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Main

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)

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Tuesday 08.19.14

Revisiting Benjamin

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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.

Pardo_inside_Night_1_sm.jpg
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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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Wednesday 07.02.14

Guggenheim heirs rebuffed

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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Wednesday 06.11.14

Links

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)

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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)

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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)

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Tuesday 05.27.14

Robert Adams Photographs to PAM

adams_Old_growth.jpg
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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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Wednesday 04.23.14

Links

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)

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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.

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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)

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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)

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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)

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Monday 03.31.14

Wafaa Bilal at Linfield

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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Saturday 03.08.14

Women In Art for 2014?

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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)

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Wednesday 03.05.14

Whitney Biennial Links

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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Thursday 02.20.14

Oregon Arts Commission & Trust Survey Results

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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).

Analysis:

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)

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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)

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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)

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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

Blackfish

Butters

Pulliam

Laura Russo Gallery

PNCA


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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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Thursday 01.23.14

Ponderables?

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?

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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)

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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)

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Friday 01.17.14

Powell - Basquiat Links

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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)

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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)

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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.

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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)

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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?

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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)

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Wednesday 01.08.14

Architecture Wednesday

Well, this Wednesday has dropped a ton of architecture news on us.

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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Wednesday 12.11.13

Precipice Fund Grantees Year 1

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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:

...(more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 11, 2013 at 1:15 | Comments (0)

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Monday 12.09.13

Monday Links

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 09, 2013 at 11:32 | Comments (0)

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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)

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Thursday 12.05.13

Blake Shell New Director of Art Gym

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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.

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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.

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

...(more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on October 29, 2013 at 13:04 | Comments (0)

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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)

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Tuesday 10.22.13

Linkage

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)

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Thursday 10.17.13

Bridge named after Rothko?

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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)

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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)

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Tuesday 10.08.13

Kartz Ucci, a force for new media art RIP

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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...

...(more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on October 08, 2013 at 11:54 | Comments (0)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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Saturday 09.21.13

2013 CNAA's and the winner is

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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.

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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Monday 09.02.13

Monday Links

Posted by Jeff Jahn on September 02, 2013 at 21:42 | Comments (0)

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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)

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Tuesday 08.20.13

Hirst's Castle

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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)

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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)

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Tuesday 08.06.13

Linkage

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)

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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)

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Friday 07.26.13

Free Friday Night at Portland Art Museum

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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)

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Thursday 07.25.13

Walter De Maria 1935 - 2013

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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)

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Monday 07.22.13

Deitch out

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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Wednesday 05.15.13

Congrats to Alex Mackin Dolan

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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.

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(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)

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Tuesday 04.30.13

RACC responds to budget cuts

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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)

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Monday 04.29.13

Monday Links

Posted by Jeff Jahn on April 29, 2013 at 15:59 | Comments (0)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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Friday 03.29.13

Wynne Greenwood 22nd Bronnie Bronson Fellow

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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)

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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)

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Tuesday 03.26.13

MOCA boosts endowment

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MOCA

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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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Thursday 03.07.13

MOCA takeover by LACMA? Again?

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MOCA

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)

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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)

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Monday 02.18.13

Monday Links

Posted by Jeff Jahn on February 18, 2013 at 5:53 | Comments (0)

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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)

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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)

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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.

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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)

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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)

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Wednesday 01.16.13

Announcing NOW Portland Trienniale

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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 ..."

...(more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 16, 2013 at 10:40 | Comments (3)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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.

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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.

Analysis:

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)

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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)

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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)

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Tuesday 10.30.12

Sandy's aftermath, art & design

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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)

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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)

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Thursday 10.25.12

Dave Dave Dave

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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):

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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)

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Sunday 09.02.12

Last day for impressive Bacon at PAM

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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)

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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)

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Thursday 08.23.12

Endangered Architecture Links

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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)

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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.

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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.

...(more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on August 20, 2012 at 10:58 | Comments (0)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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Friday 08.03.12

Friday roundup

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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)

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Tuesday 07.31.12

Jesse Hayward on KBOO

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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)

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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)

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Thursday 07.26.12

RIP Franz West

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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)

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Tuesday 07.24.12

Discussion on KBOO

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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Monday 07.09.12

Museum and Civic Links

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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Monday 05.14.12

Barnes Storming

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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)

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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)

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Wednesday 05.02.12

WSJ asks if Portland is America's next art capital?

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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)

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Monday 04.30.12

Last Month for 10th NW Biennial at TAM

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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)

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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:

...(more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on April 23, 2012 at 10:15 | Comments (0)

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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)

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Friday 04.13.12

PICA's new headquarters

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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)

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Thursday 04.12.12

Arnold Kemp Guggenheim Fellow

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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)

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Monday 04.02.12

Monday Links

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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)

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Thursday 03.29.12

Last Weekend for Marie Watt's Lodge

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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)

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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)

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Tuesday 03.20.12

Endowed: Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at PAM

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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)

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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)

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Saturday 03.17.12

Pat Boas 2012 Bonnie Bronson Fellow

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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)

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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.

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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)

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Friday 03.09.12

Friday Links

Posted by Jeff Jahn on March 09, 2012 at 11:09 | Comments (0)

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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.

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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)

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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)

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Friday 02.24.12

Kenneth Price dies at age 77

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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)

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Tuesday 02.21.12

Preserving Washington State's Public Art

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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:

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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)

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Wednesday 02.01.12

Mike Kelley 1954-2012

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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)

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Friday 01.27.12

Edge of Vision at L & C

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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)

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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)

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Thursday 01.19.12

Sandra Percival leaves YU

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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)

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Wednesday 01.18.12

Tina to Williams

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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Saturday 12.31.11

2011 Wrap-up

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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)

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John Buchanan 1953-2011

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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)

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Friday 12.30.11

A generation fades, is it a call to action?

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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)

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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 | Comments (0)

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Tuesday 12.27.11

Helen Frankenthaler 1928-2011

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Helen Frankenthaler's Spaced Out Orbit (1973) on display at the Portland Art Museum

Helen Frankenthaler, one of the most important painters of the twentieth century has died at age 83. I consider her be the most important artist of what her onetime paramour Clement Greenberg dubbed "Post Painterly Abstraction." She was the inventor of the stained canvas technique that other artists like Morris Louis and Kenneth Noland used to remove any separation between color and the canvas. What's more she differed from those who followed because she continuously used a poetic approach to abstraction that was tellingly rooted to real experiences... I see this as a strength as she makes the otherwise VERY MACHO movement much more varied than it is given credit.

I'd also argue that without Frankenthaler there would be no Clement Greenberg. As a couple the two would tour... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 27, 2011 at 16:15 | Comments (0)

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Thursday 12.22.11

Portland2012 Biennial announced

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Detail from Ahihiko Miyoshi's Abstract Photograph 2011

Disjecta has announced the list for their Portland2012 Biennial (curated by Prudence Roberts and opens February 26) with lots of artists that have already established their reputations in town and a few names like Ahihiko Miyoshi who haven't.

The list:
Ben Buswell
Hand2Mouth Theater
Akihiko Miyoshi
Vanessa Calvert
Grant Hottle
Wendy Red Star
... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 22, 2011 at 16:41 | Comments (0)

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Wednesday 12.21.11

2012 Whitney Biennial Announced

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The Whitney has announced its 2012 Biennial and for once a New York institution isn't trying to get a piece of Portland's cool... there are no Portlanders in it this time. (Though it does feature Charles Atlas whom we saw at TBA in 2010)

In fact, over the past decade 6 Portlanders have taken part so we are a little ambivalent to the whole thing.... call us when you give a Portlander a solo show or do a show about how Americans are re-evaluating what American values are (which is what Portland excels at). Before Occupy Wall Street, artists started occupying Portland in the late 90's.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 21, 2011 at 18:41 | Comments (0)

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Tuesday 12.20.11

Mayor's 2011 Progress Report

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Mayor Sam Adams has released his 2011 progress report for the arts in Portland. For high points there are the increases in TV and movie production as well as the increases in funds for arts education are both huge moves in a long term strategy but the increase in the Work For Art (workplace giving) to $764,830 2010-2011 for RACC is a major and unexpected victory in this bad economy. It says a lot about how Portlanders respect the arts.

Overall, this report highlights an obviously very arts friendly administration and yes the arts platform will likely determine who the next mayor is. Still, to date there is still one HUGE gaping hole in how the city funds both alternative spaces that don't have a 501.c3 and independent curators... both of whom are the backbone of the art scene. It is an area where just a little money would go very far.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 20, 2011 at 19:10 | Comments (0)

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Monday 12.19.11

Monday Links

It is end of the year wrap up time and Holland Cotter felt like the NYC Museums delivered, while the galleries were complacent. I mostly agree with his assessment.

Mack McFarland interviews the gang over at Appendix in Bomb. Appendix does the alternative project space thing right. Here at PORT we always pay attention to what they are doing because they are important as a self-selecting group of talented and very intellectually engaged individuals.

RACC awards a record sum for Project Grants. It is important to note that they convened some multidisciplinary panels to evaluate projects like Ben Young's... a clear step in the right direction. Sure, some of the grants went to embarrassingly dippy projects to people who repeatedly get some of the larger project grants but the new names like Young and Bund are encouraging. Honestly, I've never bothered applying for a project grant because it seemed like a waste of my time (I am a critic/curator and thus infinitely capable of pissing off panels of my so-called peers even when I'm not trying to alienate people... it comes with the territory if you call a spade a spade). Yet with these special multidisciplinary panels I'm reevaluating my opinions of RACC's project grants now... perhaps now can they handle high level independent curatorial projects? Venues like Rock's Box, Appendix, Worksound, Gallery Homeland and Recess are the backbones of the scene but dont get support except when individual artists get a grant. That said congrats to those who did and don't suck! Im hard on RACC but if any of the projects they funded are excellent I'll be sure to give them the props they deserve.

The new federal budget plan cuts the NEA and NEH.

On Friday artist Robert Hanson died at age 75 and PNCA covered it best. I don't want to attempt a eulogy (I only do that for those I knew well) but I what noticed most about Robert is that unlike many others of his generation you'd see him out and about taking in the new shows each and every month... usually with his wife Judy Cooke (always such a wonderful couple). That curiosity speaks volumes about the man. Our thoughts are with Judy and his family as he will be missed. Hanson's work will be the subject of the next Apex show at the Portland Art Museum.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 19, 2011 at 13:44 | Comments (0)

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Friday 12.16.11

Mark Rothko Retrospective at PAM

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Mark Rothko, Untitled, 1957, oil on canvas, (c) 2011 Kate Rothko Prizel and Christopher Rothko

In 2009 PORT gave you a head's up that it was coming but now the Portland Art Museum has released the dates and some details about its Mark Rothko Retrospective in February 2012.

Spanning Rothko's entire career, the 45 works in the exhibition may constitute the single most important exhibition of the 21st Century for the Portland Art Museum and all eyes will be on this show. It is sure to be a watershed moment and the exhibition will not travel.

For background, Rothko from age 10-18 grew up in Portland and had his first solo exhibition at the Museum in 1933-34. In 2009 Arcy published this very important post on PORT detailing the city's most famous son's relationship to Portland. Also, it illustrated how overdue such a retrospective was. In fact, even today many Portlanders (and some artists) aren't even aware of Rothko's connection to Portland. In short this retrospective simply had to be done and I personally feel the new transit bridge over the Willamette currently under construction should be dedicated to Rothko as well (he often painted the spot). Then there is my ultimate hope, that the Portland Art Museum creates a special Rothko gallery according to the artist's preference for low level natural light, low ceilings and his works alone when they next expand their campus in the next decade. If Denver can have a Clyfford Still Museum I think Portland (a city overrun with artists) should be a venue for seeing Rothkos the way he intended.

PAM's retrospective is made possible through key loans from the Rothko family, the National Gallery and private collections. This exhibition was a lifelong dream for the recently departed Harold Schnitzer and though he didn't get to see it that dream was crucial in making this happen.

Mark Rothko Retrospective • February 17 - May 27th 2012
Portland Art Museum • 1219 SW Park Ave

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 16, 2011 at 1:28 | Comments (0)

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Monday 12.12.11

Monday musings

David Lynch (who was partially raised in the Northwest) has published a book of his sketches, take a look at them in the Guardian.

German forgeries in the market detailed in the Art Newspaper.

...(more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 12, 2011 at 12:40 | Comments (0)

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Friday 12.09.11

Friday links

Well, the art world's still in the predictable post ABMB entertainment/money confluence backlash mode but as I pointed out just before the East Coast/Saatchi started publishing screeds... it really does matter how the artist and institutions lay the ground rules (Alfredo Jaar requires carte blanche). Here's the latest:

Anselm Kiefer (sometimes one of my favorite artists) believes art is, "not entertainment." Well he's right when it comes to his art, but there is certainly room for entertainment in art... for example Paul McCarthy's and Richard Serra's sheer audacity is entertaining. By simply suspending the humdrum of the everyday an artist can create big A "Art". In Kiefer's case he's working within an exceedingly serious historical discussion and his show at Tate Modern along with the New Clifford Still Museum are foregrounding a much needed counterpoint to the sometimes grating follies of art. I like to think of it as very responsible "older brother art". Maybe I'm just projecting... I am the oldest in my family so; Still, Judd, Newman, Serra, Martin and Kiefer all appeal to my "seriousness" fetish. Which isnt to say I don't enjoy classic Damien Hirst, Murakami, Tracey Emin and Jason Rhoades as art brats who fulfilled the need to laugh a little bit at how we fetish seriousness/higher aspirations.

Linda Yablonsky addresses the Miami hangover directly.

Edward Winkleman addresses Yablonsky and does a nice job of discussing the 99% and the influence of money. Though I think he's wrong about the naming rights superseding the work that director's do in the history books. For example if the Menil's can't overshadow Walter Hopps legacy in the history books... then no one can! At the Portland Art Museum both the current... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 09, 2011 at 12:09 | Comments (0)

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Monday 12.05.11

Monday Links

Well it was ABMB weekend and refreshingly instead of the obligatory and inane pieces on how art is a hot investment there were numerous substantial opinion pieces on the state of the art world. Art, no matter how much it costs is simply a way to understand that which resists understanding... it should be as much if not more of a personal existential investment as it is a monetary expenditure. That is the one thing I really like about collectors in Portland, nobody... no matter how much they spend is doing it just for show.

Jerry Saltz takes on the Carsten Holler (AKA art as playground) show. On a similar note I discussed and compared Holler and Alfredo Jaar at length last week. The sense is that this type of show is designed to draw in audiences rather than hit the right notes... ie be challenging rather than diversionary entertainment put on by the 1%. Let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater though, sometimes a carnival show can shake up the status quo.

Charles Saatchi blasted art oligarchs who collect and inflate the blue chip art market rather than develop a deeper relationship. This typical art rant means something only because Charles Saatchi is saying it and therefore has the weight of a man who has been wrongly accused of much the same thing. The difference is he has taste, faith in the difficulties of Art and has catalyzed not just careers but entire art movements; YBA, Leipzig etc. There is a learning curve and serious collectors like Saatchi and Broad are special. They have done it for a long time and it is obvious they keep their own counsel as patrons... they aren't simply acting on the tips of advisers, they developed a certain personal biography through the art they collect and present.

To get at the issue from a different angle, how about a look at the crossroads of art and neuroscience. I'm always shocked at how much the art world doesn't look at or exploit scientific approaches.

Also, it is Turner Prize time... if only Northwest shows at major museums like the CNAA's had similar ability to generate discussion? Too often they are a cavalcade of already past their prime names or a bouillabaisse of so many artists that an actual curatorial thesis is impossible to form... making the institution's intrigue the defacto subject rather than the host of avenues for new understanding.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 05, 2011 at 12:06 | Comments (0)

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Monday 11.28.11

Monday Links

I'll publish an essay/review Tuesday but for now here are some links to get you started;

Tyler Green parses a Washington Post story on Hide/Seek and corrects the false assumption that the show is about same sex intimacy. BTW Hide/Seek is coming to the Tacoma Art Museum in March 2012.

Brian Libby reports that Jefferson Smith is the only Portland mayoral candidate to question the Columbia River Crossing's boondoggle.

The Guardian looks at the gaggle of Posted by Jeff Jahn on November 28, 2011 at 10:36 | Comments (0)

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Thursday 11.24.11

Turkey links

As is our tradition PORT is taking a little break for the holiday but Ill have a big piece for you to read after this holiday weekend. Till then check out these very popular recent articles and links.

Our 1 year checkup on YU

Gary's interview with Chris Burden

... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on November 24, 2011 at 16:44 | Comments (0)

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Sunday 11.20.11

Clyfford Still Muesum opens

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The Clyfford Still Museum opened to the public this weekend with a positive review from the LA times already.

I've make no secret that Still is one of my favorite artists and in the past I've pointed how his Northwest roots run very deep. Here Arcy and I interviewed architect Brad Cloepfil about the design of this project... which appears to be his best work since the W+K HQ.

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Posted by Jeff Jahn on November 20, 2011 at 18:12 | Comments (0)

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Friday 11.18.11

Kippenberger at PAM

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Martin Kippenberger at PAM

I've been very busy lately doing other things on Portland's South Park Blocks so it has really been irking me that I haven't had time to check out the Martin Kippenberger show at the Portland Art Museum. Looks like I finally get the chance today.

