the one person I always looked for there to talk to on First Thursday openings. On a very personal level I verify that she was one of the most compassionate and caring people in the Portland art scene. She excelled in the art of humanity while being concerned with the environment, civil rights and even the #metoo movement. As a photographer you can see it in her work. Just like that work she was going through something serious and decided to meet it on her own terms with grace.

Portland isnt what it is because of buildings or institutions... but for its people and Carol was simply one of our best. Talented, artistic, empathetic, curious and full of immense experiences from Japan to Guatemala to cowboys. I've always regretted not having time to review this show, now I do even moreso but Id like to lead the call for a retrospective. Sometimes my friends dont get the reviews they deserve and Carol was a true friend... and I'll always remember our drinks at LeHappy and her tales from the 60's and 70's.

This image of Carol's is one of her best and the one that reminds me the most of her delicate intensity and humanity.

I remember her comforting words for me over the last few years as others dear to me have died and now I wish I had more. She was just as beautiful, delicate and unflinching as her photographs and now that is all that remains. Memories too...

Our thoughts our with her Family and loved ones.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on May 24, 2018 at 11:34 | Comments (0)


Thursday 05.17.18

Evolving thoughts on Marylhurst closure


Shocking news today that Marylhurst University's board has voted to close the 125 year institution by the end of the year. I dont buy the Great Recession argument, Portland is awash in new developments and art enthusiasts. Still, it was obvious to those within the art community that something was amiss with the University. Some of the signs were the longtime art school staff departures and rapid turnover of the director of the Art Gym.

When I moved here in 1999, The Art Gym was the highest profile contemporary art space in the Portland Metro Area... and only later did other institutions and University galleries arise. Perhaps it stopped being "the place" as the scene expanded and Portland artists became more adventurous than any religiously affiliated institution could hope to show but it has always been an important venue that gave large scale solo shows and retrospectives to local artists (many with national reach). Still, I'll miss it and here are a few reviews we've published over the years:

Paula Rebsom's installation on the lovely campus grounds

Joe Macca's solo 2 artist show at the Art Gym

Mike Rathbun at the Art Gym


Posted by Jeff Jahn on May 17, 2018 at 17:04 | Comments (0)


Tuesday 05.15.18

Mid May Links

The new chief curator for The Henry Gallery is Shamim M. Momin of LAND and before that co curator of the 2004 and 2008 Whitney Biennials. A great hire since the Henry hasnt been the same since the Elizabeth Brown days. Momin brings a present and pervasive intellect to what she does, and isnt one of those curators that tries to out vague her audience and subcontract out all the programming (which sadly is par for the course these days). She's a legit intellectual, which is what I expect from art institutions and rarely find these days. Congrats, Seattle will have her for perhaps 5 years but it will be good for contemporary art in the Pacific Northwest since I consider the Henry to be the top Contemporary Art institution in the region. Too often curators here program what they "should be" curating rather than discovering what they could be curating.

Contemporary art takes on the ease of getting guns in Chicago.

One of the world's top architects collaborates with Norway's troublemaker artist for a project to die for.

Too many artists today are doing tarp art, as if the wear and tear + stains of life are enough to make their art appealing to liberal elites who are out of touch with whats really going on. That and the artists of the 1970's like Christopher Hill simply did it better. Add him to the list with Sam Gilliam and Helen Frankenthaler who consistently did far more with tarps sopping up the studio. Now Im not against tarps (Love unstretched Frankenthalers and Gilliam) I just wish today's tarpists werent ingratiation attempts in a supplicant's pose to an art market primed to accept art that fetishes its "nothing specialness." Its a mode, weak era tarp art begone.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on May 15, 2018 at 11:37 | Comments (0)


Thursday 04.26.18

End of April links

The Turner Prize list is out and one of the artists doesnt even consider themselves an artist. The age of the un-artist begins.

The Yard is perhaps the most discussed and oft hated new building in Portland but Brian Libby looks past the recent folklore around the building for Metropolis. What needs to be added to these new developments is space for cultural amenities

Barry Blinderman's program at ISU is what sparked my interest in contemporary Art. Up to that point I was mostly interested in art history and not living artists. Yes there was an Alex Grey show (probably my first art opening) but really it was the fact that there was a space that I could return to over and over and there was something different every time I walked across town when I was an undergrad. Congrats Barry!

Posted by Jeff Jahn on April 26, 2018 at 17:39 | Comments (0)


Tuesday 04.10.18

Art People Links

Art people make the art world turn. Here are some to consider:

The new Director of the Met is Max Hollein. This isnt a surprise and it is a rare thing to not promote from within but it really had to happen. Can the museum regain its composure as a seat of expertise... a place where knowledge and experience is rewarded? Can the museum update itself without undermining its greatest strengths and integrity? It doesnt need to reinvent itself so much as reassert itself with tech. Most 1st tier museums really dont understand these things and dont have to but Hollein's predecessor opened pandora's box already. (*hint) All museums should be free of charge, especially with income inequality the way it is.

Richard Speer writes a touching memorial for author and Portland art collector Sandra Stone. She showed up at so many openings and was always engaged and involved. I'll miss her.

Meet Mitchell Algus, art dealer... trailblazer. Individuals who stick their necks out to create a climate of exceptional activity are rarely rewarded but they are crucial.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on April 10, 2018 at 16:09 | Comments (0)


Tuesday 04.03.18

Early April Links

Amid complexities of gentrification LA's 356 Mission will leave its space. This is no surprise but it shows how the art and real estate market can undermine contemporary art's moral position. There are ways to do this in a way that enhances the community rather than be seen as some colonizing situation. Considering the political climate in the USA we need to not pit these natural allies of artists and POC against each other.

Tyler Green does a podcast on the Fazal Sheikh survey currently at the Portland Art Museum. A Macarthur Fellow, Ive yet to catch this exhibition but it is on my must see list.

Italy's far right party wants to fascist party's old HQ into a museum? Museums in the USA are themselves at the heart of the class war debate but it looks like Italy is upping the stakes... The world is not a safe place, act accordingly.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on April 03, 2018 at 9:00 | Comments (0)


Friday 03.16.18

Mid March Links

I'm polishing off a very long review of one of the best exhibitions in recent Portland memory. (Portland memory as a term... hmmm.) Till then here are some links in an eventful week.

The departure of Helen Molesworth from MoCA is the news of the week. Some have characterized this as institutional manspreading. That is simply too simplistic and I see something deeper underlying it... the growing intolerance of museums for strong curatorial voices. I loved her Kerry James Marshall and Catherine Opie shows last year. It is part of the whole war on expertise that is going on both the left and right of the political spectrum. Does being a woman factor into this?... of course it does (leaving her more exposed than a man) but this is more complicated than that. Paul Schimmel is no longer at MoCA either and he was a giant, also Alma Ruiz is gone (Molesworth reportedly was key in that). That constitutes a great hollowing of expertise... when I was growing up in the arts I looked up to curators like Schimmel... professionals who shook up assumptions with overwhelming experience, saavy and knowledge and they understood the artists. Molesworth was of that ilk, close to the artists and full of expertise in an era when curators seem to farm out their shows, subcontracting to those outside the museum with expertise they professionally do not want to risk acquiring. In the past museums had in house expertise... slippery slope and any curator that keeps a higher profile is sadly in peril. *Update: the LA Times comes to a similar conclusion somewhat reversing their initial assessment. Thing is this isn't just MOCA... the entire museum industry is pushing back at influential curators. I consider it a purge of expertise and the influence that comes with it. What got Molesworth into trouble was daring to go farther than the board's agenda. Solution... hire curators that make their ideas inspiring to their board (you dont get that without expertise and even more daring). Art as an "asset class" rather than an intellectual prompt is hurting museums in very obvious ways.

Matthew Collings takes on a very complicated Tacita Dean show with an equally complicated and tricky review. There arent many critics out there who can do this.

I like Hans Ulrich Obrist as a curator and he has good ideas, but AFC is right his lectures like a lot of his imitators in the drain the life from what is exciting about art. As someone who can speak well and with passion, I bemoan the dearth of it and I do see it as a way to lower the stakes, which is odd because the stake at this time are higher.

Does Dora Maar deserve more credit for Guernica? Well yes, but not as the author for the brilliant final work but as part of the brilliant ecosystem of thinking and aesthetics that went into it. In that sense, absolutely she was involved. Like Helen Frankenthaler to Greenberg, she's crucial and without her you dont get the breakthrough work. Overall, there is no singular artist and if we can look at the entire cadre that these great works require it will make are understanding of richer. There is just too much zero sum thinking.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on March 16, 2018 at 10:48 | Comments (0)


Tuesday 03.06.18

Early March Links

Internet artists infiltrate MoMA with a virtual reality exhibition among the Jackson Pollocks. Is virtual reality infiltration the new drip technique? nah... but it furthers the position of museums in the crossfire. Currently major institutional curators seem to be less skilled than they were 20 years ago and act simply middlemen who hire those with more expertise for specific shows. The problem with that is that museums require expertise to legitimize themselves and artists see a schism in this gig economy phenomenon. Why buy into something when you bypass the mid-level managers and exhibit directly on the internet or a VR overlay?

Team Gallery is done with art fairs... why? Long story short, they feel terrible. For quite some time art fairs have been dealing from a marked deck and if you dont like how its stacked why participate? A lot of smaller to mid level galleries have closed up as galleries all together as a new consultant class has developed to work in a more hidden way. This even more shadowy art world isnt exactly an improvement but at least Team is retaking his own scene and remaining a gallery to visit and experience.

Mondian's heirs claim a museum has stolen the artist's work. That said I just love these 4 paintings shown in series.

Olafur Elliason's Reality Projector looks like a must see... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on March 06, 2018 at 5:11 | Comments (0)


Wednesday 02.21.18

Pertinent links

Jerry Saltz skewers the "woke" biennial. I agree with all of this (and am preparing a response, curatorially). To cut the bull... "liberal elites" still are smelling their own curatorial farts and the more radical segments of Portland's art scene all sneer at academicians and curators who use the word "woke". Despite these being very interesting times (too interesting) is this not a great period of institutional perceptual acuity... and the main problem is one of "chasing the parade." Strong curation in times like these can still follow "issues" but they need to curate against form to keep from coming off like pious careerists. Part of the problem is sytematic since curators have lost their backbone as directors need for "outrage mitigation" have supplanted much of the very pointed curatorial expertise that was in force until recently. Overall, the best ideas right now have deeper roots that are rife with tension, treason and a need to disagree together in the same room. The best ideas dont claim understanding and lack smugness... that pax curatora age is over but most major museums dont understand this. The parts of the art world who get annoyed with Jerry and other real critics miss the message... the art world is not the court illustrator for the liberal elite or an asset class. Art is not the pet of the rich. It is an instrument panel that measures various systems within human civilization... and a lot of things that have been red lining are being ignored (though some venues are wising up like the Art Institute of Chicago's Leigh Ledare show, hint "uncertainty" is the true subject of the day). This whole institutional dampening effect mitigates subtlety... we live in messy times so group shows like the New Museum's Triennial should be a heightened version of that mess... rather than a tip toe tap dance through the tulips. In other words... toughen up and buckle up, this is a bumpy ride age... yet somehow museums are in full ingratiation mode. Curators used to be like great surfers, good at reading and riding risk like the big surf that breaks on the beach. Lately they have become more like lawyers (risk mitigators) concerned with career (hopefully becoming directors) over culture. True some directors are excellent curators but its a hard edged to keep sharp. Museums everywhere are in trouble as the front lines between the haves and have nots and by and large they have an attitude problem... irrespective of them being left or right leaning politically. Overall, it is good that the New Museum engages in this exercise but it is in danger of becoming just like the Whitney Biennial... something that serves an institution more than the culture it supposedly serves. Hyperallegic presents another view... with photos.

The single brightest human being I have ever encountered is Robert Irwin and he has new work up in LA.

Overall, I agree that institutional curators really are not where the action is at anymore... it just seems like a broken system. Independent ones can be a force still though. In particular Id argue that artist/curator/critic combos have always held the greatest fulcrum of leverage on culture. Artists like Kandinsky, Judd, Murakami etc... aren't just measured by their own works. They articulated and presented things that reach farther while their works ground and reaffirm their principles. Its kinda like having a legislature (curatorial) , court (criticiism) and executive branches (artist). Most major institutions have difficulty with multi-modal individuals in the arts and just deal with them 1 element at a time... credit to the Portland Art Museum for doing the John Yeon show last year, which was decent. The David Bowie show that was touring was even better... hopefully I'll get to see it in Brooklyn but I have a feeling it will annoy me, but museum shows arent supposed to be about satisfaction and they arent supposed to be the earliest of adopters. I do know that calling Bowie "woke" seems extra trite and laughable.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on February 21, 2018 at 9:40 | Comments (0)


Sunday 02.11.18

Early February Links

The Ellsworth Kelly Chapel is nearly complete... but it is silly to think of this as some sort of transcendence competition with Houston's Rothko Chapel. I love both artists and in many ways those two projects are fate to never be those artist's best works. Very important, yes... but I Love them as painters of rather portable things rather than site makers. That said... I will go see it.

Well the USA could use a Jasper Johns retrospective right now if it ever did, right?

Here is an interview with Mark Dion... wunderkammern never seem to go out of style in contemporary art. I have a lot of thoughts on this but mostly I think it is the discreet spatial experience viewers are already groomed for... you know, look in here for a second, its furniture so how bad can it be? Furniture comes with a lot of cues that most 1st worlders are comfortable with and by being discreet objects are a bit easier to sell/ship/store than many all out installation environments.

An architect has used Vanta Black for a pavilion at the current Winter Olympics. It is unique so makes sense that Anish Kapoor would want to secure it for his use only in art but its just a matter of time before very similar blacks become available so ultimately its more of a stunt gesture. In the past artists had to create their own paints so most colors were closely guarded proprietary secrets... which only makes this whole subject seem like a throwback.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on February 11, 2018 at 9:40 | Comments (0)


Tuesday 01.09.18

1st items of 2018

Earlier today, Nick Fish and the Portland City Council unveiled its preliminary working report on what the city could do to preserve and expand, "Affordable Arts Space in Portland," you can read it here. First of all, we've been calling for many of these things for more than a decade here, here, here and here. The thing is the art community now has City Hall's attention since Portland's identity as an cultural tourist destination is at risk to rising costs. So yes, a clearinghouse of spaces and incentives is crucial. I'm also glad the cultural liasson position is coming back to City Hall, I made use of it when we did the Donald Judd conference. The thing is the "corner" that Portland needs to turn isnt just about affordability. Technically, Portland cant roll itself back to the dirt cheap days. Instead, it needs to reframe this discussion not just as a return to affordability but as a more pro-active and assertive use of its support resources for cultural use. That means getting the resources (money, spaces, prestige awards and networking) into the right hands and for reasons that raise expectations. Portland is frankly terrible at being serious about support even when its clearly a big deal (think "Portland Polite" and "humble brag" rather than recognition of achievement). Instead, there is an infantilism around the discussion of cultural support. In fact, there is a kid's photo as the first image on the report. Culture creates serious careers, roles and spaces, why the kid photo? Also, of all the stake holders listed there is no active working artist advisory group and most in the visual arts scene dont know anything about this 2 year to date project. Frankly, that's like forming an action plan for getting resources to doctors without asking doctors what they need. Yes, other cities have done similar things, but Portland has some unique challenges and it will take local know how to make it effective in implementation (hint not the same old). Still, this is great news and I have been repairing a topical and very long think piece I hope to get published here soon. This new arts plan is is a needed step in the right direction but it needs to be reframed from "Affordability" to a one of distributing effective support for the brightest lights... because those are the people Portland needs to keep. Just supporting quirkiness isn't enough when resources get scarce and ever more crucial. Currently many outdated practices form barriers that have no place in 2018. February 15th will be the next time the Council meets on this and I'll have an article that goes far beyond the City Council's scope... though it is a crucial pies of the benign neglect policy the city has pursued until now. This is about Portland keeping its edge and cometitive advantage against other cities, that requires a few new moves that I'll get into later.

The Met is now Charging admission, especially for those who are visiting NYC and the critics at the New York times hate it. It smacks of elitist class warfare and puts the museum in the crosshairs of the massive income inequality issue. Not good, all major museums are trying to negotiate this issue and the Met just wiped out on this wave.

On the same topic, Hyperallergic interviews the Met's Director who tries very hard to do damage control... but it reminds me of some uncle caught in a nerf battle between 10 kids on Christmas morning.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 09, 2018 at 14:35 | Comments (0)


Wednesday 12.06.17

Early December Stories

Brian Libby has expanded an in print article on the restoration Of Pietro Belluschi's Sutor house. It reminds me how Marylhurst University botched their restoration and move of their Belluschi by altering the hearth for inxeplicable reasons. The Sutor House was done right.

The Portland Art Museum will try once again to get approval for the Rothko Pavilion. I'm in favor of this plan despite the museum going with a very risk adverse design. Currently the museum campus is cut in half and disability access is an immense maze and I believe the expanded hours and greater access for pedestrians and bicyclists should be enough. My greater concerns is that the galleries be great spaces for looking at art and that the museum's design is so standard museum when in fact the space called for more creativity. Problem is both city hall and patrons at PAM are so conservative that that kind of groundbreaking design was not undertaken and the resulting back and forth between the community and PAM became fraught. PAM is sitting all of the civic and social faultlines. City Council meets at 2:00 Thursday.

The climate of moral revisionism and censorship is in full effect and calls to remove a Balthus at the Met are just the latest round. Look ... Art isnt supposed to illustrate moral ideals (which change over time). Instead art pulls at the loose threads that make up humanity and our world. Not all of those threads can be noble, that would be a great disservice and art can act as a lightning rod. The activities of individuals are somewhat different from their art but they are related and its that series of complications which gives some art its staying power. If it no longer stays over the long term then history has sorted things out. Politicians are elected, art isnt. Myself, I find Balthus distasteful and would relegate him to the storeroom but not because of a petition. the whole "wisdom of the crowd" idea misses the fact that such crowds usually lack wisdom. Still, perhaps tastes have changed... we no longer eat somewhat spoiled foods like the Romans did.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 06, 2017 at 16:38 | Comments (0)


Friday 12.01.17

Jim Archer 1942-2017

Jim Archer

I was saddened to learn of James (Jim) Archer's death today. He always had that steady form of persistent but serious energy for art and the lives of visual artist that distinguishes true trail blazing champions from mere art supporters. As the first director of what eventually became named the Archer Gallery (eponymously) at Clark College he gave Portland's neighbor to the north its premier visual art space. He was also an avid collector donating 129 works to to Clark College last year, doubling his legacy and cultural footprint in Vancouver Washington, just as the city is beginning to embark on a more ambitious arts agenda. One could rightly say that Archer was a foundational figure for that city and a model for advocacy I wish there was more of. A very active member of the Portland art scene, he will be missed.

... (more, including Clark College's comprehensive obituary)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 01, 2017 at 17:44 | Comments (0)


Thursday 11.30.17

End of November links

First of all, shops in Portland that are also a gallery is nothing new in Portland. Nationale and others have been doing it for years and Motel (run by PORT Co-Founder Jennifer Armbrust) broke a lot of new ground. With rents rising and online being ever more important to retail and fine art brick and mortar seems to need the flux that 2 genres can offer. Thing is it always seems to benefit the merchandise more than the fine art. I'd like to see some one make it a win win on both sides. That said I am all for more of these hybrid spaces.

It is no secret that artists dont make that much money but this study digs deeper and Portland clocks in as the second highest concentration of artists in the country with 500 per million, far above the next closest (Denver at 250) and second only to Miami's 581. Question is what is city hall doing to encourage this entrepreneurial edge? We want to maintain this.

Dan Cameron is curating a Midwest Biennial in Kansas City
. As a former midwesterner myself Im all for this... the whole perception of flyover states and arts being concentrated on the coasts is corrosive to what makes the USA great.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on November 30, 2017 at 15:33 | Comments (0)


Tuesday 11.14.17

First half of November links

I have been traveling a great deal but PORT has a lot of reviews and other content heading your way. Till then here are some links to mull over.

Jerry Saltz doubts the recently "found" Da Vinci painting... it is up for auction with a starting bid at $100M tonight. Overall, I find the painting to be just too convenient and yes pre-renaissance stylistically to be a Da Vinci without major question marks. The thing is auctions at this and of the market have very little to do with the art and a lot to do with turning cash (legal and dubious) into an asset that can be used as collateral for other things. This isnt about building a collection or appreciating art and most of the major collectors I know have a certain distaste for auctions. Interesting that Jerry's segment for NBC news got cut after it was taped. hmmm...

Here is a fascinating article about whether art can effect science... answer is yes. Science like most professions has certain preoccupations driven by what people believe and one great thing about art is it can present different epistemologies.... ones that can be tested scientifically. Sometimes, one has to see something to believe it is worth testing. I've always loved the odd hems and seams (seems?) that are woven into to the art/science dialectic. That also means that art is not some isolated cul-de-sac of civilization. It can express idiomatic world views rather than just illustrating them. The work which seems like a strange outlier is actually quite important... it can be a different understanding knocking on the accepted ideas. Something that has been increasingly rarer to find in art and politics... both of which have been losing their more supple approach to connecting with people. Sometimes you have to challenge something to keep it valid and capable of fixing themselves. Freedom and liberty are two of those things. Science and Art are both crucial, it was making both science and art available to the public that lead to greater liberties. The second those things stop being free range and directed by ideologues things get worse for all but a few.

Which is a great segue... No, artspeak generally is not used to disseminate actual research as art. It is a special kind of careerist sublimation of how and why certain art operates. True some research works (notice how Andrea Geyer's dialog around this show was pretty direct... and arguably the last "Great" visart thing I've seen PICA do) but more often it is just code for, "dont challenge my all important CV." In fact, anything is fair game and in a time where institutional rigging and tampering effected a major political election I'd say that no amount of research actually justifies work. Instead, its the way art reveals the mortar that holds various bricks of civilization together... or even how those walls fail that makes art and critical assessment (which requires comprehension of goals and intentions) important.

It is a long established fact that developers usually come into places that artists revitalize 10-15 years after the artists move in. This has happened in Portland. The difference in this latest situation in LA with Laura Owens is a very successful artist (many of whose collectors are wealthy developers)is seen as being too quick a catalyst. It is a cautionary tale and I'd like to see development in Portland that creates new... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on November 14, 2017 at 14:10 | Comments (1)


Tuesday 10.31.17

End of October links

Hyperallergic looks at the Istanbul Biennial... exploring what makes a good neighbor (in the Middle east, ugh). Interesting how the smaller biennials seem to get how art needs to relate to the unspoken things that grease the wheels of our world. The work itself?... a tad too illustrative and reliant on cues that it is contemporary art, but I'm not expecting bold moves.

Most any intellectual worthy of the word has found Artforum of the past 20+ years to be a an avoidable style guide for looking like the boorish art inteligencia... and should applaud that the magazine is vowing to turn over a new leaf after its former head stepped down in scandal. Now David Velasco is the new Editor in Chief. Congrats to David who has contributed to PORT in the past!


Posted by Jeff Jahn on October 31, 2017 at 19:39 | Comments (0)


Wednesday 10.18.17

Mid October links and news

With the Weinstein reckoning an artist whose work touches on this reality of abuse has been removed. Should the prophylactic response be used here? Do we remove anything that might be provoking or address inconvenient truths? It certainly wasnt Weinstein-enabling, if anything it addressed his type of behavior when others wert gym curator re turning a blind eye. Earlier this year Sam Durant's piece at the Walker made sense to remove... those gallows were simply like dancing on graves though it worked when initially shown at Documenta (why was the Walker so tone deaf and not understand that it worked in Europe but not the USA?). The difference here is the Hollywood day bed was more nuanced... perhaps too much for a retail setting but that's popular culture failure not the artist's or the work's. True freedom requires dissent and the mainstream left can cause greater harm to itself by by policing culture and general dissent. As a critic I try to engineer pressure points where the inconvenient is foregrounded and to try to drive these upsetting things back into the background is a kind of censorship.

The Art Gym names Ashley Stull Meyers as its new Director and curator. Good that she has a background in marginalized communities... but how is she on dissent? Portland is a city of dissonance but its arts institutions are mostly very safe... rewarding those who sit on panels but not work that causes an uproar or provoke discussion. It is a civic weakness that requires correcting rather than mutual congratulation societies. We wish her well and hope she has the full support of the university as these programs have come under increasing pressure. What's more Portland is a notoriously tough place to fund raise and being new often means 5-10 years of proving yourself.

Artnet asks who the most influential curators were. That's an interesting question, mostly because curators... particularly those at museums have been losing cache (going mostly to directors, most who act like curators but often arent... when they are both the split attention can be a blessing or curse). I wont make a silly top 10 list but here are my picks: My favorite was likely William Rubin (whose time at MoMA explored risk as cultural currency), other MoMA greats like Alfred Barr, Kirk Varnedoe and Robert Storr all matter. Im a fan of Lynne Cooke and I want to name Ann Philbin who is technically a director. Pontus Hulten, Okwui Enwezor, Hans Obrist, Paul Schimmel and the brilliant Walter Hopps come to mind as well. We just dont have that many brilliant curators at major museums any more... they typically act like investment portfolio managers managing risk rather than ... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on October 18, 2017 at 14:30 | Comments (1)


Wednesday 09.20.17

September quandries

Matthew Collings reviewed the new Basquiat exhibition at the Barbican. What Ive always liked about both Collings and the artist is the way they hone in on conceits and generally accepted nonsense. It gives them both a bit of grit 'n gristle. Too bad the "notions of cool" sound like another Basquiat show which tries far to hard to be both in the know and safely institutional. It is hard to be both and it always makes those curators seem off balance... I call it oversteer. The good thing is Basquiat's work can survive such posing... because it is precisely designed to be critical of such posur-posturing. We could use more of that but it is a difficult thing to achieve in a world of instant gratification.

Brian Libby has two articles on thePortland Building. The second discusses the issue of preservation. I tend to agree with him on this, the Portland building was never right and therefore always compromised... sort of like the Leaning Tower of Pisa started tipping right away. Better acknowledge the flaw by stabilizing it so it can last. Besides the materials are not as important as the visual impact here. At least they are going to save the Portland Building and make it a proper functioning structure. One thing they must do right is the revamped gallery space. There are many ways to improve it through the renovation. It is already an important venue but it could be so much more.

Artists defend Documenta and its curator. That's all well and good but I'm a firm believer that curators should be defending both the artists and the institutions. True this value engineering of culture is a problem but somehow I do sense that bigger leads to diffusion and this Documenta 14 got away from its staff by design (we covered 13). Last year's Portland Biennial was also a mess because it spread itself too thin... at a certain point these festivals need to be distillations not simply an invitation to get lost. That strategy has diminishing returns, especially with a world growing ever hostile to open ended thinking. Try to raise the stakes rather than obscure them.... and this financial inquisition is just another distraction that points to something amiss. Let's be smarter than the cultural bean counters by knowing how many beans will be required to plant? They had to know the Athens section would be scrutinized relentlessly in financial terms... state of the EU and Greece's debts and all.

Jasper Johns creates an artist retreat out of his home... generous but doesn't he need that? Moves like this are important but worrysome.

There is never enough time to cover everything so Jerry Saltz does short reviews. Ive done that occasionally done that... due for another batch but I use it to look back as an overview (Jerry has a very complicated locale to cover).

Last but not least I'll be one of the panelists at this years Clark Arts Summit in Vancouver. Look, I've never thought of the 'couv as a cultural dead zone (the Archer does some of the areas best shows) and by looking to activate Fort Vancouver etc. they might just be able to avoid some of Portland's mistakes (too much middling collaboration at the cost of vision, little support for small arts venues + a general phobia around ambition) at the institutional level. See you there.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on September 20, 2017 at 9:19 | Comments (0)


Wednesday 09.06.17

Early September Links

I'm still working on numerous long pieces due out before Fall officially begins (we are still in the early September rev up days). Till that backlog subsides here are some important reads:

The ousted Met director Thomas Campbell does a loaded two part interview, mostly on the Met. First off, all major US museums and many around the world take their cues from the Met and I wonder what chilling effect on digital departments this ouster will have? I'm rather certain that "Tapestry" Tom's ouster had nothing to due with finances or his digital initiatives and everything to do with the culture of the board and key staff. Blaming "digital" is like blaming Hilary's emails and the finances are suddenly fine after the booting (something we reported all along and much of the less savvy generalist media bought hook line and sinker). Those are smokescreens. The real issue is that the digital didn't have a deep culture within the board and the distrustful and "stressed" staff fed that fire. Overall, I welcome the Met being a player in more recent contemporary and less recent Modern Art but the problem with all these initiatives is they were separate strategies. Thing is most museums dont have a feel for new tech/art and by giving it a new division missed the point. Tech isnt something new, the entire collection of the Met is a catalogue of once new art/technologies and their effects. Specifically, tech should be an overlay that expands each division rather than be seen as a rival for the affections of funding. Most contemporary art curators at museums are relative luddites when it comes to tech too (and they wonder why tech billionaires avoid the art world). There is more to all this of course, but the Met needs to play culture cards like the house (most major museums should) because that is what they are. Lag along, its fine as long as you seem more dignified and adult. Problem was the Met looked like it was buying a Miata or three for its mid-life crisis (especially with that logo redesign) and the staff revolted. Thing is, major museums are in a precarious time and the Met like many is making the mistake of chasing the parade of relevancy. Part of the problem is a lack of curatorial verve and prescience, which comes from boards that aren't being asked to step up in visionary ways by curatorial programs (for a while the best curators are avoiding major "collecting" museums, hence Robert Storr, Paul Schimmel and Okwui Enwezor). Leadership means temerity and I haven't been seeing the same caliber of it most major museums as of late. Was it a situation of directorial oversteer? Probably... better to leave that to curators and have the director look stately and reassuring. Who does things well then?... most cities that are not New York should look at the Des Moines Art Center, whose Director Jeff Fleming PORT interviewed years ago. For example, the Met or any museum with over a billion dollar endowment should be open free of charge... or at least be so once a week.

Jerry Saltz thinks the new Kara Walker show is the best work about America this century. Perhaps, but that is a pretty low bar. Can US citizens really explore America that well?... isn't it dreaming immigrants who do that best? As a second gen American I just want to float that out there.. The American experience has always been best described by new immigrants.

How are Houston artists coping with the hurricane Harvey aftermath? Former Portlander (and much missed) Paul Middendorf is director/founder of Gallery Homeland down there and has been been working rescue operations.

Brian Libby writes a sad but wonderful piece about the Gorge on fire. It will be changed but I bet a great deal of wonder will remain... remember the biggest trees are designed to survive these fires. Still, I am deeply saddened about this blaze.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on September 06, 2017 at 18:02 | Comments (0)


Wednesday 08.09.17

Early August News

We are still working on no less than 3 major articles, till then here are some things to chew on:

This interview with Philippe de Montebello is fascinating regarding the future of the Met. In many ways mission creep has pushed museums beyond their core competency. Is the Met really in trouble? uh no. Is there a crisis? All institutions need crisis to remain relevant and the question with the Met is interesting. My thought is the Met needs to do contemporary art at the same level it does any other kind of Art. Can it do that? The core competency for any museum is to play to their strengths by testing that strength. A digital initiative sounds great but if it isnt as enlightened as their Egyptian program it becomes a distraction. Once again mission creep can diffuse crisis in core competencies but that can undermine that core. New programs work better to bring a crisi of understanding to the museum's collection and programs. Today museums seem to have lost their way, always chasing the parade. No, play like the house... because the museum is the house. An intellectually rather than fashionably engaged crisis is all that is needed. Sadly, the contemporary art world isnt producing curators like that... or they arent ending up at museums anymore. Great curators like Robert Storr and Paul Schimmel are no longer at museums... that's a bad kind of crisis. (yes I like to point out that the Greek word Krisis is the root of the word criticism. For those who like to say there is a "crisis in criticism"... you are being intellectually redundant. Crisis and Criticism have the same linguistic origin. In conclusion, all great curatorial programs and museums use crisis of understanding to spur critical thinking about what they present. Simply having a program that chases its trending demographics will fail to capture them. For example Gen X and Milennials are disengaging from museums, partially because museums are acting as if they are too big to fail. The museums are failing to understand their own crisis. *Hint, great curators who bring the tensions of the present to what is presented are great communicators... they dont do what most contemporary art curators are doing now, which is extremely defensive. So many are failing and not in a good way.

While on the subject of crisis in contemporary art, here is a fascinating article where the strongest work tends to misread its predecessors to create room for itself. A strategy called "Misprision" where mere imitation is just a form of "cultural suicide" or at least death by thousand cuts from hedging... i.e. hiding in the cultural hedges. Simply doing research and evoking history and its forms isn't quite enough.... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on August 09, 2017 at 14:15 | Comments (0)


Wednesday 08.02.17

Cooler Through Art

Portland is hotter than a furnace (ok technically not) but still in a city where air conditioning can be rare in even finer homes heat challenges Portlanders. Frankly we arent used to being cooped up and with the unusually wintery Winter we had Portlanders are starting to feel like tatertots that have gone from the freezer to the frying pan. Here are three solid bets to feed you eyes and mind.

Jennifer Steinkamp's Orbit at PAM (photo Jeff Jahn)

The top of most peoples list should be the Portland Art Museum and their current Jennifer Steinkamp exhibition is a long overdue look at a pioneer of computer generated art. She's a favorite of mine melding computer generated graphics and architectural recolonization as art. We saw her Jimmy Carter piece last year (her most important work) and though the selection of pieces here are'nt as cutting as her political or disease related works (who can tell the difference these days), being more non still lives and some related to teachers it constitutes a major multi-media show at PAM. A step in the right direction. True, having at least one work projected in non gallery spaces would have been even smarter but perhaps there is room for that once PAM sorts out its Rothko Pavilion expansion in the future? What's more, this Steinkamp show guarantees that this year's Converge 45 at least has one worthwhile anchor exhibition (last year was a planning phase, becoming more like a contemporary art version of a talk radio show... all of which sounded very dated after the last election). All that said Steinkamp does some pretty timeless stuff for being involved in new media and one piece Judy Crook is a poetic homage to a beloved color theory teacher. Art isn't all glitz and opaque curatorial hedging, the best of it is profoundly related to growing through life and as an artist who has rehabilitated the still life through new media Steinkamp is a must see. Yes, an interview is on the way. .

Jennifer Steinkamp
July 8 - September 17
Portland Art Museum
1219 SW Park Ave

Kabuki: A Revolution in Color and Design at Portland Japanese Garden (Photo Tyler Quinn)

Another great choice for beating the heat is the recently renovated Japanese Garden, everyone should see the new Cultural Village expansion by Kengo Kuma. Its always a bit cooler up there and the garden has always put on the best craft oriented exhibitions in Portland like the current Kabuki: A Revolution in Color and Design carries on the tradition. It is a good time to see the exhibition, new architecture and the garden. itself. Honestly, for Portlanders there is nothing cooler than visiting Japan for a quick day trip without leaving the city.

Kabuki: A Revolution in Color and Design | July 29 - September 3
Portland Japanese Garden
611 SW Kingston Ave

... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on August 02, 2017 at 9:34 | Comments (0)


Thursday 07.27.17

Summer reading

I hope everyone (in this hemisphere) is having a great Summer despite and we have 3 major pieces in the works for you (two interviews and an extensive thinkpiece). Till then here are some of the best things I've read over the past few months.

Jerry Saltz half forgives MoMA, but he really doesnt give a stamp of approval. He's seen that The Museum is becoming more of a transit hub trying desperately to cope with its success, yet inherently incapable of fixing its real problem... an identity crisis that gets to its core competency, The Collection. The building is an issue sure, but its mostly exacerbated by the institution not wanting to use its influence and empower curatorial penache. Simply put they require a curatorial revolution and the directors who have slowly usurped curatorial competency over the past 2 decades simply wont allow it. Instead, the discussion is centered safely around the building's program but what I see is a certain curatorial temerity because rewriting the narrative of MoMA's collection too quickly would effect the assets... ahem "Art" that it is a custodian of and a benchmark for. This isnt news... the more powerful an institution is the less freedom it has in challenging its base and lore. The Met is going through similar things but at least its identity crisis seems to be questioning why its collection and curatorial voices have had diminishing impact over the past few years. Then there is the more radical approach LACMA is taking, only curatorial/intellectual penache will keep it from becoming a study in modes of cultural fashion. Overall, the crisis for museums is the question is one of egality. Is the crowd the chief tenant of a museum building or is the Art? Most museum directors will try to deflect that or say its both... but it cannot be. The core competency of an art institution has to be the art and all the content and or baggage it brings with it. Perhaps the proble with with major museums is related to the reason both major political parties are in tailspins? Has the art of patronage stalled as a form of critiquing civilization in a healthy way?

Should the ICA pull a show over a Painting that isn't there? Obviously not, PORT has interviewed Dana Schutz in the past and by protesting a painting that isnt even on display the whole drama just becomes a lynch mob (so much sad irony). I posit that Schutz was hung out to dry by a Whitney Biennial curators who didnt bother to contextualize her work in any way (that's their job though... instead they minimized their own exposure). Overall Dana's subject matter has often dealt with corpses on display and this lack context and scale of response says something about where we are as a culture now. Technically, "outrage" isnt a critique and all serious artists deserve a fair shake in the court of critique... vocal outrage is an important thing but without scope and targeting it falls on its own sword.

... (more on LA and the CIA's love for French Postmodern theory + Robert Yoder)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on July 27, 2017 at 15:30 | Comments (0)


Monday 07.10.17

Newspace Closure? & Analysis


This past weekend the Portland art scene was shocked to learn that Newspace Center for Photography was closing its doors. There hasn't been a formal statement about what happened from the board but the fact that a "for lease" sign has gone up on the building is a clue that it relates to their building. The board and staff was apparently working hard to find a solution so everyone is quite interested in what will be said today at 7:00PM in an open information session. Hopefully they are still considering alternatives like a move or reconstituting of the organization in a different form because their program has been socially engaged and excellent at a time when Portland absolutely requires it. If you care about photography and social engagement in Portland it would be wonderful to sit in and offer your 2 cents. Arts orgs die because of neglect and perhaps this shock treatment can spearhead support?

For some context, Portland has a terrible history of simply ending longstanding and very popular exhibition programs like the PCVA, PICA at their old Weiden + Kennedy Space (something they haven't yet fully recovered from with a consistent and diverse year round visual arts program... their new home does hold promise though), the New American Art Union, Portland Art Center, Museum of Contemporary Craft and the just 2011 when Newspace moved into this exciting new space. Obviously fundraising in Portland is challenging... there is a certain benign neglect (that isn't benign) and an aversion to leadership and strong vision that makes our art organizations bleed into each other as it is typical for 5 or more organizations to work together on a project. This leads to difficulty reaching donors who cant tell who does what? There is also a huge shift taking place in the way traditional art organizations are being used and supported.

*Update Details about the closure came out in the Oregonian. First off, that is never the correct way to close an institution... you issue a more detailed statement, not a town hall leaving the news sources to sort it out. Second, it looks like the lease was not the issue, instead it is the model. Relying on classes for revenue is a dicey proposition and most of the art schools around the country are facing decreased enrollments. What's more this was more of a skill center rather than a degree oriented institution so their courses are competing with online guides.... (more click below for more analysis)

Newspace Closing Remarks? • 7:00PM • July 10th
Newspace • 1632 SE 10th • 503.963.1935

Posted by Jeff Jahn on July 10, 2017 at 13:48 | Comments (0)


Friday 06.09.17

PSU's new Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art bucks sad campus trend

rendering of the new Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at PSU

At a time when nearly every college gallery or museum seems to be under pressure the exciting news this week is that Jordan Schnitzer has given Portland State University 5M for a 7500 square foot, 2 level museum within the renovated Neuberger Hall. It reminds me a lot of two respected University programs that taught me a great deal decades ago, the Illinois State University Galleries and the INOVA program at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, both of which do museum caliber shows and similarly have a discreet director position that makes the space more than just an extension of the existing faculty and their prerogatives. Instead, those spaces expanded the cultural climate of the campus (INOVA in the early days was extremely daring, later they moved off the central campus and became less cutting edge but still good). What is great about PSU's new museum is how visible this will be on the campus quad, inviting students to just stroll in.

New rendering (top) and current Neuberger Hall (below)

Situated right on the Park Blocks the JSMA should add civic vibrancy to what is now just a mid-century curtain wall. I've long felt that university galleries expose students to art at a crucial time when they are building their intellectual apparatus. I experienced this first hand. Simply wandering into an exhibition on campus introduces an opportunity for curiosity and unlike most tests and quizzes there is no right answer and a museum scale setting gives it more weight. Overall, "Art" inherently encourages tolerance and flexibility... something our world certainly could use more of and possibly lost sight of until recently. The gift also makes PSU a much bigger cultural player and it was mentioned at the press conference how they could coordinate related exhibitions with the other museums and schools on the Park Blocks. It enhances the South Park Blocks "Museum District" count and considering Portland as a hot tourist destination it simply strengthens our civic cultural portfolio. PSU is still in the process of sorting out details like whether the Museum will have a collection or not but regardless the museum will have access to the Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation's vast lending library of art.

That is the easy part of this story, but it really requires more context in a time where University budgets and brass haven't seen the value of even internationally important spaces like groundbreaking Rice Gallery in Houston, which sadly closed just last month. Spaces just do not fit narrowly proscribed "core" mission statements. Yet, they are important for that very reason, breaking up the cognitive biases we all develop. For a local example, June is the last month for the White Box space at the University of Oregon's Portland Campus. Let's not mince words, closing the White Box for simple storage space is a horrible philistine waste considering its excellence and 7 year history.... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on June 09, 2017 at 17:12 | Comments (0)


Tuesday 05.23.17

Tuesday links

Well, Ive been enjoying running around to so many thesis group shows (I prefer no to see the solos because Im more interested in the work they make after art school). Though expectedly a bit wobbly on their new legs its nice to see some real resolve and sometimes outright anger in the work this year. The times demand it. Ive got some review and some other longer form content coming but till then here are some interesting stories.

Agnes Gund is the gold standard when it comes to patronage in this country and this interview by artnet partially explains why
. What is important is her focus on follow-through not simply funding vanity art space projects that just advertise her activities. I wonder about most younger collectors... they seem far more fickle. They start spaces or exhibition programs, then they let them go fallow. In a city like Portland where things are rapidly becoming more complicated for artists (studio and living space) as well as rent pressure on experimental spaces that foster careers and create a ladder to build a career/life upon.

Art F City did a nice job of taking down the Venice Biennale this year. The entire art world isnt completely out of touch (Mark Bradford at least made an effort to stay in touch... his paintings are good but his sculpture and installation isn't really his strength) but it is important to point out art that is too far up its own "artist statement".... AFC did that.

Whether you like her work or not this piece on Phyllida Barlow in the Telegraph is a moving look into one artist's journey to the Venice Biennale.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on May 23, 2017 at 10:00 | Comments (0)


Friday 04.28.17

Late April Links

I've been traveling and unpacking those sojourns and recently catching up on shows. There will be many articles on the way to round out the month. First though let's catch up.

Sad news, Vito Acconci has died. PORT interviewed this trouble making giant years ago and his last answer is advice all artists should heed.

Look who showed up in the New York Times, Portland's old Appendix gang is going to be moving American Medium to Chelsea. Congrats, we singled them out a very long time ago as ones to watch in this article from 2009 (they had a 5 year run in Portland as an incubator). As for terms like "Post Internet", like other terrible terms see; Minimalism, Postmodernism, Modernism, Cubism, Fauvism and Expressionism etc... its a very weak description of what is going on. More accurately it is the way geek cultures have flourished since the computer age made sharing sometimes obscure interests easier but it predates the internet and is more wholly related to the collateral effects of the computer/information age. Lots of luck as a Chelsea gallery is a very difficult thing to pull off these days if you aren't selling blue chip work. That said its what the art world needs to do.

Then there is the whole mess with the Metropolitan Museum's ouster of its Director. Everyone, everywhere during my travels wanted to talk about this and Vanity Fair did a decent job of unpacking it. Really what happened was the way the Director bled out institutional experience in favor of updating agendas... and there was inter office blowback. It has nothing to do with deficits which the Met routinely runs (its a typical non profit shell game). The thing is the Met was a supreme repository of institutional knowledge (much of it arcane)... yet was moving too fast into new digital interfaces and educational mandates. With encyclopedic museums there is a danger there... to undervalue what it already does well and many such institutions have had similar problems. Basically it is disrespect for one's core competencies and I see it as a moment where the war on expertise (in the guise of edutainment) had an interesting little big horn moment. The problem is further exacerbated as many digitally savvy Gen X and Millenials just don't feel like museums are speaking to them anymore as a front for the 1%. That is a big problem, but I dont think losing core competencies is the right way to go. Charging tourists isnt the right way either... go open source. Simply put, museum's need to be a very physical manifestation of the rich making riches available to all.

Last but not least the Portland Art Museum's Rothko Pavilion plan is causing some friction and Bike Portland covers it. I'm a big proponent of the Rothko Pavilion... it was my idea before PAM ever thought it even possible. Still, I believe this is a good thing. I believe that PAM was making a very understated architectural footprint to avoid stirring these sentiments up but what they needed was a bit more architectural temerity (this isnt a 1% grab of public space since the pavilion would be open to foot traffic). OK tough questions... can Vinci Hamp do a redesign that goes beyond just the basic "museum" dictates and creates something that becomes an amenity for the Park Blocks and casual passers by? Perhaps a more adventurous architect is required? Privately, I have always indicated to PAM's director that this needs to bring the museum and park blocks together as a mixing zone rather than present PAM as a bunker. I just think this site is more complicated than the current design contends with. Yes, addressing these issues will cost more $$$ but I believe the added complexity will help both PAM and the South Park blocks area become something more than what they already are... islands. What is more I'm not certain this needs to be a cyclist's super highway through the museum... that isn't a realistic or sober goal. The current space has some foot traffic and almost no bike traffic... a redesign could be more inviting... perhaps to a rooftop sculpture garden open for free 9AM-PM as a kind of Highline? Perhaps sacrifice the current tunnel? My best advice is PAM needs to be more like a park and less like a museum. That is something very difficult for most museums and boards to understand but in the current political climate being seen as a wealthy fortress isn't what they need. I could also bring some Rothko lore into this take as well (Rothko's worldview was like a lot of Portlanders of today are now). Basically. I believe there is a solution and it will make both the passer by and museum experiences better. Right now as it is the street and museum experiences are bit of a mixed bag and I hope all sides see this as an opportunity. Good can come from the Museum and the public having a strong dialog with realistic goals for once.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on April 28, 2017 at 10:48 | Comments (0)


Wednesday 03.22.17

Disjecta reboots with Shell

Disjecta (behind Bunyan) reboots

The interesting news in Portland today is that Blake Shell is to be the new Director of Disjecta. It is a bit of a surprise as she hasn't been at the Art Gym for that long (though her programming felt less like her previously excellent work at the Archer Gallery, perhaps over the shoulder oversight?). Regardless congratulations are in order to Blake Shell.

Clearly the institution needed a shift and we covered Disjecta with a critical eye since its inception.

The choice of a locally based director is interesting since they seemed to be casting their nets afar... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on March 22, 2017 at 11:47 | Comments (0)


Monday 03.20.17

Monday Links

No, we don't need celebs to give context to art coverage. It seems harmless but considering the sensational nature of most every other art damage event story it just seems supercilious.

Yes this President (for now) plans to defund the NEA and seemingly every other useful organ of the federal government. Not surprised, perhaps if the country survives all this we can remember how pathetic the Federal support of the NEA already is? Just a semi positive thought... let's remember the lack of things like the nuanced thinking fostered by the arts that lead us to this situation.

ArtFcity reviews the latest Whitney Biennial. Of course it can't possibly capture the grist of the moment, no major museum has the kind of guts that takes but unlike the surveys we've seen of Oregon art it is engaged that there is a certain dissonance. Jerry Saltz wrote about it too ofc. Overall, I see these shows as more of a measuring stick for the calibrating how museums serve their audiences rather than a real state of the art... big festivals seem to be more in tune... perhaps it is the museum industry itself where the curators have lost intellectual edge to the mediating imperatives of directors? The Whitney still has some teeth and that is important. It doesn't have to be perfect but all museums need to find the tensions of the age. I've been thinking of a show that can do what the museums just can't.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on March 20, 2017 at 12:28 | Comments (0)


Tuesday 03.07.17

Early March links

Sorry, I've been under the weather with the virus that has been going around Portland and plan to get out to the galleries asasp. Till then here are some links to get March kicked off.

Here's an interesting interview with Tony Cragg and I like how it ends with a discussion of Art as a defense against mediocrity. To do that you need exhibition venues that celebrate something other than mediocrity though.

The upcoming Whitney Biennial looks at the definitions of "American Art"... which can mean a lot of things. I'm not exactly stoked about this exhibition and usually one can skip the bi-annuals if you are working with interesting artists, getting in studios and seeing a lot of work. They are good for all the people who need cliff notes for what's going on. I'm not being snide, most people need cliff notes for a very complicated and turgid art world. It takes a while to develop one's own eye, measuring sticks and tastes. Perhaps the Whitney's real value is in the way it seems to fail in each iteration. That said do the surveys in the Pacific Northwest even give themselves opportunities to fail in enlightening ways? (answer = no)

The latest Vancouver Biennial contends with the dreams and blights that accompany gentrification, something that would have been an easy subject for any Oregon art survey show but somehow we have mostly avoided it.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on March 07, 2017 at 20:07 | Comments (0)


Tuesday 02.28.17

End of February Links

The Director of the Metropolitan Museum, Thomas Campbell, has resigned. Partly this is interesting because the Met has been slowly losing its "expertise quotient" on the curatorial front and the fact that most major encyclopedic art museums follow its lead. Overall, the Met's supposedly more serious foray into contemporary art hasn't really wowed many... perhaps because it was following the same kind of "Liberal Elite" ideas that fizzled out in 2016 so stunningly (Portland is fairly radical). All "Great Art" is rather radical in its execution and is designed to challenge institutions and the problem with producing shows of art that most museums "think" have a moral high ground is they tend to smooth out all the rough, even jagged edges that radical ideas and art traffic in. Many of us call this "following the parade." What happens at the met now?

Brian Libby conducted a fine interview regarding Minor White's historic photographs of vanished architectural gems in Portland. Very topical in this era of rapid redevelopment in Portland.

One time Portlander Ann Marie Nafziger writes about Standing Rock for Art21.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on February 28, 2017 at 17:29 | Comments (0)


Monday 02.13.17

Monday Links

Peter Plagens on Raymond Pettibon is a must read. Pettibon the godfather of contemporary art punk drawing and I fondly remember his band playing an opening at Gallery 500 downtown back in the early aughts.

John Waters foresees a new kind of subversive radicalism for the easily offended. Ive met him several times and in person he's something special, a lanky walking talking and working statue of liberty.

Brian Libby reports that historic buildings in Oregon now have somewhat more protection and process. Some buildings are great and historic but until now a process for inventorying them... with a true process hasn't been undertaken. For example the only Frank Lloyd Wright building in Oregon was moved, narrowly escaping demolition.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on February 13, 2017 at 12:48 | Comments (0)


Saturday 02.11.17

Last day, Mary Henry at Archer

A mini survey of Mary Henry's abstract greatness at the Archer Gallery

I'd argue it was the best show of 2016 and today is your last to see it, with Henry "Practice" makes perfect. Mary Henry is one of the greatest under recognized female modernists of the 20th century and the Portland area is being treated to a micro-survey of her work at the Archer Gallery called Practiced Exuberance. Last Spring, PORT reviewed another micro-survey of just her drawings to give you a taste. As part of the American Phase of hard-edged Bauhaus work under Maholy-Nagy she occupies an important place in art history and is a favorite among those with good eyes and taste in the Pacific Northwest.

Mary Henry | Practiced Exuberance | November 22 - February 11
Clark College | Archer Gallery
1933 Ft. Vancouver Way, Vancouver Washington

Posted by Jeff Jahn on February 11, 2017 at 10:00 | Comments (0)


Wednesday 02.08.17

Early February links

Artnet explores the issues 7 artists face with the new travel ban.

New Orleans, like Portland is facing housing price increases that are pushing artists out... new development strategies are being undertaken. Portland needs to do this. Portland's art scene vitality defines this city, its our identity and competitive advantage and Portland has to be more proactive. Portland should treat arts activity like a public good amenity and offer incentives for reduced rents and cultural vibrancy built into new developments, especially now that Portland acts as a kind of sanctuary. I am very curious how Portland's city council responds.

Art Critical on the great John Mclaughlin.

MoMA installs artists from countries affected by the travel ban.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on February 08, 2017 at 11:50 | Comments (0)


Wednesday 01.25.17

Dead tree media & dead horse flogging news

Old fashioned dead tree media art coverage worth reading: Oregonian, NYT's, a Judd telegraph and GQ? really?

It has been a very long time since the Oregonian has done something worth reading, but their piece on the new NW Curator Grace Kook-Anderson is a welcome bit. It hints a bit at things we discussed when she was first announced, like an inherent conservatism of form that has done little to jostle Northwest stereotypes. Among the cognoscenti we call it "chasing the train" with ideas like craft and diversity being more cautious, familiar forms than challenging provocations... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 25, 2017 at 14:16 | Comments (0)


Thursday 01.19.17

More Disjecta'd

Well, the more you know about Disjecta and its founder (two different entities btw) the less surprised one is that things had to go this way.

Long ago PORT published this article... in many ways its founder never changed and was ousted as we reported here and here. Then yesterday he went on another of his infamous email campaigns prompting the board to respond by revealing his self-serving actions and retaliations (read below). There is a pattern here and many have put a lot of effort into apologizing for his tactics over the years. For example, you can see perhaps his staunchest supporter Meagan Atiyah in the comments of this PORT post. Their close coordination has always made me uncomfortable... when she left the board of directors a few years ago his support started to erode. There is simply a difference between being colorful and difficult... and someone who can't operate by taking the high road. It was a very Trump-ish move to build a wall (read the board letter below).

It is true some artists still stand by him (many do not, especially after the disastrous biennial) but he relied on cultivating those kind of buddy buddy relationships. Going for drinks, hanging out in a Blazer game skybox, being one of the guys etc. but there is a pattern there and it really doesnt serve an organization which takes up a lot of nonprofit art ecosystem resources. A non profit director has to walk a line as a steward. In Disjecta's founders case that line was clearly drawn around himself and I support the board's decision. A board isnt there just to rubber stamp the director's agendas. Like many in the art scene here, I could say more but am trying to be charitable.

Here is Disjecta's Board of Directors response... I hope Portland can learn from this:

"Statement to Disjecta's Friends and Supporters,

The most successful arts organizations encourage dialogue and community. To those of you that reached out to the board in response to an email from disjecta@comcast.net (not the organization's server), thank you for your messages and for your belief in Disjecta. We hope you continue to participate in Disjecta's future.

Initially, the Disjecta Board of Directors felt it would be neither appropriate nor respectful to Bryan Suereth to go into detail about the inner workings of our decision-making, but in the spirit of accuracy and balance, we offer the following:

Beginning in late 2015, and following an extensive evaluation process involving 100% of the board, external stakeholders, advisors, and... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 19, 2017 at 15:08 | Comments (0)


Monday 01.09.17

Monday Integrity Links

Jerry Saltz discusses what the Art World needs to do in 2017. Right now art has become a bit too pleased with itself and isnt challenging itself or its audiences enough. As Robert Hughes once wrote art had become too much of "a vocation" rather than "an avocation." Curators and artists need to find the edge rather than the safe middle ground for their careers. It will take some visionary collectors to support it rather than just rely on advisors and "best practices" that perpetually turn art's wild intellectual and physical brambles into well manicured golf courses that make art the Pet of the rich. It takes integrity. I'm working on a big piece for PORT on this to kick 2017 in the arse.

Why are so many Universities putting so much energy into their art museums? The two in Portland that could are Reed and Lewis and Clark. Something tells me L&CC is the more likely bet. I like it better than a lot of private museums and that wealth has to go somewhere... better to make it public. That said a private space with some realy integrity, insight and edge can make a huge difference. For example this project in LA has promise but I can think of a hundred solid ways to spend less and do more, especially in Portland.

... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 09, 2017 at 13:42 | Comments (0)


Thursday 12.15.16

Mid December Links

It is mid December, which means the typical year end lists are making their rounds (Ill do a list of our most viewed posts soon and then a more substantial post as a look back later).

Christopher Knight's picks in the LA Times certainly look like a great Best Of list for the entire country, even though it is LA focused.

The Guardian's 2016 American art list didn't seem to get to LA or the west Coast at all... Um, considering the # of Brits on vacation on the West Coast I'm pretty sure we arent a flyover situation.

Jerry Saltz did his thing as did Roberta Smith + Holland Cotter in the NYT's... New York is is still king because they simply have more long standing career art critics and overall care about critical reception more than any other place, except perhaps London.

Speaking of critical thinking this poorly titled piece about Art World creating Donald Trump is the most useful thing Ive read since the election.

For those who really want to use Keirkegaard to understand the dark places of the internet that did partially spawn Trump this piece offers some useful contexts. Artists go to these places and have been for some time but the art World isn't really paying attention to them very much (yet).

The Oakland fire has lead to a crackdown on those crucial warehouse spaces that artists thrive in. I'm curious what Portland Commissioner Nick Fish thinks, he's calling for a committee but will it include people with real insight? Will it dig deep? So far only PICA's Precipice Fund, which just announced its 2016 awardees (I was one of the four panelists) has really has targeted the issues. The arts thrive best with non-linear thinking and actions... something government granting in Oregon has had difficulties supporting and our major art awards generally seem to favor very conservative approaches and outcomes. It must change if Portland is to retain its advantage as a hub of new ideas and ways.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 15, 2016 at 18:18 | Comments (0)


Thursday 12.08.16

Grace Kook-Anderson appointed Curator of Northwest Art

Grace Kook-Anderson

The Portland Art Museum has announced that Grace Kook-Anderson will be the next Arlene and Harold Schnitzer Curator of Northwest Art. Congratulations are in order as the position is the chief connector of PAM's curatorial program to the very active art scene. There is a challenge inherent in this as the Museum is somewhat disconnected from the more cutting edges of a nationally and internationally active local scene, often doing a better job of focusing on Seattle and Montana than its own back yard. Challenges are a good thing and it seems like PAM is aware of them because Grace's background seems to address these issues.

The Museum's statement:

"I am thrilled by the appointment of Grace Kook-Anderson as the Arlene and Harold Schnitzer Curator of Northwest Art," said Brian Ferriso, the Portland Art Museum's director and chief curator. "Grace's highly regarded tenure as the Curator of Contemporary Art at the Laguna Art Museum, coupled with her recent work in Portland as...(more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 08, 2016 at 12:00 | Comments (0)


Monday 12.05.16

U of O plans to close White Box

Breaking news, PORT received word that the University of Oregon plans to close its wonderful White Box exhibition space in Portland after this school year. Curator Cris Moss will carry out programming through June 2017. Another institutional change is that the John Yeon Center will be directed by core faculty members and not Randy Gragg as it is now. Overall, it seems like a very rash decision that hurts the U of O's reputation as a serious art school since the White Box is one of the premier exhibition spaces in the State of Oregon. It also gives the school legitimate roots in the very vibrant Portland art scene. They should reconsider, as it will damage the school's reputation immensely by shuttering it without exhausting every avenue (not just AA&A's very Eugene-centric avenues). Earlier this year we helped lead the outside charge to successfully save PSU's Littman gallery from administrative undersight. Big schools have silos and galleries usually are at the short end od most budgetary sticks, despite the fact that they are major connectors to the community and the good will/resources they bring.

The current Christopher Michlig exhibition at White Box through December 10, 2016

All of this is very sad news and puts the U of O's Portland Campus commitments into question. Disclosure, I have a long history with the White Box, co-curating the Donald Judd exhibition and conference in 2010. It was one of the first shows there and of the very highest caliber. This past April Cris and I co-curated the extremely adventurous Habitats multi-media exhibition so I have a lot of insight into how things are in that building. The current Christopher Michlig show was one of my picks for First Thursday this month and indicates how highly myself and others consider this exhibition space's role in the community. This is terrible news as Cris is among the most thoughtful, adventurous and rigorous curators in Oregon.

The Dean of the School of Allied Arts and Architecture Christof Lindner's statement was, "White Box has served as a valuable extension of A&AA's academic mission in Portland for the past seven years. We are particularly thankful for Cris Moss' contributions in ... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 05, 2016 at 17:08 | Comments (0)


Friday 11.25.16

Post Holiday Art Field Trip Picks

Well, the feasting holiday is over, leading to the post holiday/family need to exit the house and exercise the mind's eye and take in new contexts. Art can be great for this and here are my picks for some great shows to feed/sustain the mind.

Paul McCarthy and Ed Ruscha in Open This End

Open This End is the most exciting group show in Portland this Fall. Partly, this is because it comes from one excellent collector, Blake Byrne, whose good taste and adventurous attitude the work maintains a sharp edge about it. Collecting something that carries an implicit challenge takes on the responsibilities of what Art with an "edge" demands and therefore occupies a special place between civics and taste. Thus, what Open this End does so well is provide a variety of multifaceted world views.

Open This End | September 8 - December 11
Ronna and Eric Hoffman Gallery of Contemporary Art
Lewis & Clark College
0615 S.W. Palatine Hill Road

Andy Warhol Prints from the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation at the Portland Art Museum

The current retrospective at the Portland Art Museum, Andy Warhol: Prints from the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation is the largest of this seminal artist's output ever and should be on the to do list for anyone who can make it. There is breadth and scope here and PORT interviewed catalog essayist Richard Axsom for the occasion. Like so many Post WWII artists Warhol had mostly drained his work of allegory while introducing popular iconography as a kind of folk or kitsch context. This was something fascists had abused so Warhol's rise as an artist became a rehabilitation of sorts, bringing back iconic secularism without nationalistic jingoism and other subjugation. As the Cold War continued Warhol became became the defacto Pope of Americana, canonizing our taste in many secular/cosmopolitan things. The show is an ideal way to connect to the kind of America that is both being threatened by the next presidency. In other words a great post holiday field trip for Portlanders.

Andy Warhol: Prints from the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer | October 8, 2016 - January 1, 2017
Portland Art Museum
1219 SW Park Avenue

Posted by Jeff Jahn on November 25, 2016 at 14:59 | Comments (0)


Wednesday 11.16.16

Post Election Art News and Shifts

Well there has been a political shift, it is not a slight one and this will affect art. PORT was one of the first to write about post election art. A week later there are now some more voices discussing what this might mean:

Jerry Saltz can always be counted on to charge forward in difficult times and like myself he sees this as an opportunity to get away from the recent parochialism that the market and some very soft thinking have lead to. Jerry always has a very New York take and I'm not certain what a Trump presidency means for art in NYC but it certainly means that money wont be going away as part of the equation.

At Jezebel this piece disagrees with Saltz, thinking that the bohemian artist on the outside is gone (neoliberal art school talk). That seems like an argument akin to "painting is dead" but the pessimism is healthy. That said artists find a way and yes radical action can outflank a lot of this very mitigated neoliberal stuff art schools have been cranking out.

This E-flux essay also seemed to see the radicalization in art as a consequence of the election.

Jennifer Rabin writes a good morale boosting piece in the WWeek. That said I do feel Portland now has a duty to up its game, not simply accept what we have as good enough (especially institutionally, Portland needs to up that game). Artists should assay the task of creating culture but the past 10 years have not been the best. One artist that is right on target and incisive is worth more than 100 that arent... that said those 100 may have been part of the collective Weldschmertz that leads to some stronger art. The key is expectations.

News from Disjecta on the growth front, its controversial director will be leaving his post at the helm. As this piece on PORT once chronicled long ago, Bryan Suereth has always been his own biggest asset and weakness. I knew that when Michelle Grabner was chosen to curate the heavily built up but poorly realized Portland 2016 Biennial it would also expose problems. Possibly, it was the way the host exhibition at Disjecta had all the care of an overstuffed estate sale... using the same old more artists = more attendance strategy Bryan has used since the Modern Zoo in 2003. The institution needed to grow beyond the ploy of being big rather than good (being stretched all over the state made the host show all the more feeble and pointless) and Suereth always had people making excuses for him, none more than Meagan Atiyeh (often uncomfortably so, read the comments). Behind the scenes board members have long confided they are annoyed with issues he's needlessly created and this last biennial set off another wave of many artists who were simply put off. True, some artists love him and he's always been an ardent supporter of those he saw as allies but ultimately one needs other skills for Disjecta to grow into something more serious. (*Side note, the last male curator to work for Disjecta was Paul Middendorf who quit in 2005). That said, Suereth a founder (however mercurial) has put in a lot of work over the years and improved to a point. It is exciting that they can move forward building on his efforts and a bit of tragedy that its founder never seemed to learn some of the basics.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on November 16, 2016 at 12:44 | Comments (0)


Monday 11.07.16

Hard Core Pre Election Links

The US election has most of the art crowd in Portland very agitated so I'll dish out some already agitated but topical links.

Donald Judd is very important for a number of reasons but one that gets lost in the mix is is critique of institutions of all kinds and the way that such things de-radicalize the choices of artists. Thus, this historical take on Judd in new publication called Affidavit is interesting, if a bit light. Fact is, most museums still find Judd very challenging because his work inherently critiques the kind of procedures, contexts and presentation methods that museums are addicted too, yet have nothing to do with the work and the ideas themselves. Basically, Judd is a hardcore artist who drives the discussion, not a pawn of the marketplace and patrons. I wrote on this for the Judd exhibition and conference I co-curated a few years back.

Portland has a major problem with its "success" eating into the very neighborhoods that produced such cultural vibrancy... so I find this creative super space in Amsterdam project very interesting. Years a ago Portland created something called Milepost 5 and the developers wished they had spoken to I and my team before they had already built/executed most of it. Right now Portland could put these new tech companies and others who are outpricing the core arts ecosystem here and turn them into allies. As a cultural laboratory these interests could enhance each other rather than compete for space and Amsterdam gets that. It doesn't actually cost more money but it does take forethought that most US cities do not engage in.

Last but not least check out Roberta Smith's review of Pipilotti Rist's retrospective at the New Museum. I consider her to be the most important artist of the past 30 years (think internet tropes not art museums) and showed her in Portland back in 2006. She complicates the art experience as a form of knowledge that we could use more of and she is just starting to get her due. For some reason it takes edgier female artists a longer time to get their due if their work is not particularly sexualized and titillating. In fact, Rist makes work that transcends that ploy, it is work of the body and intellect without relying on or ignoring sex. It is just a facet rather than a focal point. Rist is hard core curious and perplexing while being generous. I've found that all the best artists tend to be more generous in the way they present/position their work.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on November 07, 2016 at 13:13 | Comments (0)


Monday 10.24.16

Monday Links With An Edge

Yves Klein is perhaps art history's biggest wildcard and arguably his influence on the artists of today has never loomed larger. This latest exhibition at Tate Liverpool seems to make a great case as joker savant but it also shows how committed the artist was in comparison to the texture, pigment, happenings and materially exhausted stack sculptors of today. It's that gonzo conviction that seems to be missing often... as if any artist who moves something around deserves a gold star. For Klein it was never about the moves he was making, it was about the strive... that drove a beautiful and fractured subtlety. Klein's work was whole by never attempting to be a complete exercise in art, architecture, or performance. He kept his edge by never being too proud of his genre or material, instead testing Art's elemental use and validity powered his work.

This review of No Man's Land provides a quick but not shallow look at what Art created women can sometimes be without just resorting to the easy cliches. Sure they are there and even then they are better than what I normally come across... nutcrackers and that worn out 2012-2016 trend of mannequins but I also like how it approaches the body. Earlier this year PORT interviewed Wengechi Mutu and years ago I interviewed one-time Portlander Mickalene Thomas. The fact that it all comes from one collection makes it an interesting document but I'd like to see something that rigorously pursues the idea looking at significant art that the market isnt so attached to for greater breadth.

Western Culture by and large doesn't value the body and the use of space and the discussions around such things are stilted or often relegated to some project room rather than front and center. Frankly, I'd like to see that change in many Portland spaces because I'd argue that female artists here tend to be the genre MVP's... despite the fact that the least edgy ones get a disproportionate share of institutional resources. I will argue that female artists with an edge are being undervalued in Portland... despite the fact that they have international and national careers that seem value that very quality.


Posted by Jeff Jahn on October 24, 2016 at 11:14 | Comments (0)


Wednesday 10.12.16

Wednesday Links

First Brexit, now England is devaluing the importance of art history as a form of education. Not a good sign for the USA where such things have never been taught or valued much, leading to a lack of critical thinking skills.

5 art cliches that have run their course. I agree, limp fabric was DOA years and years ago, anyone who tacks a tarp or dropcloth from the studio floor on a wall is generally not concerned about looking like a derivative hack. Leaning stuff, also weak. Stacks of anything... especially stuff that looks like it was found in a dumpster is also deeply lame. I'll add another, anything grotty looking on top of a wood grained or painted plinth. People, Isa Genzken and Rachel Harrison did this years ago... Rauschenberg, decades ago. Its revival happened almost 20 years ago and caught on at MFA programslike wildfire since. It is done and isnt a bus that artists can catch anymore.

Curator resigns in St. Louis after controversial art hits the wrong notes. Its true the work was tone deaf... but if curators had to resign for that there would be no curators at major institutions. The problem is the way that artists overreach to... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on October 12, 2016 at 13:35 | Comments (0)


Thursday 10.06.16

Rothko pavillon for PAM's expansion

Mark Rothko retrospective at the Portland Art Museum 2012 (photo Jeff Jahn)

Major news PAM has announced its long anticipated expansion, featuring an idea that was first suggested by Tyler Green (it was in private but repeated publicly and constantly by PORT since... a Rothko pavilion with works on loan from the Rothko Family collection). PORT has been the biggest champion of this idea and Rothko's legacy for a very long time, even in the face of heavy resistance from Rothko deniers... one simply cannot deny history, which Arcy notably first brought to greater light on PORT.

Here is the Press Release:

"The Portland Art Museum today announced both an expansion that will unify its campus by connecting the Museum’s freestanding buildings, and a 20-year partnership with the children of Mark Rothko, Christopher Rothko, and Kate Rothko Prizel".... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on October 06, 2016 at 13:08 | Comments (0)


Thursday 09.22.16

First links of Fall 2016

Well the long expected correction of zombie abstractionist artists has begun (other young artists with absurdly high prices too). Dont get me wrong, there's nothing absurd about a young artist making 25-65k on a painting after only a few shows but it should be rare and by 2014 many zonie abstractionist works were going for 500k+. Only a carefully orchestrated economy produces that effect. I can see 1-3 very special even "exceptional" artists being "worth it", sure that's fine but a hoard of artists pulling down over 100k per painting after only a few shows and a short career... that smells funny. Also, artists who stack some junk on top of other junk with some pastel colors + foam or lumpy clay pots are not any better and art schools are pumping them out in droves (I call it hoarder art and Robert Rauschenberg pioneered The Combine before most of these artists were born). A few months ago this story on the Lisa Cooley Gallery seemed to say it all. Now I'm not applauding any closures or corrections... the Art Life is difficult, even for people whose lives are comparatively easy but when art is treated like an asset class it skews what is created and why. It seems the world has lot of very complicated problems and opportunities to tackle... so we shouldn't be awash in uncomplicated art that is easy on the culture that creates it, but we are. Does that invalidate abstraction? ...of course not (the most simple paintings can complicate any viewer's understanding but why buy some kid out of art school when you can buy a dozen very good Mary Henry works for half as much? The issue is one of scale and depth of understanding and it takes that to have mid level galleries that sell art between $2000-$25000. Most of the greatest works of art were bought in that range initially. Hopefully a return to some connoisseurship will result from this contraction. Of course, the most important, already historically "vetted" art wont be affected by this, which should make the best Gen-X and Millennial artists ask more difficult questions of the art world. I hoping the most sought after art becomes more like wild caught salmon rather than the farmed stuff I've noticed a lot of lately.

On a related note Jim Behrle thinks the art world is trolling you with art that isnt as radical as it presents itself to be. Well, sorta... Institutionally things have gotten very tame in the 15-20 years with curatorial power being ceded to the director's chair. Directors answer to the #'s ultimately ... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on September 22, 2016 at 16:15 | Comments (0)


Tuesday 07.12.16

Tuesday Links

The grotestque that is the art of Trump's hair. Ugh, this political season is gonna be brutal on anyone sensitive to aesthetics and meaning

Getting blue and naked for Spencer Tunick is a thing. The generalist press does love nudity, though there is a serious history of blue nudes in the art of Picasso and Matisse. Also, I suppose the blue skinned Smurfs have lost their cultural profile enough to make this project serious enough to undertake.

What does and doesn't make for good museums, the Art Newspaper asks around. First of all, museums rarely take real risks and the main thing they do is transpose egalitarian ideals in the context of often expensive and otherwise elitist objects. Where they usually founder is by seeing themselves as too much repositories, which they aren't. In fact museum's are vehicles for experiences (history, context and intellectual juxtapositions) rather than mere estate sales for the rich. That said because institutions require patrons they often cater too much to the act of pursuing them, blunting their intellectual and social edge. This is because curators as a class have been losing their voices within major museums. In fact, having strong curators dedicated to specific fields that act as ombudsmen and aesthetic chefs for all classes is what makes a museum different than more entertainment driven venues or smaller university spaces where the curator is expected to do director duties as well. Ultimately the biggest mistake museums make is valuing the building over their curatorial staff. Very good staff can also inform the design process but typically only the best museums can afford inspiringly flexible curators and sensitive/perceptive architects who can accomplish that. Instead, most museums simply do what most other museums have done.

... (more, including Artnet's Portland2016 travelogue)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on July 12, 2016 at 10:52 | Comments (0)


Monday 06.27.16

Brexit thoughts


The Brexit vote sent shockwaves everywhere last week, how will it effect the art world? Better question which art world? There isnt just one.

In the short term it puts Great Britain in question as the cultural center of Europe for sure... will Scotland leave? Will there be another vote? More likely will there be a chance for a counter offer from the EU to trigger another vote? Certainly the world uncertainty has a clearer face after the vote.

Here is what Artnet had to say about the Brexit. Many artists like Damien Hirst, Anish Kapoor and Wolfgang Tillmans campaigned for the IN vote. The arts always suffer from reactionary sentiments. I suspect Great Britain will renegotiate but till then expect young contemporary art to be seen as riskier than it was and older history book art will become even more of a hedge against uncertainty. Short term, it certainly isn't good for living artists and such things tend to embolden reactionaries... not a good thing for anyone who isn't interested in consolidating power. In the USA everyone is anxious about what might come next.

Look for more artwork that explores uncertainty and those that try to explore the roots of reactionary impulses.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on June 27, 2016 at 16:07 | Comments (0)


Thursday 06.09.16

PNCA's new President Don Tuski

Don Tuski PNCA's new President (Photo Mike Weymouth) this is an image Portlanders will like...

PNCA has a new president, Don Tuski, from the Maine College of Art. Tuski's record at MeCA indicates a deepening commitment to documentary studies and the largest gift he brought in was 3 million dollars, the largest in that school's history (though not huge esp. by East Coast standards). He seems eager to embrace PNCA's fluid culture of design and art without a lot of barbed wire, that is a good thing as Portland's greatest asset is its opportunities for change married to being a leader in 21st century ethics.

His predecessor Tom Manley was a friend and we had some long brainstorming sessions on growth strategies for the school but Tuski has inherited some challenges. By absorbing the Museum of Contemporary Craft and recently dissolving it serious blowback has occurred. Also, the education industry wide problem of relying heavily on underpaid and under appreciated adjuncts has also caused strife but where PNCA and Portland are different is the school is expected to find a solution for this gargantuan problem (answer = endowments for teaching positions, also very rare today).

In many ways PNCA has moved very far and very quickly...... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on June 09, 2016 at 10:00 | Comments (0)


Monday 06.06.16

Monday links and news

Bullseye Glass and the State of Oregon have reached an agreement. This is good as Bullseye is a part of the arts economy, while at the same time the kinds of materials that were being vented into the air were simply unacceptable. The problem was relaxed regulation of most industries and there are plenty of other industrial air quality polluters in the city that have also been exploiting the same loopholes (hopefully this gets addressed and soon). For example, Overlook neighborhood residents hope that enforcement is uniform.

At age 70, Mary Heilmann's career is red hot, but why does it take so long for many females? Retrospectives for women are rarer and prevailing wisdom in museums always tends to follow patronage money rather than taste and importance... not having many critics to assess that makes it twice as hard.

Do art spaces = gentrification?... often yes but that's like shooting the messenger. It can also work in reverse, like PICA's new home. The question in Portland is creating funding sources that support formal arts entities when informal ones are out-priced. Formalizing affordability for artists is the key but that takes serious know how as the people who did Milepost 5 (they kinda stumbled through it and it takes a bit more cultural seeding).

The best editor I ever had was Karen Wright (back in Modern Painter's excellent London days) and she thinks the Turner Prize needs to be more substantial and less a series of affected ploys. I agree with her, though Portland has the opposite problem... much of our discourse is mired in hobbled and antiquated discussions of craft that dont acknowledge the skills in computers, other tech and design or that somewhat irritating aspect of art that drives people crazy... some call it "edge". Besides skill alone doesn't truly make art powerful, it takes a sense of an "edge of understanding"... rather than the ploy of being edgy. Having a true edge seems to embody and encapulate the flux between the known and unknown. In Portland our talking points often scratch at craft, the environment and often a very token discussion of diversity, whereas challenging male Mexican artists or anyone with and incisive edge are far too threatening to show with the group or be given awards (Hallie Ford Fellowships and CNAA's to name names). Portland and London could and should have more exchanges as both places have excellent international art scenes.... Portland is full of weird woodshedders and London is full of people who are unapologetic about being unapologetic (aka the antidote to the humble brag).

Posted by Jeff Jahn on June 06, 2016 at 15:24 | Comments (0)


Wednesday 05.25.16

Painting Links

Sure, I'm widely associated as one of the biggest advocates in new media art in the Pacific Northwest but I also love painting (I learned landscape paining in oils and watercolors at age 6 so its also my longest standing art love affair... other things like musical instruments, poetry, photography and installation art all came later). Here are some great painting links:

Jerry Saltz discusses the abstract work of Philip Guston and the sublime. The sublime doesn't get enough deep discussion in contemporary art lore at the moment but it is crucial... that feeling of sensitivity to vastness and the distinct sense of the indistinct as a form of threat and safe harbor experientially. Great minds tend to crave these experiences. Maybe that's what is wrong with the art world at the moment, not enough deep seekers?

Closer to home there is a very brief interview with Katherine Bradford who has a show at Adams and Ollman. At PORT we do very long interviews but we also don't grant them to very many local artists... partially because it is a blank check and an artist has to have long and varied enough career where yet another review doesn't really achieve anything. We have a lot of rules that we adhere to, but it also provides freedom because interviews mean something when they dig in.

Here is an interesting interview with John Currin from a while back.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on May 25, 2016 at 14:46 | Comments (0)


Saturday 05.07.16

Weekend Links

The Harlem Art Fair does something a little different with a series of public works? Frankly, this has been done before but not as ambitiously... treating the fair like an international biennial. It creates a zone of exploration not just an isolated enclave. This promotes repeated visits.

Jonathan Jones can be clueless (but at least an interesting one) but taking a non romantic view of Dada is refreshing.

Randy Higgins is one of my favorite people to talk to in Portland. We always have these intense philosophical and spatial discussions and Portland Architectures piece hits the spot.

AFC does the Frieze Art Fair goings about...

Posted by Jeff Jahn on May 07, 2016 at 13:59 | Comments (0)


Tuesday 05.03.16

Reed College Art Theft

The generalist media loves these sorts of stories about art thefts but stealing one half of a carved diptych by Leroy Setziol from Reed College is pretty sad. Yes it is worth something (quoted insurance values are accurate but in terms of easy resale, no) but as only half a piece it is essentially damaged goods. Anyone with information is asked to contact Reed's Community Safety's non-emergency line at 503-517-5355

Leroy Setziol exhibition currently on view at PAM

To put a positive spin on this the Portland Art Museum currently has an exhibition of the artist's work on display and he's been a bit of a secret favorite of mine for years. My sense is someone decided this would be an escapade of opportunity... a professional would have stolen both parts or much more valuable pieces on display at Reed. Let's hope it comes back in the next 72 hours. You can find Setziol's work all over Portland and it always adds an air of grandly lyrical civilized activity... let's hope the spirit of the work convinces the perpetrator(s) to bring it back.

*Update: Good news, the panel has been returned though with some damage.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on May 03, 2016 at 22:00 | Comments (0)


Monday 04.25.16

Monday Links

An artist in London sends the gallery staff on vacation.

Though the installations for Megacities Asia are LARGE I'm not that convinced by most of them. Still it is good that they are utilizing the museum in nonstandard ways... most museums could be better about thinking of themselves as habitats for art rather than formal galleries.

San Francisco's art scene evolves at the top end with the new SFMOMA... while still out of the affordability range of most artists. That is a problem and though Portland is feeling pressure compared to other major West Coast cities we are still more affordable. Some interesting things could be done and I'm working on a think piece about this... to me a healthy arts ecosystem has room at all levels. San Fran is a place millionaires feel squeezed and many are decamping to Portland. Interesting how this will play out but one wonders if San Fran is just becoming a collection of itself? Seattle has struggled with to a much lesser degree and is still a city full of serious artists and among artists there is an international exchange zone between Vancouver BC going to to Seattle, Portland and then San Francisco.... sometimes LA. I'd like to see more West Coast co-curiosity?

The Met has been stumbling in its expansion but MoMA has Geffen's 100M gift... not certain if either will improve the institutions but they will "grow". Is growth ultimately the true measure of success? Seems like the Met could win simply by being a better/smarter patron to artists rather than simply building spaces with little intention? Growth for growth's sake just creates new problems.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on April 25, 2016 at 12:46 | Comments (0)


Thursday 04.21.16

PICA has new 16,000ft home

PICA's 16,000 sq ft new HQ at 15 NE Hancock

Exciting news, PICA has a new 16,000 sq ft permanent home at 15 NE Hancock thanks to help from the Calligram Foundation. The architect will be Holst. Location wise it is just a few blocks from both the Rose Quarter and the main portion of N. Williams Avenue's district around Cook street. This will certainly be Northeast Portland's cultural anchor.

...(more including multiple interior images)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on April 21, 2016 at 10:45 | Comments (0)


Tentative labor agreement at PNCA

The interim PNCA President Casey Mills regarding the ongoing labor protests, which are cancelled for today:

"A tentative agreement has been reached regarding the recent protests on campus. That agreement should be finalized today and implemented over the next two weeks. More details will follow as the agreement is implemented.

In the meantime, let's celebrate one of the great events of the year at PNCA: Focus Week. Join me in going to as many events as you can to support our students and faculty.

John Casey Mills"

This is a good development. Hopefully, they have come with something innovative that will be a longstanding template for all higher education regarding adjuncts? The system is very broken. I have friends both on the PNCA board and adjuncts affected. In knowing both as I do if anyone can come up with solutions, they can.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on April 21, 2016 at 10:38 | Comments (0)


Monday 04.18.16

Dispute Links

There were labor protests today at PNCA regarding treatment of adjuncts and fallout from the move to the 511 building. I'm going to take a balanced approach to this... adjuncts in most higher education institutions are simply not compensated enough and it makes sense that a progressive city like Portland would be a place this question of fairness is addressed. It also shows how much Tom Manley meant to the school by keeping things together and how crucial his replacement will be. It also reiterates why the Museum of Contemporary Craft closure was inevitable (some of the adjuncts not renewed were extremely critical of the closure and took rather personal shots at the administration, so some of this should not be a surprise... others like Nan Curtis are pretty much PNCA personified so losing her seems to be a squandering of institutional continuity [Curtis was once the head of the sculpture department and founder/curator of the Feldman Gallery] others were simply very experienced educators). What I see is this, building campaigns continuously forget to raise endowments for teaching positions and expanded programs and pain ensues. Ironically this is exactly what got the Museum of Contemporary Craft in trouble in the first place. The only solution is what I call the Ferriso strategy (after PAM's Director who insists on endowments to support programs and positions, not a new idea but very stabilizing). Handled the right way this could make PNCA and Portland stronger, but this is difficult when both sides harshly typecast each other when in fact both sides have their backs against different but valid financial walls. Solution, raise endowments, review allocations and or size accordingly but the best way is to take the ethical high ground and not demonize each other personally (despite being Portland's toughest critical voice I never do that). Right now things are in the Mea culpa finger pointing phase and some moderate PNCA voices are feeling unwelcome in either camp. Another idea, what if the sales from the MoCC space added to an endowment for adjuncts? That would be a radical change, no school does that and I doubt they would consider it.

Knoedler director breaks her silence over forgery scandal.

Labor protests over the Guggenheim are set to resume. So it isn't just an Arab Spring... it it an uprising of ethics in the visual arts? hmmm...

Warhol theft isn't exactly the headline grabber that is being shilled to the generalist media. It is why we need specialists covering these things... we have understanding of scope and scale that a jack of all trades wont (even a cultural jack of all trades).

Posted by Jeff Jahn on April 18, 2016 at 10:08 | Comments (0)


Tuesday 03.22.16

Keeping up with links

I've been very busy on another major multi-media exhibition and scholarly conference that we should be announcing very soon (it is next month). PORT currently has 1 review and 2 major interviews in the works that we hope to drop on you soon. Till then here are some links:

Portland's Nathaniel Thayer Moss took part in Meow Wolf's newest extravaganza and even notched some pictures in the New York Times Magazine. It is this sort of artist driven pandemonium that makes most institutional biennial/survey attempts seem like stale ingraciatory exercises executed more for the institution than the health of an art ecosystem. back in the aughts Dave Hickey and Robert Storr were able to curate relevant things at Site Santa Fe by letting the work fuel and somewhat direct a probing intellectual premise. Lately, where most every institution fouls up is by trying to let the premise... or "we followed the process" be the guide. Arch-meh copout pseudo curiosity, and yeah my upcoming project follows that advice... the artists are not just illustrating an idea. Instead, the idea came after we chose the artists and their interests framed the intellectual scaffolding. Meow Wolf tropes to pay attention to "Mystery" and "Fantastical" artists who generate the unknown should be on everyone's radar and Portland is full of them and it isnt just a Surrealism/Dada rehash... there is a lot of design as a disruption of the reality going on. When reality yields a presidential race like this one one can see why artists are creating a parallel universe.

But I do like some places like London still parse how and why certain artists are chosen... for example the new Hepworth Sculpture Prize. Unlike Oregon's prizes, which seem to be mostly illustrative doteage on unchallenged cliches ... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on March 22, 2016 at 22:00 | Comments (0)


Wednesday 02.24.16

Serious Links

I'm working on another complicated review and we have a major interview in the works... till then here are some more links to consider:

Francis Bacon's last painting is uncovered.... and it is purposefully dusty. Now Bacon is a bit of a toss up, is he overrated or brilliant. Both, but what I love about his work is the crushing self awareness he gives to his subjects, become a kind of liberty by proxy. I'm not always in the mood for it frankly but I do appreciate the way this work approaches death as both proceeding and receding... coalescing and atomizing. You have to care about such things to see it. One cant just cite a bunch of quotes about his genre, you really have to take his work personally to get or even see the better ones. That simply isn't always possible as not every one is good. Would love to see the last one in person to determine that. Western civilization in general isn't good at addressing death but a few painters like Rembrandt and Goya were fantastic at it.

Seattle's King Street Station will become a permanent cultural space. Portland needs to look at surplus space the city owns and could rehabilitate in such a way. I know of several great sites and we shouldn't waste the kinds of spaces that are under rent pressures.

In similar news Meow Wolf is doing interesting things in Santa Fe (Portland's Nathanael Thayer Moss has work in this inaugural exhibition). Here's more detailed information on Meow Wolf.

...and San Francisco has also seen the need for a kind of preserve for cultural pursuits as well with a large new building project. All of this is great but artists also need a kind of free range biome to live and grow within... if the community is too gated or simply founded on dull ideas it fails.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on February 24, 2016 at 18:00 | Comments (0)


Tuesday 02.16.16

Tuesday Links

Temporary published an interesting essay on slow art criticism. I generally agree with most of it and it is what we do here at PORT but there need to be a few clarifications just for discussion's sake. First off the idea that there is a "crisis in criticism" is odd because "Crisis" and "Criticism" both share the same Greek root of Krisis. In other words, without a crisis there is no criticism, which supports the articles successful attack on "International Art English." It is a style that embodies no crisis, just a pedagogical resume of precedents (becoming an odd careerist statement of belief rather than critical assessment). Instead, I agree that spending a great deal of time teasing out the individual experience of the critic then comparing it with other relevant experiences is generally the thoughtful and responsible thing to do. This is different than simply forming an opinion though, a critic engages the matrix of ideas around the work rather than simply pronounce. That said a critic's most sensitive instrument is arguably themselves... and yes some critique me for bringing myself into everything but it is very much on purpose and in the tradition of Baudelaire, Herodotus, David Sylvester, Matthew Collings etc. where the critic is an on scene interlocutor and historian. Owning up to that inescapable subjectivity is a kind of honesty, which we lack from IAE... which is just junior varsity level college art curator wall text. Its just a dressed up CV in code and a kind of advertising.

Did the Knoedler settlement just ruin the best chance to enhance art market transparency? Let's just say that expensive collectibles markets have always been a haven for hiding and transferring money.

A fascinating report on the College Art Association's latest conference. Millennials aren't joiners... yes and no, like Gen X they are suspicious of anything "Boomer" and or they did not build from the ground up? I also wonder if they realize that Miranda July isn't a Millennial?

Posted by Jeff Jahn on February 16, 2016 at 12:02 | Comments (0)


Thursday 02.04.16

Thoughts on Museum of Contemporary Craft dissolution

MoCC Exhibition view: Laurie Herrick Weaving, Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow (2011) Photo Jeff Jahn

Yesterday PNCA announced that it will sell the property which currently house the Museum of Contemporary Craft and transfer the collection to its new headquarters building at 511 NW Broadway just down the street creating a new Center for Contemporary Art and Culture (a name that could mean anything). It has provoked strong responses ranging from anguish to relief and PNCA's leadership is getting a lot of blowback (some fair, some is simply hurt finger pointing). We could use some deeper and more nuanced thinking regarding this sad news as PNCA's hand was simply forced after years of subsidies. The troubled museum, which began life as craft oriented social/professional club simply had difficulties making the transition as it tried to become a museum. In fact, it has always been on life support from PNCA since the merger in 2009, which PORT covered extensively...


Posted by Jeff Jahn on February 04, 2016 at 14:06 | Comments (0)


Monday 02.01.16

Monday Links

Hans Ulrich Obrist on the future of Contemporary Art. One of the things that distinguishes him from most big name curators is the way he readily admits their cultural cache supersedes that of curators and institutional immpreneur. Of course the idea that the "present" is slippery or splintered into intangible pieces is a very Los Angeles sort of notion and yet a lot of art is about being "present" and is not so slippy for anyone with an eastern outlook or access to the splintering the internet, which seems to record what is present with relentless detail. The difference is velocity of consciousness/awareness. Here's my quote, "The future is always over before you know it"... that means those with "an edge" find it through the obsessive over-familiarity of experience that is hard to rationalize...

Ken Johnson on Flatlands at The Whitney. The de-skilling thing is hardly new and the masters of this sentiment like; Rosenquist, Duchamp, Max Ernst, Picasso, Neo Rauch and Dana Schutz should continue to loom large in the minds of those contemplating the exhibition. The Internet didn't inspire current painting... perhaps painters dreamed (or memed) of the internet?

Werner Herzog discusses virtual reality.

The Knoedler trial continues...

Posted by Jeff Jahn on February 01, 2016 at 17:15 | Comments (0)


Wednesday 01.27.16

Save the Littman Gallery at PSU

Littman Gallery (foreGround exhibition 2012)

Apparently the future of the Littman Gallery at PSU (one of Portland's best art spaces) is in serious question as the school's administration is planning to restructure the Smith Student Center, which houses it. One plan is to reallocate the space for an African American and Pacific Islander center. This makes little sense, diminishing established and noted cultural resources for other cultural resources seems to completely miss the point of having cultural spaces in the first place and takes away from the college experience. The Littman has long been the best place for PSU to engage the community (see this interview with William Pope L. on the occasion of his Littman Gallery exhibition.)

Despite being student run the Littman has launched countless art careers and numerous exhibitions that have changed the city's cultural complexion. I've personally curated 3, including PLAY (2002) where Bruce Conkle first exhibited his snowman in a freezer eco-existentialism. PLAY also posited the idea that Portland was a place for experimental and conceptual new media art (back in 2002 this was a contentious idea). What's more, unlike other PSU galleries the Littman isn't hidden away in a building only art students see and fondly remember the interactions I've had with casual visitors to the exhibitions I've curated at the Littman.

As an art city that needs spaces open to new programming Portland simply cannot lose this valuable cultural resource and the fact that it is run by the students also makes it more susceptible. It greatly diminishes the invaluable experience that the student gain from running the space as well.

The Littman Gallery staff has asked you to email them with your support here: littmanandwhite@gmail.com and please spread the word.

*Update: in a rare bit of good cultural news for Portland the Littman Staff just announced that the gallery is no longer in danger of being closed, mentioning that the all of the responses made the difference.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 27, 2016 at 20:25 | Comments (1)


Monday 01.18.16

Bowie edition links

David Bowie died just over a week ago and frankly I waspretty busted up about it. From 1999-2003 I wrote for Modern Painters magazine, during the London era when he sat on its advisory board... I know a lot of people who actually knew the man and it is pretty plain that most people know the art more than the person. He was deeply interested in critical dialog, not just garnering attention.

Here in Portland the constant din of people trying to out Bowie one another... even at New Seasons just made me want to pull back. Here are a few Bowie links related to Art that might be of interest:

David Bowie's top 100 books... you get a sense of his interest in artifice for its own essentially humanist sake.

Michael Kimmelman interviewed Bowie on his taste in art. Notice the edge the man has? ... even for artists he liked. BTW that is a Great Auerbach.

An interesting interview with the musician who worked the longest with him... all sorts of good things for any artist to take from it.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 18, 2016 at 13:07 | Comments (0)


Thursday 12.31.15

Round the web 2015 wrap ups

I've decided to publish PORT's look back at 2015 post after the first of the new year... partly because it is so extensive and partly because I don't like simple lists and everyone seems more receptive to reflection right after the new year begins. Before that, it is just kind of a popularity contest and people don't think too hard about the year when they are at holiday parties. Like the 2014 look back 2015 will be a doozie and not merely celebratory (another reason not to put a burn notice out on anyone on New Years Eve). I already published our top 10 most popular posts of 2015 here here as a appetizer.

To tide you over here are some other year end wrap ups:

Here is Artnet's art world winners and losers list of 2015... notice how Jerry Saltz is in the winners list yet there was significant blowback at him at the beginning of the year? Lesson, good critics thrive on criticism. Killing off a critic with words and chest thumping is like trying to put out an erupting volcano with a forest fire. Fail.

Kengo Kuma has been chosen to replace Zaha Hadid for Japan's 2020 Olympic Games stadium. Kuma is designing the new Portland Japanese Garden expansion which we spoke to him about here. Lately, Olympic Games have been saturated with immense cost overruns that take decades to pay off and what I like about Kuma is his sober focus on excellence rather than flash. Leave it to the Japanese to start fixing the somewhat broken Olympic system.

Jonathan Jones is often wrong as a critic but he's right about the art world's turn to do-gooder morality art becoming stifling to the health of the art world. Art is not simply the illustration of our intentions, good or bad it is about exploring the amplitude of humanity's potential (which does have a dark side)... too much moralizing gets in the way of that. I also think his call for simple "rebellion" is just typical screed. Basically "rebellion art" and "radical art" are completely different critters and I'll take the latter. Rebellion is easy, you just point at something and say... that's bad (kinda like artists who think criticism is bad for them, it isn't). Radical thinking usually takes some brilliant thinking and makes room for even more approaches.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 31, 2015 at 13:53 | Comments (0)


Monday 12.14.15

Monday Links

It is that time of the year again and everyone is doing their best of 2015 lists (PORT waits till just before or after January 1st to really dig into things and make it more than a list). Still, The New York Times and The Guardian are already making their lists. Jerry Saltz too. To my eyes, early 2015 seemed like a year where an impulse of "kill the King" reigned... where every major art impresario from Klaus Biesenbach to Jerry Saltz & Roberta Smith were thought of as passe. By the end of the year that sentiment had waned and yes it is good to be king... but it is even more important to recognize what gives certain people staying power as cultural voices. The great ones do get complaints, partly because they are great... even Great enough to make mistakes occasionally and STILL matter.

Trolling the art world is a thing and some of this has little basis, some of this is hilariously valid.

Jerry Saltz makes up with MoMA... kinda. It is true that most museums are experiencing a tremendous identity crisis these days trying to balance popular and serious pursuits but the real issue is how well thought out the new MoMA expansion plan will be. MoMA has deservedly received massive blowback for losing their edge and seriousness recently but the new building configuration will cement or correct those errors. Everyone is watching this (Jerry does not sound enthused after seeing the latest designs). This is all the more important since the Whitney and Metropolitan are both poised to usurp MoMA's place in NYC (and the world's) in the hierarchy of relevance. The thing is other museum's tend to follow their lead but I'm not convinced any of them are on the right track. Museums are in a difficult position as they occupy that difficult place between patronage, populism and relevance, the last seems to consistently get the short straw because the quality of and institutional trust in curatorial expertise has been slipping.

OPB did an exit interview with Tom Manley but it doesn't tell us much other than he did not seek out Antioch, they invited him to apply. PORT broke the story locally (even before PNCA) but it was strangely quiet when it was announced he was leaving the city. It was also incredibly wrong because Tom was the single most influential leader in Portland over the past 12 years... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 14, 2015 at 1:18 | Comments (0)


Monday 12.07.15

Monday Links

We are just putting the finishing touches on a review for you. Till then here are some links.

Kenny Schachter dishes on ABMB in a way that isn't just anecdotal fluff. But no, art history survives this because that is what history is... the survival of what mattered or will matter.

Martin Puryear is one of those artists whose work seems to have always existed... yet it is made. There is poetic genius in that kind of approach.

Christian Viveros-Faune on why Art Basel Miami Beach puts the cart before the horse then kicks the horse. True that this has been written a million times but this article gets at the meat of the matter.

An idiosyncratic curator who likes to call herself "a director" because it is "more modest." Ok, I can't buy that but I do like the other aspects of her approach, which is mostly about giving artists what they need rather than the other way around.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 07, 2015 at 1:06 | Comments (0)


Tuesday 11.24.15

Holiday week links

Here are some things to tide you over.

The Stranger reports that the much anticipated Paul Allen backed Pivot Center for Art + Culture isn't going to be a full time exhibition space that Seattle had expected. That's disappointing because I liked the interaction of art and science it was supposed to address. I find it all the more interesting because art and science don't have very clear channels of dialog between each other. Whether this is just another adjustment or part of a broader shift in Allen's cultural activity remains to be seen? Still, I am hoping this signals a move into a more innovative direction but it certainly isn't good news for the full time staff Pivot recently announced. Ultimately, those who have the greatest impact on the arts are those who take an idiomatic position then follow it up with dogged determination for about 10-20+ years.

That said the New York Times ran an interesting art and science piece on space. Our perception of spatiality is something that is created through how space is used and not enough is done to explore its influence on us.

The Guardian asks if "hip Portland is over?" First I don't think they know what really is hip about Portland (*hint it is values based on moral distinctions... mostly non-corporate and knowing the true cost of things not just $$$). It isn't and never was the quirk hype that the Portlandia show overplayed. Absolutely though, there is an affordable housing/artspace crisis, but all interesting places including New York, Berlin, Santa Fe, Seattle and London have all faced this phase as well and it comes and goes. I think is good that it has been a relatively sudden issue that built over the past 2+ years rather than a slow bleed. Overall, I want to address this elsewhere and not as just a reaction but I can say that Portland's days of expecting artists to do everything for free ended a few years ago and treating art/artists as a cheap resource needed to go away. For the meantime read this bit I wrote a few years ago about priming the cultural pump in Portland. The indie industrial complex always has a new cheaper less-developed city but that just means we have to be more serious about what we support or else you lose the best talent (much of which actually bought property here and will stay, for now). Basically, raise the stakes institutionally/funding-wise and make it tied to merit and critical thinking.

A very interesting review by Matthew Collings on Artists and Empire at Tate Britain. Imagine if US museums used art and objects to interrogate and question the past like this?

Also by Collings is an interesting article focusing on quantity over quality in the art world today. He's one of my favorite art critics for the precision he applies to art's ambiguities...

Posted by Jeff Jahn on November 24, 2015 at 13:25 | Comments (0)


Wednesday 11.18.15

Tom Manley leaves PNCA

Tom Manley

It was announced today that Tom Manley will be stepping down as President of PNCA to take over Antioch college. Manley leaves after December 31st. It suffices to say that of all the leaders in Portland over the last decade or so Tom Manley has had the most impact on the Portland cultural scene, period.

...(much more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on November 18, 2015 at 10:50 | Comments (0)


Monday 11.16.15

Great Links

Today, the idea of "Greatness" in certain artists is somewhat out of vogue in the academies and perhaps too popular in museums, where every big name painting is suddenly touted as a masterpiece. The Truth is both are intentional dilutions and are institutionally self serving. (Yeah I used the word Truth, one can invoke it but not pinpoint it... it is easier to identify in its absence or the promise to be attentive to seeing it cross our paths, however fleetingly)

For perspective, today Portland is full of good to very good artists (500-1000?), perhaps 50-100 consistently excellent ones and maybe 3-4 ones who can summon greatness any time they want (those 3-4 are very different than the others, I've never once seen any of them satisfied and are incredibly good critical thinkers that have immense technical capabilities that they feel are just barely adequate).

Real greatness isn't that rare as most people experience it in flashes but the kind I'm talking about lies in a kind of constant questioning, questing relentlessness. One where every action is an interrogation of the matters at hand; what to do?... what can be done? ...and why not? These are conceptual and existential questions that meet the world at its terms... not just the projection of the artist's desires.

I find that the strongest artists are like rivers, their flow finds their channel by abandoning their preconceived notions. Just like rivers they follow fault lines and grind into the bedrock becausethey are so supple intellectually and often materially. Their process isn't just the path of least resistance, it is the natural path of relentlessness to work at the fissures and the seems of that what most people take for granted. The always work/cut in the deepest channel.

That said here are some great links to consider:

I'm not sure is George Shaw is a Great artist but he is consistently very good and this interview in the Guardian is a good read.

Roberta Smith's account of what makes Picasso a Great sculptor explains a few things that we never seem to grow tired of. You can hate the man or the reputation but the artist is hard to deny.

Another artist that many younger artists have grown to grudge is Ellsworth Kelly but this visit with the Guardian shows just why he is the real deal. The man breathes art and I admire him greatly. If you have a problem with his art, read this piece.

Peggy Guggenheim was a truly Great art patron. Today most collectors are just that, collectors and it is a more commodity driven exercise than one of sustained development between patron and artist. True, some do a bit more but the Great ones challenge artists and take real risks... not just offer incremental opportunities or vanity projects. Great patrons stretch artists beyond any demonstrated previous capacity and the artists do the same for patrons. I'm not certain Great artists are possible without Great patrons and perhaps a Great institution or two.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on November 16, 2015 at 11:06 | Comments (0)


Monday 11.02.15

Monday stories

Well there is a lot of talk about Frank Stella. Yes he is influential, yes he is an unlikely instagram star and yes it is ok to hate the late work but as Jerry Saltz says it will tell you something about yourself. My take, Of course I prefer the black paintings but I love to tolerate everything he's done that is at least painted. The naked unpainted metal stuff... well I see why he went there (he had gone everywhere else) but it feels like mall art. Maybe he isn't going out on a high point but it is further evidence that the so called "minimalist" artists had nothing to do with sober geometry as an aesthetic. Judd and Serra ate his lunch as a sculptor but all this attention reminds us how this guy IS a painter.

Speaking of painters Squeak Carnwath's "guilt free" work does make its case. There is a pluralism that we have to applaud... because anything that breeds and encourages freedom (I know that sounds sappy but it isn't) has immense value today. Painting can be the voice of adolescence in a good way and anyone named Squeak basically has to own that fate.