All of this is interesting because I don't dig Kippenberger all that much (saw his retrospective at MoMA and liked about 5% of it). Still he's influential, so influential that most MFA programs look like tribute cover bands devoted to Kippenberger. Generally, if I don't like something I try to revisit it as much as possible to understand why the work does or doesn't work... if I come back several times it means it is successful in some way that deserves scrutiny.

The fact that it is here though is a good enough reason to visit PAM, which also has a Chris Burden show up.

Here's what Chief Curator Bruce Guenther says about the Kipster, "Dissuaded of art's power to reveal truth or the possibility of producing original work, he nonetheless produced new important work with a strong political and social content, revealing, as John Lane observed, 'a moralist in despair.' The exhibition features a selection of paintings from the last decade of the artist's life and fourteen 'Hotel Drawings,' intimate works created on hotel stationary gathered on his peripatetic travels from 1987 until 1997. The works present an irreverent and ferocious humor that cumulatively accentuate the late artist's acute sense of moral responsibility to humanity and the history of art."

Look I'll say this, if you like Rock's Box at all... this is a show you have to see if you live in Portland . Through February 19th, but don't wait that long.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on November 18, 2011 at 10:41 | Comments (3)

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Monday 11.14.11

Monday Links

Yesterday Roberta Smith took on the sprawling Pacific Standard Time complex... aside from the idea that LA is the only west coast hotbed for art it's interesting to read how the east coast is discovering the depth of the West Coast. The truth is there is a Mexico to British Columbia thing that has been in force for at least 3 decades now. Hopefully all this talk of region will evolve the way we discuss San Diego, LA, San Fran, Las Vegas, Eugene, Portland, Tacoma, Seattle and Vancouver BC.

Brian Libby discusses CoLab's newest design.

The Guardian discusses the importance of design to a country's economic well being.

Jerry Saltz softens up to Maurizio Cattelan. I find Cattelan mostly dull except a few standouts like Him and La Nona Ora. He's the Carrot Top of the art world for me... worthy of respect in that he has survived so long but ultimately not doing his best work anymore, mostly because the method wasn't that rich with material to begin with.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on November 14, 2011 at 15:22 | Comments (0)

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Wednesday 11.09.11

YU 2, what are they up to?

Tonight the YU Contemporary Art Center project held its second annual state of the YU address.

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Crowd of movers and supporters at YU, November 8 2011

Last year PORT was the first to break the ambitious new YU project to the public but this year the bigger concern is whether they have really made any progress.

The answer is a definite yes but it remains true that some absolutely crucial elements (a robust board) have yet to materialize... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on November 09, 2011 at 1:16 | Comments (0)

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Monday 11.07.11

PICA's new HQ

When PICA announced last summer that they had received a $200,000 ArtPlace Grant I was cautiously skeptical they would fully leverage the opportunity of a medium sized, not huge grant. 200k does go fast when you get involved in civic buildings. I felt like they might just float between a couple moldering properties on the East Side of Portland, rather than take the responsibility of a full time presence in Portland more seriously. I love PICA but as a "burned" past supporter I'm hard on them. Think of me as the grumpy old uncle who loved them as a cute kid and beamed as they grew into adulthood (with their Pearl District gallery) but was publicly heartbroken when they decided to throw it all away and shirk responsibility back in 2004 when they stopped being a major full-time vis arts institution and became a festival with a vis art component. Ultimately in the intervening 7 years their vis arts program became less focused, with its series of provisional/compromised spaces and scattered attention during TBA festivals.

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Unfinished space that is to be the new PICA HQ (photo Andrew Billing)

Well today, I'm less skeptical with announcement that they will indeed have a nice headquarters space at 415 SW 10th Ave. It is just down the street from Powell's and is described as a hub office, not merely a series of ever changing off site encampments (which they will also undertake). The permanent space does make PICA suddenly a lot more exciting. There is something more grown up... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on November 07, 2011 at 22:23 | Comments (1)

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Wednesday 11.02.11

10th Northwest Biennial artists announced

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TAM's building by noted architect Antoine Predock

The list for the 10th Northwest Biennial at the Tacoma Art Museum has been announced. For the first time it will include our Canadian friends in British Columbia, something I've criticized all so called Northwest surveys for not doing. This year the survey focuses on "interdisciplinary art practices."

Of the 30 artists, 13 are Portlanders, list after the jump... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on November 02, 2011 at 20:26 | Comments (1)

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Monday 10.24.11

Give us your links

Ok it has been too long since PORT has updated its links page. We are looking for art and design sites both inside and outside of Portland. Email your links to me at Jeff (at) Portlandart.net. It is a "curated" list so I can't promise we will use them but I'll definitely check them out.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on October 24, 2011 at 16:04 | Comments (0)

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Monday 10.17.11

Monday links

Linda Yablonsky discusses the always loaded "Mid Career Survey."

The Guardian reviews the 2011 Frieze art fair here is Adrian Searle's account as well.

The New York Times had a nice article on Patti Smith's Memento Mori photos.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on October 17, 2011 at 16:31 | Comments (0)

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Wednesday 10.12.11

Clyfford Still in the Northwest

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Clyfford Still's 1937 8A (painted in 1937, Pullman Washington)

I'm very excited about the opening of the Clyfford Still Museum next month in Denver (designed by Portland's Brad Cloepfil and co-curated by PORT reader/art historian David Anfam). Still (who grew up in Spokane) is perhaps my favorite ab-ex painter because he was such a cantankerous stickler, very physical and insistent upon preserving the integrity of his work. Still set the stage for Donald Judd and I feel like most of today's top artists have become too accommodating of institutions and collectors by comparison.

I'm not the only one excited here and Tyler Green is pretty amped about Still too. He has done a great two part preview; Part I and Part II.

One not so minor omission in Green's account is Still's time as a Professor at Washington State University in Pullman 1935-41 not (Spokane) and though Green is right to suggest that his work at steel yards in the Bay Area may have lead to Still's quite recognizable abstractions (and growing scale after 1941), Still was already doing abstractions during the Pullman years as 8A from 1937 demonstrates. Thus, the assertion that Still, "broke through to abstraction," in the Bay Area as Green suggests isn't precisely true... instead he solidified himself as an abstract painter there after a process begun in Pullman Washington (when he was married to his first wife, his second wife tended to disavow paintings from that era... hmmm).

Instead, the truth is abstraction and figuration were modes Still vacillated between while at Pullman and more research needs to be undertaken on those years. An era of such vacillations is sure to be revealing, it's usually where the crucial decisions (in hind sight) are first identified.

In fact, a Portland collector owns a very interesting... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on October 12, 2011 at 14:46 | Comments (0)

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Monday 10.10.11

Bovee in Dwell

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Just in case you hadn't heard, Katherine Bovee... who crucially helped design/develop PORT and wrote many fine reviews for us is featured along with her home in Dwell this month. It is available on newsstands now and fine periodical stores as well.

Congrats! We can hardly wait for the cutting captioning on Unhappy Hipsters to begin... Katherine has a wicked sense of humor of her own too. Harpoon House was featured in Portland Monthly last year for those who just want to click and read.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on October 10, 2011 at 22:41 | Comments (0)

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Thursday 09.29.11

Chicago links

On Friday I'll post the massive and long awaited comparison/travelogue discussing Portland and Houston. Till then here are some Chicago related links.

Artnet takes a look at Chicago's Gallery Weekend.

The New York Times interviews MacArthur Fellow and architect Jeanne Gang. Her Aqua tower is both beloved and disliked intensely, but it does show that Chicago still does skyscrapers that people respond to... it isn't just a height thing.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on September 29, 2011 at 10:22 | Comments (0)

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Monday 09.26.11

Link Hijinks

Jerry Saltz, discusses what has become of Matthew Barney... it reminds me why I find Jesse Sugarmann's work a kind of lower rent version of Barney's car spectacles, it is fine... but it's quite clear who his daddy is right now.

Peter Plagens' puts his foot down and discusses his seminal book "Sunshine Muse" and the current Pacific Standard Time catalog, which criticizes his 37 year old work on West Coast Art. Plagens is straight up about it being a period piece and pretty much POWNS the academics criticizing his primary source narrative. Even closer to home, where Plagens' states, "Mark Tobey and Morris Graves 'have possessed Pacific Northwest art to the point of suffocation.'" is right on. Reading that I realized a lot of what I've done up here (with the help of 10,000+ others) on the Northern Coast is break that suffocation... in Portland at least. The thing about writing the first draft of history is you are allowed to bruise egos, make omissions and upset people's apple carts with a clear conscience... a pair of steel balls doesn't hurt either and Plagens' definitely has a pair.

Brian Libby discusses the CRC's ummmm progress... and continued obfuscation/rubber stamp process. Still, the funding is so shaky on this poorly designed project that I welcome it's not so improbable demise at the hands of the Oregon and Washington State legislatures. Don't get me wrong I think the bridge is needed but the rushed and bass-ackwards way it has gone down means the current and very poor design should be scrapped and restarted with some truly innovative bridge solutions to justify the high price tag. Governor Kitzhaber (who received a lot of campaign funding from CRC interests) is mostly to blame for this an it is perhaps his biggest mistake in an otherwise decent political career.

And in case you live under a rock you saw the NYT's article on PICA's 2011 TBA festival. Sincere congratulations, now I'll do my yearly dead-on critical assessment because what was new to the Times isn't new to us. TBA's visual component's biggest flaw... is a certain let's throw stuff at the walls and see what sticks method (sometimes literally) and is also its strongest card. To me TBA makes the visual arts component (what we cover) seem a bit token and scattered compared to the excellent permanent gallery space program they had from 2001-2004 and this year was no exception. It's a festival so I can't fault it for feeling fleeting... but

...(more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on September 26, 2011 at 11:42 | Comments (0)

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Monday 09.19.11

Monday Links

The Art Newspaper reports on single painting blockbuster shows, yes the Portland Art Museum's upcoming Titian show is mentioned. I much prefer these types of shows to filling a room full of gilded heirlooms and besides it is great that a single painting can command such attention. Anyways, it is not like West Coast museums are swimming in Titians the rest of the time.

I must have missed it with all of the travel but Portland Architecture reported on the design team chosen to renovate the Coliseum.

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Chris Burden, Three Ghost Ships, 1991
Installation at Gagosian Gallery, Beverly Hills 1996 (Photo: Douglas M. Parker Studio)

Also, in case you missed it in PORT's big article on PAM's new identity last week but at the end of October we are going to be treated to a pretty major Chris Burden installation at PAM. Burden's Ghost Ships are one of my very favorite works of all time (with interesting political overtones today) and it opens October 22nd. This is the sort of solo show that PORT readers are hungry for from Portland's major art institutions.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on September 19, 2011 at 10:59 | Comments (0)

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Thursday 09.15.11

National looks

Holland Cotter takes on the new de Kooning retrospective at MoMA.

Jerry Saltz is excited about this book of Robert Rauschenberg's early photography. Several years ago PORT covered Rauschenberg's final series of photographs (and work) at Bluesky. Obviously, there is an enormous story yet to tell.

The NYT's has an interesting article on corporate funding in the arts as a kind of economic stimulus to Detroit. Portland takes the omnipresence of arts activity more for granted (i.e. little direct support for alt spaces) despite the fact it is the engine of growth for our city.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on September 15, 2011 at 12:36 | Comments (0)

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Tuesday 09.13.11

Milestone links

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Richard Hamilton's Just what is it that makes today's homes different, so appealing? (1956) where the term Pop was first coined

The original Pop artist, Richard Hamilton has died. Hamilton's brainier brand of Pop Art began as a form of social commentary inextricably tied to Duchampian existential absurdism but it ended up becoming the dominant mode for understanding the man made environment in the second half of the 20th Century.

Tyler Green's Modern Art Notes has logged its 10th anniversary. Congratulations on a landmark in arts writing on the internet.

The NY Times had an interesting article on Postmodern design and how some that were responsible aren't that proud of certain milestone elements. It might not have been the most successful of styles (as the Portland Building reminds us) but it helped break from the autocratic monolithic aspects that had made Modernist design a bit hard to stomach as well.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on September 13, 2011 at 11:07 | Comments (0)

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Tuesday 08.30.11

Linker

Ok, August is always an intense month of travel for me, so the Houston report will come later tonight or tomorrow... till then here are some links:

The Guardian interviews Gillian Wearing... whose confessional videos happen to be some of my favorites.

An Egyptian art collector founds a political party.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on August 30, 2011 at 11:41 | Comments (0)

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Tuesday 08.23.11

Defending Beauty?

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Anish Kapoor's Cloud Gate in Chicago (photo Jeff Jahn)

Tomorrow at Place the latest Praxis salon discussion presents Jason Brown's Paper "In the Defense of Beauty: The Guise and The Intangible." Grant Hottle's paintings will be on display as well.

Beauty was a hot topic in the mid 90's when Dave Hickey challenged the decades long bias against it in contemporary art with his essay, The Invisible Dragon: Four Essays on Beauty. It was essentially an all out and ultimately successful attack on a lot of French postmodernism theory that had metastasized into a kind of academic koan, one which treated visual pleasure as a kind of intellectual failing. What Hickey most effectively assaulted was the academic conceit rather than the theoreticians themselves and suddenly it was fine to make beautiful things again and craft suddenly stopped being a dirty word... not that Anish Kapoor and Jeff Koons weren't already doing it and artists like Murakami, Hirst, Andreas Gursky, Josiah McElheny and Olafur Elliason eventually removed all doubt. Likewise, the resurgent interest in Ed Ruscha, Ellsworth Kelly, Richard Serra, Robert Irwin and Judd ultimately solidified the argument that beautiful (or relentlessly visual/kinesthetic) work could be intellectually rigorous.

Overall, I'm interested in seeing where this discussion around Brown's paper hinges on and diverges from the art history of the past 20 years and hopefully some discussion of local examples will ensue (Storm Tharp, Jacqueline Ehlis (who studied with Hickey), Eva Speer, Arcy Douglass, Laura Highes, Jordan Tull, Laura Fritz, Midori Hirose, Adam Sorenson, the Appendix crew and James Lavadour are all germane). Lastly, does beauty still require defending and from whom?

Perhaps reading Arcy's essay from 2008 On Form (or from Polykleitos to Janine Antoni) might be helpful?

Place @ Pioneer Place
700 Sw Fith Ave. Third floor at settlement
August 24th
5:30 - 8:30PM

Posted by Jeff Jahn on August 23, 2011 at 21:27 | Comments (5)

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Monday 08.22.11

Two Worlds = Same Universe

Th Guardian looks at what happens when artists and scientists work together... a long time ago Da Vinci was at the top of both fields.

This just in, the small but increasingly impressive Oregon College of Art and Craft has just announced a partnership with Nike. This is significant as Nike designers will be in residence on campus and highlights the hands on Craft based design process the college has become known for. It's a great opportunity for students to see how things are done outside the art school bubble and great for Nike to do some woodshedding so to speak.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on August 22, 2011 at 10:30 | Comments (0)

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Friday 08.19.11

Joan Shipley PADA Visual Arts Award recipient

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Joan Shipley

The Portland Art Dealers Association Award for Service to the Visual Arts has been awarded to Joan Shipley.

Congrats are due to Shipley, an often behind the scenes arts force who along with her husband John is can frequently be seen out and amongst the galleries. I like the idea of the award as most awards are targeted towards artists who make a very public splash. On a civic level there is little recognition of less sexy things like; arts leaders, curatorial initiative, alt space management or fundraising activity in Portland (RACC, OAC, Mayor's office, Ford Foundation this is something to work on). Good on PADA to undertake this initiative.

Joan was a founding member of PICA, chaired the board during the capital campaign and is on the leadership council today. She is also active with The Bonnie Bronson Award and many, many other cultural institutions in Portland. In 2004-2005 she and her husband were recipients of the Governor's Arts Award.

The Portland Art Dealers Association Award for Service to the Visual Arts is given on occasion, but not necessarily on an annual basis. The recipient is chosen by vote of the members of PADA.

Julie Bernard and Laura Russo were the first and second recipients of The Portland Art Dealers Association Award for Service to the Visual Arts. Joan Shipley is the third recipient.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on August 19, 2011 at 18:49 | Comments (0)

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Monday 08.15.11

Monday Links

The Guardian has images of the 9/11 memorial fountains... unfortunately the piecemeal design of the site including the forgettable Freedom Tower is just another reminder of how New York and possibly America can't get it right when the chips a really down. They are very big and very wet but somehow they leave me underwhelmed.

This book of wall photographs is extra cool.

Here are some photos of SOUTHERN/PACIFIC down in Houston (lots of Portland artists on a cultural rail riding show that travels).

Ai Weiwei debriefs the NYT's on his incarceration.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on August 15, 2011 at 11:07 | Comments (0)

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Tuesday 08.09.11

Links

The New York Observer has obtained the revised plans for the MoMA tower by Jean Nouvel (it will add a lot more gallery space to the museum). Though the NYO doesn't like it I actually think this shard building looks better after the changes after complaints about its height. Before it seemed mechanical, now it is more crystalline (like the Libeskind Freedom tower that never got greenlighted, leaving us with the Childs fiasco instead).

Todd Eberle shoots pictures of a new John Pawson home. I'll be reviewing his Empire of Space retrospective in book form shortly.