Check out Paige Powell's photography show at PAM in the old grey lady (show opens Wednesday night at the Portland Art Museum). With this, the Kenny Scharf show and a William Jamison exhibition in a week Portland is going 1980's to the max this Fall.

Here is some very exciting news, the Oregon College of Art and Craft has received a grant from the Murdock Charitable trust to, "enhance the educational and studio resources of OCAC through the acquisition of specialized digital machines that will dramatically expand the college's tools of craft. This technology will open new possibilities for students and faculty in creating their own art, and it will prepare students for careers in advanced making and manufacture." Translated, that mean digitally driven machines (3d printers etc.) that evolve the ever expanding tools that we use to craft our world. This is important as so many have framed the craft fetish of the Northwest as some purely handmade and tradition. It is false notion and even computer coders are a kind of craftsperson. What's more, Portland, Seattle and Vancouver BC (and many other smaller Northwest cities) are players in the digital forest and it is great to see the premier craft-oriented school in the region making this leap. Other institutions need to follow into a more expansively cogent discussion of craft in the Northwest. We live in a world where DNA and even sub atomic particles are being manipulated. Science and technology are part of craft.

Last but not least, 15 years ago Phong Bui started the Brooklyn Rail and they parallel what we do here at PORT (Ive even championed some of their writers in national grant panels). I like that Brooklyn Rail aims not for the most readers (200k a month is great though, PORT has 150K) but instead focus on having a cogent and critical voice that coalesces into a kind of authority. "Likes" are fine but culture ultimately isn't a popularity contest and a like isn't LOVE. Culture is much more important than being accepted on trivial terms. I'd argue that "Culture" helps us identify and perhaps understand the tensions and joys of the age. At a certain point that requires a critical voice that goes beyond saying this artist is the favorite of this gallery and this collector. At a certain point you have to ask why? ...and to what ends? Congrats to Phong Bui and the Brooklyn Rail.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on November 02, 2015 at 12:00 | Comments (0)


Wednesday 10.28.15

Save the Coliseum

It came out today during a Portland City Council meeting that Commissioner Steve Novick wants to destroy the Memorial Coliseum by selling the land to a developer.


This is both ecologically and culturally irresponsible... not to mention financially since the building still breaks even in its current state. The promise of "affordable housing" with new construction also deserves some incredulity. We have discussed this before but the building is one of the very best Mid Twentieth Century modernist buildings in the Pacific Northwest and deserves to be renovated in a way that preserves this important historic aspect.

I encourage everyone interested in this to write: Mayor Charlie Hales at mayorcharliehales@portlandoregon.gov, Commissioner Dan Saltzman dan@portlandoregon.gov, Commissioner Amanda Fritz, amanda@portlandoregon.gov and Commissioner Nick Fish nick@portlandoregon.gov

Posted by Jeff Jahn on October 28, 2015 at 14:30 | Comments (0)


Tuesday 10.27.15

Substantial Links

The Walker Art Center was nice enough to publish Alexander Blauvelt's catalog essay for their Hippie Modernism exhibition titled Aesthetic Radicalism. It brings up a number of good points though I think the dichotomy he makes between minimalism/formalism and psychedelic art are an unsustainable argument. For example, Smithson was obsessed with Judd's crystaline fragmentation and Judd's own love of John Wesley and Claes Oldenburg's work undermines his argument's premise. He is right in that the art market, most historians and museums did separate them. Hopefully, this exhibition will help break down some of the very bad art history done on so called minimalism the 1960's and 70's. This is the sort of design/art aesthetic/societal movement show we should see in Portland more often too... I curated this show last year.

Artinfo asks if can single venue galleries survive? Good question... answer of course is no. Gallerists must mix and show outside their brick and mortar spaces, art fairs are crucial but oversaturated so choosing the right one or two matters tremendously. The real question is how do you develop a brand and following?

...(more, including a tough review and thoughts on Paul Allen)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on October 27, 2015 at 10:36 | Comments (0)


Thursday 10.15.15

Weekly Links

Hermann Nitsch's work isn't academic or formalist, more like a religion of signs without being tied to beliefs. His work is getting a lot of consideration now because it also isn't terribly commodifiable becuase how do you put a price on provocation?

An interesting discussion of higher education and art. The sheer # of art schools and students isn't so much the problem as is very low standards for being a "lifestyle artist" these days. Pedagogy and being able to explain yourself doesn't make you an artist. When the few strong curators and critics can't fully explain why they keep paying attention to you, but still do it because you are leading the way into something nobody fully understands but need to... then you are probably an artist. The trick is that "tracking" that occurs and though art schools are important they are kind of a side bar to the art world... kinda like the relationship of butterfly hunters to butterflies (which isn't necessarily trivial, but no where as important as the butterflies actual environment they live and die in). Think of it like salmon raised completely in captivity vs wild ones. The question of "who" is benefitting from the education system is important though and one problem I see with all these school expansions is they don't endow their new programs like they do the buildings. Free tuition is interesting but I can't see it being the norm.

The Met is commissioning Cornelia Parker for its rooftop. I've always liked this model of museum's as patrons... it gives room to push boundaries where individual collectors or galleries that rely on them can be timid or simply space constrained.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on October 15, 2015 at 15:30 | Comments (0)


Tuesday 10.06.15

Portlandia at 30


Perhaps the first litmus test for anyone's basic knowledge of Portland is whether Portlandia calls to mind a cable tv show or a sculpture which serves as the focal point of Michael Graves historic Portland Building. Well it turns 30 this week and RACC is throwing a bash on Thursday featuring Mayor Hales, former Mayor Clark and Nick Fish from 12:00- 1:30PM October 8th.

Still, it is very important that the sculpture isn't considered just a stand alone cultural feature. Instead, it is a kind of hood ornament for the first Postmodern building... an anthropomorphic totem that conveys the then radically humanistic aims of the entire Graves designed project (the interior is dismal). Sure, we remember the hood ornament on a car but its kind of an introduction to the spirit of the design and in this case it is a historic building that is designed to be a kind of gallery for the sculpture. That was a radical move and it is troubling how many feel the only sculpture itself is important. The world renowned building needs to be saved and rehabilitated sometime in the near future. Besides, without that building Portlandia simply becomes a big neo beaux arts sculpture, but upon its pedestal it is a kind of spirit of what Portland's government (with offices within) should aspire to.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on October 06, 2015 at 12:36 | Comments (0)


Monday 10.05.15

Monday Links

Well I'm back from my travels. Riding other transit systems and looking at bridges will inform my comprehensive review of Portland's Tillikum Crossing bridge and the art around it (stay tuned, I should have it polished off soon... yes I will finish off the Guenther history piece as well, but the bridge is first and far less complicated). Both look at the big picture as well as the details.

Till then check out these links:

Can art still shock? ...especially in the selfie age when artists are expected to create art that panders to the audience's need for their expression? This pushes art deep into a polarity of sycophantic or narcissistic strategies for resonance but that's just the mediocre stuff. The great work like Anish Kapoor's bean (Cloud Gate) in Chicago rises above the pandering by pushing that need to commune into an ecstatic outdoor cathedral devoted to humanity as a macro-organism.

On a similar note the new Turner Prize lineup does look ultra-earnest, pandering and therefore extremely dull. By pandering to narrow and cliquish sensibilities the work is guaranteed to speak to a small group of people who expect pandering on their narrow pet subjects. That's why so much research art is mediocre, it achieves predictable aims because it researches things it has already formed a kind of fetish for. There is a lots of earnest navel gazing art these days, much of which looks like post-minimalism or other 70's art (fetished white walls used as a foil for raw wood constructions, performances where someone does something with a liquid and or nudity etc.). Stronger work gets lost in its own needs and emerges from the development process very different and it confuses the hell out of you when you encounter it.

Here is an interesting interview with Kate Rothko on how the art world sought to cheat her after her father's death. Considering Rothko's connection to Portland I feel like more here need to be aware of what happened.

One bright spot was the first Nasher sculpture prize going to Doris Salcedo. She isn't being "authentic" or fetishing an era of art gone by... her work evokes a serious sense of loss and longing for what cannot be recovered. It is powerful because it is hard to wrap your head around it physically, intellectually and emotionally... as strong art should be.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on October 05, 2015 at 18:04 | Comments (0)


Monday 09.21.15

Monday Links

The Guardian reviews Ai Weiwei's first major retrospective in London and gets at the heart of the matter. True, so much of it is recycled pop art but it is his ability to effect and redirect history instead of a simply affect it in a quotidian way that separates him from so much art that has been littering the art world for decades and the Portland Art Museum just showed a major if relatively well behaved work of his. We interviewed Mr. Ai here and the question remains if his work will keep its potency with his newfound freedom?

Airborne art fence at the US/Mexico border.

The most toxic sites in America as art. (Portland has plenty of sites btw).

Posted by Jeff Jahn on September 21, 2015 at 8:33 | Comments (0)


Saturday 09.05.15

Weekend links

Everybody must read this review of Hal Foster's latest book on the various cliches that a lot of art has become. Every decade or so the art world starts to purge prevailing strategies which have become a kind of pantomime of themselves... we are at one of those "correction" moments in art history.

This little bit of art writing is too generous for the overly precious, research based cliches it reviews but it is good that it points out the problem. Basically if you want to make cliched contemporary art simply do some research, then present in the center of a clean white room in a precious way. Let's look at the takeaway vocabulary as a synopsis: hermetic, intersubjective communication, suppressed. Hermetic an intersubjective communication cancel each other out, leaving suppression as aform of formal presentation the end result. It is basically the way this type of work is placed that is the primary information of the installation... it say I have institutional carte blanche to present this glittery contemporary art postcard in a blank room. It is festival art 101, contemporary art as souvenir. (Thanks to Matthew Collings who brought this to my attention)

Yes,looking at art makes you smarter... but I'm pretty sure that reading a lot of art writing handed out at the venues will challenge your tolerance for cliched thinking.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on September 05, 2015 at 11:10 | Comments (0)


Monday 08.31.15

Suggested Reading

A review of a second book that is about the writing of a first book on Francis Bacon. Sometimes the art is in that which survives the transcription into history.

An excellent interview regarding a great late Barnett Newman exhibition.

Ralph Rugoff comes off as a deflecting pedant when talking about his 2015 Lyon Bienniale but the shift in taboo word of "modern" is interesting. Rugoff is a practiced contrarian when it comes to language and these festival shows are frequently intellectually capricious. In many ways he is a very right way to strip Alfred Barr's progressional timeline from what should be a very common and useful word "modern". All the School of Paris artists were trying to do is something current and yes "Modern". They didn't form salons devoted to "Modernism"... that was bill of goods the world was sold after the fall of fascist regimes involved in WWII. That's why the swipes at modernism and an attempt to rehabilitate the term is a bit of a straw man arguement.

Hyperallergic looks at writing art criticism. We at PORT see criticism as an experimental form that actually prioritizes challenging communication that embodies the challenge of communicating something about the challenge ...whew. And no academic diplo-dialects that never take a stance aren't so much... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on August 31, 2015 at 1:01 | Comments (0)


Monday 08.24.15

Monday Links

Here is a fascinating article on the arts and development/gentrification from Great Britain. Part of the problem I see with Portland's very knee jerk reaction to gentrification is the way it is prophylactic... as if change can somehow be halted. Needless to say that isn't realistic and Mayor Hales announcement last week was a step in the right direction but it needs to also incorporate the additional amenities that cultural spaces add to a displaced community that is trying to re-seed itself. Portland needs to embed cultural amenities into new development and provide the economic incentives to make it happen. Still, these re-seeded communities are kind of a consolation prize though we also need to protect those special artistic micro-ecosystems that take place in buildings. What's more the city has big red "U"-s on a lot of buildings that though not up to seismic code could be put to some use... just like artists have always done (they know the risks). Also, that means we should reward artists who take risks in Portland... for as progressive a city that we are we are programmatically very conservative on the institutional and awards level. Part of how Portland maintains a competitive edge is to help foster those artists who contribute to the "fine edge" that our city currently enjoys. Portland has to get over its phobia of individual achievement... often letting institutions from elsewhere (museums, publications, awards) be the first to give a national platform to artists from Portland.

A fascinating article on the crisis that art schools currently face, in this case San Francisco's AAU. One problem that nobody ever seems to bring up is the way fundraising for these schools do not endow specific teaching positions and programs (it is all about buildings and creating new programs rather than strengthening current ones)... that's the reason many of these schools have under experienced professors, tenure and depth of support has evaporated placing all of the pressure on enrollment.

Ah, lets get back to the art... Richard Diebenkorn was born here in Portland Oregon and here are images from his sketchbooks. He didn't grow up here in a formative way like Rothko did but we hardly need that to appreciate the seeds of his practice in his sketchbooks.

There was a little news on Converge 45, an international arts festival for Portland beginning next summer. Though the title theme "You in mind" sounds like a "curatorial selfie stick" of an umbrella idea that has been done to death already (there are far smarter concepts we could and should highlight and hopefully the component shows can rescue it from anonymity).

Here is an interesting look at Snohetta, the architecture firm that is designing the planned James Beard Market in downtown Portland. Currently that preliminary design strikes me as somewhat generic Nordic architecture but the devil is in the details of these things and I'm certain they will give it a more Portland personality. *(Hint more eclecticism that heightens the bizarre cacophony of a bazaar... Portlanders don't easily grow fond of unified textures/treatments.) Both this market project and the new Japanese Garden expansion set the bar for design in Portland (PAM & Portland Building projects take heed).

Posted by Jeff Jahn on August 24, 2015 at 12:39 | Comments (0)


Monday 08.10.15

Monday Links

Spanish artists rig ATM's to spew drachmas. Things are tense everywhere and somehow Greece, the cradle of western civilization is at the top of any attentive person's radar these days. It seems like a full circle civilization question... do people serve the system if the Kantian contract is broken between economies, governments and people? Seems like this Fall will bean social and economic roller coaster. Good that artists are inserting themselves, they are kinda the cartilage of a civilization's body.

Artists and writers creating crosstalk at the Guggenheim... hmmm. Carol Bove is probably the best of this genre at the moment, one where bookshelves are used constantly in installation art (add the extensive use of white if the artist is really gonna run with the cliche). Most writers just use art to an excuse to make words though and the writers who wish they were good artists usually just rip off Carol Bove these days (Bove is better because she isnt just a twee quotidian who makes one or two moves, there is a relationship to Giacometti that is actually more than just namedropping and posturing). Frankly, very few have done anything interesting with shelves on walls since Judd (partly because they weren't actually shelves).

Museums like the Tate are trying to engage and provide more experiences... but I think the real problem is not having enough immersive installation work. Let the Francis Bacon be a great painting (they work fine) and collect some great sensory stimulating installation art if the institution doesn't seem relevant, varied and current enough. Square peg round hole situation. Nice try but its a bit of a band-aide for a more endemic engagement/edifice problem. The art is current but the art market which defines patronage doesn't value experience as much as branded precious objects. It's a problem with Western thinking... best of luck with solving that my museum friends. Participation isn't the answer, promoting concentration and appreciation are and it takes curators who are philosophers not just ingratiator/careerists to do that.


Posted by Jeff Jahn on August 10, 2015 at 18:02 | Comments (0)


Monday 06.22.15

Art World Stories

Kenny Schachter's damage report for Art Basel. As much as these articles always seem to present themselves as an all new scenario, generally things have always been this way. The difference today is the scope, scale and stakes have shifted considerably... the art world consists of a series of negotiated confidences but what happens when art is considered a class of investment? Something that has been going on since the Romanoffs etc... only now it is far less of a medieval style market.

Which brings us to the revolving door article on museum curators and the top art galleries. Once again, institutional curators always have kept up relationships with galleries. What I find most interesting is that the most talented curators at the height of their powers and confidences like; Storr, Schimmel, Elderfield... all people I know and admire greatly, somehow don't feel like they fit at our top museums anymore. Museums have always been on the sometimes tense border between the interests of the 1% and their duty as custodians of culture/access for the public but what happens when all the best and brightest talent either becomes a museum director or an art consultant?

In a related story, "Death by Curation," and the dangers of blockbusters... but is it really a lack of curators with a integral programme?

Art pavilions have been a major trend for institutions and festivals trying to get beyond the art bunkers and white boxes and the latest trippy cocoon for the Serpentine Gallery is no exception. They can catalyze different types of engagement. Some artists like Jorge Pardo have made careers out of them, (his permanent one in Portland is a personal fave because it subverts function by substituting shelter for lighthouse-like navigation concerns).


Here is a fascinating obituary for those unfamiliar with Carl Nesjar, perhaps the only artist allowed to alter Picasso's work. There is something incredibly current about the level of delegation and collaboration that existed between these two artists and I'm a fan of Nesjar's personal ice fountain work as well.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on June 22, 2015 at 10:32 | Comments (0)


Monday 06.15.15

Monday Links

Well, finally they've done something potentially "whelming" with Disjecta's Portland 20##Biennial series, which has always been more about the institution's aspirations than anything else. The 2016 version will be curated by Michelle Grabner, 2014 co-curator of the Whitney Biennial and someone I've known since she was in grad school. Grabner has a knack for getting past the sometimes juvenile local politics so she should well equipped to deal with those chasing the Whitney effect. She will need it as previous biennials have been more social gatherings than strong shows. Rather than probing looks at what an art scene in Portland constitutes/means they have been adept at showing us things we are already incredibly familiar with throughout the year before and the works themselves never seem to standout (rushed time frame and a sense of low stakes). Other challenges are the fact that the previous versions have included so many artists that this one will likely be forced to finally present new discoveries (something sorely missing previously) and group shows at Disjecta always seem to lose the plot (making the shows at commercial galleries a questionable practice and a caste system step up from the host venue). An outside curator is a good idea, but like their curator in residence program it also means they come in not knowing the terrain. Lately though, Disjecta's group shows have improved to reach unmemorable status (the last biennial mentioned craft but didn't go any deeper than checking off a local buzzword that is both fetished and pushed back at). This scene has been asking for better since 2010 and Michelle might be one of the few capable of pulling off something sophisticated enough to pay attention to. Besides, we cheeseheads tend to call it like it is so I'm curious what Michelle will make of the legendary Portland style passive aggressive tendencies. Also, here is a more exhaustive analysis of why and how local surveys and awards miss the mark, it is older but everything still holds. We haven't had an institutional survey that took chances and yet made an impact since the 2006 Oregon Biennial at PAM. As always, execution will matter most in the end... if the institution, curator and artists don't really take care and just let "the process" drive the result, it will resemble itself like these things often do. She has the backbone to counter the false more is more strategy they have been using and being an artist and not just a curator should help her. The question remains why both locals and outsiders have bun unable to contend with the scene here, which has become both increasingly local and international at the same time? Portland in general is tired of being reduced to catchphrases.

I'm shocked but pleased that even the Oregonian's editorial board is seeing the need to preserve important architecture like the Memorial Coliseum and the Portland Building. We've argued for this constantly for the past decade... and no the fact that TLC is required and they are architecturally notable is not lost in the cross talk... it is the cross talk.

Barbara Hepworth gets her due in Britain.

Francesco Clemente is back in a big way at Mass MOCA.

A look at Art Basel's influential jury in the NYT's.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on June 15, 2015 at 10:24 | Comments (0)


Monday 06.08.15

Monday Links

John Waters' 2015 commencement speech for RISD. Art is a hitch hiking trip and it does just take one person to get on board. The final irony... becoming an insider. Hilarious and true! It happens...

Becoming the first artist in space? Novel stunt... but is it enough? It also says a lot that outer space doesn't seem that terribly challenging in itself.

Glasstire on arts criticism not being dead. Good to hear. I have been working an essay (for a long time) that addresses this and much more but a few things are just wrong. For example, positive reviews like this recent one and this on Storm Tharp do go viral. Interviews like this one with Luc Tuymans and this also go viral. If you do something truly intelligent and far more perceptive than we are accustomed to, people do pay attention to criticism. I'll be publishing the criticism essay this month as part of PORT's 10 year roundhouse, along with several other things people have been waiting for (yes THAT post). It will be worth it.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on June 08, 2015 at 18:48 | Comments (0)


Wednesday 06.03.15

Hallie Ford 2015 Fellows

Up to 5 this year the 2015 Hallie Ford Fellows in the Visual Arts are Ben Buswell, MK Guth, Tom Prochaska and Samantha Wall of Portland, and Jack Ryan of Eugene. Congrats to all.

Parsing it out it still seems like the awards favor:
academicaly afiliated locally as teacher or graduates at Oregon art schools
those who foreground "effortful" craft, even if the work is conceptual (avoiding technological and experiential work or which is purely conceptual)

On the plus side it seems like a better mix of younger and older midcareer artists who work in a variety of media... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on June 03, 2015 at 14:04 | Comments (0)


Sunday 05.31.15

Weekend links

Jerry Saltz reviews Jessica Jackson Hutchins latest. She is a Portlander. Interesting that he doesn't bring up Kienholz, which seems pretty obvious. She's different of course, there's a debt to Tracey Emin in there as well but nobody brings YBA's into the discussion around leading women in art today. They should.

Even Andreas Gursky has difficulties using trademarked super heroes.

PORT's own Tori Abernathy had a great deal of exposure this last week... nice to see the mainstream press catching onto the issue of the arts and "creatives" being pushed out by developmentof supporting alternative art spaces. Perhaps Portland could look at Vancouver BC's Community Amenity Contribution system to ensure the arts are not pushed out?

This was a fascinating read on conflicts of interests for reviewers at the New York Times. It is a must read for those who think they understand how criticism is supposed to work. Fact is, criticism and journalism are not the same thing and ultimately a true critic is a very different beast than a traditional journalist... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on May 31, 2015 at 13:54 | Comments (1)


Friday 05.22.15

Friday Links: Great Artist Edition

We will have an essay and reviews for you soon but till then here are some exciting links about all time great artists. It isn't in vogue in academics but "Greatness" does exist (museums still hold the banner for this crucial idea) and these artists all are exemplars.

Judd_100_alu.jpgat Chinati (c) Judd Foundation. Licensed by VAGA, NYC (photo Jeff Jahn)

The long anticipated Judd Retrospective at MoMA has finally been announced for Fall 2017. Judd is a crucial figure, partly for how he changed the terms under which we experience art and define ideal circumstances. His influence is so wide that most artists after him have had to contend with his rigor, logic, methods and integrity. In 2010 I helped organize a conference and co-curated a very unique Judd exhibition that explored his radical application of delegated fabrication. That conference and exhibition in Portland began an important return to the core discussions around Judd's work, something which had been obscured partly by ubiquity and forces in the art market.

... (more Hesse & Heizer)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on May 22, 2015 at 11:38 | Comments (0)


Friday 05.15.15

Friday Links

Excellent review of Yoko Ono's solo show at MoMA in the NYT's.

The news of the week is that an entire MFA class at USC has dropped out in protest. That schools do this is nothing new, Mark Rothko even had something similar happen to himself and two other Jewish students from Portland at Yale. What is different is the sheer # of art students and the internet as a platform for sharing these protests. As the pact between higher education and students grows ever tenser with skyrocketing student debt we haven't heard the last of this.

The evolution of Van Evera Baily's midcentury modern homes on Portland Architecture.

We art critics are very protective of our voice and Christopher Knight is absolutely right to demand something different be done with his misattributed words. Museums simply have a responsibilty to the art and the history of discourse around it, especially if the critic in question has made a formal request that it be changed. It also reaffirms why long term staff critics are necessary... a revolving door of freelances doesn't have the same kind of backbone to stand up for their words.

A blighted urban street is in the running for the Turner Prize.

*Update: Images of painter's palettes through the ages.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on May 15, 2015 at 13:25 | Comments (0)


Sunday 05.10.15

Chris Burden dead at 69

Shoot, Chris Burden's most famous performance piece

Sad news today, Chris Burden a landmark performance artist who became one of the more interesting sculptors of the late 20th and 21st century has died of Melanoma at 69. PORT interviewed Burden here and I fondly remember his pilotless ghost ships at PAM a few years ago as they seemed to capture the zeitgeist in that holds still in the USA today. Burden was one of the relatively unknown artists that came through Portland's groundbreaking PCVA program, later achieving legendary status. For me, what always resonated about Burden was the work never seemed self centered, even when he was being shot for his work. He made art a kind of martyrdom or at least a symbol of humanity's reliance on self sacrifice (as a kind of structural necessity for culture... bridges etc.) and as such his example will live on.

Christopher Knight's obituary in the LA Times hits all the right notes.

The Art Newspaper's obituary also touched on the importance of the later work as well.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on May 10, 2015 at 11:30 | Comments (0)


Friday 05.01.15

Friday discussion

PORT will have the latest version of The Score series of reviews for you shortly. It will focus on curatorial decisions and you can read #2 from 2011 to revisit the single worst curatorial mistake in Portland history... never put Carl Andre sculpture in a display case.

Guggenheim occupied. Museums are on the front lines of the widening income disparities.

On the other side of thefence the WSJ chronicles the making of the Frieze art brand.

Christopher Knight rightly calls out the Whitney for misrepresenting his words.

Roberta Smith discusses the uneveness of the Morgan Library's Embracing Modernism exhibition and it is a healthy to keep an eye on such connoisseurship if NYC is to keep its position... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on May 01, 2015 at 10:00 | Comments (0)


Monday 04.27.15

Discussion Links

Christopher Knight pens the much anticipated rebuttal to all the Whitney love. Well, the cries of parochialism are a given though Knight celebrates the exclusion of Greenbergian Color Field painters like Morris Louis and Helen Frankenthaler... but really is it just substituting one parochialism for another? That's ok, one can come to Portland to see Frankenthaler, Anne Truitt and other Greenberg artists here at the Portland Art Museum, where the critic's personal collection now resides. What's more, the Whitney did just restage a great Robert Irwin last year so I'm not certain they are as guilty as Knight's still legitimate argument seems to present. Perhaps a museum's identity comes chiefly from a permanent collection, so the Whitney will still be able to play against of their expected New York focus as they years roll by. Still, for the first show they had to play the NYC card since they are in competition with MoMA as the NYC art museum. Frankly, I look forward to the LACMA expansion's LA style rebuttal. That is one of the nice things about being here in Portland, we make no claims to being an art capital but sitting out the cola wars style museum wars gives us a kind of Switzerland position (which is its own kind of parochialism). The more I think about it... parochialism that is self aware isn't necessarily the slur it is intended to be as long as the program learns to curate against form enough to keep it feeling vital.

We seldom hear from Michael Craig Martin in the USA but this interview in the Guardian gives insight into how the British addressed Warhol and eventually birthed the Britpop/YBA phenomenon. Those details... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on April 27, 2015 at 13:51 | Comments (0)


Monday 04.20.15

Monday Links

Jerry Saltz on the New Whitney is today's must read, though it is kind of a rehash that uses the new building and program as a testcase. I agree, many museums have lost their way and the art (along with the serious curators that serve it) have been getting the short end of the stick for about 15 years now. The Whitney here seems to be finding a clarity of purpose through this building rather than the muddle that most recent building campaigns have produced. Going pure timeline and ism-dogma is a kind of intellectual death and the Whitney is right to avoid it. Question is if programmatically/curatorially it can utilize this new breathing space? (My forthcoming Guenther piece goes in depth into how curatorial programs have changed... yes it is still coming, likely closer to PORT's 10th anniversary on June 1 since it is kind of a retrospective on PORT as well). Basically, we live in an age that requires more incisive critical thinking precisely when it is in somewhat shorter supply than any time I can remember. Still, I like the way Saltz has focused on Weinberg here. He's a major reason this museum expansion seems less craven... somehow the Whitney now seems to be curious about itself and what it and NYC has been missing lately.

Surprising discoveries as the Glasgow's incinerated Macintosh masterpiece begins to emerge from the ashes.

I've waited to chime in on Robert Storr's pronouncements on today's art critics because I Love both Storr and Saltz... both are true critics and just like having wolves and bears in a confined space conflict is pretty much preordained. First, we are in a moment of authority bashing (any misstep and someone will call for heads) and both Saltz and Storr both being ubiquitous authorities have an impressive cache of detractors. Familiarity breeds contempt and an art market/system that would rather farm careers rather than... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on April 20, 2015 at 14:25 | Comments (0)


Monday 04.06.15

Monday Links

Brian Libby asks, can Portland contain its rising housing costs and "Grow the right way?" Generally the art scene is right on the front lines of this question as galleries and artist's apartments and studios are the canaries in the coal mine. For Portland it will basically take more property owners like David Gold, Al Solheim and Brian Wannemaker who understand that vitality in the arts can pay off in the long term in ways that aren't in the typical property asset management playbook.

Rogue sculpture seems far more edgy than Banksy with this unauthorized Edward Snowden Bust in NYC.

Edward Winkleman on the new art world buzz around transparency in markets.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on April 06, 2015 at 11:10 | Comments (0)


Wednesday 04.01.15

April 1st links and musings

Photo Jeff Jahn

Richard Speer pens the last of his articles for the WWeek with a reflection on the art scene and a list of his favorite shows. First of all it wasn't "better" it was far smaller and less academic with an odd sense that we were discovering our potential as a city (one which it had been deep denial of). Let's just say Richard has never been a lover of the academic position. Also, back then the same 50-100 people could be seen at every... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on April 01, 2015 at 12:11 | Comments (0)


Monday 03.23.15

Monday Links

Zumthor's latest LACMA design crystalizes into something more than a blob. I think Los Angelenos were mostly reacting to an outsider simply reiterating the stereotypes about LA being shapeless and image conscious above all else. Though true it goes over about as well as an outsider producing a building or art about Portland being rainy and quirky. Sure, but can't we dig deeper? I Love Zumthor so I have faith he will continue to refine this into something special. MoMA in NYC looks like the Mall of America in so many ways comparatively.

Richard Diebenkorn's 10 guidelines for himself in and about the studio. I like #10 best (strong artists interrogate themselves and test their assumptions). Also, I would be remiss if I didn't mention that Diebenkorn was born here in Portland Oregon. Unlike Rothko, he spent virtually no time here and had not other significant history with our fair city.

Because it is a season of bashing authority... it is now Klaus Biesenbach's turn at MOMA for the Bjork retrospective. One bad show, review etc. can't be grounds for dismissing people but it does hint that NYC is rightly concerned about losing its cultural edge and long-view relevancy/seriousness... especially at a time of tension between the haves and have nots is at a boil. There is a sense that many museums, MOMA in particular have jumped the shark by seeking short term popularity at the cost of other more crucial things (this is being played out in the rancor over MoMA's expansion designs).

Posted by Jeff Jahn on March 23, 2015 at 22:08 | Comments (0)


Friday 03.20.15

Friday Links

Brian Libby has a wonderful piece on the Feldman house remodel... yes the same Philip Feldman whose name once graced PNCA's Feldman gallery in the old Goodman building.

Review of Alfredo Jaar's latest in the New York Times. Jaar is one of those artists who seeks out the most difficult subject matter and frequently pulls it off with deft poetics involving, space, mood and conflicted cognition.

Google is to create a database of street art.

The unlikely push from major museums like LACMA an MoMA to protect the land around Michael Heizer's city.

More handwringing over museums and Millennials... look it isn't just an app that is a magical meaning-making bullet (though I support the move). I've worked with them and myself am part of the Gen X wave that was the first to experience total integration of computers into our lives. I think a deeper more soulful approach is required, something my generation has been asking for as well. The world changed and museums + other arts institutions need a more savvy outlook that is based on the way people use museums not just one app. Notice how few tech people are involved in the arts? That has to change. It isn't a generational problem it is an anthroplogical understanding issue. The Walker Art Center has taken steps but sometimes they come off as ploys that aren't any different than just an app which is just a surface reaction to an endemic rift. Put it this way it takes far more than clickbait.

25 women curators... a good list but let's not forget that though female curators are plentiful female artists are valued for significantly less in the market and are under represented in myriad ways for their crucial contributions culturally. Not certain what to make of that cultural dissonance. Too few female directors as well.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on March 20, 2015 at 10:58 | Comments (0)


Monday 03.16.15

Monday Links

The racially charged debate over the Kehinde Wiley review in the Village Voice is the talk. Overall, the critical shots rely too heavily on archetypes (predator/prey)... which doesn't work because it is obvious that Wiley is all about personalizing archetypes and giving them the kind of projected confidence that provokes viewers. It is the the intellectual equivalent of critiquing an insult comic for being insulting. Or to use an art world equivalent it is kinda like criticizing Warhol's interest in celebrities. Of course of course he is and it works because it is a little uncomfortable with their bold but deliberately obsessed/hyperfocused opening moves.

Technically, it is what Wiley and Warhol do after the opening "obsession move" that keeps them relevant and complex. I'd argue that all interesting art... and people for that matter make you a little uncomfortable with their presence at first because of their intensity (quiet or loud). The problem here was the editor not going back to the critic and telling them, "too facile an argument, it will be branded racist." Personally I like Kehinde Wiley's work... it is bold and personal as Amy's review of Wiley's show at PAM explored. Portraiture thrives on conflicted characters and chutzpah that mocks itself a little. The reviewer focuses too much on the audacity of Wiley's success to actually undermine it and it comes of as someone who rightly or wrongly seems like they cant effectively see past the forms. Racism is everywhere... it is common because it relies on established forms and archetypes that remain unexamined (yet that reliance on archetypes is something criticism is supposed to examine).

Conversely, professional art criticism is actually quite rare because there aren't many editors that really understand how to cut close to the bone (at the right time) and still remain valid. Perhaps the main reason journalism and criticism aren't natural bedfellows is a true critique isn't a blunt instrument it is a scalpel and with the gutting of expertise in generalist publications they have shot themselves in the foot. I've always seen PORT as a trade journal dealing in expertise, not journalism, which at some point tries to separate itself from its subject. That "objectivity" is an impossible thing when it comes to art criticism and a crucial distinction always needs to be made... is it criticism first? In the VV's case it is but the lack of editorial savvy hangs them out to dry...

Adrian Searle on Bruce Nauman's latest.

The Critic pens an open letter to Gardner Museum thieves.... ???

Posted by Jeff Jahn on March 16, 2015 at 11:06 | Comments (0)


Saturday 03.14.15

Carl & Sloan and the new gallery scene


Portland is in the midst of another major sea-change in its gallery scene with the appearance of Upfor, Hap, Adams & Ollman and the reappearance of Soho veteran Jeffrey Thomas after a 20 year absence. Add Carl & Sloan to the list. As an artist run space it is different but in the past similar spaces like Tilt, Soundvision and Nil helped reseed what was happening here... though it is way up in North Portland. Their first show Testable Predictions, featuring Perry Doane, Michelle Liccardo and PORT's own award winning Amy Bernstein should be lively. These sorts of projects are labors of love... and perhaps naivete but let's remember that Dan Graham was the first to show Sol LeWitt and group shows for Donald Judd, Dan Flavin and Robert Smithson (Testable Predictions sounds like a Dan Graham Title BTW as it implies an empiricism).

Testable Predictions | March 14 - April 12
Opening Reception: March 14, 6-10PM
Carl & Sloan
8371 N Interstate #1

Posted by Jeff Jahn on March 14, 2015 at 13:40 | Comments (0)


Thursday 03.12.15

Michael Graves Dies at 80 | Changed Portland

Portland Building (photo Jeff Jahn)

Michael Graves has died at 80 years old today. I wrote about his complicated relationship with Portland and his career making Portland Building here. Suffice it to say he changed the city of Portland and influenced the world of architecture with that building and the effects will be felt as long as there are humans who study design.

First and foremost Graves was an innovator in what he called, "Humanistic Design" and the Portland Building as designed was a way to relate big buildings back to the human scales and aspirations that make up a city...(more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on March 12, 2015 at 14:54 | Comments (0)


Monday 03.09.15

Monday Links

Local artist is arrested for forging Mark Tobey paintings by the FBI. I'm interviewed and not really surprised as Tobey fakes have always surfaced. One should always go through a reputable dealer + check with the estate or authenticating authority before buying works. If it seems too good... it probably is. Authentication should never be rushed either, that's a red flag. What I am surprised about is how they never once mentioned how valuable Mark Tobey's authenticated works are? We did discuss it (along with a lot of other art historical background) so I suppose they will get the dollar signs in there eventually. As it is now it is kind of refreshing how they didn't make value the main thrust of the story. I mean he doesn't exactly look like someone who should have a trove of Northwest Mystic works to sell. The good news is you can go to the Portland Art Museum and see a real Mark Tobey on display. *Update: the alleged forger was released but it looks like he was forging an extensive # of Northwest Mystic works and has a history of this sort of activity. The question is did he have any conspirators beyond the FBI informant?

The Guardian does a nice piece on Hans Ulrich Obrist, who is an innovative curator because he dares to generate his own discussion, taxonomies etc. through cultural activity... not simply an essay published as a show opens. What I like about HUO is he creates his own weather or at least hitches sails to winds that aren't always prevailing and lets them run a course. I also like the way in which he is one of the few curators today that openly admits that groups of artists who cull together themes and trends are ultimately more substantial than curators who gerrymander theme shows to fit their thesis.

Last week, while people were distracted by Jerry Saltz being kicked of Facebook (he's back now) the gadfly critic published one of his best pieces ever on the New Museum's latest triennial. It is the way he gets the need for fresh new tangents in these shows and the way the internet doesn't exactly drive this trend... it enables it. A great and versatile tool for keeping things fresh and not pre-approved. As far as Facebook goes... Jerry is a gadfly, he tests the limits but mostly because those limits are so narrow and reactionary. Some critics strive to never offend but others make a point at getting to the tension of the age and yes Facebook and many other social media does quash dissent by avoiding anything that might seem offensive. You just cant please everyone... I love social media but that is its achilles heel. We understand each other through patiently exploring views different from our own... consensus can be even more stifling than loud dissent.

Basquiat's notebooks, look... the original clickbait before the internet existed.

Robert Storr on the hilarious and horrifying that is Guston.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on March 09, 2015 at 22:41 | Comments (0)


Monday 03.02.15

Cynthia Lahti Bonnie Bronson Fellow

Cynthia Lahti, Frau (2012) photo Jeff Jahn

Congratulations to Cynthia Lahti who was announced as the latest Bonnie Bronson Fellow today. Ever since a residency in Germany in 2012 the subseuent work that explores the frisson of photography and sculpture as a kind of visual/material dissonance has been intriguing... akin to surrealist collaboration between Alberto Giacometti and Man Ray... but definitely made by a woman. It has edge and she even has a new show that opens tomorrow at PDX Contemporary.

The Bonnie Bronson award is different than most regional awards in that it primarily goes to mid career female artists (male academicians in traditional media tend to win most other major awards around here) and it is nice that this one is going to an artist who is making the best work of her career. Generally, the Bronson award goes to academics or someone who is extremely visible in the community but Portland needs to turn a corner and reward those who are doing not simply good work but that which has a keen edge and is the strongest of their career.

True, some will complain that so many awards go to a small pool of the same artists (David Eckard unfairly was targeted for angst after... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on March 02, 2015 at 11:09 | Comments (0)


Saturday 02.28.15

Weekend Art Criticism

Art criticism is becoming rarer and rarer because most outlets dont take the time to develop space and expectations for strong critical voices. PORT turns 10 June 1 and we have always taken the long view as well as the immediate taking both with a grain of salt. What little visual arts writing there is tends to be aimed at ingratiation rather than evaluation.

Roberta Smith reviews Louise Nevelson... it means something more because the NY Times has critics like Smith. Instead of merely announcing the show she givesa sense of where Nevelson has stood and why. If it weren't coming from a critic with experience it would sound catty but in actuality it reveals how popular attitudes change... critics cboth surf those waves and disrupt them.

Daily Serving and Arts Practical are merging with CCA. I have mixed feelings about the need for art writing and criticism remaining independent of large art institutions though at the same time large universities have hosted print journals for years... is it just an internet SEO grab or just another academic writing puppy mill? That said it is certainly very difficult to... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on February 28, 2015 at 11:38 | Comments (0)


Tuesday 02.24.15

Tuesday curatorial links

David Salle discusses the much disliked The Forever Now at MoMA. He is right that forever and now are two terrible words in show titles but I still feel that much of the ire stems from the use of "Atemporal". Look, painters are always loosely using the history of painting in paintings... it isn't new and it isn't special to now. The Great drummer Buddy Rich said it best, "everyone borrows, the great ones steal." Of the whole lot I think Mark Grotjahn has something going on as do Mehretu and Sillman (where is Tomma Abts?).... many of the others, not so much.

Reports for the New Museum's under 35 triennial are filtering in here and there. These massive group shows are almost always inherently disappointing but the focus on non commodity zeitgeist art makes sense. Unless you can take viewers a little off balance, instead of what they are familiar/comfortable with they fail. Art isn't for understanding what you know, it is for experiencing aspects of what you hadn't considered. Though it is true that the way things are installed become even more important... a digitally connected world makes everything available instantly so the way art venues present things thoughtfully has become an ever more valued respite. I call it, "a considered zone," where art is given the space and context to contrast with the way we usually take in information and experiences. Having a guest curator makes it fresh but it also makes it hard to install well or feel like some internet feed but I think the New Museum got something right here, a sense of discovery.

OPB spoke to 4 of the many voices in regards to the Portland Art Museum's next Modern and Contemporary Curator. The real trick will be finding .... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on February 24, 2015 at 11:22 | Comments (0)


Friday 02.13.15

Friday Links

Christopher Knight on low tech frottage art at the Hammer.

Lucy Lippard's advice for arts writers. I think being a true critic is important though...

Anish Kapoor's black whirlpool is interesting though I dont like the railing.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on February 13, 2015 at 14:15 | Comments (0)


Monday 02.09.15

Monday Links

Artcritical does an critic's roundtable on the much maligned The Forever Now painting exhibition at MoMA. Generally I think it is the lack of these sorts of polymorphous discussions amongst critics that has been keeping galleries and curators from doing more interesting current painting shows. The thing with painting is it dies when it accepts too many congratulatory platitudes. Abstract paining needs to be contested territory... not a safe haven that seeks to insulate itself from dissent.

The New Museum's 2015 Triennial looks like a winner already featuring the kind of challenging asymmetrically strategic work I've championed since I moved to Portland. It looks better than any major survey (even regional ones) that I've seen in a decade+. I still dislike the idea of post internet (or post anything for that matter, because it packages the idea before it is explored) but the sense of an entropic digital universe that reveals the darker aspects of the real world is fantastic. What is important is the way it approaches the unease of the age... something everyone from Manet to Pollock and Hirst then Forcefield have done. The lack of abstract painting seems to be blowback against zombie formalism and the market in particular. Basically, artists who make work that jams the prevailing version of reality create space for the viewers to develop different angle of contemplation. That is what art is supposed to do, not simply flatter the rich or perpetuate an obstruse career.

I was wondering when an artist would really take on the Cosby scandal... it is very interesting that it is being done by a High School student... but man, you just can't unsee this once you see it. It is also interesting how it immediately went viral last week then an exhibition was announced. Not surprising, just interesting.

Though many find cellphone photographers an annoyance at museums I embrace the idea. It is a great way for people to internalize and personalize their experience with art but the selfie stick does constitute a danger to the art.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on February 09, 2015 at 10:32 | Comments (0)


Tuesday 02.03.15

Portland Building to be fixed

Portland Building (photo Jeff Jahn)

The Oregonian is reporting that the infamous and historically very important Portland Building is to be renovated instead of torn down. Now 100 million dollars might seem like a high price but it achieves two important objectives. First and most obviously, it improves a building whose interior is mostly terrible to work in... thereby correcting mistakes that were mostly the City of Portland's own fault, not the architect's as Brian Libby has detailed. Second, it is the most famous important bit of architecture in the Pacific Northwest, the first major Postmodern building. You might not like it but as a an arts and design city Portland simply cannot condone destroying what constitutes an important moment in world history. ... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on February 03, 2015 at 13:04 | Comments (0)


Monday 02.02.15

Monday Links

The big art news to start off the week is the attribution of two bronzes to Michelangelo. It's a good old fashioned art historical detective story of works that have been hidden in plain sight. These are the only surviving bronzes that have been attributed to the artist and Jonathan Jones discusses the mechanisms that are bringing such discoveries to light.

Another fascinating read is Holland Carter on Ellsworth Kelly and Claude Monet. Honestly, I've always considered these two as kindred spirits because both used an empirical process of seeing. Monet painted haystacks repeatedly in varying light conditions and Kelly is hugely influenced by John James Audubon's observational process of approaching nature in the field. Both artist processed this empiricism with aesthetics to distill the presence of the phenomenon they observed. Or to make an ever simpler statement both artists left the studio to find the source material for their art.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on February 02, 2015 at 12:58 | Comments (0)


Wednesday 01.28.15

Jeffrey Thomas Is Baaack


To keep it brief, former Soho gallerist Jeffrey Thomas returns to the art business with a new gallery model in the form of Jeffrey Thomas Fine Art in NW Portland. (the website is still beta but has plenty of info) So you say that you don't know who Jeffrey is? ...well this link covers a lot of it. First show in 2 weeks. Just check out the site, there is a reason we never interview gallerists on PORT, besides I've been behind the scenes on this.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 28, 2015 at 1:31 | Comments (0)


Monday 01.26.15

Monday Links

The effort to find a good home for the Lovejoy Columns continues. We've covered this before and it is important to preserve these famous artworks that art part of the Pearl District's once quite gritty past. We can build new things but the grit also gives us a sense of how time has passed and we cant simply just manufacture such history. It is also important as it shows how the Pearl district started out as a an artist's stomping grounds.

Portlandia takes on "shock art"... yes it really has come to that point and hopefully we can avoid more doll part art.

Cornelia Parker is one of my favorite contemporary artists and this article on her process is definitely worth reading. What I like about her is the way her brand of inquisitive causality parallels scientific inquiry, without aping it.

Is the current art market bubble driven by money laundering and tax evasion schemes? The advice to look to museums isn't the safest bet either... but the museums have to have programmatic integrity and with the diminishing of the crucial curatorial role there is a house of cards situation at play here. The solution... collect for personal enlightenment, museums should have programmatic integrity. All of which is easier said than done.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 26, 2015 at 10:19 | Comments (0)


Friday 01.23.15

Friday Links

Brian Libby takes a look at the still not fully complete Schnitzer Center for Arty and Design, PNCA's new base of operations. The opening is just a couple of weeks away.

The Prada Foundations new exhibition spaces, designed by Rem Koolhaas will display contemporary art and antiquities together. Not a new idea but considering that Prada is a tastemaker it is the details that will be worth paying attention to.

Glass is the art world's "buzziest new matereial?" Yes since like 2008! Or 1908? Though I think this exhibition hit the nail on the head better, it was about glass and glass-like materials... not simply glass.

The Guardian asks if art can still shock? As a Baudelairean advocate... yes of course it can. The difference is the way we process and discuss "shock" now. Look at Amy's Review of The Enclave or this interesting show full of decapitations. The problem isn't the art... its viewers who cant distinguish between empathy and sympathy which this essay discusses. Empathy involves understanding, sympathy is cheaper and more knee jerk. Sympathy doesn't last, empathy changes you and THAT is where lasting shock/changes comes from. Shock comes from understanding things from a viewpoint that you haven't considered... it is very possible but in a world that where the feedback loop caters to your already identified interests it is harder to achieve. It is why Great Art is important. It places different and inexhaustible demands upon your comprehension.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 23, 2015 at 10:46 | Comments (0)


Saturday 01.17.15

Weekend Reads

Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 17, 2015 at 12:46 | Comments (0)


Saturday 01.10.15

Weekend Required Reading

Here are two articles that seem to be calling for a greater degree of critical thinking and more nuanced language in society at large. I don't think the current lack of critical thought in the art world is some outlier... it is an endemic issue for a globalized world that needs to learn how appreciate the inevitable disagreements that competing value systems inevitably create. New or at least completely recalibrated models seem inevitable. Perhaps something more supple and open to nonconformity?

First is Jerry Saltz on the power of images to in incite a disproportionate response from terrorists. Jerry looks into belief systems as are espoused by religions but I think the discussion can go deeper. In a world where everyone is so connected we can devolve into cliques of group-think more easily. We can instantly find those who agree with our views and this can fester in isolation cells, which create disproportionate or non-scalar and circuitous thinking. Maybe its my Viking heritage or love of Greek and Jewish debate traditions but when someone disagrees with you publicly it is a gift. If it has some strength behind it and you are suddenly seeing red it means you've just encountered "another way" that should be considered. It takes a kind of cosmopolitan approach, which is tolerant of diverse thinking. In that way Art is an important cultural exercise or a way to agree to disagree. Often this comes in an environment of respect (gallery) and maybe even an understanding can come of it. In general, respect comes from acts of critical thinking. Dogmatists who have those knee jerk, "you insulted what I worship & there will be reprisals"... can be found everywhere, even in art scenes but criticism is a way to be tested and grow. In the past few years I've seen a call for the rare kind "supple" avenues of respect that more criticism creates. It isn't taught very much in schools anymore and most curatorial initiatives have devolved into evasive curatorial speak and practices. Those programs that risk misunderstandings in a thoughtful way are all the more important for this.

The second is this article on important female artists who are discovered late in their careers. I agree that there needs to be a different historical/critical discussion. Many excellent artists who... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 10, 2015 at 12:27 | Comments (0)


Thursday 01.08.15

Cris Moss to White Box


Today it was announced that longtime Linfield curator Cris Moss will be moving to downtown Portland, programming the White Box exhibition space for the University of Oregon. Cris has consistently made Linfield perhaps the most challenging univerity art space over the past decade. Shows like Suzanne Opton, Peter Campus and Wafaa Bilal certainly set the curve and were always well executed. Likewise the U of O has always been in need of a coherent exhibition program, Cris (a friend) will achieve that aim I'm sure. He wouldn't have moved unless it were an opportunity where he was set to kick things up a notch. The move also signals how institutionally the Portland area is formalizing its commitment to contemporary art. Congrats, the young curators who revolutionized Portland's art scene in group warehouse shows 15 years ago are driving things these days.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 08, 2015 at 13:15 | Comments (0)


Monday 12.29.14

Top Posts of 2014

Time to start our string of end of the year posts, so here are our top 10 in terms of eyeballs (PORT is still the top ranked Google search for "Portland Art" and has already broken last year's record of 1.3 million unique viewers). It was an odd year where art history seemed to be on everyone's lips... almost as a balm against the market's corrosive effect on critical thinking.

Ryan Johnson and Dana Schutz (photo Victor Maldonado)

Dana Schutz and Ryan Johnson spoke to Victor at length about Portland and the odd ways their subjects find them. A must for any working artist to read.

It surprised me just how much people allover the globe LOVED this interview with Michael Lazarus... which reminds me I haven't seen him since last summer.

Three Chants Modern at PICA was perhaps the most complicated art historical project Portland saw in 2014 and this review strove for a similar sense of scope. PICA took quite a risk showing this as Portland's audience and press (in particular) aren't always the most versed in art history. Perhaps that is why I loved this show? Nice to see this being so widely read.

Amy spoke with Luc Tuymans on the occasion of his exhibition at PNCA.

Portland's art scene is constantly attracting new artists and churning out new alternative spaces where artists refine their game... sometimes before hitting the international stage so it is important that we pay attention (that takes someone who is always looking coupled with the desire to dig for the newly sprouted the way PORT does). These posts are incredibly popular and at the same time create a tremendous amount of whining.

... (there are 6 more after the jump)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 29, 2014 at 10:07 | Comments (0)


Tuesday 12.23.14

Xmas tide overs

It is just about time for our annual year end wrap ups (2013's was very popular), the Guenther era digestion and some other pieces the team have been working on. Till then here are some things to tide you over:

I love this interactive Map of New York's art history. Maybe I should do something similar for the last 15 years in Portland... perhaps the most culturally dynamic period in the city's history.

This death of painting 2014 discussion is mostly interesting for its focus on "Atemporal". It doesn't surprise me... it is very similar to the "new economy" talk that preceded the dotcom bubble crash in 2000. The only argument more tired and wrongheaded than the death of painting argument is the death of history argument. It is a pangloss and perhaps the exhibition is a kind of institutional extinction burst that behavioral psychologists describe in experiments that are an awful lot like market bubbles.

Here is a very interesting article on the Centennial Mills building at the north end of the Pearl District. What really gets my attention about this project is the way Frank Gehry and Maya Lin are name checked and Jordan Schnitzer states, "We're not going to do this project unless it is right." (Disclosure the Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation is a PORT sponsor) This is a corner that Portland needs to turn since growth/density is inevitable but the quality of those spaces aspire to wont rise without vision.

Also, Gehry is no stranger to these sorts of reuse projects like the much larger Atlantic Yards but it is also all about keeping the historical record visible as a variegated urban edifice of human use. For example, think about Venice and the way it is built upon itself. Saving the Centennial Mills preserves the stories of a part of town that has already lost most of its history. Still, someone like Gehry signals some promise of progressive thinking about this very visible bit of Portland's waterfront... besides the East Bank Esplanade and the new transit bridge Portland has mostly ignored the Willamette river. The trick will be to keep the convivial Portland ethos and still pencil the project out.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 23, 2014 at 10:35 | Comments (0)


Thursday 12.18.14

Thursday Topics

It's a slow time of year and I'm making my final "avalanche push" on the mountainous Guenther piece with several other interviews, a year end piece and reviews also already in the works. Here are some excellent posts to consider:

Brian Libby has done a great job covering this early part of Snohetta's James Beard Public Market design process. The egalitarian spirit seems to fit Portland... and it needs to because this is going to be a public space... perhaps the most significant one to be designed in the Northwest since Seattle's Olympic Sculpture Park. Hopefully the mandated public art will be of similar caliber as Jorge Pardo's streetcar stop on the other side of the river? Instead of just plonking down some moderately ingenious metal in front of the building the art should be a kind of brilliant amenity (a Portland sentiment).

8 museum directors choose their favorite art... fine idea but honestly why not ask curators? Perhaps because they are more specialized they would choose from their department?

Police killings lead to a more overtly political art? Well, yes but I believe there is a deeper wave of discontent moving through the art world that comes from the real world. It put Obama in the White House with one word, Change. I feel like the Occupy Movement, police killings, continued violence/silence towards women and broadening income inequality are all just indicators of a tempestuous 2015. Art should be a part of the discussion not just an island floating on a buoyant market and games of certainty. These themes are so pervasive that Art can address them without losing its ability to speak to the ages.

...(more including the CNAA list analysis)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 18, 2014 at 12:12 | Comments (0)


Monday 12.15.14

Monday Links

Getting to know the artists that make other artist's work.

The 2014 year end best of lists have started here in the New York Times. Yes to Robert Gober, but somehow no Hockey and Matisse cutouts because they originated outside NYC venues. (I always like to wait with PORT's lists).

The Guggenheim and other museums are set to start "big data" gathering on you as you move around the museum.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 15, 2014 at 16:00 | Comments (0)


Friday 12.12.14

El Greco at PAM

On view at PAM, El Greco, The Holy Family with Saint Mary Magdalen, 1590-1595, oil on canvas, The Cleveland Museum of Art, Gift of Friends of the Cleveland Museum of Art in memory of J.H. Wade (all photos Jeff Jahn)

As the latest of the Portland Art Museum's very successful Masterworks series, El Greco's The Holy Family with Saint Mary Magdalen, is now on display a few days early.

It is difficult to stylistically pigeon hole the Spanish Baroque painter El Greco (Domenikos Theotokopoulos) but his incredibly stylized elongations of the human body connect him to Italian Mannerists though his explosively empathetic compositions even remind me a little of the Carracci school (Ludovico in particular). Still, perhaps only the later Rembrandt can be considered his rival for supernatural presence and curator Dawson Carr has done a great job in bringing this truly stunning painting to Portland on loan from the Cleveland Museum of Art. Religious or not, it is a must for all lovers of painting and is nothing short of remarkable as all of these Masterwork Series works have been.

Born Crete in 1541... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 12, 2014 at 14:30 | Comments (0)


Thursday 12.11.14

Precipice Fund II

Just some of the crowd at the PICA's Precipice Fund announcements

Now in its second year The Precipice Fund was designed to foster the otherwise difficult to fund projects and alternative spaces that have become a major hallmark of Portland's very active art scene through a regranting program administered by PICA. Overall, it is good to see so many in round II that PORT have pointed out in our previous 3 New Faces segments here, here, and here.

19 artist/collaborations/spaces will receive a share of $75,000. What is incredibly valuable is the way it funds somewhat unproven/experimental projects that broaden the programming scope of projects that in most cases would have taken place even without this aid. This is all very important as it is essentially an exploratory progressive grant rather than one that is backloaded on previous history (though progressive Portlands funding sources tend to be safer rather than risk taking). Congratulations everyone. Here's the list as described by PICA::

... (the list and more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 11, 2014 at 19:26 | Comments (0)


Monday 12.08.14

Monday Links

I and other PORTsters are still working on half a dozen major pieces for you (I know, Guenther its coming... it is very close and it is some of my best work but I want it to be done right and we covered so many of his shows that PORT constitutes an important archive of his tenure). Till then:

I just Love this story about a dieing Japanese town where a woman has made scarecrows to repopulate it.

The Art Newspaper reports that curators really don't discover new artists at the fairs. I've found this to be true, the art fair experience generally doesn't provide enough information. Though I did find Hank Willis Thomas' video work at a fair before he became big (video work that needs just a screen or two does work).

Here's the best and most comprehensive collection of Miami art fair images.

Yes the Greeks are incensed about disputed pieces of the Parthenon being lent to Russia.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 08, 2014 at 12:31 | Comments (0)


Friday 12.05.14

Friday Links

Read this fascinating review of the Pierre Huyghe retrospective at LACMA. It makes sense that cacophony would improve rather than detract from the experience. Some artists thrive on cognitive dissonance and Huyghe who showed at PAM in 2006 is definitely one of them.

If you are curious about the cacophony of Art Basel Miami Beach this ridiculous article and these images are good surveys. This year with rioting in the streets and an art market that seems less calibrated to reality than profits it seems intellectually irresponsible to expect Miami to be a true bellwether or leading indicator these days. Seems like everyone is expecting more from the art world in 2015 already. Stunt performances jumped the shark a while back, can we be less vapid now?

Portland architect James Harrison gets a little love from Architizer for his Land Yacht project. It has a Olafur Eliasson meets conestoga wagon aspect to it.

Philippe de Montebello former Director of the Met answers questions... including if Museums are really the best place to view art?

Eligin Marbles to be lent to Russia? Wow... perhaps the most disputed artifacts on earth to be sent to a country that the rest of the world is trying to isolate and pressure into better behavior. The Greeks (or anyone paying attention to this tricky issue) cannot be happy with this. Many major museums seem to be tone deaf these days,. it isn't confidence building and loaning these disputed artifacts is akin to giving Bill Cosby an award while amidst very serious allegations. The Greeks understandably consider these pieces of the Parthenon to be a kind of cultural rape. More here.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 05, 2014 at 9:20 | Comments (0)


Monday 11.24.14

Monday Links

It is Thanksgiving week and we will have that big Bruce Guenther piece (never has there been such anticipation for a post) and we will have several other things for you on this over stuffed holiday. Till then here are some links:

26 female artists on Lynda Benglis 40 years after her uproar raising Artforum ad. I called it earlier this year, 2014 has been the year of reassessing women in art but I'm pretty sure it will be just as important in 2015 and 2016. This issue isn't going away.

Wired explores Facebook's corporate art collection... Side fact: not many know that Mark Zuckerberg has a home in Portland's Pearl District.

... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on November 24, 2014 at 11:35 | Comments (0)


Monday 11.17.14

Monday Links

Jerry Saltz asks, "When did the art world become so conservative?" I was in NYC recently and noticed that the galleries on the whole have never been so toothless, formulaic and predictable. So why so conservative? Partly it is because art is being treated as "investment grade", which it has always been... just it used to be only for those very few who cared about art and ultimately there was a sense that the good was the enemy of the great. Today, as a market (like any other) good performance on all levels is generally preferred to the Great, which is a historical construct... (more)

Don Bacigalupi leaves Crystal Bridges for George Lucas' museum of narrative art in Chicago. Not surprising as State of the Art at Crystal bridges came off as a somewhat too narrative tour of art in the USA. Instead of picking the outliers that make art weird and difficult to pigeonhole it came off as critic Peter Plagens described as, "the worlds largest university faculty show," which I interpret as very easy to digest into narrative discourse.

Mass MOCA takes on the Dia model (which is adapted from Donald Judd's Chinati model).

Posted by Jeff Jahn on November 17, 2014 at 14:25 | Comments (0)


Monday 11.10.14

News Links

We currently have 3 major interviews, two essays, reviews and my historical piece on Bruce Guenther in the works (all coming soon) till then here are a few links:

A young curator's button shop in NYC is just another example of the hybrid gallery model that has become popular in many places, including Portland.

Big architecture news in Portland... the James Beard Public Market will be designed by Snohetta. With Kengo Kuma doing the Japanese Garden and PNCA set to open the 511 building by Brad Cloepfil architecture in Portland is getting increasingly serious. Any institution seeking to expand in the next 10 years has a very high bar to meet these days in Portland.

World's biggest art collector dies at a rather young age of natural causes.

An interesting article on Zumthor's blob (or not) design for LACMA. Clearly MoMA made mistakes though I can't agree with the article's assertion that the stakes are somehow higher in LA... they just aren't. Still, the idea that a new building should put the viewing experience above all else is a welcome breath of fresh air.

Somehow I missed my friend Liz Obert's article in Slate (my excuse was I was traveling). Always nice to see an article on Portland that isn't some quirk-hype fluff piece. Portland is a busy cauldron of humanist ideals and Liz is stirring the pot. She will have an exhibition at Linfield soon.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on November 10, 2014 at 12:07 | Comments (0)


Friday 11.07.14

Friday Links

Eskenazi Gallery out-maneuvers the art fair at Frieze.. is there a paradigm shift in the works? I don't think it is an isolated event though I don't think it actually threatens the art fairs either.

Was Van Gogh shot? An article in Vanity Fair makes a stronger argument... As often with history that becomes legendary first the facts get muddled and conveniently shuffled towards an easy soundbite description of what happened. If true it would go some distance in de-tigmatizing the act of being an artist as a pathological condition with inevitably fatal consequences. For those interested in Van Gogh is creates a more complicated picture of the man and for that reason alone, even if proven untrue is worthwhile.

Pompidou President wants a design and architecture space ASAP. In many ways this is where the applied arts mediate between museums comprised of traditional objects and the ever expanding education departments. All major museums are going in this direction if they are looking forward.

OCAC and The Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation (both PORT sponsors) explored a weekend retreat called The Art of Possibilities to explore how OCAC might expand "existing internal and external programs for K-12 age students in the area. It is something we want to keep an eye on as... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on November 07, 2014 at 10:13 | Comments (0)


Monday 11.03.14

Monday Links

I'm back from NYC and I'll be posting images from the two people we had at Prospect 3 in New Orleans in the next few days (yes the Guenther post is still coming). Till then here are some links:

ArtFCity felt Prospect 3 had a weak curatorial compass.

Roberta Smith on Chris Ofili's Night and Day. Jerry Saltz on the same show. Overall I found it inherently theatrical... which is something that most painters have a hard time achieving.

Chris Ofili, set design model at the New Museum

Posted by Jeff Jahn on November 03, 2014 at 13:51 | Comments (0)


Friday 10.24.14

Friday Links

The WSJ asks what if everyone is a curator? Obviously they aren't (a true curator isn't making one time choices, they consider a programmatic/object arc of meaning). I get into this issue in depth in my Bruce Guenther piece (which is coming...it is long) but the article raises the question of the type of institutions that don't have full time curators developing programming. In a way it makes the programmatic arc flexible but also schizophrenic, trite & flirty and therefore hard to fund long term. For example, Jeffrey Deitch is an excellent gallerist/gadfly but as a museum director his approach didn't work, creating massive backlash (the Fry is widely considered to be losing its reputation and MoMA is on the brink). Overall, I'm of the belief that museums need to own the long game yet do an occasionally porous event that challenges the typical museum authority. PAM does this with Shine A Light and New For The Wall events but not having a chief Curator would be a problem as The museum is really a 3 house system, the executive (fundraising), curatorial (collections and programming) and education (outreach).

Brian Libby with Michael Graves on keeping Portland's architecture wierd... and nothing is weirder than Graves' Portland Building.

Amir Nikravan's accretion paintings reviewed.

Richard Prince unintentionally gives a young artist a Chelsea debut.

Jerry Saltz on Marina Abramovich... he gets it. The work is a tease and for some that is enough. Others, not so much. I loved her Great Wall piece but lately it is a bit too much like Downton Abbey to take seriously.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on October 24, 2014 at 14:32 | Comments (0)


Monday 10.20.14

Monday Links

Ok it is Bruce Guenther's last day at PAM and I'm finishing off my long piece on his career just as, "Elvis has left the building." It will be ready soon and its important to have it right because ity is very comprehensive and a good moment to think about where this leaves PAM both in terms of challenges and opportunities. Till then here are a few links:

Lots of stories on Jeff Koons including a documentary of a crucial career moment and vandalism. I truly doubt that he doesn't want people to see the film... just doesn't want to foreground it (silly press, Jeff Koons not want attention?).

Europe's first carpenters.

More art vandalism. It's never good for the specific installation but it does draw attention to the piece and artist... there's a fine line and should never be condoned, but stronger work survives and even gains more relevance through the indignity.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on October 20, 2014 at 11:08 | Comments (0)


Tuesday 10.14.14

Tuesday's complicated links

We will have a review for you shortly and my in depth piece on Bruce Guenther will post on Saturday (the 20th is his last day and many of the most crucial aspects have not been discussed). Till then here are some links:

The uncontested works (?) from the Gurlitt trove will go to the Bern Kunstmuseum. It is a fact, museums walk an incredibly fine line between ennobling culture and the messy way that sausage gets made but the Gurlitt acquisition is perhaps the most tainted situation to come to light in the 21st century to date. Yes, it looks like Bern is being very cautious, but still... this promises to take another 50-100 years to sort out.

Look, art fairs are not Ikea for millionaires. There are a lot of class warfare tinged sentiments out there at the moment but I think we need to separate the discussion of high priced masterworks from relatively unproven contemporary art and the living artists that create it. In general, many of the names you see bandied about right now wont be around in 5-10 years. That "other" work that already has been certified great is still great, despite the very impressive price tags. The worst case scenarios are when these great works leave the public view all together. They both have cultural value worth discussing beyond monetary value. That is what museums are for.

... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on October 14, 2014 at 14:29 | Comments (0)


Tuesday 10.07.14

David Byrne gives up, sorta

Today David Byrne published an essay on why he doesn't care about contemporary art anymore. Some may ask, David who? That is a good question but pretty much anyone age 30-60 knows he was once the bellwether of postmodern artyness and yes he made some music too.

I'm not going to comment so much on the content of the art he has lost interest in but to me it seems like it is a very community based critique (and anti-marketplace) of how much Art has lost its awkward struggle... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on October 07, 2014 at 11:05 | Comments (0)


Sunday 10.05.14

Bluesky Birthday

Carol Yarrow's Boy with bird, currently on display at Bluesky

Today, Bluesky Galllery (AKA the Oregon Center For The Photographic Arts) turns 39 and will be celebrating with a 40 year show at the Portland Art museum later this month. Congratulations and let's look back at a few of the shows we have reviewed covered:

F & D Carter's Wait and See this past Spring was an exciting tour de force of experimentation.

Richard Barnes' Animal Logic showed photography's ability to crystallize concentrated contemplation.

Torben Escerod's meditations on death and photography as a relic.

Amy Stein's juxtaposition of animals in a developed American landscape.

Robert Rauschenberg's final body of work debuted in their then newish home.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on October 05, 2014 at 13:03 | Comments (0)


Friday 10.03.14

Friday Links

Christopher Knight isn't convinced that Warhol's Shadows on display at MOCA are a top tier work, which is hardly a radical art historical position to take as Warhols late work is often derided. Then MOCA's Director Philippe Vergne took the controversial step of responding to the criticism. I tend to disagree with Knight on the importance of this particular work as it is a somewhat elemental late work that adds a new dimension to one's understanding of Warhol (maybe not top tier but provocatively near it). As for the Vergne responding to criticism publicly... those who are more old fashioned might not like it but we live in an era of fluid debate and response and Knight can certainly take it (that separates him from mere internet trolls). It is healthy and Knight's reputation is hardly at risk... a weak critic needs some protection, great ones survive, even grow ever stronger from having some pushback like this. Lastly, Vergne is European, they simply have a stronger tradition of pointed critique and I think it is an important step for the West Coast to publicly step out of the very passive aggressive cycle in discourse that we have been known for. Admittedly, I have a dog in this hunt. I cut my teeth with British art publications and that tone does threaten some other west coasters in the visual art scene. What it does do is cuts through all these false politeness that doesn't serve the work or ideas in question. Overall, I think the Warhol will fare just fine as will Knight and MOCA... So is the opiece in question a masterpiece or the birth of the zombie formalism that Jerry Saltz and others including myself have been railing against? The jury is out.

Indeed, all of these are deficient designs in Portland.

Jerry Saltz on Robert Gober.

Checkout this fascinating video on the conservation of Matisse's Swimming pool. I think it is right to treat the burlap as a support to be swapped out and not as a relic. Going back to the studio version is also provocative though a thornier issue. Do we present paintings the way they were stored in the studio? It is an interesting pickle.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on October 03, 2014 at 11:19 | Comments (0)


Thursday 10.02.14

First Thursday Picks October 2014

October is one of the power months in the Portland art scene... and we know it better than anyone else. Here are my picks

Habit Forming

When Storm Tharp broke out in 2007, he established himself as one of the premier contemporary portraitists in the country but since then has been adding facets and layers to that reputation. For his latest show Tiger he doubles down on influences like David Hockney, Fairfield Porter's paintings, Donald Judd and numerous literary figures.

Tiger | September 30 - November 1
PDX Contemporary
925 NW Flanders

... (more, Pugay and Unbecoming)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on October 02, 2014 at 14:47 | Comments (0)


Monday 09.22.14

Monday Links

We've got several in depth articles for you this week (critical essays and interviews) till then here are some links:

David Lynch's paintings and drawings tell a different kind of story...

The whole Vivian Maier case keeps getting more and more complicated.

This Jean Nouvel museum design for China is breathtaking... museums a are increasingly becoming gardens. A trend I support completely, PAM's recent Parisian park exhibition should be noted as a signal locally.

Renegade art school all about painting... Locally, I feel like OCAC does this but in a less painting centric way.

Christopher Knight describes how the Anderson collection signals the end of old school connoisseur based collecting for SF. I don't really buy that LA talking about SF thesis but the Anderson Collection is special.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on September 22, 2014 at 10:45 | Comments (0)


Friday 09.19.14

Friday Links

I'm just about finished with my history piece on Bruce Guenther, who is retiring next month, so far the best thing on him so far was by April at OPB, but I've got a great deal more historical context to add. This isn't just a staffing change at PAM it is an opportunity to examine Oregon's cultural history in an important way.

Finally the long awaited Robert Irwin piece/structure for the Chinati Foundation has been finalized. Looks like Irwin is inverting the structure turning the interior into an exterior with a courtyard and attention to windows.

Verdicts on the Crystal Bridges State of the Art show are in and it is scathing despite praising the only Oregon artist in the show James Lavadour. Peter Plagens calls it in the WSJ, "the world's largest university faculty show". Overall I think it was a good idea but by blunting the edges and not including the more demanding eccentricities that make great art great the curators hamstrung themselves. That PG rating aspect is probably why no Portland artists are in it (Portland has a strong allergy to Walmart too). That said, our lone Oregon representative James Lavadour is a national treasure and we will have an interview soon. It is a common curatorial error in constructing large group shows in that by following the "process" so much it filters out the kind of work that challenges and sparks more meaningful debates.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on September 19, 2014 at 10:27 | Comments (0)


Tuesday 09.16.14

Tuesday links

I've been traveling but will have a more personal, in depth and detailed look at Bruce Guenther's career (his retirement was the big news yesterday)... we've worked together, sometimes closely over the years so I've got a unique window on what he has meant and will continue mean to Portland's cultural scene (his current Joel Shapiro exhibition is classic classic Bruce). It is a crucial history. Till then here are a few links:

Artnet asks, is the art world sexist and biased? Absolutely.

Tomorrow is ask a curator day on Twitter and PAM is participating, check out their schedule.

Brian Libby's latest Dwell Magazine article on an affordable Portland home.

No Google wont replace museums... but it will alter expectations and perhaps raise the knowledge base?

Check out Anselm Kiefer's studio...

Posted by Jeff Jahn on September 16, 2014 at 9:45 | Comments (0)


Friday 09.12.14

Friday Links

We will be publishing another big interview Saturday morning but until then here area few links.

First of all, there is a high probability of Northern lights visible in Portland tonight.

Jerry Saltz dives into the Lower East Side.

It is TBA's opening weekend and since their visual art offerings always run the spectrum from good (sometimes great) to resoundingly meh (piles of things, or some writer... writing) I'm not gonna strongly suggest much till I see them (though Jennifer West and MSHR seem like good bets). Other things to see would be Dana Lynn Lewis at Lewis and Clark College and Victor Maldonado's talk at Froelick on September 13 11:00AM (his drone video is likely the best piece on view in Portland right now... it kinda deserves its own room).

Bob and Roberta Smith invite artists to quit making art.

The Brisbane Biennial with a focus on the sublime looks like it delivers.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on September 12, 2014 at 14:57 | Comments (0)


Thursday 09.11.14

Ralph Pugay wins Betty Bowen Award

Ralph Pugay's Chicken Pox Orgy

Congrats to Ralph Pugay for winning the Betty Bowen Award in Seattle. More important than the well deserved prize money (15k) it is heartening since most awards in the Northwest (especially Portland) go to artists that are late-midcareer (from before the change in say 1999-2000), mostly known as educators/community-minders and aren't terribly edgy. Yet it is an influx of such artists to the Portland scene... and are active nationally/internationally that has been instrumental in transforming the city from a sleepier backwater to an artistic hotbed. Back in 2012 Peter Plagens made note of Pugay during a survey visit. His edgy humor is kinda what people think about Portland (thanks to Portlandia)... a place where quirks seem to fester into full blown absurdity. Well deserved, if only all the other regional art awards had similarly sharp teeth and rewarded work that finds the edges.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on September 11, 2014 at 13:58 | Comments (1)


Monday 09.08.14

Monday Links

The final Art Vs. Reality involves art critics and though it is a bit rudimentary I think it is a useful series.

One thing I wish Peter Drew had fleshed out a lot more is the difference between simple opinion and higher levels of comparative connoissuership. For example, there is experience and when applied it can predict the difference between good, better and great work, because art doesn't exist in a vacuum ... though a lot of art schools and low-mid level dealers act like it does or want to treat everything with equivalence (it isn't). I discussed it a bit in this primer to an essay on art criticism I have been writing off and on, but it is crucial to note how not all art writing involves truly critical thinking and comparative discourse. Instead, it typically involves personal allegiances, which are not the same thing (rhetorically any time someone tries to make something personal it means they don't have an intellectual response and I take special joy in demolishing those bunkers of mendacity). On another front a lot of academic art writing would rather supplant the work and replace it with dialogical text, which I find careerist and designed to fluff CV's. Instead, real criticism purposefully acknowledges its diagnostic and separate role from the needs of the artist, presenting institution and genre. Instead, it tests the often presupposed effects and outcomes of the work as well as the overall value of those presuppositions, which always attend any work today. Social media is often a shouting match or a builder of group momentum, which does have its value. Whereas criticism is a long game and I don't see the two making each other less relevant. A strong critic that stands up to the group think and reveals the way it can really miss the boat is very valuable. There aren;t many such critics because there are few platforms these days. PORT is one of them.

Yes, here is a map of a large part of the universe... I don't need to write anything more. If you aren't interested you can't be helped.

Rauschenberg Foundation's artist as activist grants sound inspiring.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on September 08, 2014 at 12:29 | Comments (0)


Friday 09.05.14

Supports/Surfaces links

For at least the past 5 years many of today's would be painters/wall art practitioners have been basically raiding the playbooks written by Supports/Surfaces and Greenberg's Color Field painters (BTW Greenberg's personal collection is at the Portland Art Museum). Both were interested in the structure and delivery of medium, though Surfaces/Supports had a more political underpinnings. The clones tend to make work that looks like tarps or studio drop cloths or what Jerry Saltz described as Zombie Abstraction. The original stuff was way better and isn't about playing what I call the, "false humility of medium card."

Surfaces/Supports at Canada

Lately, Surfaces/Supports have received a lot more attention including Yesterday's article in Art in America by Raphael Rubenstein and an earlier one by Hyperallergic.

I'd like to see today's would be surface-supporters get a bit more ambitious because knowing the past, not just for its style... but its rigor should be on any painter's must research list.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on September 05, 2014 at 11:33 | Comments (0)


Friday 08.29.14

Friday Links

We will have not one but two interviews for you later this holiday weekend but till then here are a few links to keep you connected:

For the Folkstone Triennial one artist is burying gold bars on the local beach. It seems like such a natural stunt art piece for an 'ennial and the Robin Hood element is undeniable if potentially unseemly.

Are Twitter and Tumbler feeds putting cultural sites in Syria at risk? A big reminder as to what "iconoclast" truly means.

Onetime Portlander Miranda July starts an an Instant messaging service, and yes PICA is its node locally.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on August 29, 2014 at 10:51 | Comments (0)


Monday 08.25.14

Monday Links

We are still finishing up 3 different interviews at the moment but till then here are some links:

This Adrian Scheiss show should give painters and fans of painting something to chew on.

Artists reconstructing architecture to reveal the Arab now. Interesting...

German artists get their white flags back from atop the Brooklyn Bridge, revealing how TENSE Americans are and how RELAXED Germans seem to be comparatively. (what's with that?) File under, odd and not entirely compelling art that creates an interesting international incident.

Some pretty bad historic building redevelopments in England (well the slug is ok)... token facade fetishing is one of the worst architectural sins.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on August 25, 2014 at 10:07 | Comments (0)


Thursday 08.21.14

Thursday links

We are just polishing off a bunch of interviews (always very time intensive) but till then here are some links:

The birth of Impressionism tracked down to the minute?

Hadid, Gehry, Libeskind etc. revealed in their early drawings.

Public art in Sydney elicits a debate over originality... that's a good sign for Sydney. Overall, everything seems pretty standard and of the mildly engaging type that most public art aspires to today. Everything seems designed to make everyone feel like they understand it with no twists. That's why Pardo's streetcar stop in Portland is so good. It challenges the easier assumptions.

Olafur Elliason creates a mini watershed in a museum. This is interesting but mostly for how weakened or like "public art" it seems. Much like the more famous Earth Room that the Dia commissioned it derives most of its charge from the cognitive dissonance of bringing the outdoors indoors and by reminding us that buildings are caves.

Why Portland is building a new bridge without cars. As I saw early on (one of the first when others were in love with a more anachronistic design that pandered to many Portlanders' aversion to the new and bold) this bridge design makes sense and looks like a worthy icon for the city. See, things have changed.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on August 21, 2014 at 11:06 | Comments (0)


Tuesday 08.19.14

Revisiting Benjamin

Walter Benjamin

Walter Benjamin is the philosopher that usually appeals to art critics...at least the "real" ones who are actually interested in exploring through critiquing art. Thus, this clever piece in the Brooklyn Rail is definitely worth a read. I like the way academic consensus is lampooned. Consensus is overrated and perhaps the cult of personality that evolves around a philosopher is the worst kind of consensus. Perhaps the dispute, when it arises is the only thing worth exploring? Perhaps the presence of dispute is the only thing that keeps culture from getting stale?

Posted by Jeff Jahn on August 19, 2014 at 10:40 | Comments (0)


Friday 08.15.14

Friday Links

Saving Louis Kahn's masterpiece Salk Institute.

The birth of Indian Art? Im pretty sure there were predecessors but that doesn't diminish this crucial site.

The Robert Rauschenberg Foundation is appealing the ruling that three of the former employees of the foundation did such an outstanding job that they should be paid $24,600,000 in fees for their services. Now that might be something akin to the golden parachute amounts most energy company executives can expect but it does seem excessive considering it is a non profit and charitable foundation. Portlander Christopher Rauschenberg seems to be reiterating the charitable aspect in press statements. Basically, it comes down to scale... the unreasonable corporate scale or the more reasonable non profit world scale.

German artists want their white flags back. mmmkay... it doesn't really work that way.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on August 15, 2014 at 19:02 | Comments (0)


Monday 08.11.14

Monday Links

Gilbert and George share life lessons, surprise they care what Mom thinks...

Ben Davis' review of Christopher Williams' show at MoMA is a must read. About 5-6 years ago art that was mostly in code that was never meant to be understood was all the rage... and Davis explains why this show is the moment the trend has truly jumped the shark. In general, any visual art that leans hard on its title is in trouble. Kosuth, Weiner and Baldessari do it right by making the title kinda besides the point and redundant (ie. it isn't code or a secret handshake,that's just being clubby). In short it is too satisfied with itself and too cute by half. By comparison Duchamp seemed considerably less amused with himself... and instead implicated his part in the great art and life con, R. Mutt indeed.

The Prado looks like it might lose Bosch's The Garden Of Earthly Delights. Sure, it is one of the most famous paintings in the world but it was on loan from the King of Spain, whom coincidentally will be completing his own museum shortly. I don't know what is lost by having more museums? The Prado has plenty of masterpieces already.

HA proposes that Lygia Clark's work doesn't really mesh well with a crowded museum experience. It is true, some experiences demand a bit more space and less people to produce their full effect.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on August 11, 2014 at 10:44 | Comments (0)


Friday 08.08.14

Friday Links

I have to agree with the Guardian... what makes Touching The Art so good is the way it doesn't know what it is (Borat for the art world?). Others who have tried this often desperately want to be comedy, critique or performance art but where TTA wins is the way in which it has no wish fulfillment and simmers in its own conceited white box. Overall, it isn't how it remains fastidiously out of touch with its own agenda (it's there of course) but it is the awkward way the art world isn't asking better questions and just shrugs itself off that is funny.

Peter Schjeldahl on the popularity of art and museums today.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on August 08, 2014 at 14:44 | Comments (0)


Wednesday 08.06.14

Art radio on the internet

There is always something awkward about talking about visual art on the radio that can be quite refreshing... I think of it as a double awkwardness that strips away some of the normal defensiveness one finds in the art world. Think of it this way, those who are very generous and genuine really shine through when it is just their voice. Recently two of the most genuine and generous artists in Oregon have been on the radio.

Yesterday Eva Lake completed her last regularly scheduled interview for KBOO's Art Focus with the generous and eloquent James Lavadour who has a show at PDX Contemporary this month.

Last weekend PORT star Victor Maldonado guest curated OPB's State of Wonder (some of it concerning his residency at the Lavadour connected Crow Shadow project).

Posted by Jeff Jahn on August 06, 2014 at 12:50 | Comments (0)


Friday 08.01.14

Friday Links

The WSJ explains how the big auction houses find first time buyers for very expensive art. The fact that 25% of all auction sales went to 1st time buyers last year is incredible and why many seasoned vets avoid auctions (or at least say they do). The houses chum the waters with new blood, can't blame them really but it does explain why auctions are different than the galleries.

This letter to an artist includes some extremely practical advice... in particular this nugget, "There were a hundred people at my show last night and I knew everyone one of them by name." Being the truth teller I was I replied "That's too bad" and she was stunned and angry at me. She asked me why, and I replied "You can't depend on people you know to support your work indefinitely."

Tracey Emin and the Tate will be shacking up for the next 10 years... I want to dislike Emin's work but in fact I'm a huge fan (she's the diva of diaristic art). I hope it goes well...

Oregon City ups the ante... in terms of river redevelopment. Will it put Portland to shame or simply wake us up?

Posted by Jeff Jahn on August 01, 2014 at 14:12 | Comments (0)


Monday 07.28.14

Monday Links

We have some amazing interviews coming your way (we are 3 deep right now) but till then here are some links for your Monday:

Artist sues American Eagle for using his work without compensation.

The International Space Station gets its first sculpture... made from meteorite. Is that the best they could do?

How to be supportive of an artist? Well, definitely don't sugarcoat things and make decisions for long haul sustainability (living situations etc). Don't overreact. Don't assume anyone cares until they actually make it clear you have some kind of audience.

European museums are straining under the crush of crowds... The new MoMA redesign seems to serve this crowd more than the art, which has everyone thinking some is definitely wrong in the state of Denmark.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on July 28, 2014 at 11:44 | Comments (0)


Wednesday 07.23.14

Public art in Portland winning awards

RACC just announced that two pieces, Jorge Pardo's Streetcar Stop for Portland and Inversion +/- by Lead Pencil Studio were cited as two of 37 outstanding public arts projects completed in the United States in 2013.

Streetcar Stop for Portland (detail inside at night) photo Jeff Jahn

Both projects certainly were site considered works that went far beyond last year's Nepenthes travesty, also commissioned by RACC for its, "Quirkyness." I've been writing about it for a L O N G time but quirky just isn't good enough in Portland anymore (yes you too Art Beat) and as PORT's interview with Pardo explored last year... doing something excellent and successful is never an accident. Pardo's project is the most successfully ambitious public art project in RACC's history.

Im more reserved about Inversion +/-. I feel like the ghost warehouse idea is... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on July 23, 2014 at 14:45 | Comments (0)


Monday 07.21.14

Monday Links

The top art story this weekend had to be the Mana Contemporary project in New Jersey. In many ways it isn't dissimilar from what the Portland Art Museum did with the Francis Bacons and other works... only this project is an ultra ambitious approach to redeveloping lower valued real estate. PAM is just being a museum (borrowing important works and presenting them), whereas Mana is providing a storage option and creating a museum... which will then bolster real estate. I'm very surprised nobody has seen the potential in Portland as Oregon does not have sales tax (like New Jersey).

I'm not certain I buy this argument about Scotland remaining part of Great Britain as keeping it from being culturally cut off. But it is interesting that someone is forwarding the idea that nationalism = xenophobic regionalism. The Scots are a bright people with excellent arts... I cant see independence doing anything but make them try harder to assert themselves as presenter independent of England?

US museums provide emergency support to curators in Syria in anticipation of a cultural cataclysm.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on July 21, 2014 at 9:43 | Comments (0)


Wednesday 07.16.14

Around the web

James Lavadour will be in the upcoming State Of The Art survey, congrats... a great painter.

Don't be so shelf-ish? Haim Steinbach's takeover of the Menil looks like it is worth braving Summer in Houston. With so many artists making use of shelves and 1980's design for their work today it makes perfect sense to pay more attention to the 80's shelfmeister.

Millennium Park is 10 years old now and what was once seen as wasteful has proven itself. I discussed it a bit with civic/landscape/art historian Mark Treib last year. It is very related to Portland of course ,which is a city of parks... but we haven't had the same grand intentions... which PAM's current Tuileries Garden show seems to be prompting a discussion of. It leaves us to ponder what would a showcase park devoted to great civics look like in Portland?

Posted by Jeff Jahn on July 16, 2014 at 11:23 | Comments (0)


Thursday 07.10.14

Thursday news

Sad news On Kawara has died. It's the rigorous humor of his extremely dry work that set it apart but the addition of oxygen in his installations fascinated me the most... as a way to subtly influence the viewers conscious state.

LACMA is definitely throwing down a gauntlet for MoMA, which just doesn't seem to have its hierarchy of goals in the right order by comparison. How LA is it to have a museum that one window shops by driving by? They are also planning a similar residential tower.

Portland Architecture looks at the pressures that threaten classic residential homes here.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on July 10, 2014 at 19:03 | Comments (0)


Monday 07.07.14

Monday Links

Painting is hard but Amy Sillman makes the challenges her subject matter. There is something about making an art historical standoff your own that points towards success in painting.

The perils of showing the photos that Garry Winogrand took but never selected. In his case since he wasn't a complete control freak I think this is ok, gone are the days when artists were expected to have no changes in their late career.

All the shiny Jeff Koons reviews distilled into a poem... yes he's good and I like the work, but has he peaked during his own lifetime? And this:

Posted by Jeff Jahn on July 07, 2014 at 10:49 | Comments (0)


Wednesday 07.02.14

Guggenheim heirs rebuffed

Guggenheim Palazzo in Venice

The NYT's reports that the suit to have Peggy Guggenheim's Palazzo in Venice displays returned to a configuration she had them in during her lifetime has been rejected by a French court. This is interesting because the heirs do have a point, but it is all how the gift of the Palazzo to the Guggenheim Foundation was set up. Would Peggy want it to be a mausoleum to her collection and nothing else? ...I find that doubtful but the heirs have a point in that other patronage pandering seems to be seeping into the displays. The question is one of degrees of exclusivity and serves as a cautionary tale for those giving whole collections (and a building) to one institution. I believe the family's outrage comes from the intensive sometimes ham-fisted placement of other "living" patrons works but the foundation has a point... they are not required to keep it as a shrine. Hopefully a middle ground can be found, one where new works are rotated in on the merit of the conversation with Guggenheim's collection that their presence prompts.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on July 02, 2014 at 17:02 | Comments (0)


Monday 06.30.14

Monday outrage links

Ok it is Monday, time to get fired up over these stories (we have a ton of major articles coming your way very soon).

Hopi masks and other sacred objects were auctioned in France.

Tracey Emin did an astonishing thing with her My Bed, turning her messy personal life into a diarhetoric art that so many artists today owe a great deal to. It is being auctioned. I really don't want to like Emin's art but I always rather like it... still I feel My Bed's mildly scandalous status tends to overshadow how good an artist she really is.

Does the Mojave Desert need a swimming pool? Probably more than most places do... but it is still art looking a lot like redevelopment and encroachment.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on June 30, 2014 at 0:25 | Comments (0)


Friday 06.27.14

Friday Links

A study on the connections between art and food presentation, why is a Kandinsky knockoff salad tastier than something arranged with less thought put into it? My thoughts are is that it is about the visual exploration the sensing of subtle arrangements and shifts make us more observant in all of our sense when our visual ones are engaged. Of course food and art are a very big players in why Portland is Portland.

Activist museums... I think there is a place for this but it requires multifaceted viewpoints not simple propaganda.

Percent for art programs have been having a tough road lately, but in Portland they have been doing sometimes great things.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on June 27, 2014 at 16:24 | Comments (0)


Monday 06.23.14

Monday Links

Ai Weiwei on incarceration and his Alcatraz show.

The Guardian on why digital art matters. Any article that mentions the ENIAC in the first sentence gets my attention.

Art Basel... the one in Basel.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on June 23, 2014 at 9:16 | Comments (0)


Monday 06.16.14

Monday Links

Insanity in Miami as a board rejected director acts as director, mmmnokay...

When faking a Pollock, spelling still matters.

Sooo Mark Rothko's mid period watercolors are important for the technical qualities he took with him to the later works... of course that means his even earlier watercolors (many of Portland) have a similar importance (expect to see a show on this).

It may have a rather boring name but Portland's new bridge is turning out to be rather good. I like the Donald Macdonald designed bridge and I saw Rosales' earlier design as kind of a kiss up to the retro looking and somewhat conservative architectural tastes in Portland. I think this design better connects Mt Hood to the tree lined heights of the west hills by echoing their angularity. What can I say... I like edge and don't like it when architects pander to the conservative tastes of a city. Macdonald went the right way, you don't build a modern bridge to echo an antiquated design... you use the best technology of the present to create one that reflects the time it was created in.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on June 16, 2014 at 0:28 | Comments (0)


Wednesday 06.11.14


Former EssEff-er Modou Dieng suggests that all artists leave San Francisco and move to Portland. I also suggest a few patrons move as well. We do have many new patrons but they definitely lag far behind the # and level of artists working here.

What is keeping all the rats off of Kara Walker's sugar sculpture?

Matt McCormick puts the Great Northwest online.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on June 11, 2014 at 11:22 | Comments (0)


Friday 06.06.14

Friday Links

The troubled Oregon Arts Commission has named Brian Rogers of Philadelphia as its new Director. On numerous occasions it has been mentioned that the OAC has transparency problems and to date they still have not explained why the previous director was asked to leave. I'm certain many journalists are going to be clamoring for an interview with him but frankly I am more curious as to whom he sits down with to get his bearings when he gets here. Overall, Oregon is shifting its expectations from that of numerous insular communities to that of a world wide player on the cultural front. This shift has made the Director position a lightning rod for everything that is both good and bad in the state. Frankly, we should expect innovative solutions, while honoring our history and be focused on merit (not cronyism) as Oregon exists in a competitive international marketplace for talent. We can improve and welcome to Oregon!

Hyperallergic on Richard Serra in Qatar.

Restoration of a beach scene reveals... a whale.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on June 06, 2014 at 12:11 | Comments (0)


Thursday 05.29.14

2014 Hallie Ford Fellows

The three Hallie Ford Fellows for 2014 have been announced, congrats. They are; Tannaz Farsi of Eugene, Storm Tharp and Geraldine Ondrizek of Portland.

True, these panel driven type award decisions are easy to criticize but they do give us an opportunity to provide a heuristic kind of feedback that is necessary, especially since all of these regional awards are so panel driven. On the plus side yes that's 2 women and one man, but it is also two academics and one non (Tharp), which is an underwhelming trend I have mentioned before as academicians tend to explain their work better than create something more original. Of the three only Tharp is a critical favorite (in fact he's one of the state's premier artists (would make everyone's top 10 list). It is good they are picking artists without gallery representation in Oregon (Farsi and Ondrizek) but that shouldn't = academicians like it has frequently. Oregon has a deeper scene than that... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on May 29, 2014 at 13:00 | Comments (0)


Tuesday 05.27.14

Robert Adams Photographs to PAM

Robert Adams, Kerstin, next to an old-growth stump, Coos County, Oregon 1999

Last year the Portland Art Museum mounted an exhibition of world renowned and Astoria based photographer Robert Adams. It was wonderful and bittersweet, partially because it is Robert Adams' work (which measures the pang inducing endurance of nature in position to man's destructive tendencies) but also because the work itself wasn't in the museum's collection. Today PAM officially announced that the 69 photographs would enter the collection. Bravo!

Oregon has a bad habit of not celebrating its greatest artists but one by one, starting with Mark Rothko then Carrie Mae Weems and Robert Adams it has sought to rectify this studiued "disinterest" and start keeping score with home grown products who matters internationally.

Besides, there is a sense of a humanist-activist-poet in Adams' work... even if they weren't photos of the Oregon Coast it would fit Portland's civic interests and ethos. Big props to collectors Bonnie Serkin and Will Emery, some anonymous donors and the Oregon Arts Commission who made this landmark acquisition happen. This is one for the ages and the cultural patrimony of every Oregonian from this point forward.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on May 27, 2014 at 18:01 | Comments (0)


Advising artists

This fascinating and important article details how artists (the lifeblood of the art world) are systematically not compensated. The net effect is that it requires artists to be wealthy before they become artists... this tends to dampen the ambition in the work (Not always but usually). The situation is even worse in the USA which has far less public funding.

Richard Speer discusses some of the taboo topics at art openings. Odds are this describes most artists reading it... but I've found that it is incredibly hard to generalize. Instead, I've found that there are many who pursue these taboos with impunity. Generally they are artists who thrive on true feedback rather than sycophantic enabling. They also tend to move farther in their careers and tend to crave true feedback. Best rule... "never assume" because in the majority, those in the art world tend to want to believe what is emotionally true at the moment. Whereas, those that can see beyond that emotional smokescreen achieve rigor and tend to rise above. Lessson, never try to explain another person's beliefs... simply make your own so pervasive that over time it becomes clear what your intent is.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on May 27, 2014 at 10:02 | Comments (0)


Friday 05.23.14

Friday Links

PORT will have a fantastic and in depth interview with two major artists later today. To hold you over here are a few links:

Animated GIF's as a vibrant and ubiquitous art form.

Disjecta has a new curator in residence, Rachel Adams from Austin Texas. Not surprisingly, this marks yet another female curator (they have all been women and I'll leave it at that) but it is interesting that she is doing a show about structure and has an interest in architecture. Portland has a very strong and well developed peerage of artists that use design and the built environment as a major component of their work. So much so that simply doing a show involving superstructures will require the kind of rigor that we generally don't see in group shows at that venue (the space is difficult and the revolving curator door means that about the time they figure out what works they are onto a new face). Then there is the other issue where many of those artists have already shown there(ie how to do something relevant and fresh when most of those artists are already showing outside of Portland and or are concentrating on solo shows).

OCMA, responsible for the recent California-Pacific Triennial that completely ignored Portland (it is kinda nice that someone is doing it) gets a new director.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on May 23, 2014 at 12:04 | Comments (0)


Monday 05.19.14

Monday Links

A fascinating New York Times article on the rehang of the Warhol Museum. True, no museum can hope to recreate the manic "scene days" of the factory or holding court at Studio 54 but it should deepen our understanding of a great artist in both his stronger and weaker moments.

The BBC is launching a three part series on Women in art, catch episode one here. Even in Portland men still seem to get a majority of the presentation/representation space and awards.

The Met could be getting a new modern art wing to replace the current and (ughhhh) carpeted ones. With MoMA lagging and the Whitney re-imagining itself (also a necessity) the Met might find itself making all the right moves if it takes this opportunity to not do what MoMA is doing.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on May 19, 2014 at 0:14 | Comments (0)


Wednesday 05.14.14

The fascination with finding

A very significant Lynda Benglis that has been hiding in a sewage treatment plant might see the light of day in public display again soon. The piece in question, The Wave (the wave of the world) was originally created for the 1984 world's fair.

We are still tracking the Crystal Bridges State of the Art project... here's a little info on how they found those 10,000 artists. They visited about 10 artists in Portland last summer. The research logistics of this kind of approach alone are daunting. Also, after the apparent punt that was this year's Whitney Biennial many are wondering if this will be yet another show that uses artists to create an intentionally indecipherable spectacle designed to serve the institution and not much else?... or a real digestion of what is going on in art in a way that isn't a rigged marketing exercise? What people hunger for is a show that has a kind of integrity to it, willing to both make mistakes and uncover things that truly rise above the fray and reveal our world in a way we hadn't taken fuller stock of. A show where the artist's work is allowed to clear its throat. It is very rare these days when it is often easier to just pack redundant ideas together so that everything is just a simple exercise in comparative degrees (edging out more idiomatic developments). I much prefer shows like the 2001 and 2004 Site Santa Fe biennials, which had strong clusters of work that posited very different ideas/work in stark relief around central themes. Fetishing genre over case by case content (or worse careerist connection mongering regardless of the critical issues of the day) is the death of a thousand small cuts that most group shows today suffer from these days. One thing is certain, a lot is at stake for this well endowed institution. The critical response to the show will define the museum's success as a national player... nice to see an institution risking this much.

The truly great Richard Tuttle on exploring life in art.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on May 14, 2014 at 10:50 | Comments (0)


Friday 05.09.14

Friday Links

I really like this anti-object bench project, which is designed to nullify any creative uses other than being a bench. I liken it to a prophylactic design ethos that takes all the fun and accretive uses out of an object? No wonder it looks sooo uninviting! It might have interesting applications in art. Sometimes NO is the most creative move a designer or artist can play.

Frieze's New York Art fair as seen through the Guardian and the New York Times.

Phase three of Pacific Standard Time will focus on Latino contributions.

The Whitney Biennial through the artist's eyes... though curator Stuart Comer's, "non-hierarchical multiplicity," comes off more as utopian wishful thinking and curator speak than anything observed in reality.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on May 09, 2014 at 13:52 | Comments (0)


Monday 05.05.14

Monday Links

Last weekend tour of art in Berlin... post sexy?

My old stomping grounds, the excellent Milwaukee Art Museum is proposing a modest addition but The Journal has a convoluted response itself to the proposal. The museum on Lake Michigan is a wonderful site and suggesting that change is backwards thinking. Also, the museum isn't that convoluted and I'd describe it as variety. The Calatrava wing is an obvious entrance and re-establishing the lake entrance to the very good for art viewing Kahler wing is a great, understated idea that consolidates the experience. The Saarinen and Calatrava constitute a variety of achitecture that shakes up the midwestern lakefront in a way that is enviable (even Chicago lacks this). BTW, most major Museums are undertaking expansions as a generation of key philanthropists are looking for legacy projects... it keeps the wealth in the community rather than Federal estate taxes. All of which isn't a good enough reason to move the museum off an already ideal site.

The Guardian Q & A with Marc Quinn.

Yau on Schnabel. He is pretty much the patron saint of derivative painting, which isn't necessarily a slight but says a lot about his MFA puppy mill clones. I think of Schnabel as an American response to Sigmar Polke, replacing Polke's supple inquiry with Schnabel's ambition. Once again that isn't necessarily a bad thing, just something that limits Schnabel's place in the grand scheme of art, an interesting cautionary tale for those who would be great and a road map for those who want to be great at being OK.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on May 05, 2014 at 10:37 | Comments (0)


Friday 05.02.14

Friday Links

A secret Whistler portrait revealed.

Artforum's take on the Whitney Bi is rather fatalistic but it underscores what I noted a few months ago, that this show was a feint passed off to outside curators. I think everyone is ready for something that is more than an exposure op but a true context builder and challenger. In short the stakes have been too low and too diffuse.

Ongoing labor abuse in the middle east's museum building boom.

One of my favorite people in Portland a little profile on Glenda Goldwater.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on May 02, 2014 at 13:17 | Comments (0)


Monday 04.28.14

Monday Links

I'll have a very involved review for you later today but till then here are some links:

Eva Hesse and Sol LeWitt at the Blanton Museum of Art

A short history of the Berlin art scene in the 90's

Duplex gives it to you straight regarding the Portland 2014 Biennial attempt. As Ive already mentioned when the list was announced, not enough women and no new names. Mostly it is the institution's attempt to ingratiate itself amongst others that made their reputations without Disjecta's help already and the show did nothing for anyone's careers save thye presenting institution. It is a tired model and any group show that shines a light on a scene should at least make a few discoveries to create anticipation and a climate of change rather than staleness... it was ok but told us nothing we didn't already know in more fully realized solo shows. That and it was basically a clone of every other recent group show, not embarrassing but achieves little for anyone besides the presenter.

Brian Libby on MIT's use of Big Data for mapping and architecture.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on April 28, 2014 at 9:56 | Comments (0)


Wednesday 04.23.14


I've been very busy guest curating the State of Wonder radio program for Saturday on OPB but here are some links:

Nanobots are going to reinvent kinetic sculpture and installation, among other things.

Three views of art criticism in Europe.

Of course clay is hot these days... it has been for the past 6-7 years as the careers of Ken Price and Jessica Jackson Hutchins made plain long ago. The news is the bandwagoning that has started because of the latest Whitney Biennial. There is an art market to feed you know. The other interesting bit is how little resistance there really ever was to it... in craft circles they made it seem like the medium were persona non grata but its always been the message not the medium in contemporary art. The message has always been boutique, with limited production = value and it is tied to a larger discussion over design. It isn't craft (which is technique) that is crucial but "design" because it encompasses craft and gives it an outlet. Contemporary Art works in parallel and pantomime to the Design World, which is the bleeding edge of production. Think of Contemporary Art as the court jester to the court of culture and Design is the army.

Franco a credibility problem for the art world? Basically, it is all too easy and anybody who gets too wrapped up as "for or against" is wasting their time on an easy mark. For the first time ever I'm linking without reading the article. Click at your own risk.

Yes MoMA is jumping the shark and it sounds just like Deitch did during the MOCA debacle. Lowery's claim of being radical doesn't hold water... they are very thin gestures at new media and genres and doesn't really address the bigger problems MoMA already has since it has started diminishing the scholarship... the kind that was a step above academics. By always meeting in the middle ground Lowery is going down as the man who ruined MoMA. His days are numbered (but probably not this year) but the question is will MoMA ever recover?

Posted by Jeff Jahn on April 23, 2014 at 12:03 | Comments (0)


Monday 04.14.14

Monday Links

Brian Libby says goodby to PNCA's Goodman building. It is no secret that PNCA has been undergoing growing pains... experiencing both massive growth and contractions at the same time (in different areas like enrollment, new departments and physical plant). This gets more painful the larger the institution is. Let's hope the 511 years lead to a stable golden age for the school as it consolidates more around the North Park Blocks. The Goodman building's commons area has been Portland's arts oriented living room more than any other space in the city can claim, though they were also difficult for some uses.

File under odd, Cyndy Sherman responds to James Franco. He's a good actor and a forgettable artist but I appreciate his appreciation of visual art.