The Guardian reports on a suspected Robert Motherwell forgery.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on August 09, 2011 at 12:57 | Comments (0)

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Monday 08.01.11

Monday Links

A new article suggests that the traditional gallery model is "structurally weak" and that a series of fairs and Internet based modes are supplanting the old walk-in model. This is partially correct, I can see galleries choosing smaller downtown spaces and cheaper/larger and less finished project spaces in the future. The trick is keeping collectors engaged and interested and simply scaling back (+ showing more conservative work) without coherent, large scale or adventurous shows won't create more excitement. You have to put collectors in the mood by impressing them and setting their minds at work. Fairs are so overwhelming it promotes buying but that doesn't work for everyone. I think there is a balanced approach that makes more sense by creating destination programming. Unless you are selling blue chip work a large downtown gallery doesn't make sense anymore.

The George Ohr Museum took a beating from Katrina, then the BP oilspill... now it is demographics on the so called "Redneck Riviera"? Honestly, I want this to survive, Im a big fan and at some point it is up to patrons to step up to protect culture... charging admission (now $25 at MoMA) isn't really viable in out of the way places with lower museum attendance. The have's must protect what is worth protecting so the have not's can enjoy culture as well. Culture isn't just for the rich who can buy up George Ohr's pottery.

Jean Nouvel's granite and vegetation monolith at the world's busiest fishing port is a new twist on harbor lighthouses?

Posted by Jeff Jahn on August 01, 2011 at 15:20 | Comments (0)

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Monday 07.25.11

New York links

Architizer has announced its pop up chapel winners.

Don't tell Michael Heizer about this (ie DO tell him) but there is a giant drill being left under Manhattan. Jules Verne meets Michael Heizer!

And here is an interview with Lee Ufan who has an excellent retrospective at the Guggenheim right now:

Lee Ufan Exhibition

Posted by Jeff Jahn on July 25, 2011 at 11:12 | Comments (0)

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Monday 07.18.11

Dorothea Rockburne

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Dorothea Rockburne's Saqqarah (1979) at The Portland Art Museum

One of my favorite slightly under the radar but still having relevant shows at MoMA etc. artists is Dorothea Rockburne. Here is an interview with her in the Brooklyn Rail.

The Portland Art Museum actually has an excellent Rockburne "Saqqarah." The title is direct reference to the Saqqara necropolis in Egypt, which is home to many pyramids including the very first one, the step pyramid by Djoser. In particular, I appreciate the drawn plum lines (on the canvas and wall) which bring up the conflation of surface and support within the work... which in a way mirrors the way the ancient Egyptians lived for the afterlife (life as the staging ground for the afterlife). As a formal exercise is is a highly satisfying study in triangular devices, with hints of planning and execution that remind me a little of Agnes Martin but a lot more dynamic. Though it is primarily made of canvas it is more related to dance, drawing, architecture and installation art.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on July 18, 2011 at 14:46 | Comments (0)

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Monday 07.11.11

Monday Links

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Light Screen, Darwin D. Martin House, Buffalo, NY, 1903. Leaded glass. Dimensions: 44 3/4 x 29 5/8 (Courtesy of Chazen Museum, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Art Collections Fund and Alta Gudsos)

Looking for some lost Frank Lloyd Wright windows. I actually grew up copying some of his stained glass designs when I was 7-9 years old.

PORT's own Alex Rauch is cycling to grad school in Chicago from Portland. It has already been an eventful trip.

Edward Winkleman discusses the unseemly numerical quantification of a great artist.

Yes PORT has a new calendar person, Kelly Kutchko, keep sending your press releases to the same old place: calendar(at)portlandart.net at least 2 weeks in advance for consideration.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on July 11, 2011 at 13:03 | Comments (0)

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Friday 07.08.11

...and thanks for all the fish

As you may have noticed, I'll soon be leaving the lovely PNW for sunnier pastures. I'm heading down to UCLA for graduate school this fall, so it's time for me to pass the torch along to a new faithful calendar-keeper for PORT.

Thank you for four(!) years of the irrepressible community & creativity that makes the Portland art scene so alive.

~megan

Posted by Megan Driscoll on July 08, 2011 at 13:45 | Comments (1)

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Thursday 07.07.11

Spiral Jetty lease land grab?

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Spiral Jetty and environs (photo Jeff Jahn)

When The Dia was somehow not allowed to renew the lease last month on the land that one uses to access the Spiral Jetty things got weird. Now things are getting more complicated and Tyler Green has the story.

Here's my take. It is true that water levels do effect the iconic earthwork and yes Smithson built entropy into the work's design. Entropy is part of the piece, but I don't think the Dia Foundation's stewardship of the work should be allowed to enter a similar entropic spiral. I'm unsure if any other organization would understand just how... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on July 07, 2011 at 14:27 | Comments (0)

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Tuesday 07.05.11

Cy Tombly dies at age 83

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Cy Twombly" Cold Stream", White wax pencil on canvas (1966)

Cy Twombly has died at age 83 in Rome. Portlanders were lucky enough to enjoy this major artist's work a year ago at the Portland Art Museum.

“A pinnacle of the post–abstract expressionist generation, Cy Twombly redefined the parameters of painting. Fascinated by the immediacy of history and ancient myth, he created works rich with reference—Homeric myth, place, and intimate emotions. Twombly developed a vocabulary of signs and marks intended to be read metaphorically a world unto itself of picaresque scribbles, agitated sgraffito, and clotted, scatological impasto that ultimately defines a vast Elysian field of pleasure. I am forever seduced by the pull of gravity, the unpredictability of emotion, and the fluidity of his line as it conflates time—then is now, present is past. “ -Bruce Guenther Chief Curator, Portland Art Museum

New York Times obit
LA Times obit

My feelings for Twombly are very personal. Twombly was the bridge between Paul Klee's poetic yet controlled automatism, Jackson Pollock and the next generation personified by Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg, then onto Basquiat, Carroll Dunham, Terry Winters, Philip Taffe and even Ryan McGginnis or Julie Mehretu. For a Portland connection there is Jessica Jackson Hutchins. Overall, Twombly's work was a revelation to me, like uncovering a lost city. Twombly has always been an artist's artist, pervasive in his influence rather than the signal of a new paradigm. In fact, Twombly was there... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on July 05, 2011 at 16:06 | Comments (0)

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Thursday 06.30.11

Rose Art Museum collection survives assault

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a sample of the Rose Art Museum's collection

Some really great news, The Boston Globe reports that the Rose Art Museum's collection will not be liquidated to augment Brandeis University's budgetary situation. The Rose Art Museum is one of the better university museums in the country and has a fabulous collection of postwar art.

We have been following this story for a very long time as Brandies' now former president sent a chill through all university museums... suddenly museums were seen as a source of revenue rather than a collection held in trust for the students and community.

I love University art museums since they are a little more nimble than larger generalist art museums. Now if only alums like Peter Norton and Steve Jobs will push for a University museum at Reed College? Reed does have an interesting collection but it will take some major alumni muscle to make it happen. Also, the Museum of Contemporary Craft has certainly stepped up after merging with PNCA, though University museums are nearly always challenged financially unless they have a decent endowment... that wasn't the issue with the Rose Art Museum.

Instead, Brandeis University (of which it is part) sought to remedy its own larger financial difficulties by selling off the collection, which went against the wishes of many Rose Art Museum/Brandeis donors. It was essentially a financial/cultural civil war within Brandeis University.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on June 30, 2011 at 17:04 | Comments (0)

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Friday 06.24.11

Friday news and links

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Eric Stotik's Untitled LR181 (arms, legs emerging from red smoke) 2010

The winner of RACC's top Fellowship in Visual Arts for 2011 is Eric Stotik, which conveys 20k and only comes around every 4 years. Congratulations Eric! I particularity like it when artists doing their very best work win awards (like Bruce Conkle for the Hallie Ford and now Eric). When artists who are past their prime win such awards it brings down the entire arts ecosystem... not so in this case. Just do good things and that justifies itself. Awards are a bonus and sometimes a curse.

On Sunday, The Henry will host a public forum on The Brink Awards in Seattle at 1:00. I'm tempted to go partly because the CNAA's at PAM were so dissatisfying. The Brink is a different award, focusing on young artists from Oregon, Washington and British Columbia within 5 years of their terminal degree. Nominees were Grant Barnhart, Debra Baxter, Dawn Cerny, Tannaz Farsi, Allison Hrabluik, Anna Gray & Ryan Wilson Paulsen and the winner Andrew Dadson. Seattler's have a somewhat undeserved, yet tremendous inferiority complex and the fact the Brink Award has gone to B.C.-ers the two times the awards has been held has em a little worked up. In Portland we don't care, we have a world class art scene with numerous rising stars and a system that pretty much focuses on export rather than the often smallish local politics one finds in any city. It is a fact you can count on, artists are always taken for granted in any city they live in (hell I've NEVER even received a grant I've personally applied for in Oregon despite being paid to sit on national and local grant panels... there is a moral about being a hammer rather than a nail in there). In fact, Awards matter little unless the institution is a kind of international bellwether but the process is revealing about the structure and assumptions of a place and perhaps this discussion will shed some light on the way the sausage gets made. Here are some other questions, will the Tacoma Art Museum's NW biennial happen again? If so will it be another overfull grab for big sister Seattle's attention (bad idea but predictable). Why was PAM's show sooooo retarde? In Portland the artists are more sophisticated than any of its institutions so we simply ignore our institutions when they don't make the bar set on the street and in the studios. In the Seattle's case... not so much, especially the case of the Henry (my favorite NW Art institution). Suck it up Seattle you are fine, right now Portland and Vancouver BC are a bit better (art production wise) with a lot better attitude. On the bright side at least you don't have me living there and bringing you down?

Jen Graves of The Stranger had a similar reaction to the CNAA's as I did... Neither of us are giving it a formal review... it's the kind of snub seasoned critics with a long history can get away with. There are other types of critics (career flatters?) who fear reprisals from a snub and not being invited but I hate the polite death such things consign our visual artists to. Institutions get stronger through avid engaged critique.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on June 24, 2011 at 17:33 | Comments (0)

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Wednesday 06.22.11

Ai Weiwei is free!

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Apparently Ai Weiwei is now free on bail. The LA Times also has a report and an up to date photo. The offical story is he confessed to tax evasion but that seems dubious.

Being a fan of Mr. Ai who had an exhibition in Portland last year at MOCC, PORT has followed the story from the beginning. Honestly, all we could do is hope to keep up any pressure we could and I'm glad Ai Weiwei has been freed and perhaps this is a good thing for China (sadly, it doesn't effect the art world much other than provide a moral rallying post and hasn't freed other captives).

Ultimately, the Chinese Government overreacted to the toppling of dictatorial governments in the Middle East... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on June 22, 2011 at 13:00 | Comments (0)

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Monday 06.20.11

Why are new grads so lame?

It's an annual occurrence... the lament against the derivative nature of recent grads and this year Jerry Saltz does the honors. He often does it best too... though Robert Hughes' original ending for The Shock of the New lamenting how art has become a "vocation" not an "avocation" is the all time best (he later wussed out and took the teeth out his argument by writing an amended ending for the second and subsequent editions).

Overall, I agree with Jerry's assertions, but I want to get at the real issue, why is the thinking behind new art so derivative? Yes it is the academy (which promotes a clubby group think) and the system (which is subject to trends more than intellectual curiosity)... and it's partly why Portland keeps churning out interesting international level artists like Storm Tharp, Jessica Jackson Hutchins, Matt McCormick, MK Guth etc. They all pretty much were allowed to develop on their own according to their own idiosyncrasies for a decade plus. Portland lets you do that (other places do too but Portland has that magical combo of being off the beaten path and being a hot place where international curators will find you). San Fran artists like Harrell Fletcher and Chris Johanson came to Portland to do their own thing and the place still attracts and develops artists. Id say there are 30-50 artists (young and not so young) who make work worthy of serious international attention and maybe 200-400 with potential to join their ranks (17,000+ artists active in the city). So if you are looking for a lost world of excellent artists you didn't quite know existed, check out Portland's busy studios. BTW, many of the best ones do not have gallery representation since they are installation and video artists and yes many show outside the city. For an information gathering resource, PORT's reviews and interviews are the best collection of who to watch.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on June 20, 2011 at 15:26 | Comments (0)

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Saturday 06.18.11

John Grade wins Schnitzer Prize

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John Grade's work at The Portland Art Museum's 2011 CNAAs

Congratulations to Seattle based John Grade. I was happy that he received the nod for the Arlene Schnitzer Prize, which comes with $10,000 and even greater exposure within the CNAA's purview. Though, as I mentioned earlier this week I found this second iteration of the Contemporary Northwest Art Awards an even bigger (and ghettoizing) restatement of Northwest stereotypes (whittling, smudges, gray haze, fussy handmade craft, politeness and some nature)than the first one. Quite simply we are more than that... the silicon forest and a region which leads in so many international fields like design, green technology, communications and aircraft etc. Still Grade's work is handsome, engaged and excellent (especially his very large indoor installation pieces).

...(more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on June 18, 2011 at 22:03 | Comments (0)

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Thursday 06.16.11

Some Links

Brad Cloepfil's firm Allied Works is a finalist for yet another Museum, this time in Lausanne Switzerland. His design is a bold sculptural effort with more than a little bit of Louis Kahn in it. It is a more porous design that builds on his Clyfford Still Museum, which is starting to take shape. Cloepfil, whom I've described as having a heavy and an airy side seems to be reaching a point where his designs are capable of juggling both. Locally he is doing the renovation of PNCA's 511 building.

Anyone remember the Vorticists? I bet some PORT reader's know who they are and they have a retrospective up in Britain... bully!

Jerry Saltz's Venice adventure.

YU responds to DK Row's article, which we discussed on June 3rd. Honestly, the best response will be forming a decent board to vet this ongoing process and get some buy in for all of this planning they have planned and planned for years now. The founders need to have accountable input in forming/alter-ing that plan to create buy in for their project. In the letter George Thorn described YU as, "unlike any organization I have worked with and is the most complex organization I have ever worked on." That complexity isn't necessarily a good thing and a little more focus will help them sell their plan to others. Also, the founders still seem to be phobic of basic things like curatorial staff (wanting a multimillion dollar artist-committee run space), but a curator is necessary for programming a demanding 8,000 sq ft main gallery coherently. An example why a curator is necessary... they still have the Carl Andre's inappropriately installed as if they have no idea what Carl Andre is about (hint anything but an artifact). For example it's made of humble materials to avoid the preciousness a glass case imparts and placing it next to archival ephemera simply disrespects the work. We wish them well (unlike the O which continually heckles the art scene) but at some point the founders need to share the planning responsibility with knowledgeable board members who ultimately will make this happen. Right now it's just spending seed money which is ok for now but in say 6-7 months will just seem like the staff is on some extended vacation provided by one donor who doesn't appear to exercise any oversight. YU needs to avoid that at all costs but Row's article was too busy being sensational to make that point.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on June 16, 2011 at 11:12 | Comments (0)

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Friday 06.10.11

Venice links

So it's been Venice Biennial time again, here are some links if you want to keep tabs (It's ok I'm just not stunned):

Here is a photoblog with a lot of good images.

Jerry Saltz's best and worsts photo essay.

Artnet's guide and images.

Perhaps it's the fact that Ai Weiei is still in prison? Here are his zodiac heads, currently installed in New York... I'd rather have seen them in Venice.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on June 10, 2011 at 17:08 | Comments (1)

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Wednesday 06.08.11

Wrong way to address the Ai Weiwei situation

Tyler Green isn't someone who is easy to shock, but the Director of the Milwaukee Art Museum has done just that, with impressively arrogant statements about the effectiveness of protesting Ai Weiei's now 2 month imprisonment. It is one of the biggest PR blunders ever for a museum director and no it wont go away.

An artist shaves his head as the director of the Milwaukee Art Museum redefines ineffectual with his statements about Ai Weiwei protests.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on June 08, 2011 at 15:13 | Comments (2)

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Tuesday 06.07.11

Architecture on the radio

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Mt Angel Abbey Library by Alvar Aalto (photo Jeff Jahn)

I'll be discussing architecture with Tom Cramer today on KBOO's Art Focus program at 11:30 am PST (a link to the archived audio will appear on that link after the show).

Portland has undergone a bit of a resurgence in architecture after decades of atrophy as my recent articles on the; Bud Clark Commons, OCAC's new buildings, Ziba HQ, Willamette Transit Bridge, Brad Cloepfil and the Aerial Tram can all attest.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on June 07, 2011 at 1:27 | Comments (0)

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Friday 06.03.11

Friday Links

The Oregonian for once is asking basic questions about the YU project. Welcome to the world of competent analysis. PORT asked these questions 8 months ago when we were the first to write about YU Contemporary Art Center), better late than never and it's always ironic as hell when DK uses quotes from others to editorialize (that's not a slam, it is genuinely entertaining passive aggressive writing that often reveals a lot about the quotee's). Still, his analysis is a little wrong headed. To be more precise, "secrecy" isn't an issue, it's accountability. Instead of spending so much time on innuendo DK only grazed part of the biggest problem, the lack of a board of directors who are not staff. Board members are the best indication of a project's potential and as I mentioned again last month, I do not understand how or why YU thought it was OK to go public without at least a proto board (say 3+ respected members of the community with contacts and deep pockets), some lead gifts and a detailed plan that satisfies those board members. It's art institution 101 and it's partly why the Portland Art Center failed (well that and not realizing they were out of the league/institutional expertise or able to take good advice). Last month I also noted a completely inappropriate installation of Carl Andre pieces at YU's inaugural exhibition as well *Update: on KBOO this week Curtis Knapp stated the Andre's are archival but he's wrong, other similar pieces from the PCVA show are in MOCA and the Guggenheim's permanent collections. At least YU has some seed money and a general art world sophistication several tiers above Disjecta and the Portland Art Center (who always talked a better game than they could ever deliver, that's not a slam just a reality check. They were never true contenders for anything other than large alt-spaces of local shows with eager artists that cut them slack). Analysis: YU has now reached a point where they need to shape up, and it is not like they weren't given this same friendly advice a long time ago. Let's hope they can turn it around.