Francis Bacon Triptych recently on view at PAM (during install)

This is very stale news in Portland's scene but the NYT's has finally taken notice of something that has been going on for over a decade in Oregon, showing art bought at auctions in our museums. It can blind some (like traditional journalists) with a less broadly based art historical backgrounds and it makes the discourse reactionary and short sighted. First of all, some arguments are more than a little specious. Arguably, the history of arts patronage has always been related to tax avoidance, but perhaps that is the wrong term. Museums have always trafficked in that grey area interchange between wealthy collectors and sharing with the masses. Thus, in a way they take the mostly hidden impulse to hoard treasures and turn them into cultural/economic boosters (bringing people downtown etc). Museums are one of the few places the rich are taxed more proportionately... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on April 14, 2014 at 10:57 | Comments (0)


Tuesday 04.08.14

Jesper Just speaks at PAM

Jesper Just spoke at the Portland Art Museum last Sunday but you can watch much of it here. Catch his exhibition on dislpay at PAM until June 1st.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on April 08, 2014 at 10:36 | Comments (0)


Monday 04.07.14

Monday Links

Finally some hard stats on women in the art world... basically 70% of represented artists are men. I'm uncertain about how those stats bear out in Portland but it is definitely true that men generally get statistically more representation in awards and group shows (Portland2014 being just another example, as is the far more consequential Whitney Biennial). Why is this? I think it is generally the way women are penalized for being ambitious and or promoting themselves, whereas men are encouraged. It also comes down to complicated interpersonal politics (who has kids, who doesn't, who teaches with whom, a cultural preoccupation focus on the events in a woman's life rather than the work) that are almost always more loaded for women. In general, the dudes are simply less complicated even though to my eyes a clear majority of the strong to excellent artists in a place like Portland are women.

Check out this tiny self portrait Caravaggio snuck into one of his most famous works. See?

Larry Sultan and Mike Mandel's altered billboards in Juxtapoz.

Seattle buys some Ai Weiwei baubles.

Namita Wiggers on Craft in the Brooklyn Rail. First of all, the term accidental primitivism doesn't work, its terrible jargon. There is nothing "accidental" about utilizing a centuries old tradition, and it is... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on April 07, 2014 at 11:02 | Comments (1)


Monday 03.31.14

Wafaa Bilal at Linfield

In 2007, Iraqui artist Wafaa Bilal caused an international sensation with a performance called Domestic Tension, where he lived in a gallery constantly shelled by paint ball guns controlled by people far away via the internet. It was a critique of unmanned drones and it also gave the artist PTSD on the way to art world stardom. For Linfield college Bilal will perform a site specific piece called I Don't Know Their Names, an exercise in barely perceivable writing that recalls the way victims cease being individuals and simply become part of an aggregate disaster toll.

"Bilal will engage in a durational performance daily in the Linfield Gallery, Tuesday, April 1 - Friday, April 4, during regular gallery hours, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. The performance will continue on Saturday, April 5, 12 p.m. - 5 p.m. Gallery visitors are welcome to quietly watch as the artist is focused on creating this site-specific exhibition".

Wafaa Bilal | April 1 - May 10
Artist Talk: Wednesday, April 2, 6PM, reception following
Linfield Gallery | Linfield College
900 SE Baker st., McMinnville, OR

Posted by Jeff Jahn on March 31, 2014 at 15:14 | Comments (0)


Monday Links

You don't hear much about female light and space artists but LACMA's Helen Pashigan show is set to alter that.

Jerry Saltz takes on an art flipper. The main problem is treating artists as a mere market that is easily cornered, hyped, inflated then turned over like what used to happen to commodities in the 70's and 80's. The thing is Art requires a long term view and a supple aspect that is being lost here. It isn't the market, academia, institutional commitments or critical response... it is all of the above that matter. Also, when attention in any one area is over-inflated it builds resistance from the other corners of the art world. Also, the question of taste isn't being foregrounded... it is the ability to influence and motivate. There is a distinct difference and strong taste tends to justify itself because it has a certain integrity to it.

In case you missed it, for the second year in a row Brian Libby chose the venues for the Portland Modern Home Tour. My oh my, has Portland's image and design IQ changed or what?

Posted by Jeff Jahn on March 31, 2014 at 10:05 | Comments (0)


Friday 03.28.14

Friday Links

The hoard of Nazi Looted art in Salzburg is far better than at first thought.

Jerry Saltz on Finding Vivian Maier. Definitely this is the year when the art world is looking at the contributions of women in a new light.

The Guardian shows shocking images of America's race war that you probably wont see in US publications.

Hyperallergic on Kara Walker in Eugene. See it, the show ends soon.... the same with the Francis Bacon at PAM (it is the last weekend actually).

As predicted 2014 is definitely shaping up as the year women are raising awareness again.... and Yoko Ono's latest project invites all women to participate.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on March 28, 2014 at 10:46 | Comments (0)


Monday 03.24.14

Monday Links

The biggest news in Portland's art scene this weekend was that PLACE has abruptly had its lease terminated by Pioneer Square Mall. PLACE was our pick as the alternative space of the year in 2013. It was always an odd fit, an alternative art space that staged mock suicides or an outright protestation of consumer behavior (like Paul Clay) in a downtown mall, but that is what made it work (and what the Portland 2014 biennial totally missed by being 3-6 years behind the curve). In general it is disappointing but in some ways an ending like this is great... it is better to burn out scalding hot than just fade away and it reemphasizes the crucial nature of these improbable alternative spaces to Portland's overall character... if only Portland's more official institutions would get involved (or actually have curators attend shows) during their short lives.

Even the local Fox affiliate got ahold of the story... nothing seems odder than seeing Michael Reinsch's name and fake suicide project on Fox News, but there it is. Hopefully all of the publicity will help PLACE find a new home... perhaps in some place downtown and equally unexpected like a bank?

An excellent essay on Victorian occultism and its relevance to contemporary art should be required reading for all artists working today.

Lobbyists for major auction houses are opposed to artists and their estates getting a cut of the action in inflated art market... predictable.

Shigeru Ban, an architect known for making temporary structures has been awarded the Pritzker Prize. This is significant as his work is often decidedly unmonumental and temporary.

Last but not least, PORT welcomes our newest sponsor the Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation. We are very selective about our sponsors and currently the foundation's generosity has a facilitated a long list of exhibitions it has lent works to such as, the excellent Emancipating the Past: Kara Walker's Tales of Slavery and Power in Eugene, Under Pressure at the Missoula Art Museum and Radical Repetition at the Whatcom Art Museum. The Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation has an encyclopedic collection of master prints and Northwest art that it lends to venues around the country. In particular, they make exhibitions and support programs available to communities that often would not have access to such work. Built to share, the collection was one of the first large scale lending libraries in the USA, leading the way for other collectors like Eli Broad and Nicolas Berggruen. In 2012, the Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation lent an encyclopedic survey of Ellsworth Kelly's prints to LACMA. That show later traveled back home to Portland.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on March 24, 2014 at 11:03 | Comments (0)


Thursday 03.20.14

Museums & Generations

There is always a lot of hand wringing when generations hand the baton and in this case Gen X and Millenials are taking over as patrons and visitors to museums (Gen X was missed by the article, mistake... Gen X is far more museum friendly than Millenials because my generation like to go off and contemplate "alone"). The thing is the Baby Boomers never really distinguished themselves the way their parents did, so though they may have 70% of the disposable income they are likely spending it on their bucket lists and golf outings. Considering how much more culturally sensitive and less "me" centric Gen X and Millenials are museums should be fine in the future. Though they have made huge strides local museums like PAM and MoCC haven't really captured the imagination of the younger Gen X/Millenial crowd that has flooded Portland.

The Peter Doig early works show every young painter should check out. Hell, the old ones might find it worthy too.

New MOCA Director Philippe Vergne is moving in a prudent and serious way to re-imagine the museum's programming, with a focus on relevance. I tend to think he will be a better fit wit MOCA than he was with the Dia Foundation as MOCA is first and foremost an urban, West Coast laboratory that doesn't program like East Coast institutions do. The West Coast is closer to Asia out here and the more you look the more it shows.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on March 20, 2014 at 15:22 | Comments (0)


Monday 03.17.14

Monday Links

Hyperallergic thinks that US museums don't want comics. I don't think that is completely accurate, especially on the West Coast where most major museums have staged major shows involving comics (for example, PAM's big R Crumb show)... but it is true, they might not really know what to do with them when outside of featured exhibitions. Are they prints, books, design driven craft/pop art? YES!

The heirs of Peggy Guggenheim sue the Guggenheim Foundation. This is very complicated but I tend to agree with the heirs... basically turning Peggy Guggenheim's burial space in Venice into a rotating exhibition space for collectors who donate enough just doesn't work.

Toyo Ito wins the Thomas Jefferson Prize for Architecture.

What happens when a civic sponsor witholds funding to shape the programming of a festival, the Artistic Director of the Adelaide Festival responds. There is a line that patronage should not cross, especially if it is a civic organization.

Vanessa Renwick is this year's Bonnie Bronson Fellow... congrats. The award is the only one in the region that frequently focuses on mid career women and there is generally a community component that drives the selection process as well.

PORTstar Amy Bernstein was on KBOO radio last week discussing her solo show.

Last but not least check out David Pagel's review of Walead Beshty's work.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on March 17, 2014 at 10:30 | Comments (0)


Monday 03.10.14

Monday Links

A look at the Detroit Institute of the Arts bid to separate itself from city ownership.

Check out this interview with Carolee Schneemann in the Guardian... Women and their position in the visual arts is turning out to be THE topic of 2014 (especially since the last 12 months have been so dude oriented at an institutional level.

Tyler Green on the restoration of Pollock's Guggenheim Mural. I don't put a lot of cred into the before and after GIF though. I saw the painting in Des Moines before being shipped off to the Getty and it certainly wasn't as dull as the "before" image indicates. The yellows were very apparent but still I'm sure it needed some of the TLC that the Getty was equipped to give it.

Pictures of Paris before gentrification...

I've updated the Whitney Biennial links several times and its interesting how the Portland2014 Biennial seems to pantomime it. There is a lot of monkey see monkey do when most curators do survey shows, which is why having a kind of thesis like the Hammer's Thing or the Tacoma Art Museum's last NW Biennial focus on interdisciplinary art make sense. Otherwise you see the same show (better and worse versions) over and over again. I still believe these shows are important social events but unless they take a stance and make a point of really highlighting strong new developments in art (with enough space/focus to do so) these things are just anonymous vehicles designed mostly to benefit the presenting institution. An art historical thread like Robert Storr's focus on the grotesque in 2004 at Site Santa Fe meant something... Kara Walker even debuted her first video piece there. The 1999 Oregon Biennial redefined art in Oregon and introduced 4-5 new stars to the scene. That is the sort of discovery that makes a survey memorable. Presenting artists or art that looks just like hundreds of other recent shows just doesn't differentiate the exercise of a survey enough.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on March 10, 2014 at 14:09 | Comments (0)


Saturday 03.08.14

Women In Art for 2014?

Eva Lake's Target NO.46 (Jean)

Yesterday was International Women's Day and the New York Times published a stunning article on the lack of women in top museum director positions. To be sure there are a variety of reasons but it also follows related but dissimilar gaps in representation for women in all aspects of the art world. For example the current Whitney Biennial (which I've been following with updates here) only can claim only 32% of its participants as women.

Closer to home we've pointed out that the Portland 2014 biennial is also short on female artists and no woman has ever won the Arlene Schnitzer prize for the CNAA's. Also, women are still a minority in the Hallie Ford awards. Jen Graves pointed out the stunning shutout of women from the Betty Bowen awards last year too. This is despite the fact that a majority of cultural gatekeepers in Portland (curators and gallerists) are women and I think it might be part of the reason more men get awards.

Clearly this is an issue to track in 2014 and any survey, award and hiring will be scrutinized for it... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on March 08, 2014 at 15:35 | Comments (0)


Wednesday 03.05.14

Whitney Biennial Links


Well the Whitney Biennial has opened and the reviews are starting to come in. I'll track them here, so check back for updates. Thankfully or sadly there are no Portlanders in it this time but with its focus on the midwest I understand... Portland is very popular with midwesterners as a relocation spot and we have already had a lot of presence in recent previous shows. I'm personally over these giant surveys that always do more for the institution than the artists or the discussion of art (though the flailing attempt to do "something" is nearly always worthwhile as an institutional barometer rather than satisfying/challenging statement). Not to say they can't be good, they often seemed rigged to mildly placate, rather than discover and promote new talent by giving the uncertainty of the present a voice. Instead, they ingratiate themselves to the art world choir creatures they serve (artists and gallerists) and or keep at arms length. Ideally, they spotlight some new faces and trends that keep things from being stagnant... not certain this one achieves that goal. I haven't heard the word "fresh" much.

Jerry Saltz found it bland with some energy on the 4th floor. I think this is an amplitude problem... ie. how to achieve escape velocity for an art world exerting such gravitational force, especially in NYC? It incentivises a kind of bland punting (choosing 3 outside curators etc, I discussed it yesterday). It is very predictable because so much is at stake and anything embracing the radical becomes a massive threat. NYC's art world is easily threatened these days. Accepting threat or the uncertainty and amplifying the shifts that the unknown demands is a far healthier way (an essay I penned in 2002 that Jerry liked a lot gets to the point). Also, Jerry may love the camera obscura(curated by Elms) but I've seen so many of those over the past decade + it just seems like it stood out because it was a reprieve from the anxious index of familiarity he described in the rest of the show. Interesting that he liked Sterling Ruby's ceramics... a similar vibe to the 2012 standout by Portland's Jessica Jackson Hutchins... both are steeped in West Coast 60's arts and crafts grottyness.

Hyperallergic starts with images and a discussion of the 4th floor, which most everyone seems to be liking the best. Ah, so the big standout artist of 2014 is one of the curators... That is good because Michelle Grabner is an old Wisconsin grad school dayz friend but does any of the work suggest or demand a shift in the art world the way Forcefield did in the 2002 Biennial? I'm not hearing anything like that... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on March 05, 2014 at 10:41 | Comments (0)


Tuesday 03.04.14

Tuesday Links

Tyler Green looks at the coming absorption of the Cocoran's collection into the NGA's and what it could mean.

The NYT's discussed this week's 2014 Whitney Biennial and its wrong to give the article much focus beyond being a brochure guide. Mostly, the focus on; witty craft, works on paper, nostalgia, architecture and female painters is a restatement of the previous decade and a half (which is accurate and on trend though not enough women are in this show). Still, the addition of "Looks That Can Decieve" is somewhat interesting but also very familiar if you've looked at contemporary art since say 1999. Several of my friends are in it and one of the curators is an old grad school chum so I've got a vested take in this... but overall I see it as an index style show. There are lots of other regional surveys of American art (Made in LA, State of the Art etc)... some more comprehensive (no Pacific Northwest artists despite the fact we are hot, probably because there is a big Midwest presence and Midwesterners often move Northwest). Some, like TAM's Northwest Biennial (I was in the last one) or the California-Pacific Triennial are more narrow than this but it is the New York style marketing blood sport of who will stand out that keeps people focused on the Whitney. No other show on the planet, besides perhaps the Turner Prize... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on March 04, 2014 at 10:37 | Comments (0)


Friday 02.28.14

Friday Links

The story of the week: should artists and their estates receive a cut of resales in the USA the way they do in France?... you bet. Why? consider all the artists whose work goes for millions at auction when their estates don't have the funds to care for and promote the understanding of the work. It keeps the work in what I call, "the market orphanage," where objects only have monetary value but have no custodianship and no one looking out for the integrity of something that has value.

Embattled museum director Malcolm Rogers steps down in Boston.

Sol LeWitt in Australia.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on February 28, 2014 at 8:01 | Comments (0)


Monday 02.24.14

Monday Links

One of the designers behind sex in a box a.k.a. Twister, discusses the game that at one time raised an uproar.

Roberta Smith on the Futurists and their tarnished but intriguing past. It is rarely ever good when artists attempt cozy up to the offices of power.

The Structure sensor (3d sensor for Apple products) is just the sort of thing many artists and designers have been dreaming about. Turn your iPad into a tricorder!

Posted by Jeff Jahn on February 24, 2014 at 9:58 | Comments (0)


Thursday 02.20.14

Oregon Arts Commission & Trust Survey Results

The Oregon Arts Commission and Trust (director search) stakeholder survey results are in and fascinating to dig through (especially all of the write ins, just scroll down).


1st thing, there has been no statement describing why Christine D'Arcy was let go... though some of us were tipped off that something was odd months before. I'd prefer the state would just be transparent before I go publishing off of what scraps I and many others know. Not knowing this crucial bit of information makes attracting good applicants more difficult. There is a widespread transparency problem that any new director will need to fix, but who fixes the state run oversight?

Communication was easily the highest ranked category

... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on February 20, 2014 at 16:04 | Comments (0)


Tuesday 02.18.14

Best of the worst links

Vito Acconci (whom PORT interviewed here) declares Marina Abramovic's performance at MoMA as the nadir of performance art. I tend to agree, though I also agree that some of her earliest works especially with Ulay are the best (the Great Wall was such a mature reckoning). Why? Because the MoMA project complicitly feeds the queue of the museum... making the wait a kind of institutional kowtow and moment of fealty. The implications are incredibly lame, kinda like The Gates by Christo and Jeanne-Claude in Central Park had a kind of cultural imperialism about it... de democratizing a typically less structured space.

Then this joker had to destroy an Ai Weiwei (whom we interviewed here). The issue with this is the self centered vandalism of this bitter artist destroying another artist's work. When Weiwei destroyed an artifact he was making a statement for his own people and history... this fellow simply built a temple to his own bitterness and ignorance. The institution in question even did a locals show last year, thus completely undermining the vandal's attempt at critique. Hopefully this doesn't prompt venues to cordon off work... which would be a shame and strengthen the artifact vs. art paradoxical divide.

Is Frank Gehry the worst living architect... hardly, though he does take chances and any essay that compares architecture to a C.C. Deville guitar solo that goes on and on gets points from me.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on February 18, 2014 at 15:20 | Comments (0)


Monday 02.10.14

Monday Links

This is an excellent piece on the state of the Dia Foundation with and without Philippe Vergne, whom I consider a better fit for MOCA than the Dia. The Dia was once the country's premier experimental art institution and they championed site specificity better than anyone before or since. It was rooted in the most surprisingly supple aspects of Donald Judd's philosophy, which acted as an antidote to market driven art... providing a patronage platform for integrity driven work. It really hasn't gotten its groove back since Michael Govan left. Frankly, civilization needs an active and relevant Dia that can exist without deacessioning and the new director will need to repair some damage done by such activity.

Michelangelo the forger. Interesting about the way forgers were considered back in the day.

No big surprise, the Oregon Arts Commission has lost another 3 officers. Something complicated is at work and there is something in this earlier article. What is missing is transparency at every stop along the line here, especially the composition and mechanisms for being added to awards panels. You can fill out your criteria for the new director here.

There was a mention of Portland visual arts in the New York Times this past weekend. It is nice that Portland was being portrayed as an edgy art adventure rather than simply some quirk fest or other regional stereotype (you can find whatever you are looking for here). As I've mentioned before the Crystal Bridges Museum's State Of The Art project is interesting. Will it be a conservative World's Fair type event where regional stereotypes are trotted out? If it is critics will eat it alive but I do believe that the US could benefit from a survey that isn't based in New York, more voices would be healthy when so many cant see beyond the Hudson.

The question will be if they can bring out work that has an edge? Does it reflexively interrogate, negate and transcend, rather than merely illustrate genre? ... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on February 10, 2014 at 10:28 | Comments (0)


Thursday 02.06.14

First Thursday Cancellations and Openings

Due to the snow many First Thursday venues are cancelling. I will update as they come in.

List of cancellations:

Littman Gallery PSU (rescheduling Thursday Feb 13th)

All Desoto Building Galleries (Bluesky, Museum of Contemporary Craft etc.)
Autzen Gallery, PSU Ditch Projects reception(rescheduling on
a Friday soon)

White Box at the University of Oregon, Portland

Duplex Collective (rescheduling February 13)

Elizabeth Leach Gallery




Laura Russo Gallery


List of venues open:

PDX Contemporary (Terry Toedtemeier wasn't afraid of a lil snow)

The Portland Art Museum plans to keep the Museum open till 5PM.

PIFF's opening night at PAM and the screenings and opening party will go on as planned.

HAP Gallery

Posted by Jeff Jahn on February 06, 2014 at 13:20 | Comments (0)


Friday 01.31.14

Friday Links

Tavis Smiley interviews Teller about his documentary film Tim's Vermeer. Interesting how Teller is surprised at how artists and scientists were once the same vocation. Lately with artists like Inigo Manglano-Ovalle, Olafur Elliason, Anish Kapoor, Cartsen Holler and Robert Irwin/James Turrell's early work, we see somewhat of a return to this kind blurring of lines... locally artists like Kyle Thompson, Laura Fritz, Laura Hughes and Zachary Davis have all taken a similar investigative approach to applying Bacon's Novum Organum (which is rooted in Davinci's observational and trial studies). Jerry Saltz is also excited about this. The point is, given enough time and thoughtful concentration anything one human being has done can be reverse engineered and replicated.

Adrian Searle discusses Martin Creed's exhibition at the Hayward Gallery.

Carnegie Mellon University has scuttled its curator... why is this bad? Many institutions have been doing this of late and it essentially destroys the programmatic integrity of a space. A curator's voice creates continuity and a programmatic arc, which when dispensed with leaves a rudderless exhibition schedule driven by opportunistic or void-filling exhibitions with nobody to answer for their quality and execution. That "Arc" is crucial as often it isn't a single exhibition that matters but the probing variety that a curator brings. It is the difference between having a chef or putting on a pot luck affair. When no one is responsible, a program loses its voice at budget meetings... guaranteeing it will be ever more shunted to the periphery of institutional priority. Lastly, galleries are the place where the institution meets the rest of the world. Ditching the castellan responsible for that interaction means the institution will become more navel gazing and insulated.

Brian Libby and Kieth Daly debate the infinitely debatable Portland Building. I'll have an in depth piece for you soon that takes the discussion in a new direction (it is nearly complete and as usual, it draws blood).

Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 31, 2014 at 12:14 | Comments (0)


Monday 01.27.14

Do's and Dont's

I'd put LA's new Mistake Room on the to do list. It doesn't matter where you go, LA or Portland... most institutions aren't open enough to this sort of thing. The Dia used to be the king and before that, what the PCVA did very well was take chances and actively avoid parochialisms.

Edward Winkleman on the "Don'ts" of the new MoMA expansion.

Hyperallergic catches some parents letting their kids use a Judd stack as a bunk bed. I wish this were just some outlier episode but these sorts of things are pretty common. Museums and art going in general has gradually taken on the same audience pandering as other "entertainment venues." There has a been a general lowering of the respect quotient in art production and it has been replaced with a sort of funhouse mentality. This cues parents (who obviously need to reign in this sort of misbehavior) to treat the art experience like a playground. Obviously, this doesn't describe every parent/child situation but because a Judd is involved it is heightened. Judd took everything very seriously. The problem with positioning cultural production as "entertainment" certainly has its pitfalls.

This online exhibition of Judd's woodcut prints by the Judd Foundation makes his seriousness all the more present.

Jerry Saltz on selfies... do or don't everyone online today is expected to ha an online persona, but few are prepared to do much with it.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 27, 2014 at 11:16 | Comments (0)


Friday 01.24.14

Friday Links

Holland Carter discusses Carrie Mae Weems' retrospective at the Guggenheim. Portland born, we were treated to this show last year at PAM.

Is the CRC finally dead as the WWeek says? Kitzhaber (whom I otherwise respect) has been trying to push this ill conceived project through for years and it serves as a cautionary tale for needing a good design rather than the cheapest most backroom pedaled one. Good design builds consensus!

Japser Johns testifies against foundry owner.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 24, 2014 at 11:03 | Comments (0)


Thursday 01.23.14


Phillipe Vergne seems to be indicating that MOCA will return to being, "The Artist's Museum," as it was originally designed to be. This is crucial as so many institutions have become or always were all about their institutional growth (MOMA etc.). At the same time, "enabling curators," doesn't necessarily make MOCA an artist's museum... only certain types of curators do that and they are extremely rare. In many ways museums have become victims of their own success at hoarding presciently collected art. Question is... is it MOCA's turn and if so does that mean they will ever have room for their permanent collection? Deaccessioning doesn't seem like a great idea either but objects/pieces do put conditions on resource allocation for institutions. Vergne wasn't all that successful at returning the Dia to its glory days as the world's greatest art patron but he might have an easier time achieving such aims at MOCA. Controlled growth that creates more options rather than limiting them is a key but can Vergne really back up that ambition? He certainly needs to keep MOCA hungry and risk taking but it remains whether they can actually turn back the clock a bit?


How can Portland support so many new restaurants asks Oregon Business? It is a visual art related question because it indicates where we spend our entertainment dollars and why Portland IS special (hint it isn't corporate). It is also where a lot of the artists, musicians etc find both employment, restaurant design/branding gigs, which helps explain why Portland is the best place to network in a genuine way if you want to center your life on a moral ethos rather than a corporate one. Not that jobs are easy to come by but it does explain why we are so vibrant. The artists move here and make it more interesting... the restaurants help pay the bills (barely) and elevate a necessity like eating into something sublime. The artists, musicians etc. then channel this... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 23, 2014 at 11:33 | Comments (0)


Tuesday 01.21.14

Tuesday Links

Philippe Pirotte on Kerry James Marshall's incredibly canny reconstitution of imagery in Western Civilization's visual history.

The Brooklyn Rain devotes an entire issue to Ad Reinhardt. Makes me think we should do a Mark Rothko essayfest sometime.

Check out the first of four Glasstire videos with Dave Hickey.

A wooden skyscraper design wins competition.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 21, 2014 at 11:14 | Comments (0)


Friday 01.17.14

Powell - Basquiat Links

Jean-Michel Basquiat Reclining Nude, by Paige Powell

Portlander Paige Powell has a show of her photos of Jean-Michel Basquiat up in NYC now.

Interest in Basquiat continues to intensify year after year, perhaps because of all the 80's painters his work is the biggest cipher. Unlike say Schnabel or Clemente... no matter how much we learn or hear of Basquiat, it somehow never seems expended. Some artists simply have a mystique... others make far too many pains to fabricate it. Basquiat is the former.

Last year I wrote a little essay about the very unique Basquiat painting Powell has on long term loan to the Portland Art Museum.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 17, 2014 at 13:29 | Comments (0)


Thursday 01.16.14

Vergne at MOCA

MOCA announced Philippe Vergne as its new Director late yesterday. Here is the very short first interview.

A couple of thoughts... this is good, partially because this gets Vergne out of the Dia Foundation. Vergne is a curator at the core but somehow his 5 years at the Dia were somewhat unremarkable and staid. His fundraising resorted to... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 16, 2014 at 10:26 | Comments (0)


Wednesday 01.15.14

Bridge Names Not Bold

Well I am not surprised that the Trimet panel didn't shortlist Rothko for the transit/pedestrian bridge name and a lot of people will be disappointed. Perhaps Rothko as a name was doomed by the need of the panel to be unanimous? No panel can ever be convened that will return a unanimous verdict on Rothko... or any artist of any sort of greatness.

Being Jewish and an immigrant didn't help Rothko either (Portlanders do have a bias, see William Pope L's new show at PSU). Not disappointed though, it brought Portland's allergy to acknowledging greatness (old school arch-regionalist and anti-immigrant bias [read the comments]) in its midst to the fore of people's minds. All great artists are polarizing and unanimous panels don't reward that kind of frisson, despite the fact that Rothko grew up in the Bridge's neighborhood and painted the site repeatedly. These biases cannot be overcome overnight but I will call out anyone who proliferates them. The less navel-gazing, more worldly Portland that has taken hold here isn't playing checkers it is a chess match.


Thoughts on the bridge name options?

Cascadia - is incredibly weak consensus building panel process detritus name... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 15, 2014 at 11:38 | Comments (1)


Monday 01.13.14

Monday Links

Jerry Saltz's open letter to MoMA's board urges a rejection of the current expansion design. It just doesn't measure up to the standards we hold MoMA up to... try again. Also, Michael Kimmelman at the Times was uncharacteristically cutting on the subject as well... we shall see soon if critics mean anything to MoMA?

Paul Clay's interactive Leda and the Swan at the Portland Building opens today

Randy Gragg chimes in on the fate of the Portland building. I disagree that photos would somehow fill the gaping hole in history a demolished Portland Building would leave. My extensive piece is coming soon but in general (like Randy) I think people are severely undervaluing the place making that the Portland Building brings to the downtown. Also, moving the beloved Portlandia sculpture anywhere else is naive. BTW Paul Clay's video installation at the Portland Building looks promising and it opens today. It is a great reason to visit this embattled and flawed landmark soon.

Sculptors and designers, the possibilities of walking 3D printers must be exciting.

Private funders and foundations have pledged 330 million+ to save city owned art from auction by Detroit's creditors.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 13, 2014 at 10:22 | Comments (0)


Wednesday 01.08.14

Architecture Wednesday

Well, this Wednesday has dropped a ton of architecture news on us.

MoMA's new art bay, reminiscent of a garage

The biggest story is MoMA's new expansions by Diller Scofidio + Renfro. Jerry Saltz HATES it but I do see the value in the "bays" that open like a garage to the street (they are just very timid descriptions of space considering their aims). The more problematic disappointments are the lack of expansion for the permanent collection and the intensely antiseptic white and glass design schemes that have no idiomatic texture or place making. It is institutional, with all the charm of a pharmaceutical research lab. It speaks of mall-like vernaculars + aspirations.

Let's revisit the past. Perhaps, I miss spaces like Louis Kahn's Kimbell Museum of yore? Also, there are better museum architects like Renzo Piano. True, Piano does design too many museums but The Menil is astounding. Those spaces I just listed have intimacy, aspirations and yes personality. The MCA in Chicago has similar vaults to the Kimbell. I love those MCA spaces (curator Bruce Guenther was partly responsible) and its that lack of curatorial nuance that many new extensions have that leaves them unremarkable. Renzo Piano's Art Institute of Chicago wing is ok but I hate what happened to the Ab Ex area where it used to have a big scary room with Clyfford Still, Pollock and de Kooning's excavation all holding court. The "transparency" of the new design kills that mystique and MoMA seems to be another victim of the architectural language of transparency. Museums which offer nothing but generic space miss the point. They should create place, not merely space or worse, square footage. In a Museum the art holds court and staircases are mostly just there like pickled ginger to cleanse and reset the palette. I also keep thinking about how great Steven Holl's design for MoMA was and how the tanking of the Bellview Art Museum in Seattle likely cost him the gig. Holl's proposal was bold but not as radical as Rem Koolhaas' design. There was a vernacular to build upon and it retained an idiomatic aspect that was open, not merely transparent. Holl's Nelson Atkins expansion showed just how well that can work out. Somehow D+S R has lost their edge on this project. It seems very conservative... even moreso than their new Broad museum in LA or the new Whitney building to be finished on the West Side.

The fact that the Williams and Tsien's folk art museum wont be saved isn't surprising... I'm certain they wanted to save it but the client's needs overrode anything truly inspired. The fact that William's and Tsien took on the Barnes collection project... essentially looting a national treasure for greater attendance only makes this karmic-ly fitting. There is always a bigger fish... will MoMA eventually swap its digs for a place where it can do it right and the current galleries will become a true mall or sports stadium? Maybe in 100 years? I'm certain it will still be packed until that day comes... but geeze New York, between the Freedom Tower and MoMA you really aren't setting the bar with your designs and places like Denver do seem more progressive.

In more local news there is also an international preservationist firestorm brewing over the rightfully maligned Portland building. Now that the city council is openly considering demolition of the Portland building, it has become the single most threatened/high historical value building on the planet... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 08, 2014 at 17:52 | Comments (0)


Tuesday 01.07.14

Tuesday Links MOCA edition

Looks like there will be a new director named at MOCA very soon and the NYT's confirmed that all of the front runners are museum professionals not art dealers like former director Deitch. Toby Kamps would be my first choice, though he is a curator's curator and being a director involves a lot more fundraising so I am not certain he would want the gig. MOCA does need to rebuild its reputation as perhaps the USA's top contemporary art institution... it has degenerated into a salesroom of sorts as of late.

The LA Times reports that MOCA is now financially solid.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 07, 2014 at 10:46 | Comments (0)


Friday 01.03.14

First Links 2014

The Village Voice looks at the art world's worst kept secret about the market.

Skylab's just approved tower for the Burnside Bridgehead is a stunner.

Edward Winkleman on earning that uppercase "C"... no not critic or curator, that's a different process but "C"ollector.

Cornell's newly approved Tech Campus on Roosevelt Island designs are worth a look.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 03, 2014 at 8:54 | Comments (0)


Monday 12.30.13

Last Links of 2013

2013 is almost over and before my year end reviews (starting later today) here are some worthy links:

TJ Clark's provocatively excellent review of the Paul Klee show up at Tate Modern is a must read for anyone interested in painting. Klee is perhaps the most influential modernist artist amongst today's contemporary paint slingers yet somehow this never gets properly explored. The way each work is both a poem and a game that plays against itself is so contemporary.

It is the perfect time to read Issac Asimov's speculative essay on the 2014 World's Fair.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 30, 2013 at 12:09 | Comments (0)


Friday 12.27.13

Friday Links

Getting back into the swing of things and some best and worst of 2013 Portland review lists that might make all the others look tame and or incomplete. Till then let's start with some links:

Ken Johnson isn't fully taken with a survey of figurative art drawn from one idiosyncratic collection.

A Miro show in Turkey gets pulled because many of the works are fakes.

Verifying authenticity is tricky stuff when it comes to minimalist/conceptual works designed to break institutional hang ups. We took a lead on these issues in 2010 by staging a conference and exhibition on Donald Judd's radical form of delegated fabrication. The elephant in the room was Count Panza of course and ironically it was announced that he had died on the day the conference occurred. It is good to see that these ideas are becoming the rule when dealing with these works... market pressures often value aspects antithetical to the spirit in which the art was conducted.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 27, 2013 at 9:08 | Comments (0)


Monday 12.23.13

Holiday Links

Let's take a breather as we gear up for some critically charged year end posts and other goodies. Till then here are some links:

The Guardian is gathering some famous artist's christmas cards.

In case you missed them check out our review of Ben Buswell's current show and my in depth interview with Kengo Kuma.

Also, unlike many who have been writing about the Francis Bacon... we at PORT understand visual art and can wrap our heads around its appearance here in Portland succinctly and sanely. It is a great set of paintings that puts the work of favorite local artists like Storm Tharp and David Eckard (think of the colors and architectural articulations around a figure) into greater context. Some writers don't understand visual quality because they are primarily "writers" who find it easier to engage other writers more than the art itself... that's why they come off so bewildered and second hand. Not a bad thing but it is amusing to watch all the flailing. Great art does this to some who don't deal with it frequently and it is why it sets people in tail spin. It reaffirms the power of art as something beyond an academic or community building exercise. In this case just focusing on the paint quality alone is revealing, no oil painter in the Northwest has similar facility and the funny thing is that the technical ability is the most obvious and least interesting part of the work.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 23, 2013 at 11:53 | Comments (0)


Monday 12.16.13

Oregon Arts Commission Vis Art Fellowships

The Oregon Arts Commission has announced its visual arts fellowships this year(in the sum of 3K each):

Avantika Bawa, Portland (Joan Shipley Fellow)
Modou Dieng Portland
Laura Fritz, Portland
Surabhi Ghosh, Eugene
Anna Gray, Portland
Sabina Haque, Portland
Allison Hyde, Eugene
Anya Kivarkis, Eugene
Ryan LaBar, Enterprise
Ellen Lesperance, Portland
Ralph Pugay, Portland
Samantha Wall, Portland
Terri Warpinski, Eugene

Looks like for once more women are receiving awards than dudes (a correction was in order). It is a good list (yes some are close acquaintances but I prefer the fact I don't know all of these people) but one thing that this critic has noticed is that the OAC does not release the names of the panelists making these decisions. Also, the way those panelists are chosen is similarly oblique. RACC by comparison always releases the names of panelists who make the decisions. With recent shake ups at the OAC, this change is required, especially since easy connections to certain groups in the state can be extrapolated from lists like this... the real meat comes from the composition of the panels.

As far as the artists chosen... most, if not all of the artists have been more active outside the region than inside Oregon, which is a good thing since Oregon art awards have lately skewed towards parochialism. This is not a parochial white dudes list for once!

Congrats to all!

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 16, 2013 at 11:57 | Comments (0)


Monday Links

The latest on Detroit... can the public avoid being looted?

PAM will we showing the record breaking Francis Bacon triptych of Lucian Freud, this Saturday. I could care less about the price but it is nice to compare it with last year's Bacon single painting show.

William Kentridge believes South Africa let Mandela down?

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 16, 2013 at 10:38 | Comments (0)


Friday 12.13.13

Friday Links

It is important to have negative reviews... they ask important questions even when the conclusions are wrong. For example, Ken Johnson is about Roni Horn. That "teetering" place between art and design is a very important place and artists like Donald Judd and Dan Flavin exploited it, Roni Horn was the next gen... overall using the term "minimalism" is a bit of a red herring in understanding that type of art. Portland has its own version with; Damien Gilley, Jordan Tull, Ben Buswell, Brenna Murphy, Zachary Davis, Ellen George, OPS, Laura Fritz, Paula Rebsom, Matthew Leavitt and Jesse Hayward etc. Many of whom are now more active outside Portland than in the city limits. Teetering is good for art and Portland is a design/art city.

I'm not certain that a cultural center in Taiwan that looks a little like an amusement park is sending the right message.

Is there a global art esthetic? Sadly it comes with the global market... for example, most auto manufacturers make vehicles that are only slightly differentiated from one another. Why should art be any different? (actually it should be) Want more differentiation? differentiate your markets...

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 13, 2013 at 11:42 | Comments (0)


Wednesday 12.11.13

Precipice Fund Grantees Year 1


Earlier this year we were very excited to break the story that an arts organization was taking on the woeful lack of funding for difficult projects and in particular alternative spaces with $75,000 in grants funded in part by the Andy Warhol Foundation. This Precipice Fund is incredibly well placed since Portland's alternative spaces are perhaps the best cultural incubators and producers we have.

It was also especially interesting because PICA (like most arts non profits) is usually scraping for funding themselves. They even have a Kickstarter campaign for next year's TBA festival so devoting energy to this is... well, outlandishly broad minded of them.

This year 18 recipients and teams will each receive up to 5k and the list includes many key players in the alternative space scene. I'm especially happy to see 12128, Patrick Rock and False Front who are 3 of the most crucial and accomplished presenters in town. Here's the list:


Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 11, 2013 at 1:15 | Comments (0)


Monday 12.09.13

Monday Links

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 09, 2013 at 11:32 | Comments (0)


Friday 12.06.13

Friday Links

PDX, aka Portland's airport is changing its carpet... we design oriented people in Lil Beirut are very interested in this. Honestly PDX should have simply commissioned artist Damien Gilley to do the redesign.

The whole attempt to "monetize" the Detroit Institute of Art's collection is simply wrong and is just a drop in the bucket. Tyler Green digs a little further into why it is such raiding party... turning public assets into private gain.

Last but not least, Jerry Saltz discusses the big MFA bubble situation. It is true, there is something about academia that blunts artistic development after a certain point... I'm talking about the professors, not the students. About 95% of the art professors I watch seem to plateau when they start teaching full time (I attribute it to a defensive/careerist attitude they adopt), the other 5% are simply the sorts whose progress cannot be slowed by anything short of an asteroid impact (they also take pains to not be wholly owned by academia). From the student perspective arts education has become a kind of puppy mill situation. Overall, I prefer BFA programs that concentrate on fundamentals like OCAC and Lewis and Clark do. Any MFA program should be considered with a realistic goals and a very sober assessment of the school's true capabilities beyond the hype.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 06, 2013 at 10:50 | Comments (0)


Thursday 12.05.13

Blake Shell New Director of Art Gym

blake Shell

We are thrilled that Blake Shell is the new Director of the Art Gym. She did an excellent job at Clark College and lost that position through Washington state budget chicanery. You can check out her curatorial philosophy in our last curatorial roundup. Frankly, we appreciate her more here across the river... Congrats... this is who I privately hoped for, but it is rare that the right person gets the right job like this.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 05, 2013 at 10:54 | Comments (0)


Monday 12.02.13

Monday Links

It's true Britain and the USA are very different in the way they produce and consume art talk. Britain is certainly more critical, whereas in the US we tend to have a lot of product placement or "community" attention spotlighting... neither of which is criticism as I've discussed before. I'm still working on a more in depth essay on the subject but I do like how Portland is a little more British than say New York or LA tend to be (where power and money are way more important than ideas).

Bavaria is considering a change to their laws to deal with the stash of Nazi war seizures.

It is Art Basel Miami Beach time again, the HuffPo has their list of 20 things not to miss.

Then there was the news that YU now owns its building... that's great except without a professional director capable of leading a multimillion dollar fundraising campaign the news is somewhat mitigated. YU was s-l-o-w but has implemented many things we pointed out initially, like a true board of directors and a curatorial team... but since the departure of Sandra Percival they still face a major flaw in their strategy as the director is perhaps the most key position at this point. Will this just be an endless subsistence campaign for a huge building they can't afford to full use? This is the question only a very capable director can address.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 02, 2013 at 11:25 | Comments (0)


Monday 11.25.13

Holiday Links

We will have an amazing interview for you to digest before and after Turkey Day this week but till then here are some links:

One of my favorite critics Matthew Collings interviews Swedish painter Hilma Af Klint. It is on the spiritual and art... and the interview is... surprisingly, great.

At what average age do most great artists start to enter their most productive and influential age.... about 42 according to this. Yet in the US most attention is paid to the very youthful (under 27) and the quite old 69+. That productive mature middle area isn't all that neglected in Oregon, which seems to focus on the same mid career names over and over again (perhaps too much for a place swimming in new talent who are often focusing on showing outside of Portland).

Curators Bacigalupi and Alligood have already been through Portland a while ago but they are in LA this week working on the rather ambitious State of the Art exhibition, a survey of contemporary US art. I like the "boots on the ground" approach they are taking because it gets one out of their institutional bubbles. One thing is for sure... it will have to be exceptionally good (ie not fomulaic and predictable) in the way most "toss off" regional art surveys tend to become (cheap blockbusters to draw eyes and attendance). The connection to Walmart only ups the ante here. To be relevant it can't afford to merely ok or capriciously acceptable the way that things like The Whitney Biennial tends to be... ie put a ton of artists in the room and 2-3 stand out. Instead, if this actually produces great work and new names that we will remember 15-50 years from now it will be worth it. Also, depending how rigorous/adventurous it is I might like their approach of teasing out art historical threads using tropes in "American" art (the Whitney is a little like American Idol). If they go bold it will give the project weight and that shock of the new that is often missing in surveys. If it is conservative it will contend with massive indifference or worse. Right now the art world is VERY distracted by the commotion of commerce but I've found that great work, if given a chance and a few resources makes the best case for itself. By using their own curatorial staff this project is putting the institution's fledgling (with huge endowments) reputation on the line... when is the last time any major museum had the guts to do that?

Quitting NYC at age 24... Part of what I like best about Portland is that nobody sees this city as an endgame.... its a rebel base that is supportive with a lot of great people that one can manage. Perhaps it is healthier to consider no one place a defining destination?

Posted by Jeff Jahn on November 25, 2013 at 10:11 | Comments (0)


Friday 11.22.13

Weekend Links

The LA times considers JFK as arts patron in chief...

Can formalism be political?

I love this half invisble shed in the desert... not as wild about the night time lighting but during the day this is just an outstanding project.

On KBOO Eva lake conducted a discussion of women in the visual arts... some provocative things here. *Note if you look at PORT over the last 12 articles (what we have on our mainpage: 4 images feature women artists, and 4 feature men. The two major articles are split between 1 man (Sean Healy) and one woman (Anna Craycroft).

Gender equality is a complicated issue to be sure... The 2014 Whitney Biennial wont have very many women and Jerry Saltz ruminated on the MoMA problem with women earlier this week. It is a hot topic that opens a local can of worms too. For Hallie ford fellows only 5 out of the 12 awardees have been women (I'd guess about 60% of the active/highly eligible artists in Oregon are women) and the Portland2014 biennial is far lower than that. The CNAA's this year only have 2 women in the 5 person field though last time around 4 out of the 6 were women. For the Betty Bowen awards this year no women were selected. What gives?

Well, for one the gallery system favors men and even though most of the galleries around here do not represent many installation and video artists (a majority are women) they seem to be given precedence in determining who gets awards and into surveys (only 1 of the already scarce woman in the Portland2014 survey is unrepresented, whereas many of the men are not). Seemingly every detail and distinction is fraught with peril, for example the premise around the last ladies only survey was, well... annoying to many women as Amy's review made clear (language like swelling bodies in the essay made it seem like motherhood or potential thereof was somehow necessary). It is a complex discussion that involves the art market, questions regarding self promotion, cliques and whether the response to art is simply too sensationalized (around money and dude-style attention stunts) to give the most worthy female artists their due? Clearly Madonna and Lady Gaga do just fine in music but visual art as a field certainly favors men, even when a majority of gate keepers (curators, gallerists, critics) seem to be women (like they are in Portland).

Ana Mendieta... did things her way

Yet all is not lost... Isa Genzken will have a looooooong overdue survey at MoMA. I prefer her to Gerhard Richter any day.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on November 22, 2013 at 17:19 | Comments (0)


Tuesday 11.19.13

Tuesday Links: Museum Building Edition

David Chipperfield's new Jumex Museum seems like a cross between Renzo Piano and Louis Kahn, which sounds rather ideal. Still it is yet another white box within a marble box, which also seems a tad backwards thinking just like Moneo's MFAH wing did at the time. Still, it is definitely nice and this interview with Chipperfield with good images seems to lay out the architectural thought space for the project nicely.

Jerry Saltz and Justin Davidson discuss the new Queens Museum in this entertaining exchange... really is Queens the New Brooklyn? The fact that they don't feel like the museum speaks to the youthful energy flooding into Queens is a Problem. Portlanders can relate.

Museums have gone through a building boom in the past decade and a half but the best new projects seem to be far more egalitarian and more flexible in program... coupled with strong curatorial voice that is equally flexible. The question is simply, does this building look to a future it cannot predict or is a bunker for the past? Overall, I have a hard time finding a better institutional model than the Des Moines Art Center whose director I interviewed earlier this year.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on November 19, 2013 at 10:34 | Comments (0)


Monday 11.11.13

Monday Links

John Yau is right about Karl Wirsum, read his review.

Tyler re-reports that the Dia co-founders are now officially suing the Dia over their plan to auction off Cy Twombly's Poems. As we have discussed before, Poems isn't some redundant piece... it is a crucial Twombly work that any museum would want badly. At the same time I see why Dia Director Phillipe Vergne would want the cash to do more current things at the Dia... but there should be another way. Can't the Dia live in the present and be a steward of its past? Why the last resort move?

50 bits of advice from Wim Wenders. Good for everyone to read, not just filmmakers.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on November 11, 2013 at 11:16 | Comments (0)


Thursday 11.07.13

Bridge naming bailiwicks, Rothko?

Peter Korn over at the Portland Tribune sure had a great time writing this piece on potential names* for the exciting new pedestrian and transit bridge designed by Donald MacDonald. Everyone seemed to pick someone from their experience, Mayor Hales wanted a politician (seriously?) and I've forwarded Mark Rothko. I have no idea why Steve Novick wants more Simpsons character names associated with Portland (it seems redundant but if pressed I like Lisa better than most other options, though its still a cop out when Portland's most famous son continues to go unheralded).

Rothko, as Portland's most accomplished/famous resident is the most serious bridge naming choice as I've detailed here and you can learn about his relationship to Portland in this important post. You can vote here.

Trimet used a somewhat older photo, the undeveloped areas have been filling in fast (all the more reason to dig up this history)

Overall, I like the idea of an artist who happens to be the the most celebrated person to ever live in Portland... a person that some of old-school Portlanders spend a great deal of energy trying to forget, could get his due in the place he grew up? I have no idea if it will work but I'm all for putting our best case forward and it has traction. Rothko lived to the highest of his ideals and his work showed that commitment. He suffered here in character forming ways, had his first solo show at the Portland Art Museum and lived near, worked under and painted Portland's bridges. It's an appropriate honor considering the possibility of a Rothko Museum in Portland is financially improbable.

2012 Rothko retrospective at the Portland Art Museum (photo Jeff Jahn)

School children should grow up knowing a great painter grew up here and though last years Rothko retrospective at the Portland Art Museum did accomplish those goals for a short time a more lasting acknowledgement, one that could also tell the story of how a young struggling Russian immigrant Jew and outsider who made good is a powerful thing.

It is also a simple acknowledgement in a city of artists and designers that doesn't seek to do anything other than understand itself through its most accomplished resident. Portlanders have a hard time with greatness, so this is more a test for Portland than for Rothko.

Overall, Rothko always seems to challenge and polarize people and in Portland this bridge has become a new way for us to reassess ourselves and examine what we value.

*Note, Rothko was never arrested for public nudity when camping in Washington park... merely rousted by Portland Police for that reason.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on November 07, 2013 at 1:00 | Comments (2)


Monday 11.04.13

Monday Links

Billions in Nazi looted "Degenerate Art"... aka modern art has been found.

Arch Daily looks at the top light festivals and the way they activate cityscapes.

FBC looks at the Mike Kelley retrospective.

Seldom do museums put out internet content as intriguing as what the Tate has done here for Paul Klee.

and last but not least here is Mike Rathbun's entertaining talk for his large scale show at the Archer Gallery.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on November 04, 2013 at 0:58 | Comments (0)


Friday 11.01.13

Friday Links

I've updated the both very popular and controversial post on the Rothko bridge naming. I see it as cutting a provincial gordian knot... so many (especially those who have been in Portland a long time) put a lot of effort into denying that the city's most famous and accomplished resident ever lived here or had any real connection. The sentiment doesn't hold up to the facts and illustrates why Portland has a hard time acknowledging highly ambitious people (provincialism). It is a good thing to get over.

What the demolition of Bertrand Goldberg's Prentice Women's Hospital in Chicago can teach us for the preservation of historic modernist buildings.

...apparently this Levis artist train non event was such an epic fail, that I'm only just now hearing about it. It is a good study in how not to promise an art extravaganza only to produce a series of video interview stump speeches.

In case you haven't heard Chistine D'Arcy is out as head of the Oregon Arts Commission... "something" has been brewing for a while and the question is whether further changes would strengthen or weaken an already strong program? The arts community is very concerned because it doesn't seem to be driven by anything from the arts community (which means it is likely political... hmmm).

Posted by Jeff Jahn on November 01, 2013 at 12:24 | Comments (0)


Tuesday 10.29.13

Portland2014 list analysis

The Portland2012 Biennial was a failure mostly because nearly everyone was in it except the most exciting group of artists in town (all associated with the alt spaces Appendix, Worksound or both), it didn't discover anyone new, it was in too many locations and was installed incredibly poorly at the two largest spaces (Art Gym and Disjecta).

The list for 2014 by LA curator Amanda Hunt should address some of those problems by including some of the scene's favorite practitioners who were noticeably absent last time but there aren't many women on this list:

Zachary Davis (cofounder Appendix)
Modou Dieng (founder Worksound) and Devon A. Vanhouten-Maldanado(Worksound)
Alex Mackin Dolan (curator Appendix)


Posted by Jeff Jahn on October 29, 2013 at 13:04 | Comments (0)


Monday 10.28.13

Monday Links

What else is there to write about Renzo Piano? The New York Times tries to make his choice as the architect for the Whitney seem daring but nobody can (though he is solid). The real problem is that projects like the Menil and the Beyeler Foundation are intimate in a way that these larger museum situations will never be and though always good he peaked a long time ago. Somehow the Whitney seems ok with that kind of statement about the museum's place in the world...?

Banksy has finally done something interesting, critiquing the utter failure of imagination that is the One World Trade Center building in an op ed that the NYT's refused to run (also interesting). True he's an attention whore seeking attention but writing, "That building is a disaster. Well no, disasters are interesting. One World Trade centre [sic British] is a non-event. It’s vanilla. It looks like something they would build in Canada." Deserves to be repeated and passed on.