For the WSJ, Terry Teachout blasts museums like The Milwaukee Art Museum (my old hometown haunt) for being complicit with the Chinese Government who continues to hold Ai Weiwei, NOW their most famous contemporary artist. Last month I vowed to mention Mr. Ai in any article regarding China until he is freed.

Jerry Saltz takes a swing at some embarrassingly weak American art at the Venice Biennial.

There were 2 major new "white box" Museum designs for SFMOMA and The Whitney last week. Of the two the SFMOMA is better, the Whitney's design isn't even as good as Renzo Piano's recent addition in Chicago. Why? Because it just luxuriates in its "whiteness of the whale" rather than engaging or at least a few idiomatic floorplans and ideas that integrate surprising sight-lines within the city around it. IE it is too generic. Overall, I'm tired of this white box thing, in fact it is why I like the current Breuer designed Whitney with it brutalist slate floors and dark gridded ceilings is so endearing to me.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on June 03, 2011 at 14:49 | Comments (3)

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Wednesday 06.01.11

PORT's 6th Anniversary

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Today is PORT's 6th anniversary and I like to use these annual occasions to draw attention to all of the excellent writers who have helped make this ground breaking publication what it is. PORT is much less a business (barely a business) and more of a community service as a venue for cogent, decisive information and critical discussion. With 1,000,000+ unique readers in 2010 alone the site is infinitely more popular than we ever imagined it would be when Jennifer Armbrust, Katherine Bovee and I started it back in 2005. With notice from Art in America, The Walker, Andy Warhol Foundation and The Whitney... PORT is arguably the most influential art publication in the history of the Pacific Northwest. Just yesterday Amy and I were chatting about how strongly we feel about this (though we seldom dwell on it, anniversaries give us pause to do such) ...but with the demise of full-time art and design criticism in newspapers it is obvious. Also, PORT does things that traditional journalism has always struggled with, namely levy relevant criticism, rather than mere glad-handing praise or disinterested heckling. For example, in 2010 PORT published the major and timely review of OCAC's fantastic new arts buildings and delved into what it might mean for the school. It was a milestone in that school's historic development and Portland's design ecology but the newspaper was MIA. Fact is, when you don't have staff critics and just rely on freelancers you miss major developments. At PORT we can't miss such things because they are central to our lives as citizens of the area's arts ecosystem.

Our often in depth interviews have no equal in the region:

Catherine Opie interviewed by Megan Driscoll

Charles Atlas interviewed by Gary Wiseman

Alison Saar interviewed by Gabe Flores

Deborah Kass and Jessica Jackson Hutchins interviewed By Amy Bernstein

Robert Storr and Ai Weiwei interviewed By Alex Rauch

Mark Grotjahn interviewed by Arcy Douglass

Our reviews probe more of the Portland art scene with depth, going beyond exposition and influences to do truly critical reviews like:

My reviews of Collect Four, Hung Keung and Dan May (I felt he had never received an adequate review). Then there was a trio of architectural art shows that exemplify a major school of artists in Portland

Matt McCormick's Great Northwest by Megan Driscoll

Patrick Collier's thoughts on No Painting Left Behind, Vanessa Renwick and Open Engagement

We even do more complicated/experimental reviews where the curator is involved in the show as an artist sch as Amy's You'll Never Walk Alone or my review of Reader on a Black Background... not everything needs to be unpacked, simple or even fully digested to have value and that is where a publication that caters to a visual arts savvy audience is important. Sometimes we like it when things are recursive, frayed and elliptical. PORT is about the art and our world, not about writers using art as an excuse to effuse... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on June 01, 2011 at 12:11 | Comments (0)

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Monday 05.16.11

Monday Links

Tracey Emin is having her mid career retrospective at the Hayward Gallery. She's an artist I want to hate, but find really interesting... perhaps the most influential of any living artist amongst anyone with an MFA in the last 15 years. In her typically counter-intuitive fashion she's advocating for Britain's conservative party as good for the arts. She hasn't had a major show in the Northwest ever but if she does... it may give PORT the excuse weve needed to do a really great interview.

There was a nice, respectful expose on Rene Rickabaugh in the O! this weekend.

On Portland Architecture the Oregon Sustainability Center is looking for design imput. To me this new schematic doesn't seem cohesive and doesn't scream "Im the greenest office building on the planet" like it needs to.

Jerry Saltz thinks that, "Architecture killed the American Folk Art Museum"... which has had lackluster attendance despite being right next to MoMA. I've always felt that it was simply too subtle and unwelcoming a facade and a good example of an architect getting too close to an artistic statement that has nothing to do with the institution's needs. MoMA is buying the building.

Update: apparently the architecture critics are fighting back... they are dead wrong, for the reasons Jerry and I have already stated. Museums should serve the art and roll out the red carpet for visitors, especially when they are the little guy next to the 800 lb gorilla on the block. It was a tactical error and therefore a fatally flawed design.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on May 16, 2011 at 10:53 | Comments (0)

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Friday 05.13.11

China redefines farce

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Human rights are meaningless, you will be assimilated? Here's a contemporary art museum

So check out this wonderful Borg cube style contemporary art museum in Guangdong China. Neat eh, except that erecting huge contemporary museums while still holding and apparently torturing Ai Weiwei makes the entire idea of contemporary art in China incredibly farcical. It essentially undoes the entire effort of the 2008 Olympic games.

That's right, every time something Chinese blips up on the press radar I'm going to use it as an excuse to bring up Ai Weiwei's incarceration and I think everybody else should do it too.

Overall, the Chinese government has painted themselves into a corner and I fear it wont end well for anyone involved. Thankfully Secretary of State Hillary Clinton isn't glossing over this issue and has been heaping on the pressure this week.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on May 13, 2011 at 14:52 | Comments (1)

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Monday 05.02.11

TBA Visual Arts 2011

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Jesse Sugarmann's Red Storm Rising

PICA has just announced its TBA ON SIGHT visual arts lineup for 2011. The theme seems to be a broad institutional critique with the title, "Evidence of Bricks: The building up, but mostly tearing down, of institutions, societies, structures and ideas." Highlights will probably be Oregonians Patrick Rock and Jesse Sugarmann, both of whom use giant inflatables few curators in Portland have the Cajones to use (Rock's gender-bending Hermaphrodite Simulacra shown here in 2005 is simply the baddest inflatable art piece I've ever encountered). Last year's TBA offerings (with the theme "Human Beings")were both excellent (Charles Atlas, John Smith etc) and somewhat inconsistent in the way that festival art tends to be and the sheer number of artists this year indicates another ambitious lineup.

PICA's press release list:

TBA ON SIGHT is a collection of installations, exhibitions, projections, and gatherings by visual artists, curated and organized by Kristan Kennedy, Visual Art Curator for PICA.

... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on May 02, 2011 at 15:31 | Comments (0)

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Monday 04.11.11

Monday links

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John McCracken's, Vision, 2004

Pioneering light, space and surface artist John McCracken has died at age 76. Here is Christopher Knight's full obituary. The Portland Art Museum has two of his works on display, a classic leaning "plank" piece like the one above (on loan from the Miller-Meigs Collection) and a beautiful little black cube given to the museum by the Groths.

Ai Weiwei is still incarcerated, here is the international petition.

The Guardian publishes a few prescient quotes from Ai Weiwei's last interview before he was arrested.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on April 11, 2011 at 10:58 | Comments (0)

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Friday 04.08.11

Friday Links

The Art Newspaper sheds light on the race to save Buddhist sculptures from a Chinese mining company in a former Bin Laden camp.

The Gaurdian interviews architect Amanda Levete.

Edward Winkleman discusses the "economic crimes" of Ai Weiwei, who continues to be incarcerated since last Sunday.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on April 08, 2011 at 17:06 | Comments (0)

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Sunday 04.03.11

Ai Weiwei arrested

Ai Weiwei has been arrested, along with many other writers and bloggers critical of the Chinese government. PORT interviewed Ai Wewei last fall for his show at MoCC. This arrest seems like a more full scale government crackdown on activists rather than their typical loosening and tightening cycle. We will post updates as they occur.

Overall, art requires peace and protected freedoms... it's the canary in the coalmine. Indeed Ai has chosen to be that canary...and in doing so has made the Chinese Govenment choose whether he is an artist or a political dissident. If he can't be both it is the Chinese government, which is then judged accordingly. It is a brilliant and very dangerous game.

Update:

Missing for 36 hours France and Germany lead call for Wei Wei's immediate release.

In response to an ominous move by the Chinese Govenment Slate asks if Ai Weiwei is being charged as a criminal for committing "economic crimes." The development of such a strange and suspicious charge suggests that Mr. Ai's incarceration by the Chinese Government is intended to be long term. Likewise, international outcry has been increasing daily.

This is brilliant. Tate Modern's "Release Ai Weiwei... on Twitpic
Tate Modern's exterior now reads, "REALEASE AI WEIWEI."

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Leung Chi-wo's T-Shirt slogan Ai Lai Wei (Love the Future) for the march since Ai Weiwei's name is banned.

Honk Kong artists to march in support of Ai Weiwei's release. In Particular the slogan "Ai Lai Wei" (Love The Future) shows that Mr. Ai has become a bigger idea and when a man become an idea, holding that man prisoner becomes infinitely more problematic.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on April 03, 2011 at 18:02 | Comments (2)

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Friday 03.25.11

Friday Links

An excellent look at one of the most excellent things on the planet, the Maison de Verre in Paris with excellent photos by Todd Eberle. I use the word Love sparingly... I Love this building, definitely check out Eberle's slideshow.

Joe Thurston wins a Pollock Krasner Grant, congrats.

Portland's Bürgermeister Sam Adams presents Berlin's Bürgermeister with works by Damien Gilley... who is having a hell of a month.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on March 25, 2011 at 8:28 | Comments (0)

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Monday 03.21.11

Disaster Links

Jessica Lack looks at contemporary art that makes massive natural disasters its subject matter.

Los Angeles has a new Museum to the Holocaust. I like how the bone/plant like structure is built into the landscape.

In case you haven't heard already, Richard Prince has lost the first round of his claim of fair use in appropriating the images of others. There will be an appeal. Overall, I'm against the idea that someone could take a body of artwork by another artist and through minor levels of defacement claim it as their own artwork. In my mind advertising is different. It had a different intended use, whereas art thrives on the ambiguities it calls forth. Any art made from it would rely on those same ambiguities to varying degrees. In Prince's case he relied on the other artist's work far too much, essentially pantomiming the original photos. It just isnt enough to call it new work. Lastly, Prince is essentially an artistic vampire... that's fine but why prey on another fine artist? Sure Picasso did this all of the time but he didn't lift photographs, mildly deface them and call them his own. Photography is easy to appropriate so I believe using them in such a way invites a legal decision if one isn't careful. I also believe Prince knew this was the likely outcome and saw it as a way to keep what I call his "relevant pirate" reputation up to date.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on March 21, 2011 at 12:46 | Comments (0)

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Friday 03.18.11

Friday links

Lots of interesting developments to link to this week:

Last night Mayor Sam Adams (in an open letter to Governor Kitzhaber) proposes a closer look at the cable stayed design for the CRC. Notably in 2008 Adams singled an early article I wrote in one of his own blog posts regarding the need for good design and perhaps an iconic one (this letter suggests he's holding to that goal). The process has been backwards but there is a reason the cable stay is a popular design option... not the cheapest or the most expensive but perhaps the smartest (seismic, environmental and iconic) bang for the buck. As I mentioned earlier this week the cable stay design keeps gathering momentum (the deck truss design is abysmal and wont get local support). Another thing to consider is the need for a good designer to make certain the details of this hugely expensive project are developed and executed well. This isnt a luxury folks, simply a way to ensure that we and those who live here after us get the most for the inherently expensive price of such a project. Extra profit taking by skimping on details for transit projects is hardly a new or rare thing, a designer brings a certain quality control. Still, with seismic concerns and the overall rickety design of the current bridges (which lack max trains) I believe we need a new bridge. It will bring jobs and I feel the Federal Government needs to become a more major funder in this I-5 project. This isn't just a bridge between Portland and Vancouver, it is a bottleneck on I-5 that is dangerous in a major seismic event, and clogged during normal operation conditions. It could transform the way Portland and Vancouver interract if done well.

Pulitzer Prize winning photographer Brian Lanker died in Eugene last Sunday at age 63. Known for his portraits of civil rights leaders and poignant on the scene snaps, he gets a nod from the New York Times.

The Gaurdian discusses a fascinating historical exhibition about filth, called Dirt.

Even Europe is making cuts on contemporary art and Daniel Buren speaks out.

Le Corbusier's Chandigarh is threatened, help protect it.

Artists and curators boycott Guggenheim Abu Dhabi.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on March 18, 2011 at 13:52 | Comments (0)

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Monday 03.14.11

CRC: the Cable Stay design gains momentum

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Cable Stay Design

There were a lot of discussions about the Columbia River Crossing this weekend as things come to a head (again). New developments include the information that Pearson Airfield doesn't really pose much of an issue to building a taller/superior cable stay bridge. It is superior because that bridge type performs better in earthquakes, has a smaller # piers in the water and thus less environmental impact, plus becomes an icon spurring development for both sides of the river. Some characterize it as a merely aesthetic choice but seismic and environmental superiority plus the fact that the design is more pleasant for pedestrians and cyclists makes is a superior design which costs less than than the initially proposed bridge design (which was awful). This whole process has been backwards as PORT was the first to point out.

Last weekend:

Jeff Stuhr and Mark Masciarotte gave a guest opinion in the Oregonian

Brian Libby at Portland Architecture responds to a specious article in the Portland Business Journal

Ethan Seltzer penned a guest article for the Oregonian (which tragically lacks an architecture critic).

Hell even Vancouver's city council likes the cable stayed design.

This process has been tremendously flawed (putting off the shelf bridge types above a true design discussion), but let's build the right bridge... we don't need the wrong one and building a horrible legacy for those who will have to suffer such a monstrosity in the future misses a great opportunity to re-imagine Portland and Vancouver's relationship to the mighty Columbia (and each other). Right now the only bridge that can bring everyone together is the cable stay design because it adds to the region rather than merely puts a transit band-aid upon it. Kitzhaber should listen to his base in Multnomah county, which has growing public support for the better performing cable stay design. And while he is at the project should hire a good architect to make certain the key design details are executed well, rather than in a perfunctory manner.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on March 14, 2011 at 12:08 | Comments (0)

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Wednesday 03.02.11

Regional Links

CNAA curator Bonnie Laing-Malcomson was interviewed by Eva Lake on Kboo yesterday. She's obviously still transitioning as she speaks in third person about "curatorial" as if it is a different department... look it's a steep learning curve, which we saw in February with the CNAA lineup. The question is if and how she can grow? The region is simply more engaged, challenging and diverse in its art production strategies... especially Portland (whom PAM needs to stay relevant to... especially when Tate Modern, The Whitney and MoMA have arguably played a bigger role locally).

Seattle's Ambach and Rice gallery is moving to LA. There is definitely room for a new serious gallery in Seattle but there is a lot of competition with Portland galleries also showing Seattle based artists.

The Oregon and Washington Governors have chosen a terrible design for the CRC (like the Marquam bridge, which many Portlanders want to demolish) and I urge everyone to check out this link and write their elected officials about the need for better design thinking rather than simple off the shelf engineering options. Portland's progressive thinking population will probably rise up in protest over this very ill considered choice. The CRC's own Design Advisory Group had much the same to say with this open letter.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on March 02, 2011 at 12:29 | Comments (1)

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Monday 02.21.11

2011 CNAA's whittled down

Well PAM has whittled down their hand crafted list of artist for the 2011 Contemporary Northwest Art Awards

Chris Antemann

John Buck

John Grade

Jerry Iverson

Suzy Lee

Megan Murphy

Michelle Ross

This is an overtly politically motivated list including someone from every state in the award's territory and therein lies the problem. It is a all very approachable, even soft stuff and really reiterates a ton of Northwest stereotypes... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on February 21, 2011 at 8:17 | Comments (4)

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Tuesday 02.15.11

Talking Criticism

Today at 11:30 AM on KBOO Ill be joining Brian Libby, Barry Johnson, Lisa Radon and host Eva Lake to discuss art criticism... since DK Row's role at the Oregonian seems to have changed. It will be interesting if they will make an official announcement and or actually replace him with another critic in the role.

For example Randy Gragg as architecture critic was not replaced, essentially crippling the O's voice in architecture and urban planning... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on February 15, 2011 at 0:49 | Comments (3)

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Wednesday 01.19.11

Judd Conference still making waves

The Judd Conference in Portland from last April is still making waves and The Art Newspaper has a brief article about the importance of Portland's kick off and the next two installments.

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Judd Art ©Judd Foundation. Licensed by VAGA, NYC.

By putting on the conference and exhibition I felt we foregrounded the issue of integrity in a way which has been in atrophy around Judd's work for quite some time. In fact, the issue of integrity of display of any artist's work has become muted in the last 30 years with the increased focus on blockbusters. Perhaps no artist before or since was as specific as Judd was about what does and does not constitute proper presentation... and I hope this helps bring the word back into the contemporary art vernacular. (you can pick up catalogs for the exhibition at The White Box Gallery and Monograph Bookwerks).

Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 19, 2011 at 13:00 | Comments (0)

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Tuesday 01.18.11

New Gallery: Black Box

Longtime Portland art scenester Todd Johnson is launching his new photographic gallery Black Box, adding something new to the Lower Burnside enclave across from the Doug Fir.

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Johnson has been one of Portland's most talented independent curators (he may possess the scene's dryest and darkest wit) and as a photographer himself has shown... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 18, 2011 at 15:56 | Comments (0)

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Monday 01.17.11

Kengo Kuma to design expansion of Portland's Japanese Garden

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Kengo Kuma's very preliminary design proposal for Portland's Japanese Garden (area before entering the garden)

After a two year search the Portland Japanese Garden has announced the selection of Kengo Kuma to lead the Garden’s future expansion project. This is just the latest in a series of major game changing architectural commissions starting with Brad Cloepfil's W+K HQ, The Portland Aerial Tram and most recently Charles Rose's new buildings for OCAC. Still, this is something different. Rather than an up and comer Kuma is a major name talent and already considered by many one of the world's very best architects. I particularly like his Chokkura Plaza and Great (Bamboo) Wall House. Perhaps more than any architect alive today he is sensitive to local materials and nature so he is an... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 17, 2011 at 13:55 | Comments (2)

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Monday 01.10.11

Broad isn't the issue

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The New Broad Museum design by DS+R

So there has been a lot of discussion of Eli Broad's new Contemporary Museum designs by Diller Scoffidio + Renfro. Honestly, I can't see what all the fuss is about... it looks good. All the dithering seems to be over the fact that... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 10, 2011 at 10:43 | Comments (3)

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Thursday 01.06.11

Jeffrey Thomas named MoCC's acting director

PNCA/MoCC announced today that my longtime friend Jeffrey Thomas will be the new Acting Director of the rebounding Museum of Contemporary Craft. It is a 6 month appointment, which can be renewed.

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What about Jeff? As Tom Cramer once so succinctly put it, "He's a genius level level marketer." He's also a former Soho gallerist (he was the Thomas of the Jamison/Thomas gallery) and his mother was part of Warhol's factory scene. Thomas is also very opinionated with a sharp eye for detail... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 06, 2011 at 12:55 | Comments (1)

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Wednesday 01.05.11

PORT's 2010 readers poll awards

Time for the results of PORT's annual readers poll (aka the popularity contest).

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Storm Tharp (photo Marne Lucas)

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Ai Weiwei's Dropping the Urn at the Museum of Contemporary Craft

...(more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 05, 2011 at 17:40 | Comments (0)

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Monday 01.03.11

Monday links

Roberta Smith seems to think that MoMA has been revitalized. She has a point but MoMA's atrium space isn't quite as attention getting as the Tate's Turbine Hall and more importantly MoMA hasn't been setting the bar in curatorial excellence and prescience as of late.

Tomorrow at midnight is your last chance to vote on our annual reader's poll. Currently it's a shootout between Bruce Guenther and Patrick Rock for MVP. Frankly its an absurd contest, anyone in their right mind would have to hand it to Guenther for show quality but the simple fact that Patrick opens his own home to do always interesting/challenging shows that we would never see at PAM gives him the underdog's edge. For the most overshown artist it's a near dead heat between Calvin Ross Carl and OPS. Storm Tharp is also a clear favorite in every category he appears in so far.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 03, 2011 at 14:07 | Comments (5)

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Saturday 01.01.11

Time to Vote: Portland Art Scene 2010 Readers Poll

2010 is done, time for PORT's readers to evaluate with our annual popularity contest. Just click on the full version of this post to take it.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 01, 2011 at 13:39 | Comments (0)

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Monday 12.27.10

Last day for nominations, 2010 art scene MVP etc.

It is that time of year again... that's right it's time for the annual popularity contest, so let's nominate 2010's best and worst. In particular who do you think was 2010's MVP?

Feel free to nominate multiple artists/curators and suggest categories like; MVP, best solo show 2010, best group show 2010, alternative art space of the year, University gallery of the year, favorite museum show, tightest show, most overhung show, most overexposed, most disappointing solo show, most disappointing group show, curator of the year, best conceptualist, best installation, best abstract painter, best figurative painter, best light and space installation, best video piece, funniest art scene moment, best institutional decision, most perplexing institutional decision, most promising new talent, most exciting development and least exciting development.

Email your nominations to me: jeff (at) portlandart.net

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 27, 2010 at 2:05 | Comments (2)

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Monday 12.20.10

Monday Links

Brian Libby has published Part 2 of his decade in review of Portland's architecture. This installment focuses on the condos. Maybe no single project or neighborhood has redefined the city but collectively the greater density and overall upward thrust certainly makes Portland look and feel much larger than it was a decade ago.

Christopher Knight ponders 2010 as an art year.

Tyler Green reports on the latest in the Smithsonian "integrity scandal" as AA Bronson asserts he has the legal right to remove his work from a compromised show.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 20, 2010 at 12:39 | Comments (0)

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Friday 12.17.10

Taking nominations for 2010 Portland art scene awards

It is that time of year again... that's right it's time for the annual popularity contest, so let's nominate 2010's best and worst. Feel free to nominate multiple artists and suggest categories like; best solo show 2010, best group show 2010, alternative art space of the year, University gallery of the year, favorite museum show, tightest show, most overhung show, most overexposed, most disappointing solo show, most disappointing group show, curator of the year, best conceptualist, best installation, best abstract painter, best figurative painter, best light and space installation, best video piece, funniest art scene moment, best institutional decision, most perplexing institutional decision, most promising talent, most exciting development and least exciting development.

Email your nominations to me: jeff (at) portlandart.net

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 17, 2010 at 12:23 | Comments (0)

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Tuesday 12.14.10

Ed Cauduro, Oregon's greatest art collector passes away

Perhaps the greatest collector of modern and contemporary art in the Pacific Northwest, Ed Cauduro, died last Saturday in Palm Springs at the age of 83.


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Warhol: Four Jackies (formerly part of Cauduro's collection, exhibited at PAM in 2004)

What differentiated the reclusive collector was his prescient eye as he was among the first to collect artists like Donald Judd, Jasper Johns, Andy Warhol, Jean Michel Basquiat, Terry Winters and Jeff Koons. He even collected John Chamberlain's first car crush sculpture, Shortstop.

Besides donating works like the orange Alexander Liberman sculpture Contact II in Jamison Square Park... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 14, 2010 at 0:25 | Comments (0)

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Thursday 12.09.10

ABMB hangover 2010

Todd Eberle chronicles the annual Art Basel Miami Beach people watching hangover... in Vegas.

Here are some photo's of some of the art at the main ABMB fair on ArtInfo. I'd categorize them as Vegas meets the morgue.

...and more photos.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 09, 2010 at 12:41 | Comments (0)

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Monday 11.29.10

Linkage

Steve Martin a has a new book about the art world... I hope it stays a book and doesn't become a movie. But it will.

Just when I was thinking that Zaha Hadid had lost her magic touch found in earlier projects like the Strasbourg Car Park, her Stone Towers project looks awfully good.

I like festivals, especially when they are focused, and this bucolic outdoor installation art festival in Russian looks interesting.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on November 29, 2010 at 12:29 | Comments (0)

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Monday 11.22.10

Monday Links

Jerry Saltz takes on lil Bush's official portrait here.

Roberta Smith gives her estimation of Anselm Kiefer's return to NYC after an 8 year hiatus.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on November 22, 2010 at 16:01 | Comments (0)

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Monday 11.15.10

Turner Prize and CNAA's

Art21 has a nice summary judgment of this year's Turner Prize candidates. Im definitely for Otilith Group too (I'm a sucker for extra geeky snappy-looking shows), which means they probably won't win.

As we have seen with the Contemporary Northwest Art Awards these types of show rarely pick the strongest artist in that iteration's show... it's kind of an institutional hallmark to pick something blander... the bigger the institution the less willing they are to make consequential decisions about taste (instead they follow). BTW The CNAA's are underway again and will take place in June 2011. Will they prove consequential like the Turner Prize was in the 90's (less so now but still major) or just another navel gazing exercise in things we already know about the region? The last one wasn't bad but it wasn't terribly influential either and didn't really pose a challenge to the NW identity. Also, there wont be an outside curator this time to winnow down the nominees like last time, just a panel of PAM's photography Northwest and contemporary curators and the director... yes a panel.

Only time will tell if they need to remind everyone that... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on November 15, 2010 at 15:10 | Comments (0)

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Wednesday 11.10.10

Artitecture lecture at AiA

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AiA with Infradraft installation by Damien Gilley

With all of its changes in the past 10 years it's no surprise that Portland's art scene is particularly interested in architecture, construction and the design of space.

Tomorrow, in conjunction with his exhibition Infradraft at AIA Portland Damien Gilley has put together The Artist Constructor, an evening lecture series in which 6 artist/critic/creatives will speak about select topics under the umbrella of architecture and space. Each 15 minute lecture by Salvatore Reda, Laura Hughes, myself, Victor Maldonado, Randy Rapaport, Damien Gilley should present a variety of approaches and philosophies at work in the city before a concluding discussion about the ramifications of these approaches.

November 11th | doors 6pm | Lectures 6:30pm
Refreshments provided by Widmer Brewing
AiA Center for Architecture
403 NW 11th Avenue

Posted by Jeff Jahn on November 10, 2010 at 13:16 | Comments (1)

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Monday 11.08.10

Monday Links

Ai Weiwei's supporters "celebrate" the demolition of his studio. The artist says he is to be released from house arrest Sunday.

In case you didn't catch it, PORT expanded our analysis of the YU contemporary art center project significantly last week. YU itself has updated its website with more info.

Artist Tony Fitzpatrick discusses his moths and why New Orleans is special on Artnet.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on November 08, 2010 at 12:08 | Comments (0)

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Friday 10.29.10

Scary links

Portland Architecture has the AiA Oregon design awards for this year, ZGF takes top honors while the very deserving Holst is denied top prize for the new Ziba HQ's. Frightening!

In keeping with the Halloween holiday The Guardian has a look at the the photography of paranormal investigator William Hope.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on October 29, 2010 at 13:13 | Comments (0)

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Monday 10.18.10

Monday Links

Interesting article on Roxy Paine in the NYT's yesterday. what I like about Roxy and his work is that there is a very idiomatic and autodidactic method to what he does. He considers systems and finds a place between the natural and unnatural and there is something refreshing about an artist of his stature who is both original and without an MFA... although there is nothing wrong with art schools I do think it is important to note there are "other ways" . Here's PORT's review of Paine's show in Portland many years ago.

The Menil has Kurt Schwitters Merzbau on display. It is Schwitters first US solo show in 25 years.

Check out Jean Nouvel on the CBS morning show. Kinda sad how New York tends to stunt major architectural statements like the MoMA tower or create terrible things like the Freedom Tower. Besides, cutting off 200 feet from the Nouvel tower seems a tad arbitrary in Midtown.

Tyler Green considers a rather unexciting apocalypse... where Miami Beach comes to Palm Beach. The real story is how uninteresting the whole concept seems on a curatorial level.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on October 18, 2010 at 10:32 | Comments (0)

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Friday 10.08.10

Culture culture

Nice to read Barry Johnson taking a swipe at the idea of the arts as being Elitist. A bit ago there was a flap over this with Bob Hicks in the PORT comments but somehow I think we both came to a better understanding between us. The point being generalist news sources should really get over the idea as culture as some kind of pet of the rich. Fact is, providing cultural offerings is an essentially egalitarian and often thankless form of enhancing a diversified civic outlook that is its most healthy when it is cosmopolitan in nature. The Greeks called the inherent contention over such things Eris. Basically, in the visual arts a few artists, art dealers, curators and yes patrons work and often sacrifice to make art available to anyone who might appreciate it. It's a true case of a few serving the many something that is otherwise out of reach. It's just another form of education and I arts providers deserve the same respect as teachers. The thing with the arts is you don't stop being called a charlatan of some sort until you've done it for maybe 20+ years.


Herzog and de Meuron's Hamburg Concert Hall now has a fascinating video mixing it's current state and the computer renderings... probably a good fundraising tool!

Posted by Jeff Jahn on October 08, 2010 at 14:52 | Comments (1)

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Thursday 09.23.10

Checking in with art writers

Jerry Saltz answers some basic but sticky questions about careerism, cronyism and elitism in the art world. These questions never go away but Jerry is doing a good thing by giving extremely practical and positive insight here. All art students should read this as Jerry's attitude is pretty healthy.

Tyler Green reports on an endangered Richard Serra in Canada , will it finally be protected?

PORT's Arcy Douglass has published a more personal essay on Robert Irwin. It's a followup to this PORT post but we felt it was a bit to personal for here. That said, if you follow Arcy and Robert Irwin you might want to check it out.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on September 23, 2010 at 11:15 | Comments (3)

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Friday 09.17.10

Ellen Lesperance wins Betty Bowen and analysis

Portland's Ellen Lesperance is the 32nd winner of the Annual Betty Bowen Award and will have a solo show at the Seattle Art Museum beginning October 21st. Congratulations. Absolutely well deserved and a choice nobody saw coming (which is very good).

Analysis: an unexpected and very good choice but I sense a backlash is about to manifest itself begging the question, "must every regional art award in the Pacific Northwest genuflect in some way towards overtly craft oriented or hand made work?"

Not to be provocative, just articulating an observable trend that hasn't really kept up with new media. Obviously, craft is a valid and important part of contemporary art but it's not the whole picture, frankly its representation at the awards level is misleading. So I ask, when will video, photography and installation art that isn't fetishing craft outright be given its due at the Contemporary Northwest Art Awards, Betty Bowen (which did award photographer Isaac Layman a few years ago), Bonnie Bronson, Ford Fellowships? ie can any of these awards move beyond a predominantly laborious hand made (looking) world? This is the silicon forest after all, Portland and Seattle's economies are very tech-driven. In short, it's a question of accuracy in recognition since many of our non craft artists are internationally established.

The Pacific Northwest needs to be more conscious of ruts at the awards level.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on September 17, 2010 at 13:55 | Comments (3)

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Thursday 09.02.10

Opinion Links

Architecture Daily considers the reaction to the curtain wall for Jean Nouvel's now iconic Vision Machine in Chelsea. I think it's brilliant to design an exterior first and foremost from the ideas that form the interior. It will hold up very well, like the Marina City apartments in Chicago.

Tyler Green asks who you would like to see make a new public art piece in your city? We have Kenny Scharf and a pretty crappy Judy Pfaff here in Portland... who would you like? The tops of my list are Anish Kapoor, Robert Irwin and an outdoor Jennifer Steinkamp video projection.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on September 02, 2010 at 10:07 | Comments (3)

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Saturday 08.07.10

PAM announces Laing-Malcolmson as new Curator of NW Art

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In case you haven't heard the Portland Art Museum announced today that Bonnie Laing-Malcolmson has been appointed as the new Arlene and Harold Schnitzer Curator of Northwest Art. She's considered by most in town to be sharp, fair, caretaker type with strong people skills. The position does need stability, as another short term appointee like her predecessor would reflect very poorly on the whole program, which is endowed by the Arlene and Harold Schnitzer. The position is necessary as she will be the museum's main interface with the arts community... one where the artists themselves are frequently of higher international profile than any of our institutions.

Congratulations, you are much needed.

Still, Laing-Malcolmson is a curious choice as she is better known to the region as an administrator, having just retired as the President of The Oregon College of Arts and Crafts. She apparently has some curatorial experience (in Montana) but nothing as contemporary as her predecessor Jennifer Gately (who stepped down after less than two years) in what would have to be considered a politically difficult post. It is one poised both historically and yet succeeds or fails in the very active present. For example, for the past 10 years + video and installation art have formed a huge part of the Northwest scene, with very little representation in PAM's collection. This is especially true of the popular hybrid, video installation. The point being, we expect a lot of this curator and there is a lot of backlog. The scene will expect excellence both historically and on the contemporary front. Let's just say... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on August 07, 2010 at 1:38 | Comments (3)

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Thursday 08.05.10

Thursday linkage

Via Portland Architecture, Randy Leonard, continues to threaten the Memorial Coliseum. Look, tearing down a perfectly good major league venue with serious architectural significance for a minor league baseball team reaffirms City Commissioner Randy Leonard's drive to turn cutting edge Portland into a bustling minor leauge backwater. No Offense but isn't this exactly what Beaverton and Troutdale are for? I support the MLS in PGE park idea but minor league baseball cmon? Look, if we say... turn Weiden + Kennedy HQ's into an old time soft serve ice cream parlor etc. we aren't really living up to our potential. We need bigger ideas not smaller FFA,4H level ones RL.

Looks like Denver is getting a new Calatrava airport extension.

Check out this Cy Twombly time lapse install.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on August 05, 2010 at 14:18 | Comments (0)

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Tuesday 07.27.10

Tuesday Links

Check out architect Moshe Safdie's Marina Bay Sands project on ArchDaily. Hello Coruscant!