The passing of two giants, Arthur Danto and Anthony Caro continues to gather voices to mark their passing. The Portland Art Museum has a pretty extensive collection of Caro's work from the Greenberg Collection.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on October 28, 2013 at 1:18 | Comments (0)


Tuesday 10.22.13


How not to restore Qing Dynasty frescoes.

Ted talks and the Met lead to a whole lotta ugly. That said how is this any different than the sorts of things that happen all the time at museums? Perhaps it is the participation of the curators... but according to the article they provided the only useful stuff.

New study suggest that cognitive ability has even less to do with inherited traits and more to do with intellectually stimulating environments... think culture.

This entertaining article proposes that minimalism as a mode of fashion (it certainly isn't an art movement) has lead to a proliferation of antiseptic personal space for the collector class? It is true that whenever I do wince when I hear someone talk about how "minimal" their art, design choices or installation procedures are. I like to refer to it as, "the new fussy." Whatever it is called it does mean that the dead white room is very very dead.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on October 22, 2013 at 10:26 | Comments (0)


Thursday 10.17.13

Bridge named after Rothko?


Trimet is taking public input for the naming of the exciting new transit, pedestrian and cycling only bridge over the Willamette.

Sure, it could be named after a general or some politician but as I've mentioned before should be named after Mark Rothko, who is Portland's most famous son... and remains unacknowledged in any memorial within the city. The fact that he was a Russian immigrant Jew who rose to become one of the most consequential artists of all time should be enough but Rothko himself had quite a connection to the site as the western side of the bridge was host to numerous Jewish business and homes. He even painted the site and had a special fondness for mass transit... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on October 17, 2013 at 13:42 | Comments (1)


Monday 10.14.13

Monday Link

This Monday there is just one link, Jerry Saltz on the problem with mega galleries. Jerry is pretty fair here and the main problem is understandable, the lack of constraints leading to a lack of edge. I liken it to the Frank Herbert Dune model. In that book the Fremen have to make the most of an incredibly inhospitable planet which sharpens them as a force, conversly the mega galleries do seem like foregone conclusions where critical debate doesn't even seem to matter (though this is a problem everywhere). It a done deal and that is the whole shape of the problem (though the case of Matthew Day Jackson does indicate that some shows are not too big to fail).

At the same time mega galleries are too easy a target. To me it seems like the mega collectors (who make mega galleries possible) are less about being patrons who wish to be challenged than simple trophy hunters. It is why I appreciate mega collectors like Eli Broad, the Kramlichs and the Papajohns. There is depth and a cumulative civic program to what they do but ultimately the best art comes when one patron decides to support an artist of infinite ambition, rather than one who already has infinite resources... kinda like when Peggy Guggenheim got behind Jackson Pollock or Gertrude Stein pitted the best of the best in civil competition with one another. Even Judd needed Heiner Freidrich and Philippa de Menil. I wish I could mention them by name (they seem to want to be low key) but I do really like what these collectors are doing with Doug Aitken.

Overall, some artists like Richard Serra naturally work on a huge scale. For others it resembles Axl Rose's infinitely overproduced album Chinese Democracy, which was so far removed from what made Gun's n Roses work as a band.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on October 14, 2013 at 9:27 | Comments (0)


Tuesday 10.08.13

Kartz Ucci, a force for new media art RIP

Kartz Ucci

Installation artist and popular professor Kartz Ucci passed away Sunday, ending a recent battle with brain cancer. Kartz, wasn't a household name but she was one of the State of Oregon's most influential experiential artists... often using light and space, or the sensuous roll of words made sublime with form and color.

I remember fondly every long conversation we had about Neruda or the way artists approach form differently in places like China. She wasn't some guarded regionalist and her overall level of "questioning sass" made her such challenging fun to be around. It showed in her work...


Posted by Jeff Jahn on October 08, 2013 at 11:54 | Comments (0)


Monday 10.07.13

Monday Links

David Byrne has had it with the 1% stifling creativity. It certainly is true that the quality of patronage has gone down as the popularity of contemporary art has turned more into an investment than an avocation.

The Observer asks if the Frieze art fair is elitist? Short answer = Duh. Look, most things that involve money are elitist but the real question is how does forward the development of art patrons and institutional collections? Since it is a touchstone for London as an international art city it clearly has value.

New York Falls back in "Love" with Robert Indiana... without a Love sculpture. Fine, but my all time favorite Robert Indiana is the basketball court for Kareem era Milwaukee Bucks in the old Mecca arena. Still it is interesting how one popular work could so overshadow an excellent body of pop work so thuroughly.

Last but not least, check out this review of Matthew Barney's drawings at the Morgan Library.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on October 07, 2013 at 6:08 | Comments (0)


Friday 10.04.13

Friday Links

PNCA sells their current HQ building, partially as a way to fund the upcoming 511 project (a major upgrade). This makes sense, though initially the school had planned to operate both (which seemed excessive). Having a nexus of buildings along the North Park blocks is simply better.

Jerry Saltz on radical vulnerability... it ties a bit into an essay on art criticism that I am still editing (here is a bit of an appetizer).

Roberta Smith on Chris Burden's retrospective at the New Museum.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on October 04, 2013 at 11:36 | Comments (0)


Tuesday 10.01.13

Tuesday Links

How conservators saved Chris Burden's A Tale of Two Cities... a piece he wanted to blow up.

MoMA is beginning to explore how they will expand their galleries again. Ultimately though what always seems to draw the most attention is how it will effect the presentation of their canonical collection... something which ultimately puts of lid of conservatism over the boiling contents. Perhaps a non canonical installation is what is needed?

Check out this great new time lapse computer rending of how Antonio Gaudi's masterwork the Sagrada Familia will be completed in 2026. What I most enjoy about this feat of architecture is the way it is taking longer than a single human life span to complete. Long range thinking and execution... not to mention jaw-dropping excellence is so rare on large civic scale projects like this.

Jen Graves follows up her question in gender equality in Northwest Art Awards... One refinement to her argument though, several women have won a spot in the Contemporary Northwest Art Awards at the Portland Art Museum but no woman has ever won the Arlene Schnitzer Prize associated with it. Crunching numbers, 7 of the 16 CNAA finalists (the exhibitors) have been women. Looking at the Hallie Ford awards 5 of the 12 artists chosen have been women. The Bonnie Bronson awards though not gender specific do tend to go towards mid career females with only 4 male artists out of 22 being recipients. I do feel like there is a slight but pervasive advantage given to male artists in panel driven awards in the region but I feel this is a function of the arcane political nature of art panels (a lot, perhaps a majority of the most influential visual arts personalities in Portland are women). Even the the Couture Series (perhaps the best executed series in Portland history) gave more awards to men than women.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on October 01, 2013 at 11:42 | Comments (0)


Friday 09.27.13

Friday Links

Legendary art dealer Virginia Dwan gives 250 works (Smithson, Heizer, Andre etc.) to the National Gallery.

Mass MOCA and the Hall art foundation open a 10,000 sq ft space dedicated to Anselm Kiefer.

Carrie Mae Weems (who grew up in Portland and had a great retrospective at PAM this last Spring) gives her current hometown Syracuse NY an indication of what winning a MacArthur will mean to her. A while back I participated in an article discussing why no Portlander had ever won a MacArthur? Technically this might not count but it is a moot point since nobody worthy of the award ever actually aims for winning it (keeping it from the political intrigues of practically all other awards).

Portland Architecture discusses the minor miracle of saving a historic Portland home.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on September 27, 2013 at 9:33 | Comments (0)


Tuesday 09.24.13

News for Tues

The karma wheel is turning as the artists who resigned from MOCA's board (John Baldessari, Barbara Kruger, Catherine Opie and Ed Ruscha) in protest of Jeffrey Deitch's leadership have been added to the committee to select Deitch's replacement. This is a good move but no replacement for similarly high profile artists on the museums governing board. It does however reiterate why MOCA is different than every major contemporary art museum in the country, it was artist initiated. It is a tradition worth upholding.

Sol LeWitt's music collection gets its own show.

Jen Graves has noticed that the "Dudes" have been getting all the awards lately... what gives? Jen is putting together a more comprehensive piece on this and I do think there is a bias... but it come from the surprising way these panels work (mostly on personal connections, give me a jurors list and I can be pretty accurate as to who might win an award).

Posted by Jeff Jahn on September 24, 2013 at 10:04 | Comments (0)


Saturday 09.21.13

2013 CNAA's and the winner is

Trimpin (L), Burkheimer (R) at the 2013 CNAA's

The winner of the 2013 edition of the Contemporary Northwest Art awards is... Trimpin (officially it is called the Arlene Schnitzer Prize and comes with 10K). It's a bold choice, in that the work is somewhat unremarkable (even compared to his other work) and the rest of the show holds some very solid if safe work overall. I'd say the show is mostly handsome if safe and narrow.

Another view of the 2013 CNAA's, (L to R) Nyland, Miller and Layman

I'll have a more formal review out soon but let's just say this is the best CNAA to date (to paraphrase Jim Winkler's accurate statement)... even if it still doesn't feel like a true sampling of what it means to make contemporary art in the Northwest. It is a step in the right direction and very well installed (which no other Northwest survey show seems to be able to pull off).

Posted by Jeff Jahn on September 21, 2013 at 20:05 | Comments (0)


Friday 09.20.13

Friday Links

Iranian art is everywhere in the news these days, check out this review Barbad Golshiri's latest show in NYC. Sounds like an interesting show and an interesting role for art in an era with no formal diplomatic ties...

Portland Architecture goes looking at facades for its design symposium.

Leo Berk is this year's Betty Bowen Fellow.

In the top art non-news of the week, Eli Broad doesn't plan to keep giving 3 million a year to MOCA... which will take him off the top of the list as MOCA's top patron. There is no shock to this as that 3M per year life support was a 5 year arrangement now closing in on its 5th year. It also removes him from his perennial role as puppetmaster in the press... gee why would he not want to continue that??? Broad has his faults but being stupid is not one of them... he saved MOCA and in doing so shouldered responsibility for all of its failings while highlighting his own (not fun and kinda like the USA invading Afghanistan). This marks a new era when perhaps LA can support its best institutions without asking Broad to do more than his fair share? It was a thankless job, but necessary and hopefully everyone has learned from the mistakes.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on September 20, 2013 at 11:34 | Comments (0)


Monday 09.16.13

Monday Links

Glafira Rosales, a former art dealer pleads guilty to selling fake Jackson Pollocks and other artists to the formerly ultra respected Knoedler Co. art gallery.

The Dallas Morning News actually ADDS an art critic. A retired museum director no less. Question is whether anyone can actually start their career as an art critic and remain one for decades anymore?

Of course Pacific Standard time was flawed... as Christopher Knight points out. It had to be. In many ways all surveys are a portrait of the institutions that put them on (not news but it is worth repeating).

I like the idea of a fake archeological dig as art very much. This could be taken a great deal farther.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on September 16, 2013 at 16:25 | Comments (0)


Monday 09.09.13

Monday Links

"The system is the work of art; the visual work of art is the proof of the System. The visual aspect can't be understood without understanding the system. It isn't what it looks like but what it is that is of basic importance." -Sol LeWitt

Happy Birthday Sol LeWitt... born this day in 1928 thank you for bucking "the system." BTW 1928 seems to have been a particularly good vintage as other artists like Robert Irwin, Andy Warhol and Donald Judd were also born in that year. Perhaps it was the resourcefulness that comes from growing up in the Great depression as your earliest memories?

Chris Burden is going to have a retrospective at the New Museum this Fall. We interviewed Burden a few years ago.

Artists grapple with technology and surveillance.

Moscow Biennial curator tries to rationalize why Russia should not be culturally boycotted for draconian anti gay laws. I agree there is a danger in isolating a country completely but at the same time I wholeheartedly agree that the international community should hang it like an albatross every time Russia is mentioned. Will it hurt Russia culturally... YES. Not certain how I feel about the curator's description of the 21st Century as not being about provocation... if anything it seems less tolerant of intolerance.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on September 09, 2013 at 10:05 | Comments (0)


Monday 09.02.13

Monday Links

Posted by Jeff Jahn on September 02, 2013 at 21:42 | Comments (0)


Friday 08.23.13

Friday Links

We will have more Venice coverage later for you Saturday (photo posts take a lot of work) with some epic reviews and interviews next week till then here are some links:

I've long felt that artists of all sorts need to pay more attention to neuroscience... here is a serious read on the nature of consciousness.

What to do with DC's old library by Mies?

Portland photographer Christopher Rauschenberg is caught up in the difficult task of sorting out his father's estate. Chris, man... don't let it get you down, it is just a distraction of course. To most people's eyes this seems like such a greedy, petty thing (a lot of family's go through this but few end up in the New York Times). Let's not dwell on the negative news... the new Captiva residencies the Rauschenberg Foundation have ushered in are exciting.

Check out these larger scale architectural installations made of wood.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on August 23, 2013 at 11:31 | Comments (0)


Tuesday 08.20.13

Hirst's Castle

Damien Hirst's Shark at the Met

Hyperallergic has a nice bit on Damien Hirst's new studio and gallery called Science.

To me the clinical white spaces are almost a caricature of Chelsea gallery spaces and that is what is interesting here (and I suspect that is part of Hirst's lasting importance... his shark is a brilliant caricature of the art presentation experience). Will this be a kind of punctuation point that marks the end of an aesthetic for presentation of art? Possibly... I do expect it will go on for many hundreds of years since so many new museums have been built in the same style. Still, I wonder what else could be on the horizon... earthen huts, goats grazing atop galleries, termite designed museums or that antidote to science... a wizard's tower? Maybe just a pile of money? I'm still a big fan (mostly the early stuff but the diamond skull too) but can Hirst pull a Judd?

Posted by Jeff Jahn on August 20, 2013 at 11:39 | Comments (0)


Monday 08.19.13

Monday Links

Brian Libby surveys an exciting new project, Union Way... whose design creates a handy new street between the Ace Hotel and Powells books.

ArtFCity had a great roundup of the Day For Detroit posts last week (I was taking an internet break). Overall, it a deplorable situation where the public could be swindled of their cultural patrimony. Everyone is watching this.

RACC is assessing and restoring 3 iconic public sculptures, including Portlandia.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on August 19, 2013 at 12:15 | Comments (0)


Tuesday 08.06.13


Graffiti artists are incensed that their work was taken down to make room for gentrification graffiti for last year's Olympics in London.

A High School in Sandy is being recognized nationally for excellent design. I'm impressed... I gotta see this.

Art Critical discusses Orly Genger's art intervention in a Manhattan park.

The Brooklyn Rail discusses early Richard Serra and his connection to Bruce Nauman.

Bloomberg weighs in on the unethical idea of pillaging Detroit's art treasures (held in public trust) to make token/insignificant dents in the city's debts.

A James Turrell comic.

It is an slightly older interview but Dan Cameron discusses the Pacific Rim biennial and proffers the idea that unless such a show is international it shouldn't be considered a bienniale. I see the argument for that as shows that don't cross borders (or cover a huge # of cities)tend to reinforce those borders and often fall into a role of using the art to ingratiate the institution upon the art art scene... rather than fostering a broader intellectual sense of investigation or being a prompt for curiosity. Basically, if it is too small... say 1-3 major cities it just becomes a small town affair mired in local tropes and politics (Portland 2012 Biennial, 2011 CNAA's). It stops being about the art and it is important to juggle and question the modalities rather than simply present accepted wisdom. Biennials typically fail when they become a predictable cavalcade of the already over familiar.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on August 06, 2013 at 13:16 | Comments (0)


Monday 07.29.13

Monday Links

We will have Part II of our Venice coverage coming shortly but till then here are some good stories:

Not surprisingly, Roberta Smith thinks Robert Irwin's scrim piece at the Whitney is the yardstick to measure all other light and space art. I have to agree on Irwin being the best of the lot. Overall, I've experienced in Irwin's work a kind of art that invites the mind to push its perceptual acuity. It is extremely generous, whereas with Turrell, Wheeler etc... I always get this sense of pageantry in production (which is fine, just not my preference). The pageantry is often there with Flavin as well but at least with his work the use of very mundane light fixtures strips away the focus on production values the closer one gets to it. Overall, it bears repeating that Irwin is also the most intelligent human being I have ever met and the only art world denizen art world that can crack my top 10 (art isn't always about intellect... it is about perception, which sounds a lot like something Irwin would say). Basically, Irwin's work allows the viewers greater room for processing, whereas those like Wheeler and Turrell present a more pre-processed experience that owes more to stagecraft.

The unexpected Francis Bacon and Henry Moore connection.

Katherina Fritsch gets more than a little "cocky" in London.

The New York Times is pretty much making it official... it is the summer of Carol Bove. I've always liked her work but it has always had a slightly "curator art" aspect to it.... ie its strategies directly and indirectly point to the "moves" that curators routinely make when installing work. This turns it into a kind of institutional feedback loop, but the recent installation in the unfinished portion of the Highline seems to turn a corner... call it "developer art." The Highline installation seems to tap the palpable real estate potential inherent on the site... which positions Bove's work as a kind of advance survey party. Still, I'm pretty certain it is not some kind of art world Lewis and Clark expedition. For comparison, decades ago Gordon Matta-Clark with his Fake Estates and activities in Soho and Chelsea seems make Bove's worthwhile project appear like a somewhat quainter "reservations only" preview.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on July 29, 2013 at 10:01 | Comments (0)


Friday 07.26.13

Free Friday Night at Portland Art Museum

Sherrie Levine at PAM

It is the Fourth Friday of the month, which means that the Portland Art Museum will be free from 5:00PM - 8:00PM. It is hot and sunny so what could be nicer than a stroll through the park blocks before or after dinner and a lingering dash into the big art fort? The Sherrie Levine show is gorgeous, the best presented art exhibition in Portland for 2013 to date. An Ed Ruscha exhibition and the wonderfully designed Cyclepedia exhibitions are also must sees.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on July 26, 2013 at 13:51 | Comments (0)


Thursday 07.25.13

Walter De Maria 1935 - 2013

venice_biennale arsenale_DeMaria.jpg
Walter De Maria's work in the 2013 Venice Biennale (photo Mack McFarland)

Walter De Maria, one of the great artists of the 20th Century has died.

Logically, he will be known for his greatest works such as The Broken Kilometer, The New York Earth Room and The Lightning Field but many who focus on them will miss the intensely deadpan humor you can see in works like High Energy Bar and Certificate in MOMA's collection. In many ways his works operate like games that have no discernible rules for playing them and are prime examples of Post WWII art that sought drain themselves of metaphor. This dislike of metaphor likely sprang from the intense use of it by the Nazis to seize power... and then the adoption of it into cold war schisms. There is a strong thread of Dada in so called minimalist works. Think of it as an oblique objection rather than an object.

Also, I've been to several of his land art pieces and the relentless sublime only adds to the existential humor... a bit like getting lost in the wilderness while getting lost in the art.

De Maria was also a composer and you can listen to his two best known pieces here.

Last week PORT published an interview where Marc Treib and I discuss his work (among other things). I will update this post as info develops.

*Update: The Dia Foundation confirms via tweet and here is the official New York Times obit.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on July 25, 2013 at 17:50 | Comments (0)


Monday 07.22.13

Deitch out

Ex MOCA Director Jeffrey Deitch

Apparently Jeffrey Deitch has left MOCA and it looks like I was correct in predicting the embattled director would be out of the museum some around June 30th. It was a common sense prediction when major fundraising initiatives were being met without Deitch delivering the news. An official statement should be coming very soon. Honestly, I admire Deitch as a gadfly who challenged the academic and art world status quo but his skills did not synch up well with MOCA's challenges, which required a healer. Both will be better off without one another and I wouldn't be surprised at all if he quit the job. The art market is Deitch's ultimate stage.

Here is a timeline of the MOCA crisis of 2013.

*Update, we were one of the earliest to report this, now LA Weekly has confirmed and The LA Times indicates he indeed is choosing to leave the museum as they are about to reach certain key fundraising goals.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on July 22, 2013 at 22:24 | Comments (0)


Monday Links

The New York Times was obsessed with outdoor art this weekend with not one but two fine articles. Tis the season.

Is Australia's 2.5 year old art royalties law benefiting indigenous artists.? It sure looks like it. For some reason the USA never ever considers this but as auction prices surge, even for living artists... it makes sense.

The Brooklyn Rail does its annual summer reading list.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on July 22, 2013 at 14:28 | Comments (0)


Monday 07.15.13

Monday Links

Tyler Green reports that the Dia Foundation's three founding members have now publicly come out against the sale of works to fund expansion in Chelsea. This is very significant as the works that are on the chopping block are not minor pieces but works that would be the star of any collection. True, the Dia needs to remain an active and supple catalytic type of arts organization (one that made the Lightning Field and earth room possible) but auctioning off master works isn't the right way to accomplish this. The Dia, like many art nonprofits with a collection is somewhat a victim of its own successes... but let's take this as a time to reflect upon what is at the core of that success, Dia's respect and ongoing support for the intention of the artist that avoids engaging art as commodity at all costs. Historically, the Dia Foundation was the cultural organ that allowed less commercial forms like Land Art take form in middle-late 20th century. Turning its back on this tradition to have a greater physical presence in Chelsea is simply not a good idea. The Dia should fundraise for such physical plant expansion (if necessary) and look for ways to perpetuate the alternative space practices it pioneered in its golden years... rather than replicate Dia Beacon in Chelsea. New York needs the Dia as a catalyst with a history of integrity rather than yet another museum, forever serving its endowment.

Holland Carter reviews California's "State of Mind" at the Bronx Museum but the title also does something as odd as it is "familiar" by stating it is "Not Laid-Back." Well that is a start (the Paul Kos piece was exhibited in Portland last year at PNCA's Feldman Gallery). On the West Coast we get this all of the time from East Coasters. Look, our weather IS generally better but that doesn't mean we are always sunbathing. Having grown up in LA in the mid 70's to early 80's I can vouch for it having never been laid back. True that's what East Coasters did while vacationing but don't confuse the vacation experience with what the natives are doing (inventing world changing personal computers in their garages, pursuing scientific breakthroughs as well as hustling the next great fitness craze). This applies to Portland too, which is frequently described as very "chill" by East Coast publications. In my Portland Tribune Op Ed last year I laid out pretty clearly how there is an intensely moralistic style hedonism at work here that borders on the epicurean if it weren't also concerned with reinventing big picture way that Americans live. The real issue is the fact that places on the West Coast like LA and Portland are often the trendmakers and New York lost its monopoly status way back in the 60's. West Coasters didn't move to California and Oregon Territories because they were lazy and wanted it easier and more relaxing... they came here for freedom and opportunities and thus we should never be surprised when West Coasters are free thinking and opportunistic. Can we move on now?

Carbondale Illinois rediscovers a long lost Frank Lloyd Wright masterpiece.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on July 15, 2013 at 10:19 | Comments (0)


Monday 07.08.13

Monday Links

We've still got all of that content that was backed up in June heading your way (PORTsters tend to travel during the J months), just hold tight. Till then here are some links.

Peter Plagens asks if art schools can remember the "Great Unmentionable"... TALENT. He rightly points out where some pedagogy devolves into group therapy and how the old fashioned way doesn't work either. In many ways I see art schools as victims of their own ubiquitous success in the art world... spawning a mandarin, "Im ok, you're ok we are all ok," world that just looks for a cursory justification. It is fine but Ive also noticed how every single artist who has achieved lasting relevance has avoided academic group think. Even Beuys (who arguably set this new academia based on relativistic research in motion with his kind of earnest/sham hagiography) was an outlier by design at the Dusseldorf Academy where he was eventually dismissed. Without that tension of being outside the institutional stamp of approval he would not have mattered. What to do then as an artist...? Don't buy into the idea that an art institution actually defines what you or your work, while simultaneously not believing your own internal monologue or clique dialect of peers. Overall, talent is a bit of a misnomer... instead of describing raw ability, it is a kind of perpetual unease, which in certain individuals/groups leads to deeper understanding and facility. Others just tear themselves apart or embrace a kind of mediocrity... not because they are bad or have no talent but because they are simply too satisfied. I've found that all exceptional artists (Beuys, Judd, Smithson even 90's era Damien Hirst) are also exceptionally talented at critical thinking in their own idiomatic ways and it is why descriptive art writing doesn't get artists over the hump of mediocrity. In short, never believe your own spiel.

The Guardian has a review of Hans Ulrich Obrist's never ending Do It series in England.

Christopher Knight reviews the Pacific Rim show at OCMA. Noticeably there isn't a single representative from Portland (which has arguably the most active art scene north of San Francisco). I don't blame the curator Dan Cameron that much though, Portland's scene looks bland (or at least redundant to Seattle as far as home grown talent goes) at the institutional and gallery levels and only takes off in the hyperactive alternative spaces (Plagens reported on the alt scene last year). Without a guide one isn't likely to find it. In other words local curators and galleries need to step up their game in presenting relevant artists rather than a bland regurgitation of the idea that Portland art is purely/stereotypically craft and forest obsessed. We can't expect others from outside to see us as we really are if all we do is present unchallenged stereotypes. This may piss some people off but my argument is very sound. Our awards, museum shows and gallery offerings should be challenging accepted ideas rather than pandering to already held beliefs... especially since so many Portlanders merely write off the local infrastructure and jump directly to the more merit based international stage. In short, there a schism that needs addressing locally before those elsewhere can be expected to register it in large scale survey shows.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on July 08, 2013 at 10:21 | Comments (0)


Tuesday 06.25.13

Idea links

Should all Venice tourists pay $40 to help deal with that sinking problem?

Christopher Knight discusses the merits of lifting the ban on LA murals on private property.

Video of James Turrell discussing his show at The Guggenheim. Yeah he's still like a very brainy Wilford Brimley.

Jane Harris discusses countermeasures for NYC's gallery tedium.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on June 25, 2013 at 9:21 | Comments (0)


Friday 06.21.13

Frank Lloyd Wright Links

Frank Lloyd Wright would have been 145 this month. Also, his fantastic Marin County Civic Center has turned 50 years old as well and you have never seen it like this before (ie a spaceport in the Star Wars Universe):

Here are some classic pictures of Frank Lloyd Wright's Johnson Wax research tower, which is now undergoing a two level restoration.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on June 21, 2013 at 11:27 | Comments (0)


Monday 06.17.13

Monday Links

We've got one of our classic June log jams of content for you with no less than four major pieces coming your way in the next two weeks. The first should be here soon (it involved a lot of geological maps etc. to double check). Till then here are some links:

Indoor fracking installation creates debate in London... gotta love how Londoners are willing to debate about fracking themselves indoors.

Occupier protesters at Basel are forcibly evicted from an Art Favela installation.

How James Turrell knocked the art world off its feet in the Times.

Still this re-installation at the Whitney illustrates why I will always choose Robert Irwin over his one time friend Turrell... there's less magician's showmanship and far more content.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on June 17, 2013 at 9:07 | Comments (0)


Friday 06.14.13

Friday links

We've got a fantastic major art historical essay for you soon but to tide you over here are some links:

In Basel, artists like Huang Yong Ping are responding to a world of conflict... by recreating Bin Laden's final compound. This is one of Ping's best efforts.

I really like how Painting in Place is literally repositioning painting. Obviously this is nothing new (is it ever in painting?) but it seems to be a bit of pushback against the market and the sometimes nagging feeling that the art world has disengaged itself from the rest of the world. We should do this in Portland, bank presidents check your walls... I'll be calling.

Michigan's Attorney General opines that Detroit's public art collection held in trust by the museum can't be sold to settle the city's debts. This isn't over yet but this condition of being held as in "charitable trust" for the public is a key argument.

I like how the British can give some guff to their visual art world without being threatened... here's a cartoon featuring Jeremy Deller and most of the figures from British history. PORT is actively seeking a cartoonist BTW email me at Jeff (at) Portlandart.net.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on June 14, 2013 at 10:06 | Comments (0)


Monday 06.10.13

Monday Links

Jerry Saltz is in LOVE with the Met's new rearrangement of its European painting galleries. To tell the truth I kinda enjoy getting completely lost whenever I go to the Met and I love Jerry's bit about so many museums creating galleries that make you smell the foodcourt.

When an early internet art piece's archaic code no longer works is the piece compromised if it is brought up to the new standards? Since the internet is in many ways an active performance venue whose rules make its inter-netting possible I think it is ok for now. When the internet is repaced by something else I think that update might be a far thornier issue. As it stands there are still people playing Zork on various platforms but it was a game not an art piece.

Edward Winkleman and Elizabeth Dee on the place of mid level art dealers in the world of the megadealers.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on June 10, 2013 at 2:11 | Comments (0)


Tuesday 06.04.13

Sunny Southern Links

Adrain Searle gives his review of the Venice Biennale. I make no secret that I prefer the more unvarnished edge of British arts writing (it IS where I got my start) and there is always something classic about the British take on Venice.

Then there is the huge Miami Convention Center design competition pitting Rem Koolhaas' OMA team vs. BIG. To these eyes it is OMA's stunning integrations of indoor/outdoor park spaces and creative parking/shipping solutions that sets it apart. Art Basel Miami Beach would be so much more enjoyable with such interplay. The current and very old school design makes visitors feel like rats running a maze.

Benjamin Sutton kicks off part one of a five part series on light and space art with a look at the current leaders in the field.

... and the Huffington Post wraps up their Venice blogging with some parting remarks.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on June 04, 2013 at 13:05 | Comments (0)


Thursday 05.30.13

2013 Hallie Ford Fellows

Congratulations to Mike Bray, Cynthia Lahti and D.E. May who are this year's Hallie Ford Fellows. Seems like the Ford Foundation heard some of the criticisms we brought to light this year.

For example, Bray is a multimedia artist and both May and Lahti (in addition to Bray) are actually producing the best work of their careers. I don't think of any of them as being academicians at all though Bray does teach at the U of O (a criticism I and many others noted). One should also note that all three have gallery representation... something the first three fellows did not have but has become typical in the last 3 cycles. Lastly, one could debate Bray being a mid career artist (I sat on his thesis review panel) but that's always an incredibly tricky distinction.

Looking at the press release "craft" was once again a major criteria, nothing wrong with that but craft does not define all contemporary art and the little bit about Bray from the jury, "There is fine craft aesthetic underpinning his work, something often underplayed in the digital field." seems like they were trying very hard to justify a multimedia artist who actually uses digital media as craft.

My position is that there is craft in practically all good, object based work and digital mediums have a great deal of craft in them as well.

Panelists included: Dr. George Baker, Professor of Art History, University of California, Los Angeles (Los Angeles, CA); Lawrence Fong, recently retired as Associate Director & Curator of Regional Art, Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art / University of Oregon (Eugene, OR); Clara Kim, Senior Curator of Visual Arts, Walker Art Center (Minneapolis, MN); Lawrence Rinder, Director, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, University of California, Berkeley (Berkeley, CA); and Prudence Roberts, Art History Professor, Portland Community College, and independent curator (Portland, OR).

The Lumber Room will showcase a selection of work by the 2013 Hallie Ford Fellows in the Visual Arts. A public viewing of the work will be held one weekend only, June 28 and 29, from 12 - 5pm, located at 419 NW 9th Avenue.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on May 30, 2013 at 10:25 | Comments (2)


Tuesday 05.28.13

Tuesday Links

Here are some straight forward answers about what can and cannot happen to works that are owned by the Detroit Institute of Arts. Once again, selling works of art held in trust for the public to make token stabs at financial obligations is just a bad idea. Detroit's problems are larger than any art sale could satisfy.

Also in Detroit, MONA is putting on its own Documenta in an attempt to "void" all museums and "prove" them "invalid". Good luck with that, I think most institutions struggle to validate themselves rather than invalidate others. Nice to see some pretty ballzy language from an institution for a change though...

Brian Libby interviews Sergio Palleroni on the creation of PSU's groundbreaking Center for Public Interest Design. This sort of advocacy/think-tank program is precisely what Portland had been missing for the past 50 years and it could become incredibly important for the next 50.

Jerry Saltz makes a great case for Jeff Koons as an artist. Dont let the success fool you... Koons is for real and that is the part that is worth freaking out about.

Christopher Knight on James Turrel's retrospective at LACMA. Don't get me wrong, I think Turrel is a great artist but his woo-woo religious overtones always put me off. It comes off as a salesman's spiel... and not unlike Wilford Brimley talking about oatmeal. Basically, Turell always seems to be selling you something. That and I seriously doubt a crater of a volcano can be improved upon... for those reasons I'll always prefer Irwin and Wheeler. When you talk to Robert Irwin, he isn't trying to sell you a bridge... you've got his full attention.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on May 28, 2013 at 10:44 | Comments (0)


Friday 05.24.13

Friday links

Detroit puts everyone on "don't sell the collection to pay city debts" watch. I don't think that is what is happening here but everyone IS on watch.

Tracey Emin on getting older in the NYT's. Her confessional work is JUST as influential as Hirst's and moreso than say Gary Hume. It's largely responsible for the crafty confessional trend in contemporary art since the 90's. Actually, I'm a huge fan, though I don't want to be.

You have probably heard that Paul Schimmel joins the mega gallery challenge to the role of non profit museums. That might sound like something new but onetime it was the gallerists like Viginia Dwan, Leo Castelli, Kahnweiler and Betty Parsons whose advocacy created the context that are now the life blood of museum blockbusters. Perhaps mega gallerists are returning to that role? What's more Schimmel is staying in LA too, which is such a win win for that city.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on May 24, 2013 at 13:00 | Comments (0)


Monday 05.20.13

Monday Links

Anish Kapoor thinks Britain is "fucked" because it spends so little on Art and education. He also shoots his cannon off in Berlin for his latest show.

Why the market isn't the best judge of Art. This is also why we require art critics who cover a beat and write reviews that are critical, not just better executed restatements of the press release. We do that here at PORT and it is quite rare.

Tyler Green has 10 thoughts on the new David Chipperfield addition to the Saint Louis Art Museum. I like Chipperfield's work but Ive never been that impressed with his museums. Somehow they seem to play it a bit too safe (which probably isn't so much a reflection on his firm's work as the boardroom of his clients). However, his library in Des Moines is fantastic and understated while retaining an exciting rawness.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on May 20, 2013 at 12:37 | Comments (0)


Wednesday 05.15.13

Congrats to Alex Mackin Dolan

Park Avenue Armory (photo James Ewing)

Congrats to Alex Mackin Dolan who was just awarded a residency at New York's immense Park Avenue Armory. In fact, he is the residency's first visual artist... others being mostly performance based. Once again, clear evidence that Portland's art scene is producing sharp new artists that one gets to see develop in very cool, low key alternative spaces... who then completely leap frog the very conservative local-ennials, institutions and awards to end up on the international stage. Dolan has also been curating Appendix, one of Portland's hippest alternative spaces (often Appendix is more experimental than fully realized but I like the risk taking it engenders).

Only just recently in the past year or so has Alex really found his voice... harnessing the design language and cognative projections accrued around the idea of purity (which should be a huge challenge to evoke in that space). In other words, local curators who are not going to alt-space shows are hopelessly out of touch with a scene that is among the most dynamic on the planet. Mackin is just one of perhaps 15-20 hard core like-minded artists in perhaps 2-3 interrelated cliques who harness, interrogate and redirect design's cognitive/perceptual implications. All have a very international outlook and Alex is one of the youngest. I keep saying it, use Portland as a rebel base.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on May 15, 2013 at 11:00 | Comments (0)


Monday 05.13.13

Monday Links

Paul Goldberger asks if the new World Trade Center construction can fill the void? He's right that none of the buildings being put up are all that noteworthy on their own and it is a shame that Libeskind did not get to do the signature tower. To me the failure to do something truly inspiring was the exact moment that I realized New York had lost its edge over all other cultural cradles. In fact, I think it is harder to be great there now... not that it isn't possible... just harder (which isn't always a bad thing).

Hyperallergic thinks that the NADA art fair has grown up. That sounds like a good thing but is it? That is just a question that I don't have an answer for yet, ask me in a few years.

Gavin Brown on why the art and fashion world do and don't "get" each other. My theory is that they are too close... almost like sibling rivals for cultural resources and attention. They often need a cousin like music stars as an intermediary (David Bowie would be THE greatest of them all).

Art Info on the success and failure of Gutai. The recently closed exhibition on the mercurial movement was the best thing I saw in New York last month. Why? It had a freedom and willingness to try new things that seemed utterly missing in most of the galleries.

Saul Osterow's excellent essay on Tedd Stamm and Alan Uglow's paintings is a good read. His focus on the importance of difference and intuition is key to understanding this sort of work, Stamm's show at Boesky was fantastic and one of the highlights of my recent visit to Chelsea.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on May 13, 2013 at 11:56 | Comments (0)


Tuesday 05.07.13

The Henry announces The Brink finalists 2013

The Henry just announced the finalists for The Brink Award, which is "designed as an award for emerging artists 35 and under in Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia on the "brink" of a professional career." Of all the art awards and "spotlight shows" in the region it is the only one that is focused on early career, progressive art in a setting that actually highlights the small # of artists chosen... something other awards seem to eschew for mid career work and a blind eye for new media and installation art (often with a taste for cluttered installations of the work when exhibited).

There are 3 Portland area artists nominated (Saxon-Hill, Halverson and Warren)... far better than the Contemporary Northwest Art Awards, which for the past 2 cycles has focused on mid-career, traditional material Portland artists (which is strange considering that Portland arguably has the most dynamic art scene in Oregon/Washington bringing new names with international reach all of the time. Another plus, The Brink includes British Columbia, acknowledging that Cascadia is an international art zone that crosses borders rather than an insular regional self congratulation society.

The 2013 finalists are:

Raymond Boisjoly, Vancouver, B.C.
Anne Fenton, Seattle, WA
Rob Halverson, Portland, OR
Sylvain Sailly, Vancouver, B.C.
Blair Saxon-Hill, Portland, OR
Nell Warren, Washougal, WA

"For the 2013 award, 47 nominations were received from a group of art professionals across the Pacific Northwest. The 2013 Jury is comprised of Vancouver artist Althea Thauberger, Pacific Northwest College of Art MFA Program Chair Arnold Kemp, and Henry Deputy Director of Art and Education Luis Croquer. The jury completed the review of artist submissions in early May.

Jurors will conduct studio visits with the finalists late this spring. The winner will be announced on June 7, 2013.

The Brink Award was established with the generous support of longtime Henry benefactors and Seattle philanthropists John and Shari Behnke. In partnership with the Behnkes, the Henry will confer this biennial prize of $12,500 to one of the above artists. The recipient will also be given a solo exhibition at the Henry, a publication, and a work of his/her art will be acquired for the museum's permanent collection.

The Brink is in its third biennial cycle. In 2009, the Brink was awarded to Isabelle Pauwels, Vancouver, B.C. and in 2011, to Andrew Dadson, also of Vancouver, B.C.

The Brink Award complements the Henry's role as a catalyst for the creation of new work, while simultaneously demonstrating the museum's commitment to artists working in our region."

Posted by Jeff Jahn on May 07, 2013 at 15:13 | Comments (0)


Monday 05.06.13

Monday Links

Artist statements are generally the absolute worst application of written language imaginable and Hyperallergic looks into this linguistic quagmire. Thing is writers are just as guilty of buying into their own words, it is just that their peers will actually read and ridicule them for their crimes against communication. Let's face it writers are like piranha. Not so for artists, even the ones who can write generally find a supportive group of friends who want to applaud their rare linguistically gifted ally. Thus the bar is simply very very low. Hell, even curators seem to have about a 60/40 chance to producing vocabulary in search of insight. Yet, in defense of artists actually making statements, most of the greatest artists and curators were masters of the words they employed. Judging from; Picasso's one liners, Kandinky's aspirations, Judd's specificity, Smithson's slyness and Komar & Melamid's comedy all hold up even if you dislike their art. Generally the biggest problem with artist's statements are they are forced, tortured wraiths of ideas that telegraph their intended targets (hidden behind favorite vocabulary) rather than proffer any insight into what they have presented. (Smokescreens!) Generally it is better to let the statements come from the process and not let a word lead the work... it makes you sound like a recent MFA grad, which is SO art school. Tip, distill a few very short stock epithets you can whip out and develop an essay around them only after using them for a long time in social settings.

Drama over Munch Museum in Norway... of course.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on May 06, 2013 at 11:54 | Comments (0)


Friday 05.03.13

Friday links, California architecture edition

PORT has a large backlog of interviews and other articles for you real soon (starting this afternoon) but till then here is a glance to the South.

It looks like A New Sculptualism, a show about recent California Architecture at MOCA is on the verge of cancellation. (check out Thom Mayne's courthouse in Euguene for an example) It also puts Deitch back under the microscope, one which has pretty much paralyzed the past 12 months of his directorship. Sure it looks like MOCA is getting out from under the funding quagmire it has faced for over a decade but it also highlights how reliance on outside curators due to a depleted staff has truly gutted the West Coast's most important contemporary art institution. Put it this way, if a curator isn't tied to the minute internal plumbing of an institution, weird things like this happen... especially if the director has been heavy handed. Though I admire him as a gadfly gallerist, I still expect Deitch to leave MOCA around June 30th. Also, because we are all sick of this I'm calling it Deitchwatch and it is a lot like watching Hasselhof run in slow motion in the sand, only the Hof puts on a better show.

(c) SO-IL, UC Davis Art Museum design

In more upbeat news UC Davis has unveiled a truly exciting new art museum design by SO-IL. Where else but the stomping grounds of the light and space movement should there be an art museum that looks more like a garden than a concrete, metal and marble bunker? They have been doing a lot of similar things down in South America but this is the first art museum I've seen with this kind of scheme. I think everyone is pretty sick of the traditional white box that shuts out the world.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on May 03, 2013 at 6:22 | Comments (0)


Tuesday 04.30.13

RACC responds to budget cuts


RACC, Portland's regional arts granting organ has published a letter responding to the proposed 10% cuts of funding from the city. In these severe budget shortfall times it does seem appropriate that everyone do some belt tightening.

One thing I noticed was RACC is prepared to, "Suspend the under-utilized Opportunity Grants program for one year (a savings of $200,000"... this raises eyebrows. Why are there a disproportionate amount of cuts all from one area? An important one at that? At first I thought these were individual career opportunity grants (vague language clarified after a phone call to the ever helpful Jeff Hawthorne) but instead these are the Special Opportunity Grants available to institutions. These are the grants that funded major special exhibitions like Donald Judd in 2010 and in 2009 were used to keep many art institutions afloat during the depths of the great recession. It is still a bad idea to completely get rid of a program that has yielded such major results, special opportunities are just that and they go away if you cant support them.

Second, this raises a serious question of why are these funds under utilized when Portland's art venues are in such desperate need of them? Could it be these grants are not set up properly to fill a huge need that everyone I know discusses? This is of crucial interest to high level independent curators.

To put it another way... noteworthy projects are ambassadors for Portland to the rest of the world and for the city to remain attractive to artists it is crucial that the city help them in that capacity. Also, it is a terrible idea to suspend an entire program. To borrow a little logic, I suggest that the cuts in this area be proportionate, and RACC takes a good hard look at why they are under utilized.

RACC should reconsider this isolationist and disproportionate budget solution.

According to RACC: There are several opportunities for the public to comment on the Mayor's proposed budget before it is ultimately approved:

Thursday, May 16th, 6:30pm-8:30pm at City Hall Council Chambers (1221 SW 4th Ave.)
Saturday, May 18th, 3:00-5:00pm at Warner Pacific College (2219 SE 68th Ave.)
Thursday, May 23rd, 6:30pm-8:30pm at Jackson Middle School (10625 SW 35th Ave.)

I encourage everyone who has ever received a Special Opportunity grant or enjoyed a program funded by one attend a meeting and contact RACC about this proposed mistake via this email: jhawthorne AT racc.org (Jeff is a good guy and will want to hear what you have to say). Post comments on PORT if you want to add to the discourse as well.

*Update: we should note that a 10% decrease isn't unfair and that with the somewhat flawed but still important Arts Tax RACC actually has significantly more funds to work with than last year. Perhaps, RACC just revealed a huge hole in their thinking...... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on April 30, 2013 at 14:30 | Comments (0)


Monday 04.29.13

Monday Links

Posted by Jeff Jahn on April 29, 2013 at 15:59 | Comments (0)


Monday 04.22.13

Monday Links

There is no Northwest style art... yet curatorially many institutions keep trying to program within received stereotypes regarding this non entity. Ursula von Rydingsvard simply does whittling + bare wood better than any regional artist, accept it and move on. PAM even has a nice one in their collection and she had a solo show there a few years back. The thing is though an epic amount of hand work goes into her sculpture... she never fetishes the effort or even the material itself. Instead of the effort her work confronts you as a heuristic whole and thus doesn't need a narrative of "monumental labor" or "equisite labor" to prop it up. It is the completeness one encounters, not the tools or even process, which are there but ultimately tertiary to the experiencing the work.

And since we are on the subject of not romanticizing the artist's hand and struggle here are some images of Donald Judd's Spring Street home and studio... set to open in June as a public museum. One will note that though it is unquestionably a monument to Judd it also features several other artists quite prominently. Many will be shocked to learn that at one point it looked like Spring Street was to be sold off to settle Judd's estate debts. Those behind saving the building as a cultural time capsule should all take a bow... NYC needs artists who are bigger than gallerists, collectors and museums.

Last but not least, Mike Kelley's final project opens.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on April 22, 2013 at 11:07 | Comments (0)


Wednesday 04.17.13

MOCA makes it

The LAT's is reporting that MOCA now has secured 75 million in pledges for its endowment building campaign. Curiously not a peep from Deitch... hmmm, seems like he isn't taking any credit (look for him to make a quiet exit on a high note around June 30th). You can follow the whole MOCA drama timeline here and it all makes one wonder why the drama ever occurred in the first place? Next project, rebuild curatorial staff and a long term plan for expansion + more endowment so the superb permanent collection can be displayed more fully.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on April 17, 2013 at 17:32 | Comments (0)


Monday 04.15.13

Monday Links MoMA edition

Everybody in NYC is talking about the Oldenberg show at MoMA (both good and bad). I've seen it and here is the Times coverage. Overall it is very good for an Oldenberg show... which is to say it is mostly just alright.

MoMA is going to be open 7 days a week, starting in May.

And everyone was up in arms that a 12 year old building would be demolished to make room for more MoMA. I see it as karmic payback for moving the Barnes Collection to a new space.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on April 15, 2013 at 13:15 | Comments (0)


Friday 04.05.13

Friday links

The New York Times ran an interesting if somewhat unsubstantial article on Donald Judd's 101 Spring Street home becoming a public museum. The important idea is the way artists so rarely dictate their own context today, especially in comparison to Judd. When I co-curated a Judd show a few years ago (also in a cast-iron building) I noted some of the specific criterion at work in this essay. What the article doesn't get into enough is the way that Judd isn't about perfection at all... his work is all about the pragmatic reduction of distraction, part of which is the artist creating their own context and not leaving it to others. Spring Street came before Marfa and is every bit as important as the projects in Texas. Being in New York it makes Spring Street even more crucial... is there any place with more distractions to reduce?

Edward Winkleman discusses defections from the art market.

A German curator feels like Ai Wewei will distract from the German artists at the Venice Biennial... really? Sounds like Ai Weiei just distracted a German curator!

Brian Libby talks about the continuing restoration of Frank Lloyd Wright's Gordon House... the only building by the architect in Oregon.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on April 05, 2013 at 10:44 | Comments (0)


Saturday 03.30.13

Saltz's best writing

This essay on the importance and disappearance of gallery exhibitions is Jerry Saltz's best bit of writing ever. A Must Read! The bit about self knowledge is crucial as is the sense that the overall heuristics of an exhibition good or bad is a way to store and share collective intelligence...

All that said there are now more galleries scattered in cities throughout the globe than ever before... perhaps this is just the price of decentralization? Then again, the quality of collectors hasn't necessarily improved. In some respects it is a chicken and the egg situation that probably has a lot to do with the proliferation of art schools and the lack of long term development of artists. That is one of the things I like about Portland... artists are allowed to develop for over a decade before they launch onto the national scene and have their first NYC solo show.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on March 30, 2013 at 13:59 | Comments (0)


Friday 03.29.13

Wynne Greenwood 22nd Bronnie Bronson Fellow


Congratulations to Wynne Greenwood the 22nd annual Bonnie Bronson fellow. A Seattle resident and The Stranger genius award winner, Greenwood describes herself as a, "queer feminist artist who works with video, performance, music and object-making to practice culture-healing." Her work has been featured at the Tate Modern, Whitney Biennial, The Kitchen and On the Boards.

The Bronson Fellowship is designed to feature mid career artists with community impact and are more often than not women and or educators.

The Award will be conveyed at Reed College April 29th 6:00PM at the Kaul Auditorium

Posted by Jeff Jahn on March 29, 2013 at 16:24 | Comments (0)


Friday links

PORT has a # of interviews and reviews in the works but here are some links to hold you over for a few hours.

Yup, NYC screwed up a brilliant initial design for an AIDS memorial.

Nice to see the New York Times actually considering something of substance in Portland like the Object Focus, the Bowl show at MOCC, which content wise is excellent and thought provoking... if more than a tad shunted into a corner of the museum for the install. (can someone PLEASE show PNW museums how to install things in a way befitting the content) There is depth in the visual arts here that goes beyond the Times obsession of how "chill" or "odd" we are as the WSJ article last year on the Portland art scene was the first to take a serious look at. My point is, we are being watched closely and should act accordingly. Portland isn't just chill and odd, we are definitely a city of rabid idealists who don't wait for permission to do something with higher ideals. This year my pet ideal is insisting on that shows be installed well.... esp. if the show is really wonderful like Object Focus, The Bowl is.

Brian Libby interviews Brad Cloepfil, discussing both the new PNCA 511 building and his exciting winery in Yamhill county.

...and there is is Jeffrey Deitch putting his foot in his mouth again, Im actually a fan of him as a gallerist but his director chops are sorely lacking. It is interesting how the board seems to make all these major press releases about major developments but he doesn't even get name checked... well this is the reason. If MOCA is truly serious about fund raising Deitch should be gone by around the end of June. I don't think his words change anything, sure a LACMA merger is considered a last resort... but that means MOCA needs to be single minded about their stated "preferred" independent and strong option. Once MOCA gets a suitable director, artist board members, a chief curator and raises the 100 million then they should implement a 10 year master plan including a capital campaign to create permanent gallery spaces for the permanent collection. That is going to take a lot of planning and on message PR and a string of low drama years for the museum. Deitch just isn't that kind of person, he is a gadfly.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on March 29, 2013 at 11:34 | Comments (0)


Tuesday 03.26.13

MOCA boosts endowment


Today, MOCA announced that they have commitments of 60 million towards a 100 million dollar endowment building campaign (making the now dead LACMA takeover earlier this month seem even stranger in hindsight).

MOCA has the most important contemporary art collection on the West Coast (and in many ways IS better than MoMA's from 1960 on) and once this endowment campaign is completed lets hope they finally undertake an expansion to give that stellar permanent collection room to be displayed. The MOCA press release is also the first time we've seen Deitch's name mentioned in a while. Looks like a good time for him to leave on a high note and hire (rehire?) a chief curator + a new director...hmmmmmmmmmmmmm?

Notice how Broad was never once mentioned? That's a good thing, even from Broad's position... this way he doesn't seem like a puppet master. Also, let's hope some artists make it back to the board.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on March 26, 2013 at 14:04 | Comments (0)


Monday 03.25.13

Monday Links

The Guardian reviews David Bowie Is. Has any rockstar been so worthy of the visual spectacle he has produced?

The NYT's takes a somewhat broader look at abstract expressionism, for example many members of The Irascibles never made it to the Ab Ex cannon... reminds me of the stellar work of Ralph Rosenborg.

Artinfo reports that Jcrew is now selling "Collection Curator" pants. A line of chief preparator chappeaus, artist assistant socks (with arch support), chief registrar scarf and mid career retrospective underwear should round out the entire behind the scenes art world line.

...and now the New Yorker gets in on Seattle's big art story of the Year. Look, his work was always weak and part of the problem is accepting of simple/brittle juxtapositions for shock effect. The fact that it involved craft did not make it any better and it was very one dimensional so not worth the closer look that some gave it (they collected it and curated it into shows). The lesson, dig deeper and expect more from art (consider suppleness) and you likely wont get caught supporting a Nazi fan boy.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on March 25, 2013 at 10:32 | Comments (0)


Tuesday 03.19.13

MOCA Board Rejects LACMA Offer

It looks like MOCA will be staying independent and understands that means a serious endowment building effort. To me that sounds like the idea of merging with LACMA or USC are being rejected outright. Good!