Artnet looks back at the Tim Griffin years as editor at Art Forum.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on July 27, 2010 at 9:41 | Comments (0)

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Monday 07.05.10

Big Question Marks

The Guardian asks if the Tate Modern can afford BP's sponsorship?

Randy Kennedy at the NYT's writes a gushing piece on Deitch as a museum director. The real question is if Deitch can finally motivate LA to support something other than Hollywood?

Posted by Jeff Jahn on July 05, 2010 at 13:19 | Comments (0)

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Wednesday 06.30.10

Opening a new book on OCAC

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One of Denise Mullen's books

Opening the book on a new era, OCAC hasn't wasted any time in finding outgoing president Bonnie Laing-Malcolmson's successor. Their choice, Denise Mullen signals some very important directions. As a practicing artist and collector it insures that the school will continue to have a very close to the art approach... so it looks as if concerns that they would go in a more corporate mass-enrollment driven approach have been effectively quashed. Yet, the school needs to grow and expand its national profile. This is incredibly important as the school is in the midst of an ambitious 15 year campus building program kicked off by the soon to open the architecturally significant, Charles Rose designed Drawing Painting and Photography + Studios building. OCAC is already Portland's most focused art school but that's a tricky balance to maintain while growing the way OCAC has planned. Mullen's decisions will prove crucial to the success of that plan. It's a very competitive environment and all of Portland's art schools have been experiencing record enrollments in recent years as the city has become so popular as an art center (built primarily through the initiative of those artists). At the same time, I can't think of a better way for an art school to distinguish itself than being focused.

Here's the press release:

Randy O’Connor, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Oregon College of Art and Craft (OCAC) today announces the appointment of Denise Mullen as president at OCAC. Her position will begin effective August 23, 2010.

“As a practicing artist, gifted college administrator, highly respected professor... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on June 30, 2010 at 10:17 | Comments (0)

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Friday 06.25.10

Getting it across

Here's the latest on the Columbia River Crossing from the Mercury. It's a step in the right direction... i.e. asking intelligent questions but it's too limited a discussion (how many lanes) and still doesn't tackle the need for a much more radical rethink using the best design and engineering minds the world has to offer. For perspective, saving 50 million on a 4 billion dollar project isn't any kind of real shift. What it does mean is Portland's mayor is looking to create traction amongst the two state governors who really control this wayward project. My initial take on the Columbia River Crossing still stands. We should also figure out how to get more than a half billion in federal funds for what could be a showcase project for a new energy relationship.

What I'd almost like to see happen is something similar to... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on June 25, 2010 at 16:52 | Comments (0)

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Thursday 06.24.10

Weekly reader

Though they are probably mortal enemies (and certainly rivals), I like the fact that Portland has two alternative weeklies that regularly practice art criticism. In support, read these reviews so their publishers know people care about art criticism.

Matt Stangel at the Mercury takes on Storm Tharp's latest.

Richard Speer at the WWeek reviews PORT's own Jascha Owens. I also love the fact that the WWeek went to a series of recurring micro reviews rather than simply trying to list all of the shows in Portland, which is impossible.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on June 24, 2010 at 12:57 | Comments (0)

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Monday 06.14.10

Weekend links: Polke, Olsen, Ford Fellowships

We have a great many in-depth pieces for you this week but before we get to those let's catch up with the weekend:

Sigmar Polke has passed, Roberta Smith has the obit. During the 90's he was undoubtedly the most copied artist in art schools but I noticed how he had somehow fallen off the map lately... accept no imitations, though it is a sign of his success. Here is the website for his 1999 works on paper show at MoMA. Expect a major retrospective.

Then there's this long piece on PAM's excellent education director Tina Olsen in the Oregonian. It's worth reading despite the cringe inducing line, "Olsen seems like a mother gently chiding her children..." Now Tina is a lot of things but just because she's the only woman in the room doesn't make her motherly. Few mothers use the word "agenda" when being motherly. Frankly, that just sounds like someone who means business simply getting down to business. I mention this because several women were a bit incensed by this and have always felt a kind of lurking sexism in David's writing (though more benignly he's really just pandering to the O's demographics). To give him some credit though... he's right, Tina will be a museum director some time in the future (if she wants to be) and Portland is very lucky to have her for now... PORT singled her out last year in our new faces to watch list.

Last but not least The Hallie Ford Foundation has announced their first visual arts fellowship recipients; David Eckard, Daniel Duford and Heidi Schwegler. Each receives 25,000 and those three are surprisingly "not stuffy" choices... each being in the prime of their careers. Also, none of them has representation despite the fact that Eckard and Schwegler have produced some of the most adept show's in recent history. Eckard recently won the 19th Bonnie Bronson fellowship and Schwegler was THE biggest breakout star of the Portland changing 1999 Oregon Biennial (nothing like 11 years for overdue recognition). Duford is a darling amongst a few curators (he's bright) but his work hasn't really gone to the same levels of originality that Schwegler and Eckard's work has. I characterize them as a series of ok attempts at comic books and graphic novels transposed to the art world (a subculture that curators are anxious to tap). They don't stand up that well against the world class comic book talent in Portland but maybe this award will help him reach his potential?

Posted by Jeff Jahn on June 14, 2010 at 10:05 | Comments (4)

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Monday 06.07.10

Unfinished business



Now there is a coherent video Columbia Crossing: What does it mean?, which makes the case for renewed design phase for the Columbia River Crossing from March's PDXplore symposia and exhibition at PNCA. This new so called independent review panel for this co-governor "time-out" on the project has no design professionals on it... only transit insiders (which isn't a good thing). I'm thinking the design and developer communities need to organize a concerted response. There is a need for the bridge but we should only build a good solution. The main point of the PDXplore think tank being that the process up to now has explored one way of thinking (traditional transit) to it's breaking point and we simply need to restart by building on what we have learned wont work with some new ideas... that mean's new design ideas. Design isn't a dirty or even expensive word here, it means fresh thinking that can actually seek to address the complex problems and opportunities of the project in a way people will get behind. Ramming it down the voters throats won't work in this economy. The voters must be convinced. Design can bring people together just as surely a lack of it has been divisive up to this point.


Jerry Saltz Remembers Louise Bougeois's Salons along with others.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on June 07, 2010 at 12:13 | Comments (0)

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Tuesday 06.01.10

Today PORT is 5

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Today is the 5th anniversary of PORT: portlandart.net and I'd like to use the occasion to draw attention to all of the excellent writers who have helped make this ground breaking publication what it is. PORT is much less a business (barely a business) and more of a community service as a venue for cogent, decisive information and critical discussion. With over 135,000 unique readers in April alone the site is infinitely more popular than we ever imagined it would be when Jennifer Armbrust, Katherine Bovee and I started it back in 2005. With notice from Art in America, The Walker, Andy Warhol Foundation and The Whitney... PORT is arguably the most influential art publication in the history of the Pacific Northwest. It's been pivotal in the discussion of the I-5 and Willamette Bridges, new art groups that suddenly end up at the Tate Modern and even the recent Donald Judd conference/exhibition. Like any publication PORT's success puts demands on everyone, asking our institutions, other publications and galleries to step it up a notch or two... (why I shut down Organism as its mission was more narrow than PORT and my own curatorial scope had become). Somehow PORT evolves fast enough to stay at the bleeding edge of where Portland's art scene and the international art world mix (kind of like the treacherous Columbia bar). Maybe PORT stays supple because each writer is encouraged to pursue their own particular interests rather than a series of assignments? It's an approach that engenders a core-level of integrity and passionate interest since it's hardly a lucrative endeavor. Overall, we all try our best and everyone involved makes sacrifices to make it happen, so feel free to give an attaboy to any of our writers in the comments (though arts writing is inherently thankless).

 

Check out some of what I consider to be our best posts:

Arcy's groundbreaking essay on Mark Rothko's formative years in Portland

Amy's Okwui Enwezor interview

Jasha's review of Leon Golub's show currently on view at PAM

Alex's two part interview with Inigo Manglano Ovalle, Part II is probably the best interview ever done with that artist

Megan's review of Dinh Q. Le's last show

Gary's recent interview with Oregon's own Adam Stennett for Disquieted

Sarah's stunning photos for China Design Now

Isaac's essay on the Holbein Madonna

And my own Taking Full Stock of the Portland Art Scene post (yes Ill post part II this summer, as time allows).

Overall, it's career defining reviews that I enjoy the most though... PORT isn't about ingratiating ourselves to the scene or heckling it from outside, we simply care about relevance, critical ideas and how the entire arts ecosystem can thrive through excellence. To put it bluntly, if there's a problem worth fixing we will do our best to point it out and if there is a moment of real excellence we will be there too... thank you readers and sponsors for counting on us. We do our best to earn that trust, without pandering (something rare in the art world).

Posted by Jeff Jahn on June 01, 2010 at 12:35 | Comments (1)

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Friday 05.28.10

Friday Museum Links

I'll have an avalanche of reviews for you later today but till then:

The Portland Art Museum has posted some edited highlights of my talk on Anne Truitt and Dan Flavin here. Of course it doesn't get into all the details I discussed about Judd, Greenberg, Panza and Truitt herself as a kind of competing but complementary discourse but it's a nice art historical faceoff. In particular the way Truitt channeled emotional content into a so called cold style is telling. Fact was after growing up in the depression and making sacrifices as children during WWII artists like Truitt, Flavin and Judd had a keen interest in a more up front, less drama-filled contemplation of art.

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Meat Packing District Whitney Museum by Renzo Piano

Well, in case you haven't heard... it's official The Whitney is moving to the Meat Packing District... so what will become of their fantastic but too small Breuer building? Looks like the Met will rent it so the can finally renovate their modern and contemporary galleries but after that? My bet is the Guggenheim or possibly some non-art museum will rent or purchase it. It is really only good for museums. The new Renzo Piano designed museum for the Whitney will put a premium on column-free space allowing a New York museum to compete or at least accommodate similar work as Tate Modern's enormous Turbine Hall. Is bigger better? Also... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on May 28, 2010 at 10:52 | Comments (0)

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Monday 05.24.10

Monday Links

Roberta Smith discusses Philippe Halsman's technique of having his photographic subjects jump.

Walter Robinson discusses the latest Greater New York show... not an impressive show but that's to be expected.

Jerry Saltz discusses Abromovic at MoMA. I've noticed that women like Abromovic and Rist are the only artists to tackle the atrium successfully... I've got a theory but I want to see a few more success stories to test it. Anyone else have a theory?

Posted by Jeff Jahn on May 24, 2010 at 11:35 | Comments (0)

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Thursday 05.20.10

Thursday Links

The Portland Mercury's cover story on an artist's residency in a foreclosed mansion shows the resourceful and supportive spirit of Portland's arts scene.

A photo or two of Oregon Painting Society at Tate Modern in Vogue. (scroll through)

Brian Libby discusses the Rubber Stamp panel for the CRC comprised of transit insiders. Look "no design" means no bridge and I'm a longtime supporter of a bridge option.

At the new MAN, Tyler reports on the Walker Art Center's cutbacks... Just goes to show that non profit endowments have not recovered. Reminds me how out front Ferriso was since PAM made its first cuts even before the recession was official (senior staff at PAM took pay cuts etc last year too).

Posted by Jeff Jahn on May 20, 2010 at 10:27 | Comments (0)

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Tuesday 05.11.10

on art & the arts

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Don Flavin, "Untitled (To Donna) II," 1971

PORTstar and founder Jeff Jahn will be giving this month's artist talk at PAM. He'll be speaking on Dan Flavin's Untitled (To Donna) II and Anne Truitt's Bonne. As usual, the talk meets in the Hoffman Lobby at 6pm, then will be toured by the works by Jahn, then back in the Lobby for "happy hour" after the talk.

Artist talk • 6-8pm • May 13
Portland Art Museum • 1219 SW Park • 503.226.2811


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Michael Kaiser

Michael Kaiser, president of the Kennedy Center, is bringing his "Arts in Crisis" tour to Portland at the Gerding Theater. In this "community conversation," Kaiser will discuss the challenges facing non-profit performing arts organizations today, including fundraising, budgeting, marketing and building effective boards. The event is free, but requires registration (here).

Community conversation • 10am-12pm • May 13
Gerding Theater @ the Armory • 128 NW 11th

Posted by Megan Driscoll on May 11, 2010 at 10:28 | Comments (0)

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Tyler Green moves to Art Info

After 8.5 years Tyler Green is moving Modern Art Notes to Art Info. Yes yes, I know Tyler drives some people crazy with his moralizing which can border on the shrill but what I appreciate most about him is how seriously he takes arts journalism (which is a mostly debased profession these days). By "seriously" I mean he compartmentalizes his love of the arts and the integrity of such, holding it on par or above journalism's pettier exploits (i.e. careerism, petty inter-critic bitch slapping etc). If we had more Tyler's the Barnes foundation, Rose Art Museum etc. would not be going in the integrity shy directions they have undertaken. Frankly we need more critics in the mainstream press, espc. ones who care about the end product as much as their careers.

What this means is I finally have to update PORT's links page for Monday (so send me your links and I'll get on it). Overall, I'm a historian (another dubious prof that's important when done well) so I'm coming at it from another angle but I think the important thing is that people like Tyler can find umbrella organizations that can pay the bills and keep serious arts writing alive. Good on yah sir.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on May 11, 2010 at 10:04 | Comments (0)

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Monday 05.10.10

Kimmelman plays with marbles, loses the high ground

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Photo: Kallistos

On Sunday Michael Kimmelman penned a strange article on the disputed rights over the so called Elgin Marbles, a series of marble sculptures taken from the Parthenon to reside in the British Museum. Greece wants them back and with that country suddenly in the news it is clear this was an opportunistic story. Fine, except it's an obscuring move and a bit clubby in its complicitness with the status quo (whether it is relevant to today's shifting context or not).

What's wrong with his conveniently relativistic article isn't the relativism (par for the course in museum ethics today)... it's the "convenience" of his non arguments. By hedging both sides as a kind of relativistic stalemate he's not really reporting on the issue or critiquing it for that matter (as chief art critic of the NYT's I hold him to a high standard). The comments pretty much hand it to him.

My issue with the article is that the British Museum's claim on the marbles (the old "that's the way we did it then" argument) isn't gaining any additional moral strength with time, while Greece's certainly is (their history is their economy and their political glue... and quite simply they care more). Thus, barring some unforeseen prosperity for Greece in the next 100 years it's the equivalent of refusing to help ones parent's with some symbolic request.

What's more the argument that since repatriating the marbles will not fully heal the wound is ridiculous... nobody makes such claims for... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on May 10, 2010 at 13:24 | Comments (1)

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Tuesday 05.04.10

Walt Curtis fire fund

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Walt Curtis

According to his friend and former art dealer Mark Woolley, "Walt Curtis lost most everything Sunday in the big fire at Great NW Bookstore. Walt lost his apartment, studio, manuscripts, photos, paintings and much more. One thing he escaped with was a small painting he was working on when the fire broke out on Sunday. Other than that, he needs our help for basic necessities, housing, art supplies, some living expenses while he rebuilds some of what he lost.

His spirits are pretty good and he is sporting a bit of a 'Grecian Formula' look in his beautiful hair from the smoke. Friends and supporters can help Walt by giving generously to the Walt Curtis Fund at any Wells Fargo bank.'

In case you are new to Portland Walt Curtis is a fixture as a poet, painter and the author of Mala Noche. Well wishers can send notes of encouragement to: Walt Curtis, c/o Mark Woolley, 2644 NE Cesar E. Chavez Blvd., Portland, OR 97212

Posted by Jeff Jahn on May 04, 2010 at 11:28 | Comments (1)

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Friday 04.30.10

Friday links and reminders

Holland Cotter discusses how the Met's weakish holdings in Picasso are actually an asset.

Portland Architecture looks at a project performing acupuncture on Portland's lil volcano Mt. Tabor. Do we really want to unblock it's chi?

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Also, tomorrow is the last day to see both Elizabeth Leach Gallery's Select Prints by Donald Judd, including some of the rare early ones the artist executed with his father along with the Judd show at the U of O in Chinatown. The Donald Judd show at the U of O's White Stag building is open till May 21st (Tues-Saturday 12-6)but Judd is one of those artists who gains additional perspective and appreciation through seeing multiple solo shows. Take advantage of the confluence.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on April 30, 2010 at 10:06 | Comments (0)

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Tuesday 04.27.10

David Eckard: 19th Bonnie Bronson Fellow

Last night David Eckard was awarded the 19th Bonnie Bronson Award, an incredibly well deserved choice.

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But to speak of things people seldom state publicly, somehow his choice seemed different... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on April 27, 2010 at 11:15 | Comments (0)

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Monday 04.26.10

Discussing Panza

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Sadly, one of the world's greatest art collectors Count Guiseppe Panza died this past weekend and Christopher Knight discusses this event from the best vantage point.

As the elephant in the room, for yesterday's conference, Donald Judd Delegated Fabrication: history, practice, issues and implications the news gave Peter Ballantine a chance to speak on the rift between Judd and one of his greatest collectors. Famously Panza had some of Judd's work fabricated by his own people, Judd didn't approve of the workmanship, Panza didn't acquiesce and Judd declared it destroyed. On Sunday Ballantine was once again was caught in the middle and said that it was one of those unfortunate situations where two very strong willed individuals ran afoul of each other. Judd had gone to Italy hoping to... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on April 26, 2010 at 12:28 | Comments (0)

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Monday 04.19.10

Catching up on Judd things

Ok catching up on Judd stuff. The Donald Judd: Delegated Fabrication Conference is this next Sunday and with Robert Storr, Arata Isozaki, Peter Ballantine and Portland's own Bruce Guenther it should be very exciting. It isn't just a world class event, it's a bleeding edge discussion. Judd's fabrication has never been formally discussed like this and with such detail. There are still a few seats available.

Today, Brian Libby interviews me in Portland Architecture about Judd's relationship to designers and architects.

Also, Thursday there was a nice full page, section lead story in the Portland Tribune. . I can't think of the last time a scholarly conference got such top billing in a generalist publication?

Last but not least there was the Judd Related artist panel discussion which I lead last Saturday at PNCA. It was probably the single most useful artist panel discussion Ive ever had the pleasure to take in. It was long and I feel like everyone got something usesful out of it.

Here is a link to an experiential video/podcast of the event.

If you just can't sit through the difficult production values here is a summary:

Storm Tharp's next show is basically about his experience last year in Marfa. Judd is new to his "top ten" of favorites and he has an interesting love hate relationship to Judd's auteur-like achievement. Storm is attracted to high levels of aesthetic achievement and celebrates his hero's while expressing his own anxieties and insights into their achievement. Storm's account was very personal.

Victor Maldonado, took a sociological stance on Judd. For Victor he's part of this received American history to be contended with and called him a Coyote... an operator who is both wise and dangerous. Judd's decision to locate himself in Marfa near the Mexican border became a somewhat politicized choice.

Laura Fritz, in a dry, somewhat Juddian delivery (that's just her) simply described elements of her work and a key Judd work at the Des Moines Art Center that introduced her to installation art. Interestingly, she felt her the video element of Evident related to Judd's way of straining the perceivable world through manifold space like Judd. She also emphasized the importance of rigorous editing rather than simplicity for its own sake.

Arcy, discussed Judd and the problem of choice and has done a post on his talk last Saturday on the Judd Conference blog. Essentially, Douglass is a systems artist and shares that with Judd, though I believe he's more influenced by Carl Andre than Judd.

Anna Gray and Ryan Paulsen, discussed the way Judd inserted himself into the discourse and the artistic violence of contending with Judd. They are primarily influenced by Judd's writings rather than his systems, aesthetics, sociology or achievement. This somewhat retraces what the next generation of conceptual artists after Judd did but its really interesting that these young artists are still dealing with the the same issues in an updated current way... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on April 19, 2010 at 12:06 | Comments (0)

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Tuesday 04.13.10

Judd Conference announces Arata Isozaki

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We are honored and pleased to announce that renowned Japanese Master Architect and philosopherArata Isozaki will join the distinguished panel speaking at the Donald Judd Conference: Donald Judd Delegated Fabrication at UO in Portland on April 25!

Arata Isozaki is recognized internationally as a significant, avant garde architect and has designed notable buildings in Asia, Europe and the United States. His work includes Gumma Prefectural Museum of Modern Art in Takasaki City, Japan, the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Los Angeles, and the Olympic Stadium in Barcelona, Spain and more recently the Weil Medical clinic in Quatar.

Along with Isozaki, the other panelists include:... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on April 13, 2010 at 21:00 | Comments (0)

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PAM announces new photography curator

Julia Dolan, formerly Horace W. Goldsmith Curatorial Fellow in Photography at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, will join the Portland Art Museum this June as curator of photography.

Posted by Megan Driscoll on April 13, 2010 at 12:38 | Comments (0)

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Tuesday 03.30.10

OPS goes to London to celebrate the Tate's 10th Anniversary

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OPS installation at PSU Autzen Gallery December 2009 (photo Jeff Jahn)

Here is news of an exciting development for the Oregon Painting Society, which got PORT's attention in 2008. Then they brought it all together OPS hit it out of the park in one of 2009's best shows. Now they are going to Tate Modern's immense Turbine Hall. Which is to say, game on and well done, told yah they were onto something (despite being a bit overexposed in Portland recently). This is one dynamic art scene.

According to the press release "OPS have been invited by NYC based curator Cecilia Alemani to participate in No Soul for Sale: A Festival of Independents as part of the museum’s 10th anniversary celebration. The three-day festival of art collectives and innovative arts organizations will draw 50 participants from around the globe including Portland’s very own OPS. The group will create an interactive installation on the floor of the Tate’s Turbine Hall and will present a new performance on the hall’s main stage. The festival is expected to draw 50,000 visitors."

No Soul for Sale: A Festival of Independents will take place May 14th-16th, 2010

Posted by Jeff Jahn on March 30, 2010 at 19:42 | Comments (0)

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Tuesday Links

Over at Artnet Ben Davis discusses Jessica Jackson Hutchins breakout at the Whitney Biennial. I like Hutchins work of course but feel she has a ways to go before growing beyond her current Kienholtz meets Franz West filtered through Voulkos and George Ohr charm and really hits on something major and completely her own. The thing is, from our talks I definitely feel she has it in her and I particularly like the fact she isn't terribly self-satisfied (a disease amongst young artists today).

Lisa Radon catches Richard Flood talking about something he knows nothing about, blogs, facebook etc. Personally, I avoided the talk because I feared he might say something like this (Portland is one of the most tech and word savvy cities on earth so I figured it was covered and I could do something productive). Honestly, I hope the New Museum can turn things around because right now it seems to be undergoing death by a thousand cuts in the court of critical opinion. No institution with new in its name and mission statement can afford such repeated stumbling. I disagree with the muckraking critiques too... instead, the real issue is the lack of curatorial compass the institution seems to have (not the less than pretty sausage making process that trustees and museum's must undergo). I could care less about the collector and Koons involvement other than they seem so poorly tuned to the times. So far the NuMu has had one critical slam dunk, Unmonumental. They need a few more so they can outflank the Whitney and other institutions by doing serious and eye opening solo shows that nobody else has done (or seen coming). Right now the NuMu looks like a lone figure swatting at a swarm of bees. Jerry Saltz answers Flood here.

And Seattle chimes in too, I love the fact that Seattle is the most sarcastic city in the USA and the Stranger is ground zero.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on March 30, 2010 at 11:02 | Comments (0)

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Wednesday 03.24.10

Wednesday Links

The New York Times reports on an innovative homeless shelter in Portland designed by Holst Architecture (who most notably completed the new Ziba World Headquarters).

A lil bit ago Jerry Saltz remembered the Dia in Chelsea... can this new version really recapture Dia's role as a "key ally" or patron for challenging art?

Even the the Mayor's office is blogging about the Judd Conference in Portland next month... registration has been strong these first 2 weeks. BTW the exhibition's open reception will take place in the middle of the conference on the 25th.

The Guardian looks at Jean Nouvel, who for the last few years has been the hottest architect on Earth (deservedly so, but I like Toyo Ito even better).

Posted by Jeff Jahn on March 24, 2010 at 10:39 | Comments (0)

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Sunday 03.21.10

Last chance for Judd Conference early registration

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Poster for Judd Conference featuring image of Judd's 1974 piece at the PCVA (photo Maryanne Caruthers)

Just a reminder you still have a little over 24 hours to take advantage of the Judd Conference's early registration discount (by the end of Monday March 22nd). This isn't some dull lecture but an opportunity to take part in an important and inspiring historic discussion. Instead, it will be an intensive, hyperfocused and scholarly discussion of one of Judd's most important contributions to contemporary art his delegated fabrication (which is intimately tied into and expresses the philosophical underpinnings of Judd's art). Arcy discusses these issues a little more here on the Judd Conference blog.

Overall, it is a great time to come to Portland, with 2 Judd exhibitions up (in conjunction with the conference I'm curating one at the U of O's White Stag building and Elizabeth Leach Gallery is presenting a Judd print show) the ongoing Disquieted, Cy Twombly and Leon Golub shows at PAM, Scarecrow at Reed (featuring documentation video of many famous performance art pieces) and many other Judd related shows + PICA's TADA party ... the weekend of April 25th will be an excellent weekend to visit Portland's ever-active art scene.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on March 21, 2010 at 18:50 | Comments (0)

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Thursday 03.11.10

Suggested reading

The Judd Conference now has its own blog and Arcy has laid out a very helpful reading list with links. Remember to register early, the cost goes up after March 22nd and space is limited. If you are an installation artist, designer or architect this event will be of capital interest.

Todd Eberle is doing some fine blogging and always great photos on Marina Abramovic's latest.

Nicolai Ouroussoff's fascinating article on Claude Parent is definitely worth a read, contextualizing the architect who has influenced younger designers like Jean Nouvel and Rem Koolhaas. Call him the father of the current strain of counterintuitive (yet good) architecture.

Tyler Green contemplates the ethical legacy of curator Edward Fry in the Gugg's new Contemplating the Void exhibition.

The WWeek reviews the Blakely Dadsen show at Chambers.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on March 11, 2010 at 11:20 | Comments (0)

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Friday 03.05.10

NYC roundup

Roberta Smith lays it all out in a matter of fact way regarding the Koons curated New Museum show, Skin Fruit. To me it seems like a show calibrated for 2007 and people are going to hold the New Museum to higher standards because of the mission statement and presence of "New" in its name. The problem isn't Koons or the collector, it's the fact that the New Museum can't really afford to be behind the curve the way other New York Museums are... or even behind the those other institutions for that matter. Everyone wants the New Museum to be bleeding edge, but it isn't. Perhaps large group shows are simply the wrong way.

It's part of the reason PORT didn't get all Whitney-excited (even if several Portland friends are in it and the Museum linked to several of our articles). To me its like a cliff notes version of the art world and this iteration's focus on being conveniently self-conscious felt dated (anyone remember 2002?). Also,why must they always have a car or other wheeled vehicle in each version? Overall, the Whitney can get away with being a little behind the curve, in fact I think that is part of being a venerated museum and its a valuable way to intersect with those who are not 100% art world creatures. Honestly, Id like to see Museums put on more small group shows 3-5 artists... politically that's a rats nest to navigate as a curator but that is what these times require. Will the Portland Art Museum's CNAA's be up to that challenge regionally? Balancing politics and freshness is difficult for large institutions.

The NYT's also did a piece on the Armory, a confab which in my mind has somewhat overshadowed the Whitney Biennial.... even in this diminished economic climate. PORT's award winning Amy Bernstein will have a report soon.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on March 05, 2010 at 14:46 | Comments (0)

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Thursday 03.04.10

Major Annoucement, Judd Conference and Exhibition in Portland

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Poster for Judd Conference featuring image of Judd's 1974 piece at the PCVA (photo Maryanne Caruthers)

The University of Oregon School of Architecture and Allied Arts and PORT are pleased to announce what promises to be a major highlight of Portland's 2010 cultural calendar; a scholarly conference and exhibition, "Donald Judd: Delegated Fabrication; history, practices, issues and implications" on April 25th 2010. With keynote speaker Robert Storr and other notables like Peter Ballantine, this promises to be a conference where Judd's most radical artistic contributions are examined and discussed. Space will be limited to encourage discussion so this wont be one of those static lecture and listen style events.

Furthermore, I'll be curating the exhibition Donald Judd, which will support and encourage the conferences discussion, it opens on conference day and runs through May 21st at the U of O's White Box gallery in Portland. The event is sponsored by the University of Oregon's School of Architecture and Allied Arts, PORT and through the generous patron support of Bonnie Serkin and Will Emery.

Official Website for registration
$65 early registration (through March 22)
$35 students

Sunday, April 25, 2010
University of Oregon in Portland
White Stag Block
70 NW Couch Street, Portland, OR 97209

...(more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on March 04, 2010 at 13:35 | Comments (1)

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Friday 02.12.10

Laura Russo Portland Gallerist 1944-2010

Before I moved to Portland, just over a decade ago I was most familiar with one gallery, Laura Russo's… mostly through her association with Mel Katz, Robert Colescott and Gregory Grenon. They were the only Portland connected artists I was aware of from Midwest.


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A lot has already been said about her sad passing too soon... a process that will continue for a long time to come, but as I type this (several thousand miles from Portland) I feel certain of her influence. She mattered so much to so many, but I'd like to state something specific and personal on why... and maybe how we can all be better when we discuss art in Portland as a large part of her legacy.

...(more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on February 12, 2010 at 22:49 | Comments (1)

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Wednesday 02.03.10

Portland2010 Biennial artists announced

Eighteen Oregon visual and performance-based artists have been selected to present a series of one-person exhibitions at for the Portland2010 biennial at; The Art Gym, Disjecta, Rock's Box, Alpern Gallery, IFCC and The Elizabeth Leach Gallery starting March 13th.

It's a solid list... maybe too solid since many will complain the majority are already well known, omnipresent or alumni from the now discontinued Oregon Biennials at PAM. The well deserved Crystal Schenk and Ditch Projects are the only riskier new names in the list, the other inclusions just gives us an opportunity to revisit some of our favorite artists. Question is, is that enough? Portland currently is in the midst of a strong new wave of new talent that can't be found here.

Curator (and PORT pal) Cris Moss considered 300 artists and will include the following in Portland2010:

...(more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on February 03, 2010 at 14:12 | Comments (6)

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Monday 02.01.10

Sharing the New York Times for now

It's only a matter of time before the New York Times makes unlimited content available only to subscribers, so enjoy it while it lasts. (I consider this a bad idea, it's why all of PORT's content is Creative Commons)

Holland Cotter reviews the choreography of Tino Sehgal at the Guggenheim.

Nocolai Ouroussoff reviews three classic films about recent starchitecture.

Then there is their art in review section with reviews of John McLauchlan, Joel Shapiro and Christian Holstad.

I tend to read The Times in newsprint at coffee shops, partially because I don't ever want a hard-copy newspaper subscription again... which constantly reminds me just how much paper recycling such a choice results in. At the same time pay to play subscriptions ultimately keep newspaper content more cloistered and won't be shared as much.

Overall, the competition for our attention and sharing of content was what made newspapers work. Granted most newspapers now are filled with such drivel we don't read them, even when free... but the times is still worthwhile. I get 95% of my information off the web and from links emailed to me and taking the New York Times from that mix seems short sighted. Information is ultimately only valuable if it can be shared. People will simply turn someplace else and I'm not certain that a deal with Apple for their devices will solve the problem either.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on February 01, 2010 at 12:17 | Comments (1)

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Thursday 01.28.10

Destroy your art

British artist Michael Landy has created a project where artists can destroy their unwanted art called, "Art Bin." Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin have already contributed. It reminds me that Picasso once famously stated, "All acts of creation are acts of destruction."

Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 28, 2010 at 11:09 | Comments (2)

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Wednesday 01.27.10

Cy Twombly at PAM

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Cy Twombly's Untitled (from his recent Blossoming series)

Lately, I have been concerned because the Miller-Meigs series space at the Portland Art Museum has not been programmed with one of its typically excellent solo shows... but all that has changed. On February 6th Cy Twombly will fill the space with two massive paintings and one of his sculptures. Twombly is one of the world's greatest living painters and curator Bruce Guenther has once again outdone himself bringing these recent works here.

February 6 - May 16 2010
Portland Art Museum
4th floor, Jubitz Center for Modern and Contemporary Art

Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 27, 2010 at 9:55 | Comments (0)

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Monday 01.18.10

Farewell Fontanelle


Joshua Orion Kermiet and Midori Hirose

Sadly, Fontanelle, one of Portland's most beloved semi-alternative spaces, is closing. They've gotten a lot of love here at PORT in the brief year and a half they've been open:

The Joshua Orion Kermiet and Midori Hirosi show was reviewed this summer, and then won Best Group Show of 2009 in our readers' poll.
The exhibition Queer Gaze got noted this fall.
The Oregon Painting Society at Fontanelle was reviewed a year ago.
Not to mention all the calendar notes and picks lists. Thanks Leslie & Jess for some great programming and a wonderful use of that space, which has formerly housed Elizabeth Leach and Chambers. (So who's next?)

Fontanelle will be hosting a closing party this weekend featuring DJ Party Martyr and the sale of the Fontanelle: Year One book. It'll also be your last chance to see Julianna Bright's Our Songs of Experience (you can also contact the gallery to make an appointment to see it this week).

Farewell party • 7-9pm • January 22
Fontanelle • 205 SW Pine • 503.274.7668

Posted by Megan Driscoll on January 18, 2010 at 9:58 | Comments (1)

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Friday 01.15.10

Friday links

PORT will have several reviews and our exhaustive 2009 roundup next week.

Till then NY1 has a nice article and great video on MK Guth's latest show in New York City.

Sometime guest PORT contributor Bean Gilsdorf has an interview with Storm Tharp on Daily Serving.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 15, 2010 at 13:11 | Comments (0)

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Tuesday 01.12.10

More Deitching

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Jeffrey Deitch, MOCA's new Director

In case you've missed it, you definitely need to read Tyler Green's 3 part interview with Jeffrey Deitch, MOCA's new director. Tyler does a good job of renewing my faith in "journalism" here and Deitch certainly sounds like your typical museum director so I'm not certain why some people find the choice so strange. Look, if JD lets Jeff Koons start to curate I'll certainly do my best to fricassee him but till then I ain't gonna go all Yosemite Sam... like some are till he actually does something. Tyler asks the right questions, Deitch gave the right answers... a totally predictable art world moment where everyone does as they should.