Here is the statement MOCA's board released today:

"The Board is in agreement that the best future for MOCA would be as an independent institution. The Board understands that this will require a significant increase in MOCA's endowment to ensure its strong financial standing. We are working quickly toward that goal, while at the same time exploring all strategic options, to honor the best interest of the institution and the artistic community we serve."

... (more analysis)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on March 19, 2013 at 16:55 | Comments (0)


Monday 03.18.13

Monday Links

The lineup for the next Venice Biennale's core pavilions is drawing mixed responses from curators... gee who could have predicted that? Isn't that healthy... and wouldn't consensus seem fascist? That said European and US dominated shows seem tired. Even here in Portland we have enough foreign nationals to question why every high profile list, award or group show in the city needs to be extra WASPy.

Turns out what they thought was a later Rembrandt copy depicting the artist in a funny hat is in fact the real thing.

No new news in the MOCA drama but Christopher Knight chimes in again. MOCA needs independence and that requires an end to the drama... which will take an effective director and board combo... not simply one man or one savior institution. Reading between all the lines it is curious how nobody is talking about Deitch leaving or staying... seems like there is a done deal out there? Any deal that keeps him in place is the wrong deal, Deitch is better as a gadfly than as a stabilizing agent.

Toyo Ito is the latest Pritzker Prize winner (but of course he is). Check out these Iwan Baan photos of one of Toyo Ito's best projects the Tama Art University Library. Frankly, it is one of my favorite buildings completed over the last decade. The PNCA's Cloepfil designed 511 building will make somewhat similar use of form substituting catenaries for arches... especially in the library areas. Ito's design still outclasses Cloepfil but to be fair the PNCA project is a renovation and has a more challenging program to address. I just think Portlanders should be conversant about the properties of both projects. With PAM in a semi-silent planning phase, a new transit bridge over the Willamette and the Japanese Garden working an a super exciting Kengo Kuma expansion Portland is looking up in turns of international caliber architecture. Design excellence does push patrons... but it is a push that needs to happen now that Portland is perhaps the most interesting city in the USA.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on March 18, 2013 at 10:51 | Comments (0)


Monday 03.11.13

Monday Links

Well the MOCA news pretty much overshadowed the Armory Show, which is as it should be (though it isn't fashionable in art schools, the idea of Greatness trumping the daily ins and outs of the art market would be refreshing if it weren't so unfortunate).

Still, the Armory Show and related fairs like the Independent happened. Here's more on the Independent, Volta and the Moving Image Art Fair.

Artinfo did a 60 second video tour of the main Armory show. It is what you would expect, people watching, "look at me" art etc.

Here is an interesting book review of two books on contemporary curating. I love how the reviewer teases out the idea of what I call rhetoric without belief (part of what makes contemporary curating both interesting and and horse shit). There is a mantra of nihilism that is seductive and often pointless that can get old fast... just the same as evangelistic curating.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on March 11, 2013 at 10:55 | Comments (0)


Thursday 03.07.13

MOCA takeover by LACMA? Again?


This just in, LACMA makes a formal offer to take over MOCA. Yes, this again. To me it is a bit like the consolidation of banks, airlines and cell phone carriers over the years as a way of streamlining operating costs and resetting soured or miasmic investor/donor faith in the management. In this case (like most corporate mergers) I don't like it because it creates a less diversified ecosystem, though it may be the way out I've suspected Deitch has been looking for since the dismissal of Chief Curator Paul Schimmel.

The problem is a city like LA needs diversification of institutions on a patronage level for it to become a full fledged art capital like New York or London is now. Besides, LACMA already has a contemporary program that would get confused with the addition of MOCA which is a "contemporary only" program and not a generalist art museum like LACMA. Think of museums as charismatic megafauna in an ecosystem, their presence indicates the health of the entire system. I believe the focus and diversification is crucial as the packs or tribes (patrons) that an institution must cultivate to survive have immense collateral effects that range much farther than the physical plant of each institution. A more monoculture approach might be convenient (at least on paper) but it is ultimately a missed opportunity for diversity...

... (more with updates on any recent developments)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on March 07, 2013 at 14:16 | Comments (0)


Monday 03.04.13

Monday Links

Yinka Shonibare makes a normally staid sculpture park into something hilarious and more challenging. Shonibare is perhaps my favorite re-lo-colonial artist.

Today the Oregon Senate is voting on the extremely poorly designed yet multi-billion dollar CRC bridge. Nobody likes this bridge unless you own a freeway construction company or work for a trade union. To reiterate our position, the design is poor because it is too low for river navigation, creates a below decks tunnel of doom between Portland and Vancouver, doesn't maximize seismic safety, doesn't have enough federal funding (it is I-5), is a design with more piers thus more environmental impact and misses a huge opportunity to build to the Northwest ethos celebrating the place and values. In short it doesn't give citizens enough for such a huge outlay of money. Overall, a stronger design process was necessary to justify and avoid this very expensive skimp on the details franken-bridge. Oregonians, look up your representative and give them a call.

Holland Cotter is gaga for, "Anything Jay," (DeFeo that is). Why is De Feo such a lightning rod? I have a theory. DeFeo represents absolute integrity (like Judd and Smithson) but isn't part of the simplified art historical lexicon. She represents and confirms the nagging feeling that we haven't been in adequate comprehension of our recent past. Hell I still hear college profs spouting nonsense about Judd being about all about "perfection"... when it is the furthest thing from the truth (which instead was arch-pragmatic with a lot of intellectual rigor). DeFeo by resting her entire reputation on one painting makes an end run around the market in heartening ways. Great art places demands on institutions and collectors... it does not pander. Great patrons and institutions prefer facilitating these demands because they find them valuable and insist on such integrity... pandering is to be avoided.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on March 04, 2013 at 11:16 | Comments (1)


Monday 02.18.13

Monday Links

Posted by Jeff Jahn on February 18, 2013 at 5:53 | Comments (0)


Monday 02.04.13

Monday Links

Jerry Saltz revisits the infamous 1993 Whitney Biennial... the much hated "identity politics" show. This is a fun read.

What can art museums learn from the new Museum of Mathematics? Still, I'm not entirely convinced that touching is the only way to expand the horizons of the young. In Portland, OMSI already has plenty of touchy feel-y exhibitions and I think there is something to be learned by having work that commands a certain "don't touch" respect. PAM's security guards have their hands full with the adults who think they can touch everything already! That said museums are definitely exploring interaction... The Carrie Mae Weems show at PAM includes a table with interactive Iphone apps.

In a related news, OPB Interviewed Weems for Think Out Loud.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on February 04, 2013 at 10:13 | Comments (0)


Monday 01.28.13

Seeing the light links

Adrian Searle discusses what is profound and what merely entertains at the Hayward Gallery's Light Show. This is a difficult line for light and space artists since they are generally bounded by the conventions of stagecraft and architecture. The difference I feel is the better light and space artists are extremely rigorous thinkers and among the most demanding art practitioners out there. Robert Irwin, the brightest human being I've ever encountered comes immediately to mind (apologies for that pun). He doesn't just show the viewer some pretty lights... he gives the viewer a chance push their perceptual powers to the limit. This makes the work demanding.

In related news, Paul Sutinen... who infamously interviewed Irwin at a Burger King in Portland considers the way that artist's trademark disc piece is displayed at the Portland Art Museum to be a kind of vandalism. It is true, that presentation of one of the best pieces in the collection IS horrendous (a hangover from the still overcrowded Buchanan era install that needs thinning and more sensitivity). Installed correctly (as it once was) it is a stunner. The over-installed nature of most of the museum's collection is a MAJOR drag on the reputation of an otherwise rapidly improving modern/contemporary program at PAM (Rothko, Beuys, Mike Kelley, Sigmar Polke & Bruce Nauman just last year alone). Can we fix this? This sort of thing is what many design professionals in Portland consider a major turn-off at the museum. PAM's Jubitz Center is due for a major reinstall. (Perhaps what's been holding all this up is the fate of Ed Cauduro's collection... which is likely the only chance to fill in major gaps in the collection from the mid 60's to the late 80's ... and to have Ed take his rightful place as the greatest art collector in Portland history.) Portland has grown up a lot in terms of the viewer's expectations and overall sophistication level and everyone is simply demanding a lot more of the way work is presented.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 28, 2013 at 10:56 | Comments (0)


Tuesday 01.22.13

PICA Launches Precipice Fund

Rather famously, Andy Warhol's Factory was the nexus of difficult to categorize cultural activities... catalyzing in one of the greatest nexuses of cultural production ever. The Factory's chaos was frankly stimulating... echoing other great cultural moments like Berlin during the Weimar Era, the New York School or The Surrealists in Paris.

Andy Warhol at The Factory

Similarly, In the past decade+ Portland has undergone a renaissance in difficult to categorize (call it boundary pushing) alternative art projects and spaces. This fermenting stew of artist-driven activity IS perhaps the most interesting thing about the Portland scene. Unfortunately, that type of activity (on boats, in garages and warehouses) is incredibly difficult for older style venues and granting agencies to grapple with. Their more old fashioned criteria are preoccupied with; tangible craft, academic resumes and the persistence of their own pristine white walls. This schism has required action for quite some time, and I'm relieved to break this story now that someone has taken a bold new step towards addressing it.

Leave it to the Andy Warhol Foundation and PICA to provide much needed movement in the support of what makes Portland such a vital arts city with the Precipice Fund of regifting grants. Consisting of 15-20 small grants for a total of $75,000 per year the fund targets "unincorporated" arts activities like alternative spaces or artist collectives. As an extension of the Warhol Foundation's regional regranting program, already successfully administered by institutions like Diverse Works in Houston and Southern Exposure in San Francisco. In fact, in many ways this funding initiative is in keeping with Warhol's own penchant for creating a catalytic environment for talented people whose process follows the more unpredictable path. Getting one of these regrants will also be morale boosting and a way to vet these often ephemeral projects... giving practitioners a ladder to perhaps step up to the next level.

This project is also noteworthy for the altruistic nature of regranting... because institutions who undertake this sort of activity ultimately must designate already scarce resources to the management of these programs, which ultimately do not reflect that institution's specific agenda. No traditional museum (which is organized around a collection) or a school could do this. It is true that these projects sometimes get funding from OAC and RACC but it is on a very ad hoc basis. This funding is tailored to the fact that an interesting art practice doesn't do well with traditional reporting methods and metrics because the projects themselves have ever changing goals and outcomes based on the pragmatioc experience of executing these projects.

Here is the Official PR:

"PICA is proud to announce The Precipice Fund, a major new granting initiative for Portland based unincorporated visual art collectives, alternative spaces, and collaborative projects.

Formed with the support of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, The Precipice Fund expands Warhol's Regional Regranting Program to the Northwest, creating new channels of support for "vibrant, under-the-radar artistic activity." Rachel Bers, Program Director for the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, explains that, "by partnering with leading cultural institutions in communities across the country, the program allows the [Warhol] Foundation to reach the population of informal artist collectives and to support their alternative gathering spaces, publications, websites, events, and other projects.

... (much more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 22, 2013 at 0:17 | Comments (0)


Monday 01.21.13

Congrats over the weekend

It a very busy weekend and PORT has an avalanche of articles for you this week. Here's some great news from the weekend to tide you over.

The Northwest's most accomplished psychgraphic landscape abstractionist, James Lavadour, will be taking part in the 2013 Venice Biennale. It is part of the ongoing Personal Structures series of exhibitions at the Palazzo Bembo. James is simply amazing, congrats.

Also, great news Ralph Pugay has been awarded a Joan Mitchell foundation grant. In fact the thread here is that Lavadour is also a Mitchell alum... who knows perhaps he will be in a Venice Biennale as eventually as well. It's a major coupe for such a young artist recently out of art school. Pugay is easily the best purveyor of dark humor in the Northwest.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 21, 2013 at 0:11 | Comments (0)


Wednesday 01.16.13

Announcing NOW Portland Trienniale


Announcing... NOW Portland Trienniale in 2015 with a kickoff event February 1st 2013 that will give more details and open a conversation on this multi-location event in the city. The team behind this (some with experience doing the Guangzhou Triennial) has formed a strong coalition with major and mid level Portland arts institutions + international contacts. Here's the official PR:

"A thematic exhibition dedicated to the promotion and dissemination of contemporary ideas. NOW provides a fresh and critical forum to showcase ..."


Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 16, 2013 at 10:40 | Comments (3)


Monday 01.07.13

Monday Links

Kurt Schwitters in exile. Is there a modernist who seems more timely than Schwitters?

Portland was listed as one of the top 12 art places in the USA... 'cept they think the Pearl is the center of activity (I'd say it is only about 33% of the Portland art scene, the near southeast and North Portland together probably eclipse it though If you know anything about Portland's art scene (which all PORT readers do).

Tyler Green has his weekly weekend roundup... always a good thing to check in on.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 07, 2013 at 11:04 | Comments (0)


Thursday 01.03.13

Looking at the year ahead

The Portland Tribune published my take on 2013 in the visual arts today, along with predictions by a number of other Portlanders you might recognize.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 03, 2013 at 10:39 | Comments (2)


Thursday 12.27.12

Top Posts for 2012

I'm still compiling PORT's best and worst of 2012 list but it was a year full of art news, reviews and interviews so here are our top 6 most read posts for 2012:

It is surprising that a review of Vicky Lynn Wilson's Cumulus at PCC Sylvania is our most read post of 2012... until you factor in the effect Hurricane Sandy had upon the American psyche.

Every few years I like to do a post introducing some new faces to watch in the scene. Our 2012 edition of fresh faces to the Portland art scene was extremely popular. In many ways it heralded this post commenting on Peter Plagens' article in the Wall Street Journal, in May 2012 (also a popular post but not even in our top 10... which is good because PORT readers already knew plenty about the Portland art scene).

After years of trying to be as itinerant as Portland's alternative spaces PICA finally grew up and stopped couch surfing in Weiden + Kennedy's basement... moving a few blocks away to a building that many design conscious Portlanders have come to love. They learned their lesson the hard way and 7 years is a long time to go without a signature space.

My review of Mike Kelley at the Portland Art Museum, capped off a wonderful but bittersweet moment in 2012. Kelley will be missed.

Paul Middendorf finally scored that interview with Richard Serra we've been waiting for.

My review of Heidi Schwegler's The Known World at Chambers was a complicated review of a complicated (some would say turgid) show that purposefully tried to make the viewer feel like a bobble head bouncing along a rough road in some remote part of the world.

It is funny how some of the more critical reviews attracted more eyeballs... posts on Rothko, the Mayoral & City Council races, Paul Schimmel/Jeffrey Deitch and my unfinished essay/discussion opener Priming the Cultural Pump were not far behind.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 27, 2012 at 10:27 | Comments (0)


Tuesday 12.18.12

Making a list?

So it is end of the year list time... what were your favorite shows this year? I wasn't that into the various group shows but 2012 with solo shows by major artists like Rothko, Mike Kelley, Kara Walker, two by Bruce Nauman and Gerhard Richter will be very tough to top. I'll have a complete list of my favorite shows (including locals) soon.

Christopher Knight lists his favorite museum shows in LA for 2012.

Architizer lists their top 10 architecture controversies for the year.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 18, 2012 at 11:27 | Comments (0)


Friday 12.14.12

Friday links

We should have a nice long review of a very interesting show posted soon but till then here are some links:

Hyperallergic gives a look at Ann Hamilton's latest.

The I-5 Columbia River Crossing will need to be over 20 feet higher clearance than originally designed, begging the question... "how does one miss that kind of design detail?" Had they gone with the better design (seismically, aesthetically, smaller # of ecology changing piers and functionally for boat clearances, bicycles and pedestrians) they would not have had a problem. The whole design process was backwards (leading to ineptitude) and the project should be scrapped or completely redesigned with use, northwest values and seismicity in mind. The funding for this poor design (which creates a below decks dungeon corridor for bikes, pedestrians and criminal activity) hasn't materialized because its design simply isn't well thought out. Besides, not choosing the highest performing seismic design (cable stay) makes it an idiotic use of taxpayer money. What could have been a showcase of northwest problem solving, values and design has become a never ending taxpayer boondoggle nobody seems to like. Confidence in this project is incredibly low, even amongst those like I who see the need for a new bridge (fix snarls, add light rail and seismic survivability when a 8.5+ eventually hits, right now if a 7.0 hits a lot of people could lose their lives).

Onetime Oregonian Josh Faught gets a SECA award. Congrats Josh! If only the CNAA's had a similar national level reputation... remember, when it replaced the Oregon Biennial the CNAA's were touted as being patterned after the SECA award.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 14, 2012 at 10:56 | Comments (0)


Monday 12.10.12

Monday Links

This NYT's story on the New Yale University Museum galleries and director Jock Reynolds is a must read. Sure it starts of as your basic "New Wing Building" article but the way it then focuses on Reynolds is inspiring. Imagine that? ...a museum director with a great eye and extremely tactical use of empathy. Then there is the fact that he seems to take the high road with a big picture approach. I'd call it a low key but pervasive and serious approach. What a fantastic steward. Which, makes me ever so more curious about how the Portland Art Museum's next move will be executed. 2017 is the museum's 125th birthday and plans are somewhat quietly under way. The deciding factor will be how Portland's patrons respond? Every trustee at PAM (or any other art institution) needs to read this article and take it to heart. Quality of intention and display are one and the same, becoming the most self-evident thing a museum can offer.

These offices in Spain are simply gorgeous. The sky and earth seem to be sharing a dream together. What an exceptional design, recalling Mies' Barcelona pavilion and Farnsworth house with a dash of Robert Irwin and Michael Heizer and Judd's 100 Mill Aluminum pieces a as well.

Art Basel Miami Beach happened... Artinfo has some images. It doesn't look that different from previous years. Always an important event to be sure but somehow it punctuates how something different seems to be on the horizon. This interview with Todd Levin gives some perspective on the art market's yearly beach party.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 10, 2012 at 10:12 | Comments (1)


Monday 12.03.12

Monday Links

It is true I was super busy in November getting things ready for exhibitions of Portland artists outside the region but that just means that PORT's backlog will just lead to more in-depth reviews interviews and essays for you in December. First one comes in a day or so but till then here are some links:

Christopher Knight wonders if curators are becoming endangered species? Answer = Yes (it isn't just LA) and I believe it is related to the diminishing # of serious art critics who cover a beat as well. I have been at work on an essay about this trend for a few months so stay tuned. Let's just say if one is trying to quantify the role of dedicated curators and critics in a short term business balance sheet way we lose long term perspective and the civic IQ these jobs represent will be lost.

Memorial Coliseum vote looms on Thursday

Brian Libby writes about the importance of the Memorial Coliseum and the impending vote on its future this Thursday. Brian is right... the integrity of the design needs to be maintained when updating this mid-century gem. (Though being an architecture critic who takes a stand doesn't in any way adversely effect your role as a journalist. Lets just say journalism and criticism are at odds in some cases and ultimately journalism when effective must take the stand like a critic in order to be valid (if one never takes sides, arts writing becomes meaningless). You did the right thing Brian. Portland as a design city has to respect its special instances of exceptional design and the Coliseum with its bowl in a glass curtain wall is a clear case in point.

Did you catch Portland photographer Holly Andres' photos in the New York Times this weekend?

And the Turner Prize goes to Elizabeth Price, whom the brits complain is cutting edge but not controversial. Whereas, in Portland our awards like the CNAA's or the Ford Fellows etc... generally are vacillating between the academic and craft in an incredibly staid late mid-career package. Academia, craft and late mid-careerness are all fine, even good things in small worthy doses but the three together are an often recipe for mediocrity that completely misses the dynamicism of the very internationally engaged Portland art scene. Hence, the reason our awards generally do not predict future success despite the fact that Portland artists are turning up in increasingly higher international profile venues. Instead, our awards tend to reward artists with consistent long term institutionally enmeshed/academic careers.... which is fine but we need things like the very successful Couture series again (which has been an interesting, catalytic & risk taking predictor).

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 03, 2012 at 10:44 | Comments (1)


Monday 11.26.12

Back in the swing links

Here are some links to get you back into the swing of things.

The NYT's reviews a show about when Pop Art Turned Moody.

Jackie Wullschlager contemplates Dave Hickey's resignation letter. I don't think I can fully agree with either Hickey or Wullschlager but they do have a point. True, there is a dilution syndrome in the art world since collectors/dealers are less demanding than they were in the before the 80's made art a business. But that has been going on to an increasing degree ever since the Hotel Drouot auctions of Kahweiler's cubist works. To me all that weak stuff means there is a potential for artists of substance to separate themselves from the fray. How many artists really stun viewers and leave them questioning the world they knew before they saw the work? In an information age that bar has been raised to an incredibly high degree.

Then there is this one... will Canadian artists get more respect (ie market value). Not unless Canada is like China or Brazil with economies on a major uptake. Besides, is market value alone the true mark of success? The Royal Art Lodge was an important moment... I think they are asking this question 12 years too late! Canada produces a great deal of consistently strong artists, that's all a nation can hope for. The process of determining greatness involves capturing the intellectual attention of an age. Currently, Ai Weiwei has been gifted/burdened with that mantle.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on November 26, 2012 at 11:01 | Comments (0)


Monday 11.19.12

Monday Links

PORT will have some of our in depth and critically focused content for you after this holiday week but here are some links to start you off and be thankful.

Thieves have stolen an ancient petroglyph in California, Oregon and Washington be on guard.

Here's the story on that iconic Iwan Baan photograph of New York City post Sandy.

Knoedler's problems with reputedly fake AbEx works only gets worse with this disputed Rothko.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on November 19, 2012 at 10:04 | Comments (0)


Tuesday 11.13.12

CNAA's 2013 Announced

The Portland Art Museum has announced the 2013 Contemporary Northwest Art Awards to be held in October; Anne Appleby (MT), Karl Burkheimer (OR), Issac Layman (WA), Abbie Miller (WY), Nickolas Nyland (WA), and Trimpin (WA). Congrats to everyone.


Well this is isn't the complete train wreck retro-list we saw last time around but if you hunger for a true bleeding edge contemporary look at what is going on in the Northwest art this will still look dated. It is a solid if typical list as all the names here qualify as craft heavy (highlight the object) makers. That isn't a crime but it is like only eating butter and sweets and many expect more variety from a sampler like the CNAA's. Earlier this year the Tacoma Art Museum's 10th NW Biennial had lots of conceptual and experiential work... many of which needed to be plugged in to operate.

Facts are, there is a sizable amount of contemporary art that is not about calling attention to the way an object is made even if it happens to be well made. For example, most video and installation art is heavy on ideas and perception over the primacy of the object and form.... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on November 13, 2012 at 15:46 | Comments (1)


Monday 11.12.12

Monday Links

Last weekend The NY Times Magazine had a bit of a Portland backlash (though they didn't identify it as Portland) with their $5 Watches vs $5 Coffee piece. The Ace Hotel may have started in Seattle but it was when it absorbed a more Portland ethos (Stumptown Coffee + hanging out with wifi in downtown PDX) that they found their voice. Also, I feel like this rivalry between cheap watches and expensive coffee is just fabricated to stir up a non existent rivalry. In fact, the Ace and Stumptown in NYC become much less cool if the discount wholesalers leave (this isn't a yuppie thing at all, these lobby hipsters like anachronistic pairings). Hipsters love cheap, lame stuff so they can feel ever so slightly... more validated. Kidding aside, the fact is these sorts of caffeinated lobby dwellers are wholesale information merchants that grease the wheels of new ideas (they dont want bock after block of hangout space... they like being an island).

Chelsea lost over 40 million in art due to Hurricane Sandy.

And as a nod to Veterans Day check out Portland photographer Jim Lommasson's Soldier's Stories.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on November 12, 2012 at 10:28 | Comments (0)


Thursday 11.08.12

Thursday Links

The Art Newspaper has a story on the percieved decline in Britain's art schools... once thought to be the best in the world but now in danger of becoming too expensive for any but the wealthiest.

Thankfully this fantastic Frank Lloyd Wright in Arizona has been saved from the wrecking ball. Some great pictures of the interior too.

Sadly it doesn't look good for this equally fantastic Bertrand Goldberg in Chicago.

Check out the discussion in Art in America with curator Paul Schimmel on his final show at MOCA, Destroy the Picture: Painting the Void 1949-1962.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on November 08, 2012 at 11:06 | Comments (0)


Tuesday 10.30.12

Sandy's aftermath, art & design

Hurricane Sandy on October 28th

Gallerist NY has pictures of Chelsea the day after Sandy in case you are curious... (not by any means that these are the people hardest hit by the storm). What I'm hearing is that Danziger was flooded and it was knee deep on 23rd. East Village looked even worse with at least waist deep water in places.

For the LES here is a report from Rivington street on the aftermath.

Here are some of the preparations for the storm made by various institutions in NYC.

Tyler Green is compiling a Museum damage report list.

In DC the Hirschhorn is giving free admission to anyone named Sandy tomorrow....????

Arch Daily asks if Sandy's deluge will get New York to redesign its waterfront?

The Times covers the Chelsea damage.

Jerry Saltz surveys the devastation. ...then follows up with a more optimistic report.

I'll update this as I find more Sandy info related to art and design. Hopefully everyone stays safe.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on October 30, 2012 at 10:32 | Comments (2)


Monday 10.29.12

Monday Links

Great, that's exactly what the Venice Biennale has always been in need of... the Vatican!

LACMA's Kubrick show highlights some of the director's art influences, including Diane Arbus.

And keeping with the season the Guardian has a list of the 10 scariest paintings. Though I think an etching Goya's, "The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters," beats most of the paintings on that list.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on October 29, 2012 at 4:54 | Comments (0)


Thursday 10.25.12

Dave Dave Dave


Dave Hickey is retiring, sort of... read the interview because it is pretty much the best art wordsmithing all year. Perhaps this is the final push I need to finish a little essay on art writing and writers I've had in the works?

Why is Hickey so important? He is one of the few arts writers (besides Rem Koolhaas and a handful of others) who looks for the unspoken tension around whatever subject he takes up, then exposes it as a fraud. What is special is the way he then asks us as readers to evaluate that fraud on its merits (discredited or not)... testing the readers in a generous way. In other words he tests his subject and audience rather than simply act as a ceremonial standard bearer at some sort of metaphorical coronation. It isn't debased forms like journalism or art cronyism... it is about the process of sharpening one's thinking, which is criticism of the highest order.

Hickey also makes his detractors crazy... irritation is a rare gift and one of the most powerful any writer can hope to wield.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on October 25, 2012 at 10:42 | Comments (1)


Thursday 10.18.12

Thursday Links

It has been a slow art news week but at least there are lots of great shows up in Portland to see (do so). Here are a few links to tide you over, we've got many reviews and essays coming your way in the next few days.

The Nada and Untitled art fairs are sparring... which seems like a brilliant way to promote both fairs.

I really like winning Busan Opera House proposal by Snohetta. The way it features the landscape around it and opens itself to the public is interesting... even more democratic than Gehry's Disney Hall in LA. ...When the Portland Art Museum expands again I'd like to see it engage the park blocks and West Hills in philosophically similar way (not visually but as a bridge between all points in the city making it the pivot point of the downtown and park blocks).

Hyperallergic noticed that Jeffrey Deitch isn't on the top 100 list anymore. I've said it before, Deitch has to be looking for an exit strategy since he isn't being allowed to be Jeffrey Deitch.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on October 18, 2012 at 11:39 | Comments (0)


Monday 10.08.12

Monday Links

The Art News reports a new art space and residency for LA started by Guess Jeans co-founder. If only Phil Knight or Gert Boyle would do something similar in Portland? The thing is it takes passion for the arts so someone like Duane Sorenson is a better bet. Oregon's Sarah Meigs already created The Lumber Room, which has a show opening in November.

The strangest thing out of Britain isn't the recent Rothko vandalism (btw putting the works under glass is another kind of vandalism and would likely void the gift)... it is a mandate against aesthetic use of geometry in school buildings.

PORT readers knew last week's Kara Walker lecture would require one to get there early (because we told you)... but for those who didn't get in Reed has posted audio of the talk online here.

The city is seeking nominations for Portland's first Creative Laureate. It is a one year position for someone who can promote Portland's creative attributes and assets.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on October 08, 2012 at 10:01 | Comments (1)


Friday 10.05.12

Friday links

Paul Schimmel literally @ Destroy the Picture

Well, Paul Schimmel's last show as Chief Curator at MOCA, "Destroy the Picture: Painting the Void, 1949-1962" has finally opened in LA. It is a great show, even if it is the martyrdom of a great curatorial program. But focusing back on the art I feel like all the focus on Greenberg from 1949-62 resulted in many of these artists and Non-North Americans like Gutai group being passed over in the history books. Artists like Judd, Flavin and Hesse were doing the related and in dialog things (from 1963 on) without really trying allowing painting to occur... so this is an important way to see how there was so much more depth in that era. Basically, the reason most academics read on Judd and Flavin is so off (undo emphasis on perfection) is because they haven't known much about the things on display in Destroy the Picture... or Judd and Flavin for that matter.

Brian Libby looks at Portland's Architecture + Design festival.

Ive known about this for a long time but OCAC has just announced that they will have a MFA program next year. This is a crucial move for Portland's most focused art school.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on October 05, 2012 at 11:51 | Comments (0)


Tuesday 10.02.12

Tuesday Links

Former Portlander and overall excellent person, Mickalene Thomas is having a great run in New York this Fall with articles in the NYT's here and a review here. I interviewed Thomas a few years ago at her studio. Congrats!

The decay of architecture has held human interest since recorded history and Arch Daily looks at its entropic appeal. The Romans were in love with Greek ruins rather than the original condition of their structures. Frank Lloyd Wright would often build his structures in purposefully dangerous proximity to trees and massive grape vines for the same romantic allure.

The duality of entropy and vegetative growth has been big for a while but it seem like it is THE topic right now. Portland is getting its own already world famous veg-facade with the Edith Green Federal Building renovation.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on October 02, 2012 at 10:41 | Comments (0)


Monday 09.17.12

Monday Links

Oh, not another Portland travel article... but it is good to see that The Guardian doesn't believe the myth of Portland as a place of young retirees. That's BS, in fact the young and old alike work very hard and inventively just to survive here. The Guardian's latest article reports, "Portland didn't become the US capital of cool overnight....If a hipster is a person who wants to seem creative without actually creating anything, there's a serious lack of hipsters in this city. The music and art being made here are world-class." The question is, are Portland's funding and presenting institutions acting in a way that presents that world-class reality? (The survey shows, major awards etc. seem very mid-late career and education career heavy or just plain second rate... and there is widespread annoyance over this.) When artists continually reach out to major institutions and funding sources outside of Portland just to do internationally relevant things it should set off alarms... The artists here are extra resourceful (and simply sidestep the local politics) but I'd like to see Portland's arts infrastructure keep up with the talent and new media/genres.

Get to know a little bit about influential, yet little known Mid-Century Italian designer Bruno Munari.

And last but not least the LA Times published this detailed anatomy of why good feelings are so important to cultivate amongst MOCA's board of Trustees.

*Update: I've always agreed with the viewpoint that Christopher Knight just published; Eli Broad isn't trying to take over MOCA's collection. He needs a strong MOCA next door to his personal collection museum to give it more Elan. The conspiracy theories just don't add up. The real problem is that Dietch is a gadfly who thrives on controversy when MOCA needs steadying... not troublesome tilting at windmills with a phantom intellectual elite that somehow doesn't get pop culture. Trust me, post graduate education gets subcultures and popsploitation.

Oh yes and the clock is ticking, Real Clear Arts wonders where Deitch's promised MAJOR announcements are?

Posted by Jeff Jahn on September 17, 2012 at 0:14 | Comments (0)


Monday 09.10.12

Monday Links

There will be a review soon but till then take in some links.

Tyler Green considers how the fact that 60% of MoMA's visitors are from over seas is driving up their very high $25 admissions fee.

Photographing a Ken Price retrospective is fascinating. It reminds me how in many ways the images generated for a retrospective are one of the most important components of any survey. They become the perspective of the catalog.

Peter Blake chooses his list of 10 best paintings. My list would have some similarities (here's my list in no particular order of importance & off the top of my head):

Clyfford Still's, '1957-J-No. 2', 1957 (this is my personal fave if I were forced to pick... it has elements of everything else on the list)

Paul Klee's Ad Parnassum

Velazquesz's Las Mininas

Rembrandt's self portraits... any

any of Ellsworth Kelly's curves

Goya's Black Paintings

Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'Avignon

Matisse's The Red Studio

Jackson Pollock's Lucifer

Andy Warhol's Sixteen Jackies

List your own if you'd like...

Posted by Jeff Jahn on September 10, 2012 at 10:21 | Comments (0)


Sunday 09.02.12

Last day for impressive Bacon at PAM

Francis Bacon 1977, Figure Witing Reflected in a Mirror,(c) 2012 Estate of Francis Bacon. All rights reserved. / ARS, New York / DACS, London

It is your last day to catch what many (including myself) believe to be the best painting Francis Bacon ever painted, "Figure Writing Reflected in a Mirror," at the Portland Art Museum. I'll have a major essay for you soon to ahem "reflect upon," but to give you short summation why it is so important;

1) The painting depicts George Dyer, Bacon's former lover who committed suicide on the eve of his first major museum retrospective in 1971.

2) Considering the difficult subject matter the paint handling is superbly confident yet conflicted. This gives it a revealing personal quality you don't get with the screaming popes even or even with the self portraits.

3)This painting marks a maturation point in his career. The composition was bolder, more poetic and introspective for an artist who up until his 1978 show prized obfuscation above all else. In many ways this double portrait of his former lover set the stage for Bacon's more more introspective later self portraits.

4)Bacon was a wordsmith of considerable gifts and this is his only painting that actually depicts a figure writing (I'll expand this history considerably in the essay).

If you enjoy Storm Tharp's work you will have missed and incredible opportunity in not seeing this painting... so go.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on September 02, 2012 at 9:47 | Comments (1)


Monday 08.27.12

Monday Links

Art Info's Adapt or Die article and the recent tax levy around Detroit do relate to MOCA's ongoing situation but it is also quite relevant to Portland's upcoming vote in November. Look, the reason that Portland is suddenly having a jobs surge is directly related to the decade and a half or so of cultural expansion lead by people who have chosen to rebrand Portland as a city of creative activity and action. These firms are following that workforce. Thus, this new surge requires the funding and civic investment for non-profit culture in Portland so the city can consolidate, reinvest and turn even greater profits.

It is equally true that Portland's funding needs to become more nimble at supporting independent curatorial activity and alt spaces (because THAT KIND OF NIMBLE/RADICAL ACTIVITY IS WHAT HAS CHANGED the city for the better into a creative's rebel base). Also, how do Mayoral hopefuls Jefferson Smith and Charlie Hales stand on this crucial topic of not only funding the arts but the crucial discussion of what kind of arts activity gets funded? Right now RACC is not really calibrated to the needs of the nimblest parts of the Portland arts community and I think a plan is required.

Ori Gersht gets a retrospective in Boston.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on August 27, 2012 at 6:17 | Comments (0)


Thursday 08.23.12

Endangered Architecture Links

Frank Lloyd Wright's David and Gladys Wright house is threatened

One of Frank Lloyd Wright's most unique designs (for his son David) is threatened in Phoenix Arizona. Sign this petition to save one of these Frank Lloyd Wright masterpieces from the wrecking ball.

Art Info has the story on the tragic (in many ways) modifications to one of Philip Johnson's most interesting designs the Elmer Holmes Bobst Library at NYU. Look there are better ways to save the integrity of this design.

The Chicago Architecture Club is looking for ways to save the excellent Bertrand Goldberg that Northwestern University wants to tear down.

All three of these structures are very important mid century structures that require much more respectful treatment.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on August 23, 2012 at 11:42 | Comments (0)


Monday 08.20.12

Monday Links and Kusama

What? Charles Saatchi can't give away his collection... seriously small minded on the part of British institutions but a clear indication that he is doing the right thing! The stuff from the 90's - to say 2004 is certifiably classic. True, Hirst is perhaps no longer what he once was (that was by design being a YBA) but I can't think of contemporary art today without him and Tracey Emin and the rest of the gang.

Interesting story of a young artist broken by being a Jeff Koons' assistant.

Learn about Portland's classic Rummer Homes.

Detail of Yayoi Kusama's window at Louis Vuitton at Pioneer Square Mall

And last but not least... perhaps it is just a Louis Vuitton window display to advertise her line of handbags etc. but it is still badass, like Yayoi Kusama tends to be. I don't hang out at the Pioneer Square Mall much but this alone makes it worth the trip.


Posted by Jeff Jahn on August 20, 2012 at 10:58 | Comments (0)


Monday 08.13.12

Monday Links

The Guardian published a fascinating look at several Edward Hopper locations as they are today.

Slate has noticed how Portland's economy has picked up lately, mostly due to creatives laying the workforce groundwork and the fact that firms tend to follow the talent. This is just another reason we need to rethink how we support the arts on a civic level... i.e. making a point of celebrating and supporting "talent" and excellence for its own sake, instead of waiting for other cities to be better "first big step" advocates for our stand out residents (this means awards and media coverage, perhaps something the mayor's office could do to highlight talent?). Also, Portland is an incubator that attracts the rest of the world, therefore we need to start making innovation more important in our funding decisions. This means less focus on standard genre definitions and long teaching careers for grants/awards and more focus on experimentation including alternative spaces and independent curation.

Timberline Lodge is still looking good and the Oregonian did a piece with nice archive photos in preparation for its 75th anniversary next month. The structure is a WPA era crafts masterpiece and one of my favorite places on earth.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on August 13, 2012 at 11:27 | Comments (0)


Thursday 08.09.12

Recent developments

The end-game picture at MOCA is becoming clearer and man is it a tough one. Bloomberg reports that Eli Broad has been purposefully missing payments to MOCA because the museum has 2.1 million dollars in unspent exhibition grant funds. Also, pledges from other funders are being witheld as well because Broad is perceived as too influential. It also indicates that MOCA will be announcing 2 major new board members. This is all very interesting because it shows how Deitch is in a major catch 22.

Analysis: Many assume that Broad is simply pulling all the stings but it is much more complicated than that, Broad is a former accountant and has strict guidelines. Unlike many I don't believe Broad is the real problem, Deitch is. Broad stepped in because nobody else would, but Deitch is trying to remake a museum without any finesse... Museum directors are all about smoothing things out. Instead, Deitch as a director has been brash yet dead in the water until he can activate the board and grow MOCA beyond Broad's life support. Attendance (which was at an all time high last year) is only part of a 3 legged solution and without the other 2 legs of board involvement and respect a museum cannot stand. It must annoy Broad to no end that the conversation always comes around to him and unless Deitch's major announcement of 2 board members changes that dynamic he is on borrowed time. Deitch has got 2 strikes already, the forced resignation of Paul Schimmel burnt the good faith with serious art patrons (the announcement of an eventual replacement for Chief Curator can't undo this breach of trust and seems diversionary) and the exit of Ed Ruscha, John Baldessari, Catherine Opie and Barbara Kruger struck at the founding principles of MOCA as an adventurous laboratory for artists. This founding principle has been what Deitch has been dismantling and the second it became obvious to everyone it was a big problem (Schimmel was the Deitch firewall).

Predictions: If Deitch survives by virtue of these two new board members (only through pumping in cash, i.e. millions in a long term gift) it will change MOCA into something different than it once was and it will be a desperate move (when isn't it with MOCA, Deitch's real job is to keep MOCA from being desperate like this). Yet if I were placing a bet the odds are 10 to 1 against Deitch because these board members will be seen as destroying MOCA instead of saving it by propping up Deitch with $$$. Let's see how this plays out... but I sense Deitch has seen this and has been building an exit strategy. When Deitch announces new board members... it either doesn't bring in enough cash or backfires as being seen as money vs. the founding artist's original intent. Either way Deitch ends up leaving because it is the only way to appease the now galvanized culture aficionados that Deitch has purposefully alienated (an exit strategy by blaming intellectual elites, how American!). Deitch's original plan as director could have worked but losing Schimmel made that impossible because he came to personally embody that contract between artists and the institution. Right now Deitch isn't being allowed to be Jeffrey Deitch in this situation and I see him as trying to save himself with both hands tied behind his back. He's never been an escape artist and the best thing for MOCA would be to bring in 2 new board members who are active and then leave. Those two board members could spearhead a new director search that is not driven by Broad (whom I actually think wants to not be responsible for such things, his appointment of Deitch was an overcorrection).

Two Portland grad students step right into the MOCA mess...

Does it bode well for Portland's CAN initiative up for a vote in November that suburban voters in Detroit have chosen to support a museum with a tax? If Detroit can do something surely Portland can?

For you quantum mechanics nuts out there, spooky action has been caught on camera for the first time.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on August 09, 2012 at 10:45 | Comments (1)


Monday 08.06.12

Monday Links

There will be a review for you soon.

Till then, contemplate this "World Class" bit of Deitch damage control?

Bertrand Goldberg was a very interesting mid-century architect and his Prentice Women's Hospital in peril. It's the sort of building that could simply serve another purpose... I don't see why it is even being considered for demolition.

*Update: Robert Hughes has died at age 74... Often an excellent art writer, I preferred the first edition of his best book, "The Shock of the New," because the original ending was perhaps the best diagnosis of the art ecosystem's nagging issues since it first reached a critical mass of popularity in the early 80's. Here it is,

"The signs of that constriction are everywhere today - in the small ambitions of art, in its lack of any effort towards spirituality, in its sense of career rather than vocation,in its frequently bland occupation with semantics at the expense of the deeper passions of the creative self. Perhaps the great energies of modernism are still latent in our culture, like Ulysses' bow in the house of Penelope; but nobody seems able to string and draw it. Yet the Work still speaks to us, in all of its voices, and will continue to do so. Art discovers its true social use, not on the ideological plane, but by opening the passage from feeling to meaning - not for everyone, since that would be impossible, but for those who want to try. This impulse seems to be immortal. Certainly it has existed from the origins off human society, and despite the appalling commercialization of the art world, its flight into corporate ethics and strategies, and its gradual evacuation of the spirit, it exists today."

In many ways Hughes was wrong (probably why he revised that paragraph into a long and less pointed screed on art schools) but Modernism wasn't the answer, any more than Postmodernism was. In the 90's and Aughts Art has found a new (still somewhat shallow) fascination with the spiritual impulse... but his railing against the smaller aims of the art world compared to Art itself still has a lot of traction today. Think of the Deitch at MOCA dilemma or the moving of the Barnes Collection?

Posted by Jeff Jahn on August 06, 2012 at 9:57 | Comments (0)


Friday 08.03.12

Friday roundup

Timeshare at the Everett Station Lofts.

Last night I noticed that the Everett Station Lofts (which houses 13+ gallery spaces and has made significant contributions to the Portland art scene) might be taking an upswing with Timeshare Gallery after a few years of disappointing efforts. Sure, Half/Dozen leaving was a blow to the lofts but those spaces traditionally go through high and low tides and 2 years is a long time for any gallery at the ESL to stay open. Historically, Timeshare's unit, #114 has spawned some of Portland's all time best alt-spaces like Nil, Tractor and Field. Breezeblock and now Timeshare give me hope. A few other galleries on NW 6th seemed promising too... look sharp, we are watching.

The Portland Japanese Garden receives its largest gift ever putting it 1/3rd of the way to its 3 million dollar expansion goal, endowing a curator (programming is key). The expansion will be designed by one of the planet's very best architects, Kengo Kuma. It will be his first US project.

AFC reports that the Utah Art Center is facing eviction/censorship... I went to grad school in Utah (my god mother lives in Park City too) and yeah things like this happen all of the time in that state. Give the UAC a break... the world is starting to pay attention, perhaps that is the problem?

It has been a somewhat quiet week on the MOCA front with a few former board members speaking out on Facebook but MOCA Mobilization reached 1500 signatures on its petition for restocking the curatorial program, which was gutted at the end of June.

Tyler Green has been following the situation at the Corcoran, with the latest development being the DC DA looking at some of the legal ramifications of trying to move from the nation's capital to the suburbs.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on August 03, 2012 at 9:59 | Comments (0)


Tuesday 07.31.12

Jesse Hayward on KBOO

Weather Helm

Jesse Hayward is perhaps Portland or even the Pacific Northwest's most radical abstract painter (and a close friend). Today he spoke to Eva Lake on KBOO. It is bittersweet timing as Hayward's show at Gallery Homeland is opening so soon after his mentor, Karl Benjamin... the dean of West Coast abstraction has passed away. Hopefully Eva asked him about his relationship with this central figure in west coast art.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on July 31, 2012 at 10:11 | Comments (0)


Friday 07.27.12

Friday roundup

Hyperallergic has a compelling interview regarding the corrosive influence of money on the arts (many Portlanders will find those words highly ironic, but in some ways it's the lack of $$$ that has made Portland so interesting). The fact is there is money in Portland, the question is are we directing it the right ways? It has improved, but we do need to take a good hard look because things are much different than they were 15 years ago.

The former interim director of MOCA asks Eli Broad to have Deitch removed now that this situation has become a, "four alarm fire." Honestly, I think Dietch would want this... he's up a creek without a paddle at this point and a change could galvanize more support for MOCA in the short and long term. Broad can actually save face by admitting a mistake instead of doubling down on a bad bet at this point. At the end of the day it will be Eli Broad who saves Moca... not Deitch and that fact alone means Deitch has failed and needs a replacement.

In more icky news, MOCA just announced it was withdrawing from the planned Richard Hamilton show. I fail to see how pulling out of a seminal Pop Art retrospective is anything but political as this was a show created by Moca's former chjief curator Paul Schimmel. What? LA not interested in the roots of Pop Art from they guy who started it all?

Finally, some good news to report, the Portland Art Museum has hired a new Director of Education, Michael Murkowski. It is a key role and PAM has become a place where talented individuals want to work (as a good career move) and Murkowski is considered a leading thinker in Museum driven education. Welcome to Portland.

BTW it is the 4th Friday so PAM is free tonight. Check out Francis Bacon, Ellsworth Kelly, Bruce Nauman and Mike Kelley.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on July 27, 2012 at 10:53 | Comments (0)


Thursday 07.26.12

RIP Franz West

Franz West sculptures disrupting the imperial civic tableaux

Honestly, I'm too busted up about Franz West's passing at age 65 to do a detailed obit (of which there are many)... perhaps a more comprehensive historical essay in the near future is the better thing? He was a hero of mine and getting to spend a bit of time with him here and there became crucial to my perception of art's role in the human experience. As a sculptor, his approach to civic space alone was the most successful since Calder. His sculpture leveled the playing field between the real and implied power of real estate and the individuals within a civic space.

Just a week or two ago I was chatting with Dan Attoe about his sculptures as hats for skyscrapers. Too good for this Earth.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on July 26, 2012 at 11:03 | Comments (0)


Tuesday 07.24.12

Discussion on KBOO


Today I appeared on KBOO's Art Focus with host Eva Lake, Jane Kate Wood and Stephen Slappe. It's a continuation of the Hot Haus discussion and my developing Priming the Cultural Pump essay. It was interesting, similar yet different and a lot shorter... with some new talking points that developed in the wake of the first discussion. I'll be working on the essay for another few days then I plan to put the heuristic discussion to bed... so I can get back to the nitty gritty that is criticism. Overall, a good Summer discussion to have before the second half of the year begins in earnest like it does every year in August.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on July 24, 2012 at 11:11 | Comments (0)


Monday 07.23.12

Monday Links

Rest in Peace Herbert Vogel, one of the world's greatest art collectors... and among the most generous too. Mr. Vogel and his wife Dorothy gave the Portland Art Museum 50 works of art in 2009.

Biennials, relevance, backlash... all good topics in the LA Times.

The city of Portland has approved the designs for a subtle and stylish new Apple store downtown. The fact that the design commission keeps bringing up the fact that it is different than the surrounding architecture continues to be a problem. Look, new buildings should look new, let the old buildings look old while updating the mechanicals and other systems. That is good urban design, change is good... especially if a design honors its own time. That way the new and old highlight each other and the fact that this has been approved might improve the quality of other projects since most of the new construction in Portland tries to mask the fact that it is new construction (12+ story fake brick buildings anyone?).

Now for our weekly dose of MOCA's sad spiral. Jeffrey Deitch has finally responded to his critics basically stating that he has the support of his core board. That's probably true but the problem is he needs to expand the board and diversify it in order to be successful. Instead, most of his leadership activity has been programmatic, and though that is valid... concentrating on programming without fixing the endemic weakness of the board is worrisome. Then there was this fine article on the way institutions approach their public from Buffalo. Then this LA Times interview summarization by Reed Johnson presents a situation where Deitch feels he's being misinterpreted... problem is if people believe the version that Mr. Deitch denies it means he isn't making any progress on digging out of this mess. He will have to try something different if he wants to succeed. Roberta Smith thinks Deitch should do a 180 from what he has been doing, but honestly I think he's building an subtle exit strategy by not doing those things. If he leaves without fully implementing his plans he can claim a kind of lynch mob of scholarly public opinion thwarted a good plan. If Deitch's inevitable departure (the job doesn't let him be Jeffrey Deitch, which he IS good at) can galvanize a backlash leading to a resurgent and more active board with renewed commitment to curatorial rigor I'll be happy. So far no happy ending in sight though.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on July 23, 2012 at 11:16 | Comments (0)


Tuesday 07.17.12

2013 Contemportary Northwest Art Awards Finalists Announced

The Portland Art Museum has released the list of finalists for the 2013 Contemporary Northwest Art Awards. The list looks solid but on the tame side, though it should avoid the unmitigated disaster that was the 2011 CNAA's (which felt not so contemporary). Although better, it still seems like the process isn't highlighting much in terms of "edge" or very demanding contemporary work and most artists have very strong affiliations to the regional art schools (which is a problem when Portland is full of grads from Columbia, RISD, AISF etc).

... (more for the list and analysis)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on July 17, 2012 at 13:58 | Comments (2)


Monday 07.16.12

Weekend developments

The sad spiral that is MoCA's ongoing restructuring (covered by Christopher Knight) saw the resignation of three of it's artist trustees, John Baldessari, Catherine Opie and Barbara Kruger. Only the great Ed Ruscha (the Prince of LA's art world) remains and is reportedly "dismayed." *Update: Ruscha has now left the building... at least as a trustee. Opie and Kruger's letter of resignation IS stunning but in some ways it only reveals how the artists were have been largely figureheads on the board for quite some time. This is notable because it wasn't always like that in the 80's and early 90's. You see, when MOCA was founded artists like Robert Irwin (and Eli Broad for that matter) were very involved and it is what made MOCA special... the museum had a commitment as a laboratory of ideas at its inception (something that MoMA has already lost). There was a sense that MOCA was the new frontier, but as Knight pointed out, the reckless neglect by the trustees in the recent past (using the endowment for operating funds) brought the institution to the brink. Though many onlookers see these artists leaving as a bad sign (and it is) some prominent art dealers are excited about a changing of the guard. I remain skeptical.

Clearly Deitch is not handling this situation well, and I suspect we will hear something from him shortly (he's been very quiet... expect it in the New York Times). As a gallerist Deitch could make very unilateral decisions with very little consequence but by now he's discovered just how different a situation a museum director has it. Director's build coalitions and the main problem is the lack of Deitch building any new coalitions. Right now it is the same old dynamic of Eli Broad, Maria Arena Bell and David G. Johnson calling all the shots. Right now Deitch has the support of Broad (whom I see less as the villain as many do but as a tough love giving yet over-correcting uncle, at least Broad is a man of action and did save MoCA from LACMA etc.) but that support will dwindle if Deitch can't make any of his own weather. That weather would be new blood at the board and a worthy successor to Paul Schimmel as curator (one of the finest on the planet, he's now become THE temporary martyr for quality curation, which is good for the museum industry's own identity crisis). The "Disco show" Deitch is creating is programmatic and therefore looks to be overstepping his bounds and it is no surprise Schimmel stepped down. Yet, truth is a very good disco show could be done, but not with the skeleton curatorial staff Deitch currently has available.

Instead, what Deitch needs to do is twofold; 1) install another talented curator capable of backing the flash up with intellectual rigor and 2) add board members capable of balancing Broad's influence. After all this hullabaloo Broad would logically just want to concentrate on his new museums in Michigan and LA (right next door to MOCA) so his patience with the way this has been handled has to be waning (evne if publicly he supports Deitch). Still, I understand Broad's take... he doesn't want to cut MOCA any more big checks, you'd think 30 million would buy you some love in LA... but NO. That has to change if LA's funding dynamic is to become healthier.

Overall, I think Deitch has a max of 2 years (or as little as two days) of Museum directorship left in him (because it is more difficult/less profitable than returning to being a dealer) so he needs to form a transition coalition. Best case scenario... appoint a young curator who can help save Deitch's face programmatically as well as build the board into something sustainable and active (not the passive thing that got them into this mess). Whether that board includes artists (as was once the tradition) will probably rest on Ruscha's shoulders, which means the transparency Opie and Kruger called for will need to be in effect. Can MoCA recapture some its core values? Last Week's letter from several other Life Trustees suggests yes. The ball is in Deitch's court and I think he has only got a few good options left, Broad has given the director enough rope to hang himself with or create a rope bridge over this yawning chasm that has developed. A good director will effectively turn all this this drama into an opportunity to normalize this situation. Time to find out if Deitch has the chops?... it is much harder to add new trustees when the place is full of high drama and bad feelings...

In much better news, Portland artist/designer/editor Joshua Berger addresses the Portland Community from which he is drawing strength after his harrowing brain injury. This is going to be frustrating and slow, but Josh is showing improvement... he's a smart talented guy and we all wish him the best. We've all got your back.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on July 16, 2012 at 9:24 | Comments (0)


Wednesday 07.11.12

Wednesday Links

Portland Architecture interviews Skylab's Jeff Kovel. Most of the design savvy people I know in Portland also share a fondness for the Union Bank of California building. Did you know the grey/green slate was quarried from a site nearby where Stonehenge's bluestones originated?

I missed this last weekend but anti BP protestors brought a part of a wind turbine to Turbine Hall to protest BP's sponsorship of Tate Modern. Great protest theater. Has BP reformed? Has the continued pressure on the Tate Modern and BP lead to better behavior? Maybe having BP associated with Tate Modern is a win win (funding and PR stunts) for the Museum?

Posted by Jeff Jahn on July 11, 2012 at 17:37 | Comments (0)


Monday 07.09.12

Museum and Civic Links

TAM's building by noted architect Antoine Predock, the new wing will compliment it.

The big news this weekend was that the Tacoma Art Museum will be expanding with a 15,000 Sq ft. new wing devoted to Western American art. TAM is already the most focused of the area's larger museums (special focus on Northwest Art) so this addition of the Haub collection dovetails nicely with their current mission. I think it is particularly important to think of everything west of the Mississippi as "The West" so it isn't just California, Santa Fe and Texas centric. There is a Northern, big tree-d aspect as well that includes Alaska and Canada as well. I support including Mexico to compliment the international flavor of this vast region's history as well and TAM has always taken this tack. The problem with regionalism is it usually is so narrow, with a touch of inferiority and bitterness. It doesn't have to be as projects like Pacific Standard have shown. I think it is fine that it is just one collection for the wing... it becomes a coherent anchor, similar to the Greenberg collection at PAM did. Nice that much of the Haub's collection is comprised of living artists. (*Note the Haubs are not the only German Billionaires doing high profile things in the Northwest...)

Tomorrow on KBOO tradio catch Bobby Abrahamson, Julia Dolan of PAM and Myles Haselhorst talk about North Portland Polaroids, which encompasses 2 exhibitions and a book. There are two exhibitions, one at Blue Sky and Ampersand Vintage. Portland is getting better at telling its own stories and these shows are just part of a groundswell in self awareness and a new valuation of our civic worth.

And in the downward spiral that is the discussion of MOCA of late the LA Times has another analysis of how the ouster of one of the world's finest curators is not a good thing when considering the long term health of museums. Eli Broad, whom many want to see as the villain... but I see as more of an over-correcting uncle (an accountant is going to react this way to MOCA's fiscal woes) wrote this not so helpful op-ed. The problem isn't Broad... it is the fact that everything seems to start and end with him. LA needs a few more major players involved to give balance. Then again when your top cultural patron is constantly vilified it doesn't encourage others to join the fray does it? Regardless Schimmel is one of the great living curators and it is more of an indictment of LA's funding climate that they weren't able to support him at MOCA longer. The fact that they did for so long is an indication of important things as well.

Deitch himself must be feeling some incredible pressure as too... LA is a hard place to be a museum director... expectations are incredibly high but culturally Hollywood dominates the scene making museums seem like the backdrop to quaint often self-important dinner parties. Overall, on the West Coast distractions and comparative youth make patronage priorities difficult to negotiate. At the same time the institutional chaos is good for artists who are coming up.

*Update: Edward Winkleman follows a similar line to my thinking... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on July 09, 2012 at 11:39 | Comments (0)


Friday 07.06.12

Friday links

I'm still so jetlagged... but something from my travels is coming soon + lots of other stories from our other writers/interlocutors. Till then:

The Guardian takes a look at a show that explores flight. Sounds like a can't miss curatorial idea, Paul Klee taught at the Bauhaus that his students should master gravity to master composition. That's some incredibly good advice.

Boston artist lands Sellwood Bridge gig.

Brian Libby explores the new Vestas HQ in the Pearl District.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on July 06, 2012 at 17:35 | Comments (0)


Monday 07.02.12

Monday Links

I've been traveling and will have some reports from outside Portland shortly but until then here are some interesting stories over the past few days.

This New York times article on the burden that the recent building expansion boom has put on institutions is fascinating. Chicago's Art Institute expansion seems to be the emblematic case study as well. I visited it last week and I noticed that the article missed one key point about Chicago, that it was a way to tie the museum into Millennium Park... a part of that city's gamble for a Summer Olympics, which failed. Overall, the lesson to be gleaned is never expand without a suitable expansion in endowments... an old lesson that PAM's own arch-prudent Brian Ferriso knew well when he was Deputy Director of the Milwaukee Art Museum. He was ahead of the curve back then and it is interesting how many institutions didn't use MAM's Calatrava expansion as a case study.

Tyler Green's take on MoCA's firing of Paul Schimmel. Look, besides it's collection Schimmel was perhaps MOCA's second most valuable asset. Curators, especially great ones... are still persistently under-valued institutional assets.

Christopher Knight digs into the MOCA situation.

Portland Architecture reports that Portland's GDP has risen more than some might suspect. Overall though it isn't how much money... it is how it is used. For example, Portland has added a lot of excellence to the mix on an individual by individual basis but that has highlighted the difficulty in making consistent excellence a habit at the institutional level. The art schools, RACC, the museums and galleries are often revealed to be a step behind by very active artists (nationally and internationally) though all of them have improved significantly in the past decade or so. Most attempts to survey or award the scene have revealed that a lot of the institutional thinking is still thinking in terms of hierarchies in play in the 1990's. A lot has changed since then and it has lead to a schism between those artists with an international outlook and those who play the Portland game. The lesson is that if you cant adjust to the international game (PNCA and PAM have done this best with lots of room for improvement) then things have trouble remaining relevant and dont translate to the international realities at work in Portland.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on July 02, 2012 at 10:24 | Comments (0)


Monday 06.25.12

Monday Links

Michael Heizer debuted his Levitated Mass at LACMA this weekend. He's probably my favorite living artist and I like the way he places incredible demands upon institutions and viewers... there's something about artists being too accommodating/accessible these days that lessens their impact and by staying away from this opening Heizer did the right thing. He seems to be saying, sure this seems like a big deal to viewers in LA but I'm actually up to something much bigger and better in Nevada desert. And he is.

I don't think anyone will be all that surprised that Giacometti sculptures suppressed the appetite for chocolate compared to Mark Rothko's paintings... but it is an interesting/amusing study.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on June 25, 2012 at 1:37 | Comments (0)


Monday 06.18.12

Monday Links

The New York Times had an interesting article on Josiah McElheny. Last year it was announced that YU was to do something with him but precious little info has been forthcoming. BTW this is what we are talking about when we say there hasn't been clarity in programming (set a time and a date on the calendar about 6 months out, define what they will be doing and then deliver.... name dropping then no followup isn't the best way to increase confidence, or perhaps Percival's departure effected this).

It's a bit of a tired art world joke these days to farm out work to Chinese painter mills (Ai Wei Wei was there first of course) but Greg Allen had several destroyed Gerhard Richters recreated. It is interesting, though the fakes aren't too convincing.

Kink FM did this video interview with Jack Shear, the Director of the Ellsworth Kelly Foundation on the occasion of Kelley's print show at the Portland Art Museum. It is a great summer show for PAM and I did a rather involved interview with Jack and Jordan Schnitzer, which I'll be posting in the near future.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on June 18, 2012 at 12:26 | Comments (0)


Tuesday 06.12.12

Catch up links

Ralph Rugoff picks his top ten favorite invisible artworks.

Tyler Green reported that the Corcoran may or may not have 22.5 million more in cash to work with, begging the obvious question... do they still have it?

Politifact rates Sam Adams' claim that only 18% of Elementary School students in Portland are getting an arts eduction as true. This is startling and a major blemish on Portland's ever increasing international reputation as a progressive leader. The thing is, does that truth move Portland voters towards adopting the CAN initiative in November? I'm not so sure. It is a harsh fact but without a much better economic climate I fear November is not the best time for CAN's $35 a year income tax to be put to a vote.

There is something to not putting all of your eggs in one basket and Portland should be adopting a more sophisticated approach to civic funding of the arts even without CAN. For example a city like Houston has an over-arching policy that all arts funding be directed at making that city an "arts hub" on an international level. Portland by comparison has a rather dippy approach, which generally favors process over excellence. It is a comparatively insular approach and causes much frustration amongst an art scene, which is active internationally and thus can compare the realities at home and abroad. There is a schism where Portland doesn't support it's most noteworthy creatives with grants etc... yet the most feel good community art (with little merit beyond that) gets funding. We shouldnt just celebrate community as a blanket term we should be asking "what kind of community?" and "do we reward excellence?"

Hyperallergic chooses 9 artists to watch from Bushwick.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on June 12, 2012 at 16:24 | Comments (0)


Tuesday 06.05.12

The Corcoran's institutional lessons

The post of the day belongs to Tyler Green who assiduously digs through the longstanding institutional malaise that is the Corcoran. It's obvious from reading the piece how the lack of decisive long range planning has hamstrung the institution's ability to even make short term decisions like programming work. It can never be just the building or just one show... it is game of chess and a series of long term strategic moves, not checkers.

It reminds me how the MoCC faced a similar situation and has made a merger with PNCA work by not hamstringing key staff members like Namita Wiggers (disclosure board members are friends and we did talk privately). In that situation I decided to play the skeptic to give that key staff leverage because allowing your curatorial/fundraising staff to plan effectively is essential... they are the captains that pilot the ship away from deadly reefs. Also, having a board that can make tough decisions is equally key in the long term and it is clear from Tyler's piece that there is a complete disconnect between the board and institutional leadership... I fear it wont end well for the Corcoran. Personally, I hope the National Gallery ends up with the building and perhaps even the collection. Suburbia isn't a good place to move to once you've been in the heart of the nation's capital. I see this as a cautionary tale... an institution has to be always moving forward, with a good board. Recently PICA "learned that lesson", though YU should take heed... by having a board and solid programming rather than opportunistic programming and an undeveloped board consiting of the founders who have admitted publicly that they don't have the "credibility" needed. Without those things you simply don't exist as the Corcoran is about to find out.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on June 05, 2012 at 11:39 | Comments (0)


Monday 06.04.12

Monday links and thoughts

Artnet has images and some discussion of the Made in LA Biennial. Overall, it doesn't seem like the work is terribly special and definitely not better than what can be seen regularly in Portland's alternative spaces BUT the presentation of it and the overall vibe of the show is infinitely better than what we saw in last year's CNAA's and the recent Portland2012 effort. The difference is the overall intention of the Made in LA's curatorial team to be relevant (both in the city and abroad). There is widespread dissatisfaction amongst Portland's community of sophisticated artists/collectors with our institutions right now. So, if I sound like I'm annoyed with our institutional curators whose job is to attempt to present the local scene... that's because you simply don't get out enough and it really shows. Hint, try curating a show that strays beyond a white, gray and black color scheme or relies on craft as a crutch rather than a ramp from which the viewer is catapulted into the air. Portland is very exciting as a scene but institutionally isn't keeping up with the better artists (who happen to be getting a lot of national/international looks & attention), instead Portland often navel-gazes at artists it has been over-familiar with for 2 decades and don't excite anybody. In other words, step it up (this feeling is widespread and not just my own). BTW, good on Jarl Mohn for upping the ante in LA... for those who are paying attention will recognize his name from the Judd show we did back in 2010.

Holand Carter reviewed Sue Coe, who turns up in Portland from time to time.

The Guardian interviews Jenny Holzer on the subject of her early work.

And last but not least PNCA released this architectural flythough of the planned renovation of the 511 building by Brad Cloepfil/Allied Works. It's a great fundraising tool methinks. Despite the one person talking on a cellphone in a gallery space!

The design itself has come a long way since its earlier more "museumy" iterations. It seems light filled, with numerous multilevel sight lines and very flexible layouts befitting an art school. It reminds me a little of Toyo Ito's Tama Art University library with all of its arc and light elements, which is a good thing (though it just isn't as bold as Ito's design). I like the flying walkways but the thin ceiling mounted movable wall systems always look cheap and wont be good for installation art, just paintings and works on paper a floor based system is more flexible too. This 511 building (which we were the first to see as a game changer)... along with the Kengo Kuma designed Japanese Garden expansion are very exciting architectural projects for Portland.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on June 04, 2012 at 14:03 | Comments (0)


Tuesday 05.29.12

Tuesday Links

I hope everyone had a great weekend and if you were in Portland did not miss the Rothko show. Here are some links.

Roberta Smith goes on about fun house art. As I wrote last year, I agree that some artists like Carsten Holler and Olafur Elliason do make fun house work that doesn't demand much of the viewer. Then there are artists like Alfredo Jaar, Robert Irwin, Richard Serra who push institutions and viewers to their limits. That isn't a fun house it is to rigorous and demanding for that and the distinction needs to be made. BTW the fun house stuff likely started with Salvatore Dali's World's Fair pavillion. It's all a question of how much pandering the work does towards the viewer's expectations.

Here's an article on the "Try-Again-Ennials" from Modern Painters.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on May 29, 2012 at 10:24 | Comments (0)


Friday 05.25.12

Friday News

Kanye West has a pyramid designed by OMA dedicated to him for Cannes Film Fest. Sure he believes his pyramid is the greatest of all time but it is in fact a tent... an awesome big-assed tent but a tent none the less. Interesting viewing environment though.

In the least shocking news of the week, longtime Museum of Contemporary Craft curator Namita Wiggers was named director. I've always described Wiggers as MoCC's #1 asset, even above its building and collection so this makes sense and I suppose it took this long to happen because she is such a force as a curator and thinker. She succeeds my friend Jeffrey Thomas, whom was interim director for a year and stepped down a few months ago. My read on this is that his tenure was a way to allow Namita to transition and to get the museum on firmer ground with old Portland and national level funding sources... while she got the programming back on solid ground. Normally, I'd be concerned about the quality of programming with such a shift but shows curated by others like the recent Northwest Modern show were excellent historical efforts. Namita's current Betty Feves retrospective wont be her last effort either. Frankly, she's one my favorite art people in Portland and this is good news.

It is the last weekend for the Mark Rothko retrospective at PAM (and it's free tonight from 5-8PM) so catch it. Yes it has been extended through Monday the 28th. I'll have more on this later weekend.

And last but not least think about attending this event documenting the history of experimental film making in Portland on Sunday for EFF. Jim Blashfield, Matt McCormick etc...

Posted by Jeff Jahn on May 25, 2012 at 12:45 | Comments (0)


Monday 05.21.12

Art and Real Estate links

The New York Times covered the out of the way Maryhill Museum. Interesting comparing the writing on it in the local paper. The O certainly has its work cut out for it when all this local stuff is of national interest... i.e. look sharp and never ever use irrelevant terms like "Big City"... Look, the area has an idiosyncratic appeal so pay attention to those aspects which are making them stand out nationally/internationally. Basically, beware of familiarity breeding contempt. We have natural advantages here but you have to be looking for them to see how special they are to outsiders. Basically don't take the area's pioneering pluck for granted, sometimes it is much more valuable than simple dollar signs.

And speaking of idiosyncratic museums, collections and benefactors Christopher Knight gets right down to it on the whole Barnes Foundation debacle.

Oh and with everything else going on I forgot to link to Brian Libby's discussion of PNCA's new residence hall on the North Park Blocks.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on May 21, 2012 at 11:07 | Comments (0)


Monday 05.14.12

Barnes Storming

Interior of the original Barnes Foundation

I've discussed the Barnes Collection numerous times over the years, and now it is open to the public in a new building in downtown Philly. I haven't seen it yet but on principle I believe it is important to weigh in.

Christopher Hawthorne of the LA Times doesn't dig the building. Frankly it was an impossible commission, part of the charm is the destination, the old building smells, creaky floors and less than perfect light.

But even more fascinating is this very well written piece by Jerry Saltz that I nearly completely disagree with.

Though I generally applaud Jerry's sentiment that no collector should dictate the terms for best viewing the art (especially after they die) in this case I can't agree. Very few collectors deserve equal billing with artists but in this case I believe the incredibly idiosyncratic Barnes did. What is lost by creating a pseudo structure that makes the works more accessible is to lose part of the story of modern art and thus the roots of how we decoupled the power of the image (art, advertising etc.) from the institution and the state... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on May 14, 2012 at 12:24 | Comments (0)


Friday 05.11.12

Friday Links

I have expanded my thoughts on Peter Plagens' article in the Wall Street Journal. The repercussions of which should be felt for years because Portland does a lot of great things as an incubator and needs to consolidate those successes with rethinking its support structure and the way institutions calibrate their eye on the scene's often very unrelated strata.

Tyler Green takes a look at some fantastic Rembrandt self portraits.

Brian Libby looks at the most exciting new building in Portland's skyline... did I just type those words? Yes, Portland actually has an exciting new addition to its skyline.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on May 11, 2012 at 17:02 | Comments (0)


Wednesday 05.02.12

WSJ asks if Portland is America's next art capital?

Peter Plagens visiting 12128 2 weeks ago

The Wall Street Journal has just published a fascinating report on the Portland art scene by noted art critic Peter Plagens. I was his Sacagawea, er... guide... so yes he's seen infinitely more of Portland's scene than DK Row (or any institutional curator besides Cris Moss and Blake Shell). So yes odds are he probably saw your show if it was up two weeks ago in an established venue. Plagens is a machine and a tough discerning customer who doesn't buy any BS. The first day alone we took in 9 shows scattered throughout the city. There will be some images in the print edition tomorrow but let's just take a quick once over the words right now.

Nice that he reiterated the "Capital of Conscience" term that I coined in an Op Ed for the Portland Tribune a few months ago. Because Portland is not a financial capital, NO we wont be a traditional art center like London, New York or Paris of yore. Instead, think of Portland like Weimar during during the Bauhaus years or perhaps Leipzig (the best 25 artists are definitely world class discoveries to be made, maybe only 6 are already known in Chelsea). Overall Portland is full of idealistic people doing idealistic things for the sake of ideals... giving things time to develop before money kicks in and changes things (for good and bad). Portland is a rebel base where art for art's sake is made. We have international art stars who live here too because it is a good environment to work and enjoy the company of other like mindeds.

Accurate in that it discussed Portland as a city where creatives work very hard... not just a bunch of slow paced hipsters who are already retired and eat Voodoo Donuts. The truth is most are working very hard to stay afloat and make work... yet some are carrying on an international career.

It is true, the alternative spaces are so much more adventurous than the commercial galleries... that could be said of most cities but it's my sense that many retreated quite far in 2008 when the market crashed. Instead of trying to drum up excitement by trying new artists (when nothing was selling anyways) they went for safer stuff. Honestly that makes sense, the gallery business is so difficult but perhaps this article will catalyze a way to narrow the schizm? Collectors might be more involved if they knew what Portland's larger scene was like? As it stands Plagens has seen more of Portland than most Portland collectors, curators and art dealers and he's right the installation art and some video is our strongest suit.

He loved Crystal Schenk's Artifacts of Memory (the last show we saw) and Laura Fritz's Entorus (he spent an hour with it... 45 minutes in silence), because frankly they are two superlative exhibitions that outclass everything but the Rothko show at PAM (yeah that good). They would stand out in Chelsea and you can still catch them both, do so.

He gives Joe Macca... hell. It's karma time Joey??? PORT's Patrick Collier just reviewed Macca's show too, and didn't go easy on him. He did think Ralph Pugay was hilarious so there you go.... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on May 02, 2012 at 14:53 | Comments (2)


Monday 04.30.12

Last Month for 10th NW Biennial at TAM


It is the last month for the 10th Northwest Biennial at the Tacoma Art Museum, which runs through May 20th. Sure, nearly every institutional attempt at surveying a region's art production tells you more about that institution strengths and weaknesses than the art of that time and place, falling into at least one of several predictable missteps. (Also apologies, despite my best efforts I'm in this exhibition as an artist as well.) So it definitely isn't perfect. In this case the TAM show is too full but it does one thing that none of the recent spate of institutional survey shows have attempted... it has a coherent curatorial criteria, exploring the theme of multi-disciplenary art. Apparently, it helps having a consistent curator who is tasked with making the exercise intellectually viable? Novel idea! So for once this one isn't focused on "whittling" as a Northwest art staple and explores those who explore by crossing different disciplines and strategies.

What's more there more artists from Portland in it... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on April 30, 2012 at 22:07 | Comments (0)


Monday 04.23.12

Monday Links and a List

In case you missed it:

DK Row actually did a nice job interviewing the three mayoral candidates about the arts in a 4 part series. This is what we expect the Oregonian to be doing, but sadly this sort of eye for relevance is rare and it's generally just gratuitous conservative "shrug pieces". PORT will have something even more targeted and incisive to help you separate these 3 candidates.

Eva Lake's first solo show in New York City seems to be going over well. I knew it when I saw this show at Augen... Eva was definitely onto something.

Jerry Saltz picks 10 artists to save the art world. He's wrong of course because he didn't pick any Portlanders... we are the "Capital of Conscience" as I penned in the Tribune's Op Ed a few months ago after all. So if I picked 10 Portlanders (who haven't already been in a Whitney Biennial) who would they be? I won't make too big a deal about this list but just off the top of my head these 10 are all ready and doing original, high level work with impressively sustained intelligence:


Posted by Jeff Jahn on April 23, 2012 at 10:15 | Comments (0)


Monday 04.16.12

Monday Links

Will a refurbished Palais de Tokyo bring French art back into the spotlight?

Finally, an Oregonian article that doesn't make me angry... ironically it is about creative anger. Perhaps anger isn't the right word but a very specific distate for certain things has always been the whetstone for those seeking to sharpen their ideas to a high level of excellence.

Argentina builds a new contemporary art district from scartch.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on April 16, 2012 at 12:56 | Comments (0)


Friday 04.13.12

PICA's new headquarters

PICA's new headquarters

I'm burying the hatchet because this space gives me reason to believe in PICA again but first a little history. In 2004 PICA shuttered its once excellent visual art program, which under curator Stuart Horodner presented the likes of Janine Antoni, William Pope L. Dana Shutz, Melanie Manchot, Jim Hodges, Tony Tasset and Rudolf Stingel... and if that sounds like the most interesting nonprofit exhibition space north of San Francisco it is because it was. What's more the space was large but not unwieldy space designed by Brad Cloepfil, long before... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on April 13, 2012 at 13:54 | Comments (2)


Thursday 04.12.12

Arnold Kemp Guggenheim Fellow

Arnold Kemp's Untitled, (Played Twice) 2011

Congratulations to Arnold Kemp who was just named a 2012 Guggenheim Fellow for the Fine Arts. Kemp's work intrigues me for the way it rehabilitates the rather forced schism between formalism and identity politics. He basically implodes the idea that they exist in separate unrelated universes, which was such a 20th Century way of looking at things. Kemp is represented by PDX Contemporary Art and is Chair of the Master in Fine Arts in Visual Studies Program at Pacific Northwest College of Art.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on April 12, 2012 at 11:03 | Comments (0)


Monday 04.02.12

Monday Links

Max Ernst's The Elephant Celebes (1921), Tate Gallery

Happy birthday Max Ernst! Somehow I feel like he is now underrated for his contributions to Dada and Surrealism. Perhaps too much focus on his relationships and not the work in art history classes?

Adrian Searle reviews Damien Hirst's retrospective at the Tate and doesn't throw the shark out with the bathwater.

In case you hadn't heard the Chinese Government is rejecting Ai Weiwei's request for a public trial.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on April 02, 2012 at 3:11 | Comments (0)


Thursday 03.29.12

Last Weekend for Marie Watt's Lodge

Inside view of Marie Watt's Engine

I've been meaning to post on Marie Watt's Lodge but was hoping to catch it first. Well fellow procrastinators (I know it has been a busy) it is now the last weekend for this extensive show at the Hallie Ford Museum, so this is everyone's last chance. The show runs through April 1st so get on down to Salem.

"For the past decade, Watt has worked as a mixed media artist whose work explores human stories and the ritual implicit in everyday objects. Organized by anthropology professor and faculty curator Rebecca Dobkins, the exhibition will feature a range of work from the past decade, including stacked blanket sculptures, portrait blankets of Jim Thorpe, Ira Hayes, Susan B. Anthony, and Joseph Beuys, and Engine, a felt cave-like structure that honors the act of storytelling and the storytellers in the artist's life."

Posted by Jeff Jahn on March 29, 2012 at 22:37 | Comments (0)


Monday 03.26.12

Monday Links

Today Oregon College of Art and Craft (OCAC) has announced it is launching a Master of Fine Arts degree in Craft in the fall of 2013. According to the press release the program, "emphasizes problem solving through the manipulation of materials and the vigorous exchange across disciplines and media." Ok, these days Portland art schools seem to be launching new programs all of the time but this one seems absolutely core to a school like OCAC. In other words, they needed to do this and do it well. It should be a signature program for Portland's most focused/specialized art school.

More details, "With its expansive and versatile approach, the College has designed this MFA as an intellectual investigation of process, purpose, and communication distinguished by its methodology as much as its outcome. The 60 credit program in Advanced Craft Studies combines courses in studio creative practice, interdisciplinary studies, graduate seminars, and electives.

'This new program is the natural outgrowth of OCAC’s long tradition of educating entrepreneurial, critical thinkers and creative makers who innovate through engagement with materials. Craft in the twenty first century, the tradition of what it has been and the innovation of what it will be in the future, is the essential focus of this new degree,' said Denise Mullen, OCAC President. 'The MFA in Craft allows us to grow our programming to a new level, and to enhance our core mission at OCAC of educating professionals at the highest level of object and image making.'" Those interested as MFA candidates should join the contact list at www.ocac.edu/MFA to receive announcements about the new program.

There is a new Kieth Haring retrospective at the Brooklyn Museum. I've never been able to decide if he is underrated or overrated so this is probably way overdue.

The Brits get things right for a revitalized transportation hub at Kings Cross. Why doesn't Portland pay closer attention to its transporttation nodes as a way to showcase itself?

Portland Architecture rounds up a group of recent architectural awards for Portland designers.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on March 26, 2012 at 12:09 | Comments (0)


Tuesday 03.20.12

Endowed: Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at PAM

Photo of the endowers, Robert and Mercedes Eichholz at their wedding in 1963

The news of a 2 million dollar endowment for the curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Portland Art Museum is an important upgrade for the community in many ways. For example it couples the role of modern and contemporary art while ensuring that the Portland Art Museum should always have the position filled as soon as possible. That's because drawing from the general fund incentivises any museum to let positions sit fallow during times of economic stress. Also, it improves the museum's overall credit rating and financial portfolio. Still, it would be even nicer if Modern and Contemporary art duties were always coupled to the Chief Curator as it is now, and an endowed acquisition fund for contemporary art would also keep things even more contemporary. It also shows how the heirs of important philanthropists choose Portland and change the cultural landscape... in much the same way that artists choosing to call Portland home over the past decade and a half has similarly changed expectations for the city. The convergence on Portland is no accident, money (at least the interesting kind) follows talent. Here is the Press Release:

"The Portland Art Museum is pleased to announce that a gift of $2 million was recently pledged by the Robert and Mercedes Eichholz Foundation. The gift from the foundation, headquartered in Santa Barbara, Calif., will endow the curator of modern and contemporary art. The position, currently held by Bruce Guenther , will now be known as The Robert and Mercedes Eichholz Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art.

"We are grateful to Mercedes Eichholz and her family's foundation for this generous and important gift,” said Brian Ferriso, The Marilyn H. and Dr. Robert B. Pamplin Jr. Director. "Endowing curatorial positions ensures that the core mission of the Museum is fulfilled."

... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on March 20, 2012 at 16:40 | Comments (0)


Monday 03.19.12

Monday Links

The New Criterion asks what is a Museum? There is a definite need for idiosyncrasy with an eye for relevance that makes the authority of such institutions a source of civic pride. Otherwise it's a temple to missed opportunities.

Check out Roberta Smith's critical take down of Adel Abdessemed's well intentioned but hackneyed solo show. This is a problem critics often face when surveying the scene, exhibitions that try so hard to be relevant that they end up being derivative.

The Hammer Museum's new regional art prize and awards show for LA makes the Contemporary Northwest Art Awards and Disjecta's ongoing attempt at a biennial seem so tame and non-competitive (collegial familiar names not discoveries) by comparison.

It isn't the 100k either, it is the way the Hammer effort is designed to be a taste making show that points out bright new lights just as they flicker onto the scene. This positions LA as being more interested in its cutting edge (Portland's institutions, apparently are not... well except PICA's TBA festival, which can be EVEN less polished than the alt spaces). For example, the CNAA's haven't taken many chances and have felt very safe and so solidly mid career... rather than picking work that spoke the most to our uncertain times. The last CNAA's had zero edge, whereas the current Portland2012 doesn't so much present new names as reconvene a group of artists who have had academic shows in the past few years... with an overall feel that is well, academic. It is often a throwback to the 90's, which is something that happens when you use a guest curator not someone who has been in studios for years before the show. The sad thing is Portland's alt spaces are doing a lot of very interesting work that certainly can give LA a run for their money (if only our institutions could get their heads out of the sand and made a point of doing a show about the times.... one has to take more chances to be relevant as a taste maker). My sense is that Portland's institutions are so busy trying to ingratiate themselves with the constituents they already feel comfortable with that the potential shock of the show itself becomes a foregone conclusion. Rather than lead, they insinuate. The Hammer doesn't have that problem, they lead by taking chances.

Then there is this cathedral converted to a bookstore... ahh if only all sacred places could be a place of learning. The cross shaped conference table seems a tad much though... we get it and yeah some ex-catholics will dream of having sex on it.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on March 19, 2012 at 18:43 | Comments (1)


Saturday 03.17.12

Pat Boas 2012 Bonnie Bronson Fellow

Pat Boas' Against Nature series (2005)

Pat Boas has been named the 2012 Bonnie Bronson Fellow. This continues the more conceptual direction of the past 3 years with David Eckard and Nan Curtis (all three are well established educators who have been active since the 90's). Boas' work is fastidious and somewhat obsessive in nature and she usually works in discreet series. My favorite works by Boas are the Against Nature series, which biomorphically shift between various animal skins... as if to summon the specter of genetically engineered food. Congratulations!

Award will be presented April 18
6:00 - 7:30 PM at Reed College's Gray Center Lounge

Posted by Jeff Jahn on March 17, 2012 at 13:43 | Comments (0)


Monday 03.12.12

There is always a bigger rock

It is often funny when people think they know which artists I'm most obsessed with. Over the years some have thought the AbEx greats or Donald Judd. I understand why they might think these things but they are wrong. The artist who I've thought most about since a massive 8,000 mile land art road trip is Michael Heizer. Without Heizer we don't have Smithson or Walter De Maria and I don't even feel like Double Negative is his best work.

As a child Heizer, grew up in archeological digs throughout the vastness of the Western United States and then passed some of that experience onto his art friends at a crucial time.. but he's actually the most interesting of the three. He considers New York's art world kinda soft (because it is if you are used to living in the harshness of the Nevada desert) and will likely only open his masterwork City to the public only when he dies.

a house-sized rock on the rim of Meteor Crater in Arizona, center (photo Jeff Jahn)

All of this makes the spectacle around his latest project for LACMA seem like a diminutive sideshow. It does bode well though for how his work will be received once the world can see his main focus. As it stands Levitated Mass is at best medium level work for Heizer but it is good that the city folk are getting worked up. In fact, Heizer once had the jones for even larger rocks, like the house sized one on the rim of Meteor Crater in Arizona.

What impresses me most about Heizer is his toughness and the way he thinks in massive geological and anthropological terms. Lots of artists think bigger is better but perhaps only Heizer and Richard Serra have been able to back it up... and what's more Heizer's work seems to step outside time. It is never about the latest technology like Serra can have as a sub plot. Instead the plot is always the same... dealing with the innate basic forces of the planet. In short he mocks human vanity while embracing its innate hubris as an unavoidable consequence of our existence. The fact that he has all of LA watching one medium sized rock must make him chuckle. Good for him, artists should have the last laugh and for once it is nice to see Art grandstanding more than the movie industry in LA. I like the way art places demands on civilization, it is the opposite of entertainment.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on March 12, 2012 at 13:40 | Comments (1)


Friday 03.09.12

Friday Links

Posted by Jeff Jahn on March 09, 2012 at 11:09 | Comments (0)


Tuesday 03.06.12

Candidates and the Arts

Last night's Mayoral and City Council, arts and culture Q&A at the Armory (video here) went pretty much as expected, except that Mary Nolan and Jefferson Smith were not able to be present (Smith due to his work in the legislature in Salem). There was a lot of boilerplate and outright dodges but here are some impressions:.

Overall, none seemed that terribly different from one another except Brian Parrot, whose constant equation of the sports and the arts fell on deaf ears. Look I'm a fanatical tennis player and his equation of art and tennis makes no sense to me and I wrote the book on it. Also, his call for an Olympics Winter Games bid as a way to heighten the profile of the arts was also a non starter.

City Council candidates and James Lavadour images

Surprsingly none of the city council candidates knew who James Lavadour was (major opportunity to score points lost, though technically he doesn't live in Portland)... I bet they do now.

All of the candidates (except Parrot) i.e.; Amanda Fritz, Eileen Brady, Steve Novick and Charlie Hales were staunch advocates of core issues like the planned but potentially delayed 10+ million dollar tax levy for arts and education as well as Mayor Adam's current call for diversity in arts funding. None seemed too eager to put the levy to a vote this Fall so the supposed key issue is a non issue. Surprisingly none of them wanted the be... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on March 06, 2012 at 13:13 | Comments (0)


Monday 03.05.12

Monday Links

Hmmm, need any more indications that the Columbia River Crossing's hurried, cheapie design wasn't all that well considered? Well it looks like they designed it too low. I sense this is only the tip of the iceberg and hopefully Washington State's deep funding crisis will kill this thing so it can be begun the right way... not Kitzhaber's rushed, even seismically short-sighted way (cable stay designs are currently superior to all other bridge types in major earthquakes, they also allow for higher clearances... that option was nixed as an option for cost and schedule reasons).

Roberta Smith's take on the 2012 Whitney Biennial... honestly the multi-disciplenary concept doesn't seem new to us here (TAM's current NW Biennial, TBA, Core-Sample in 2003, programming by Worksound, Rocksbox, Gallery Homeland, Recess etc.) but I do like the idea of it not being your typical Biennial where too much work is included with a "throw it and see what sticks" strategy. Here's Jerry Saltz's take too. It seems so quaint to us here in Portland that New York is trying to be non-comercial... when so much here is non-commercial as a default. Not that it's bad... it is just that commercially focused efforts seem novel to us in the way non-commercial seems novel to NYC.

And in case you didn't know some of the Appendix crew (Travis Fitzgerald, Daniel Wallace and Josh Pavalacky) are opening a new type of Gallery in New York City called American Medium. Hilariously they are not moving to NYC and I like their focused & too cool for that approach, I'll let them give you details in good time. It's a different type of art gallery for a different type of work. It opens in May.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on March 05, 2012 at 12:28 | Comments (0)


Friday 02.24.12

Kenneth Price dies at age 77

Kabongy Balls (2002)

It seems like we lose a great artist every week or so these days. The latest is Kenneth Price at age 77. Perhaps no artist bridged the craft/fine art divide like he did and his jewel like surfaces were a key component in Dave Hickey's paradigm shifting Beau Monde Site Santa Fe biennial in 2001 ending what seemed like a 25+ year unofficial ban on beautiful art.

His work was never just pretty though. It was sexy but a little grotesque and by avoiding the self consciousness of a lot of craft based work it transcended that genre's often cloying need to be taken seriously by simply stealing the show every single time they were shown (that's telling). Price's works were so outstanding, with forms so self assured and relaxed in their own perfect skin that they transcended the technical geekery of the craft world, putting all of their considerable aesthetic weight into the viewers mind and response. Thus, how it was made was always tertiary but integral to the encounter, similar to a lot of non western art.

I always found them compelling, as if Price gave unlikely life to a pile of puke while imbuing it with the moves and curves of Cyd Charisse. In fact, Dave Hickey's Site Santa Fe install could have easily been likened to a dance between Charisse and Fred Astaire, it was just that good. He will be missed, but not forgotten... a 50 year retrospective will begin at LACMA in the Fall.

*Update: Roberta Smith of the NYT's fascinating obituary . I found these quotes quite interesting, "crafts-dogma hell," and, "'I can't prove my art's any good,' he added, 'or that it means what I say it means. And nothing I say can improve the way it looks.'" Indeed...

Posted by Jeff Jahn on February 24, 2012 at 10:12 | Comments (0)


Tuesday 02.21.12

Preserving Washington State's Public Art

Washington State's most famous bit of public art, Barnett Newman's Broken Obelisk (1963)technically not at risk but it is a slippery slope

The idea to sell off works in Washington State's public art collection is such a bad idea. Also, the wolf in sheep's clothing tactic of using sales to fund scholarships and more art acquisitions doesn't make it any better.

Weve been down this road before with both the Rose Art Museum and the Oregon Cultural Trust. Both of which ended up getting support from conservatives and non arts people... here's why:

1)Public collections are kept in trust for the public. The thing about trusts is that you don't go radically altering (in this case selling) the asset kept in trust. If you treat a trust as a rainy day fund it simply ceases to exist.

2) This is particularly short sighted since the elements of the collection are acquired for the way they engage and complete specific sites and buildings. That context building is a sort of running civic commentary and selling said works becomes tantamount to book burning of civic memory. Often the artwork outlives the original buildings and provides a thread through the past.

3) Selling works when you think they are worth a lot of money is foolhardy. For example, though... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on February 21, 2012 at 10:48 | Comments (1)


Monday 02.20.12

Presidents Day Links

Ok it was an epic visual art weekend in Portland with Rothko and Nauman events and exhibitions (more to come on those). Till then, here are some Presidents Day Links:

A hilarious project and article on the world Google didn't intend to show you with its electronic 9 eyed panopticon?

Is there a neurological link between fear and the appreciation of the sublime or abstract art?

Holland Carter looks at the New Museum's latest more international triennial The Ungovernables. Reminds me a bit of my Fresh Trouble show in 2005 (probably the stick by which Portland measures group shows) but with an update from the Arab Spring, etc. Fact is the world has seemed much more restless since the WTO demonstrations in 1999 where new electronic media allowed faster and more global disseminations of information and dissent.

The Getty gets a new Director but has some of the same old problems.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on February 20, 2012 at 10:36 | Comments (1)


Monday 02.13.12

Monday Links

Michael Kimmelman's best writing in ages on the civic importance and humiliation of Penn Station. He's wrong about Calatrava's PATH station though, it's the only architecture at the WTC site that actually lives up to the challenge of the site and it costs 4 billion because of the complications of building there and the fact that Calatrava is NEVER on budget... it will be fantastic though, everything he wishes Penn Station could be, just without the immense foot traffic. It may set the bar higher for Penn Station? Is the Columbia River Crossing going to be a civic/design failure similar to the destruction of and burial of Penn Station? If this humiliation in concrete is constructed it will be.

To prepare for the Rothko retrospective/homecoming at the end of the week at the Portland Art Museum. Re-read Arcy's crucial post from 2009 on the artist's history in Portland and perhaps this letter to the NY Times from Rothko and Gottlieb. Overall, I hope people take this seriously and don't go overboard on the distasteful marketing of Rothko, which he would have hated. No Rothko face painting, no Rothko snuggies and NO Rothko toast art please! I shouldn't have to say this (but I think I have to say this esp with the Red marketing). Simmer down, with greatness comes the responsibility to respect his legacy and Rothko was one of the least commercially oriented artists of all time.

Check out these early photographs that a young Stanley Kubrick did for Life Magazine.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on February 13, 2012 at 10:32 | Comments (0)


Friday 02.10.12

Indispensable Replica Links

Did you catch this interesting article by Christopher Knight about replicas being used for exhibitions?

I feel it very much depends on the artist and the work. For example there was Kurt Schwitters' Merzbau that recently went on tour, where everyone was very up front about... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on February 10, 2012 at 12:49 | Comments (0)


Tuesday 02.07.12

New Faces of the Portland Art Scene 2012 Edition

The Portland art scene is ever shifting with new artists arriving every day but it is the often thankless role of being a facilitator (as curator or programming director) that greases the wheels of the machine. For example, if I want to point out an artist I simply write a review but admins are a different story. Also, the level of artistic development of these individuals varies a great deal and is perhaps secondary to the contributions they represent (for now). Also, some new admins like Jeffrey Thomas (Director MoCC) and Bonnie Liang-Malcolmson (Curator of NW Art PAM) have been around for over a decade and have only just recently switched roles (not prominence), so I'll skip over them. I also vet the list for people making an impact beyond expectations (so I don't always pick new hires at PAM, they have to earn it). Also to make my list one has to curate or work on several shows, do more than draw attention to a few of your friends or throw a hipster party... so without further ado here are 9 newish faces you should get to know before they take your job:

Jason Brown @ Half/Dozen

If you can find Half/Dozen then Jason Brown's face is already familiar to you and your gallery hopping skills are well developed. In his time as assistant at Half/Dozen ... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on February 07, 2012 at 16:40 | Comments (0)


Wednesday 02.01.12

Mike Kelley 1954-2012

Mike Kelley

Sad news, conceptual provocateur Mike Kelly has passed away due to an apparent suicide. I reviewed Kelley's fantastic collaborative show at Sculpture Center a few years ago. Few artists could make such an intelligent spectacle indulging in the juvenile and supposedly profane, but Kelley did so by laying bare the adult ruse as a kind of tribute to the wonder/ridiculousness of that awkward age through which all must pass and perhaps never leave. In Portland artists like Bruce Conkle, Matt "Troll" Green and Patrick Rock bear the greatest stamp of his influence. Our thoughts are with Kelley's family and loved ones, a hugely influential artist has left the building.

*Update: must read Christopher Knight's epigraph on Kelley the game changer.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on February 01, 2012 at 12:20 | Comments (0)


Friday 01.27.12

Edge of Vision at L & C

Bill Armstrong, Mandala #450, 2003

Cameras are more common now than in any time in history, which should = more experimentation right? So what happens when the subject is no longer bound to documentation? To help answer that question twenty international photographers have been gathered for, The Edge of Vision: Abstraction in Contemporary Photography at Lewis and Clark College's Hoffman Gallery. The exhibition is curated by Lyle Rexer and presented by the Aperture Foundation.

"The works explore diverse aspects of the photographic experience, including the chemistry of traditional photography, the direct capture of light without a camera, temporal extensions, digital sampling of found images, radical cropping, and various deliberate destabilizations of photographic reference. This abstract use of photography often combines other mediums such as painting, sculpture, drawing and video. All artists join a broad contemporary trend to look critically and freshly at a medium commonly considered transparent."

Edge of Vision features photographs by; Bill Armstrong, Carel Balth, Ellen Carey, Roland Fischer, Michael Flomen, Manuel Geerinck, Shirine Gill, Barbara Kasten, Seth Lambert, Charles Lindsay, Irene Mamiye, Chris McCaw, Edward Mapplethorpe, Roger Newton, Jack Sal, Penelope Umbrico, Randy West, Silvio Wolf, and Ilan Wolff.

The Hoffman Gallery January 19 - March 18 2012
Hours Tuesday through Sunday, 11 AM to 4 PM (Free)
Lewis & Clark, 0615 SW Palatine Hill Rd.
Parking on campus is free on weekends. (503-768-7687)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 27, 2012 at 13:54 | Comments (0)


Monday 01.23.12

Monday links

OHSU has gotten approval for it's latest South Waterfront expansion by CO Architects and SERA. Interesting, it reminds me a bit of Thom Mayne on the south end but the 12 story tower seems underwhelming in comparison. Still it should blend in with other nearby buildings.

Curator sharing between Detroit and Kansas City? It is common in the orchestral world but I think it is problematic in the museum world. Why? because curators don't just plan and execute shows, they are the public face of the institution and interface with the interests of the community. Half the face time? ....half the interface! Overall, I'm not a fan of half time curators at major museums.

As Kodak files for bankruptcy the Guardian takes a look at the role of women in their identity.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 23, 2012 at 13:53 | Comments (0)


Thursday 01.19.12

Sandra Percival leaves YU

former YU Director, Sandra Percival

Last Fall I raised questions about Sandra Percival's role and basic questions of board oversight, which was a reiteration of what I was first to point out a year before.

Now YU just announced that, "We, Curtis Knapp and Flint Jamison, Co-founders, announce that Director Sandra Percival will leave YU. Curtis Knapp will become Acting Director, effective January 20. There will be complete continuity in the day-to-day functioning of YU and in the assumption of strategic and programmatic planning imperatives at the director level, some of which we will discuss below....(more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 19, 2012 at 13:25 | Comments (0)


Wednesday 01.18.12

Tina to Williams

Christina Olson

It would be sad news if it weren't something we hadn't seen coming the moment she took the Director of Education job at PAM but Christina Olson is leaving her post in Portland to become the "Class of 1956 Director of the Williams College Museum of Art" (WCMA for short). During her tenure in Portland she was THE point woman for Brian Ferriso's very successful revamp of PAM's education department and her accomplishments go far beyond the annual Shine a Light events. With Tina the museum took what was a very hit or miss program and made education a part of every single museum activity. The busloads of kids I see at PAM every week are a testament to her but so is the greater community/interpretive involvement... like the fantastic Artist Talks series (of which I've taken part). She leaves PAM as one of the most successful employees the museum has ever hired.

... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 18, 2012 at 14:37 | Comments (0)


Monday 01.16.12

Monday Links

Nice article on seminal Light and Space artistDoug Wheeler in the New York Times.

Should a Keith Haring mural be conserved or simply repainted as Haring wanted it to be? I'm with Haring on this.

Tyler Green points out a pretty cool Luis Tomasello installation at the Nelson-Atkins Museum.

Roberta Smith gives Damien Hirst's polka dot paintings a fair shake. For me he is a bit too prolific but he's still one of my favorite artists of all time. That said I've always found the dot paintings much less interesting than his installations and I think he knows it. The thing with Hirst is he finds a way to make people form an opinion by pushing buttons... that is a tremendous ability, without which contemporary art dies. She's absolutely right about it being a lot better than the Christos' The Gates project.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 16, 2012 at 1:25 | Comments (2)


Thursday 01.12.12

Op Ed

Here's my Op Ed in the Portland Tribune. I've mentioned these things time and again... most recently in my 2011 year end wrap-up and a detailed look at regional survey shows. This one was for a more general audience but also places the discussion of excellence and relevance in a wider civic context.

It is true that our art universities and museums have come a long way but it is time to finish the job, not become complacent. Here's a relevant passage from Ibsen's An Enemy of the People that I couldn't fit:

Dr. Stockmann: "They [the young] are the people who are going to stir up the fermenting forces of the future, Peter."
Mayor Peter Stockmann: "May I ask what they will find here to 'stir up. . . ."
Dr. Stockmann: "Ah, you must ask the young people that"

Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 12, 2012 at 0:48 | Comments (0)


Monday 01.09.12

Monday Links

You saw it here first, the Portland Art Museum has finally gone live with a new website after undergoing a comprehensive identity makeover last September. Once again it is much more contemporary and a cleaner overall design. There is even an enhanced online search option for the collection.

Michael Kimmelman writes on the prominence of parking lots in the built environment. Surely in Portland we are already taking this quite seriously but much more could be done.

Brian Libby posts a riposte to the Washington Post about Portland's already long streak of prominence in the national media.

The Art Newspaper reports on Nicolas Berggruen's plan to create an on loan collection for LACMA, similar to what Eli Broad has already done. There is a local tie in here as Berggruen owns Chris Burden's Three Ghost Ships (1991) that have been on display at PAM for the last few months. Places like Portland, which do not have mega collectors... yet are filled with an viewers hungry for contemporary art definitely gain from this type of lending collection arrangement.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 09, 2012 at 0:32 | Comments (0)


Saturday 12.31.11

2011 Wrap-up

David Eckard's Deployment at The Art Gym

I regret that I made the trek to Portland galleries and museums a little more than a dozen times this year due to the untimely death of my truck. (Readers may not know or care that I make a 120-mile round-trip.) I know I missed a lot. However, I'm happy with the essays I wrote, and must win the Most Comments Award, just with my 2010 wrap-up and the piece on Social Engagement. That said, I do have a few quick thoughts I can share:... (more)

Posted by Patrick Collier on December 31, 2011 at 20:19 | Comments (0)


John Buchanan 1953-2011


John Buchanan, the former director of the Portland Art Museum at a crucial time (1994-2005) has died at age 58 of cancer. It is a great tribute to his legacy that he can be credited with complicating Portland in the best way possible, leaving us questions the city still seeks to explore fully. Under his tenure from 1994-2005 the once flagging Portland Art Museum (like many of the city's institutions) was faced with the daunting task of reinvigorating its connection to its patrons at all levels.

A devout populist and francophile John was the kind of director that took a hands on approach to programming. That programming often carried a flashy theatrical flair with imported exhibitions like; Imperial Tombs of China (1996), Let's Entertain: Life's Guilty Pleasures (2000 featuring Damien Hirst, Richard Prince, Murakami etc), Stroganoff: The Palace and Collections of a Russian Noble Family (2000), The Triumph of French Paining (2003) and Hesse: A Princely Collection (2005). From 1994-2000 he and his wife stunned the city by turning PAM into an attendance powerhouse, all while making its patron parties the premier social events in the city. This was a powerful thing that made him perhaps the most loved and reviled personality in the city. John relished the job energetically and always knew exactly to whom he was talking to (a great skill)... I remember one time he crossed the street just to shake my hand and say hello after finishing a power lunch at Paley's.

The man had hustle, yet at that precise moment in 2000 he helped engineer two very serious acquisitions, the Clement Greenberg Collection and the hiring of Chief Curator Bruce Guenther. By 2005... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 31, 2011 at 12:03 | Comments (0)


Friday 12.30.11

A generation fades, is it a call to action?


Roberta Smith gives some more context regarding the loss of Helen Frankenthaler and John Chamberlain. But that is only the tip of a rapidly melting iceberg... we lost Cy Twombly + John McCracken too... and with as conservative as the galleries of 2011 seemed to be overall the question has to be what are we replacing them with? These were all very bright artists driven by perceptive and compelling ideals, not merely a series of calculated art world/market differentiation moves. These were artists with beliefs and this brings us back to Alex's Bringing Barr essay published earlier this week. May 2012 be the year of art manifestos... or at least an a year of art that has ideals?

One of the reasons 2010's Judd conference and exhibition were important was the way it presented the seriousness of an artist like Judd. The Rothko Retrospective in February at PAM should be another call to action.

After the continuing Occupy Movement this past Fall I see a larger interest in simply finding a new and better way to invigorate the discussions that comprise human civilization, which most of us take part in... this is simply what artists do (at certain times they do it better than others).

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 30, 2011 at 12:57 | Comments (1)


Wednesday 12.28.11

End of year lists

Well it is that time of the year (PORT's will come out on the 31st)... and because the world doesn't revolve around just one city here is are 2 lists that are not New York or Portland centric.

Christopher Knight's 2011 list for Southern California certainly confirms how different an art region it is than the NYC scene.

... and just because people forget how good the Midwest is for museums check out this year end list for Kansas City.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 28, 2011 at 12:40 |