Christopher Knight's article today also shows a higher level of skepticism. It's a good reminder that Deitch has to earn his way in LA... that's actually a good thing for Deitch since LACMA's Govan came with such a great reputation, which has been somewhat tarnished in his time in LA. LA isn't like anywhere else and Deitch really needs to build a stronger foundation for the institution.

I did find Roberta Smith's article weird though... with its focus not so much that LA is gaining a new director it's that New York is losing one of its best dealers??? sheeesh... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 12, 2010 at 11:43 | Comments (0)

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Monday 01.11.10

Rumors confirmed: MOCA names Deitch

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In case you haven't heard, Jeffrey Deitch was named the new Director of MOCA today and I think Jerry Saltz had the best summation of the news. Some will find it odd that a former art dealer will cross the imaginary line between the dealer and director worlds but frankly I think this is a very isolated incident (there just aren't many Jeffrey Deitches out there). MOCA already has the best programming of any major contemporary/modern art museum but what it needs is better support.

Deitch got the job because (on paper) he can deliver... maybe even redirect a tiny bit of Hollywood's money away from the development of extremely stupid films towards one of LA's most important cultural contributions. This "support" has been LA's biggest cultural problem and recruiting a serious, very intelligent ultra-insider like Deitch will only work if his fund raising efforts to "make it rain" in LA are successful (just a little).
*Update: Tyler Green just published some his responses to the responses... all valid points of course. This wait and see approach is... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 11, 2010 at 11:58 | Comments (0)

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Tuesday 01.05.10

Kenneth Noland 1924-2010

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Kenneth Noland's No 1, 1958 (Clement Greenberg Collection Portland Art Museum)

"A major artist has died. Kenneth Noland was a central figure in the Color Field movement and an artist who inherited the mantle of Josef Albers as America's reigning colorist.

A Greenbergian formalist who made color a physical thing as well as a fleeting optical experience. The Museum is fortunate to have his first Target painting on view and some twenty-five works in its permanent collection." -Bruce Guenther, Chief Curator Portland Art Museum

Also,Roberta Smith writes about the passing of Kenneth Noland at age 85.

Portland has a particular connection to the preeminent color field painter...

(more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 05, 2010 at 13:33 | Comments (0)

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Listing lists as redundantly as possible

PORT always takes its time with our official "best of" list and because we kicking off this our 5th year with a staff exhibition in the Pearl District (Re: PORT) we aren't going to break any records.

Here's Tyler Green's best of list for 2009 you can compare it to Christopher Knight's list published last month.

Jerry Saltz has picked his shows of the decade. If I wanted to make a similar list, Robert Irwin's Primaries and Secondaries would top the charts and Matthew Barney wouldn't come close.

My favorite non-Portland shows of 2009 would be: Mike Kelley and Michael Smith at Sculpture Center and Kandinsky at the Guggenheim. If I had seen Francis Bacon at the Met I'm certain that would make the list too. What is notable is show's I wouldn't include... like Martin Kippenberger at MoMA. Fact is, most of my favorite viewing experiences of 2009 were in Marfa and land art scattered throughout the Desert Southwest or a about 3-5 shows in Portland that were easily better than most of the solo shows elsewhere. This isn't favoritism I just feel like some of the shows from Portland in 2009 were that good. I'll have that list done ASAP (hopefully Wednesday).

Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 05, 2010 at 13:02 | Comments (0)

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Wednesday 12.30.09

2009 PORT Readers Survey

The results of our first ever Portland art scene reader's poll are in and it definitely confirms that 2009 was an extremely interesting and active year. Overall, these things tend to favor young emerging artists whose social networks (formed in art school) tend to rally round popularity contests like this. Still, it's a worthwhile exercise and the results do reflect quality as well as popularity. In some cases the margins were so overwhelming that it forms a kind of art scene consensus.

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Ruth Ann Brown

Art Scene MVP 2009: With a commanding majority of 68.2% of the votes Ruth Ann Brown ran away with this category. Her successful Couture Series at NAAU channeled and funded one of the scene's biggest strengths, installation art. I guessed this would be the result but the voting margins were even more heavily stacked than expected. Sure there were lots of write ins and grumblings about this category but facts were 2009 was RAB's year.

...(more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 30, 2009 at 19:32 | Comments (0)

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Tuesday 12.29.09

Last 24 hours for PORT's 2009 readers survey

Ok, I'll shut down the polls and tally the results at noon tomorrow so you have less than 24 hours to get in your final votes. It is an entertaining series of horse races now.

Will it be Jordan Tull or Midori Hirosi? Can Hirosi and Kermiet beat out PAM's China Design Now? Will it be Ethan Rose or Oregon Painting Society? What is wrong with a world where Tim Dalbow trails Patrick Rock for fashion? (neither is currently in the lead) Then there is the race between Rock's Box and Gallery Homeland. Lastly, the Portland Art Museum, Art Gym and Cooley Gallery are all currently in a three way tie for third place.

There is still time for a big come from behind victory.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 29, 2009 at 12:14 | Comments (0)

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Monday 12.28.09

Looking back at PORT posts in 2009

I think 2009 was PORT's most in-depth year to date and though traffic isn't our primary concern our most detailed and critical articles tended to be our most popular... it is why PORT is less like a typical blog or newspaper (which favor; money, scandal and generally ingratiating oneself to the scene) and more like a critical journal or ongoing symposia. In other words, we are primarily interested in comparing ideas, execution and history.

By far, Amy's April interview with Okwui Enwezor was the most popular piece on PORT in 2009. Even now it gets over 1000 readers a day.


Other consistently high traffic posts from 2009 were (in no particular order):


Arcy's excellent research into Mark Rothko's crucial Portland years was an important post, gathering scholarly interest at the very highest levels.

In April, I posed a piquant question regarding which discipline is working with the most interesting spatial ideas, installation art or architecture?

Alex's excellent interview with the V&A's Glen Adamason even featured some nice iphone images of Adamson's personal collection.

Ziba gave us an early tour of their new HQ, and we gave the world their first look at the Holst designed space. You saw it on PORT first.


...(much more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 28, 2009 at 12:06 | Comments (0)

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Saturday 12.26.09

Major exhibition announcements from PAM

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Mark Rothko, 1961 © 1998 Kate Rothko Prizel & Christopher Rothko / VG Bild Kunst, Bonn 2008

The Portland Art Museum has just announced their major exhibitions for the next two years. The most important announcements are the second Contemporary Northwest Art awards in 2011 and Rothko in 2012. Finally, Portland hosts a homecoming for its most famous son, Mark Rothko. It is a critical acknowledgment that is LONG overdue. As part of Portland's cultural contribution to world history it is arguably the most important show to hit PAM since the Armory (or Rothko's own solo show in 1933)... (more details)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 26, 2009 at 12:25 | Comments (0)

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Tuesday 12.22.09

2009 survey update

PORT's 2009 Portland art scene survey has been popular and still has over a week to go. Honestly, these things are in large part popularity contests and tend to be busiest amongst emerging artists whose social networks get activated... yet there is quality apparent here.

For instance both Oregon Painting Society's Radiant Dream Face at PSU and Joshua Orion Kermiet & Midori Hirosi are both currently in the leads for solo and group show of the year, respectively. It might seem trite but having relatively new names like Ethan Rose, OPS, Midori Hirosi, Jordan Tull and Damien Gilley all vying for leads in their respective categories bespeaks just how interesting a year 2009 was and how active the scene is. PORT will also do our much less democratic critic's picks before the end of the year.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 22, 2009 at 11:54 | Comments (0)

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Friday 12.18.09

What a pair!

Roberta Smith discusses Bruce Nauman's latest installations in Philadelphia.

Glass Tire discusses the "kinetics" of Susan Rothenberg... I believe this interest in what I call "existential kinesthetics" is part of this couple's connection.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 18, 2009 at 12:26 | Comments (0)

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Wednesday 12.16.09

PORT 2009 reader's survey

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Well, the year is almost at a close and for 2009 we thought it would be nice to create a reader's survey for their favorite Portland shows and personalities".

Results will be tallied on December 30th and I've set up most of the categories so you can make multiple selections and write in anything I didn't already include.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 16, 2009 at 15:13 | Comments (2)

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Museum hairdos & don'ts

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The proposed Diller Scofidio + Renfro addition to the Hirschhorn is an interesting move but some of the rhetoric around it like needing "a dome" to be taken serious in DC is intentionally hilarious (is that a good idea?). Tyler Green has a lot to say about this bulbous addition that reminds me of Olive Oyl's hair. It is interesting and it's temporary but is that really the best move? Promoting dialog through defacto public sculpture is fine but this temporary structure seems noncommittal in relation to it's proclaimed goals. (BTW, I really regret not being able to see this Truitt show at the Hirschhorn.


In a related story last week the NYT's did this story on bigger not necessarily being better for museums. It's true, a museum is judged mostly by the quality of its collection and its program. The trick is to meet the needs of the community in terms of making top quality work outside of private collections and activating discussion around it. Generally Portland institutions like PAM and PNCA are not guilty of grandstanding via their physical space. Instead, expansions at PAM , OCAC and PNCA have been programmatically driven... mostly by the fact that artists and arts minded people continue to find Portland an attractive place to live. That said, Portland is generally still underserved by institutions.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 16, 2009 at 11:58 | Comments (0)

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Thursday 12.10.09

Tharp and Hutchins in the Whitney

Congratulations to both Storm Tharp and Jessica Jackson Hutchins who will take part in the 2010 Whitney Biennial curated by Francesco Bonami and Gary Carrion-Murayari.

For more information check out PORT's in depth interview with Storm Tharp and my review of his breakout show in 2007.

For Jessica Jackson Hutchins check out my review of her show in 2008.

After having Portland artists represented in 4 of the last 5 biennials it is telling that new top level talent can be found here whenever people look. Yes, there is that much going on here.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 10, 2009 at 19:38 | Comments (0)

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Monday 12.07.09

Monday Links

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 07, 2009 at 9:54 | Comments (0)

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Tuesday 12.01.09

Andy thanks Amy, congratulations!

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Congratulations to PORT's Amy Bernstein, one of this years' Warhol Foundation Arts Writer's Grant program winners. Amy always brings incredible depth, poetic sensitivity and an admirable sense of responsibility to her reviews and interviews, which you can check out here. To get a sense of her work, here is her impressive interview with Okwui Enwezor and her most recent review of Broadcast at Lewis and Clark College.

She could have transcribed just a couple thousand words of the Enwezor interview but I remember discussing it with her and she felt very strongly that he really had something to say and should be able to say it in full detail. That's what Amy brings. It is amusing though that PORT doesn't qualify as a blog ...but it's telling too.

Congratulations also to two other area writers, John Motley and the Stranger's Jen Graves... arts writing is often difficult, thankless and rarely pays much. I know about a third of the grantees and it is an impressive group, looks like Creative Time has made adjustment from the experience of previous cycles.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 01, 2009 at 21:03 | Comments (2)

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Wednesday 11.25.09

Wednesday Links

I'll have a series of reviews for you later today but for now:

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detail of Jean Nouvel's Vision Machine photo: Jeff Jahn

The New Yorker's Paul Goldberger takes a look at architect Jean Nouvel's career. I like his work as it often has a harsh beauty.

Randy Kennedy reports on the impact of the recession on artists in the NYT's.

Ahh and in anticipation of Miami (remember when it was all important?) here's artnet's pictorial on Art Toronto. In a strange way it is reassuring that these art fairs still exist... many Portland galleries still participate (though not as many as before but the ones who do have moved up in the fair hierarchy).

Posted by Jeff Jahn on November 25, 2009 at 9:55 | Comments (0)

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Monday 11.16.09

Strange bedfellows these days: legitimacy and money

Jerry Saltz has written his response to the whole New Museum debacle (which strangely became legitimized last week with the New York Times Article, though it was Tyler Green and William Powhida who really started the debate, Green was cited as being, "notoriously self righteous," by the Times). More like notoriously ten steps ahead of the New York Times. Anyhow, I see both Jerry and Tyler's arguments but in this case Tyler is notoriously right and scrupulous.

The problem isn't the fact that this is going on in an economic freefall, it is that this looks like pre-crash business as usual when everyone wants the New Museum to do something legitimately new. Whereas, Koons and Urs Fischer are poster children for the excesses of the past 9 years in the art world, frankly it's anything but New. I like both artists but when the word NEW is in your name you need to be careful you deliver what the name promises. The art world has been looking for a lightning rod for change, a signpost that something fresh was coming and when the New Museum foisted their petard up the flagpole they got zapped.

How about a post boom artist or someone the post boom artists can look to? An Iza Genzken or Lynda Benglis curated show would have gone over much better than Koons and followed through on Unmonumental's success as an opener (so far nothing has equaled their opening show... that's a problem). I believe artist curated shows might be the answer for the New Museum but the trick is they have to be by someone who isn't synonymous with lucre when things are being stripped back to basics. The New Museum is being held to new standards because everyone wants them to be successful in revitalizing New York's art scene (in a qualitative not the same old quantitative $$$ way)... hopefully that haven't completely jumped the shark and can contrast Koons/Fischer with something much fresher after this bit of shortsightedness.

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Photo by Sarah Henderson

The Find, Claiming Nelscott Reef is an independent film opening this week about Oregon big wave surfing and the absurdities surrounding ownership of said wave. Not your typical surf porn it looks fascinating and you can catch the premier at the Hollywood theater on Wednesday at 7:00 PM. PORTstar Sarah Henderson is the co-producer. For more info here is an interview with the director Erich Lyttle from last night.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on November 16, 2009 at 10:59 | Comments (0)

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Monday 11.09.09

Catching up with last week

Last week Modou Dieng interviewed me on Radio PNCA... you can listen to the archive here if you missed it. We discuss Portland, curation, PORT and follow-through. Sounds like the mp3 file was ripped a little too hot so there is slight distortion but it's listenable.

Jerry Saltz takes on Urs Fischer at the New Museum here... frankly I'm underwhelmed. He's decent but too much of a stunt artist. Besides, the more I look at his work the less intelligent and more spectacle driven it seems. Fischer seems aware of this flaw in his work as he tried to downplay that aspect for this retrospective so its not as "showy" as his solo shows have frequently been. Let's just say there demand for Kippenberger-ish art and grand gestures and Fischer attempts to fill that void... but can't help but fail (really it is the Rauschenberg void).

Posted by Jeff Jahn on November 09, 2009 at 14:45 | Comments (0)

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Friday 11.06.09

The Dia that refuses to die links

The Big news today is that the Dia is returning to Chelsea, the NYT's Carol Vogel has the story. Looks like the Dia is trying to recapture it's legendary role as institutional patron of difficult, inconvenient art. I.E. the best kind of art. In the past year I've visited Dia Beacon, Spiral Jetty, the Earth Room, and the Lightning Field etc. None of these would have been possible without the Dia but when they left Chelsea they abandoned experimentation in New York City... which was unacceptable.

I love the fact that new director Philippe Vergne is going to focus on programming, not museum style bling. At that we have to ask, "how great will that programming be?" It's a tall order. Dia's legacy would make anybody except maybe Walter Hopps a little shy about comparisons with the past. Can they actually back truly great artists like they did in the past or is it going to be another checklist of international art stars weve already seen and mostly found wanting when compared to Serra's Torqued Ellipses and Walter De Maria's Lightning Field? It's a huge gamble but like days of yore they need to back a few wildly original artists who have been too inconvenient for proper attention during the mostly market driven decade.

Note Vogel's article also mentions that a long awaited Donald Judd catalogue raisonné is officially under way... the previous catalog stops in 1974. Just before Judd's very interesting show at Portland's PCVA. Overall, Judd scholarship has languished since the artists death and like everyone who has used the rather incomplete an imperfect existing one ... this is a necessary wish come true.

Over at the Mercury Matt Stangel reviews Ben Young's latest... quiet dia-esque

Tyler Green points to William Powhida's hilarious takedown of the New Museum. This is exactly what the Dia needs to avoid.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on November 06, 2009 at 14:01 | Comments (0)

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Friday 10.23.09

Portland art scene in National Geographic Traveler

Ok, the good news is its not yet another NY/LA times travel story on Portland but the November/December issue of National Geographic Traveler does a similar tour. Not really a big deal and none of this is new to anyone who lives here, but it was nice that they discussed the Pearl District, PNCA and the Everett Station Lofts. Congrats to ON gallery and Portland's Susan Seubert who got to do the photos. Art is turning into a major industry in this city. Most interesting it discusses Portland as a "model city" ... something we need to take much more seriously here. Always interesting to see how the world views Portland and compare it to how Portlanders see themselves.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on October 23, 2009 at 11:11 | Comments (5)

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Thursday 10.22.09

Thursday links

In case you missed it yesterday on Radio PNCA Modou Dieng interviewed Arnold Kemp, discussing how to make Portland a better art city. I'll be on next November 4th.

Tyler Green talks with MoMA's Connie Butler about Nacy Spero... rest in peace.

Remember art fairs and how they were ruining/saving the art world? Well Artnet reports on the latest Frieze over in London.

Breaking into the boy's club: In the Guardian Jeanne Gang's new Aqua tower in Chicago is the tallest skyscraper ever designed by a woman (to be built thus far). Not certain if taller is better but in Chicago it's a tradition worth upholding.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on October 22, 2009 at 12:02 | Comments (0)

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Tuesday 10.20.09

Tuesday ponderings

In the NYT's Karen Rosenberg considers cut paper as art (Tom Friedman, Olafur Elliason and an absent Yuken Teruya) at the Brad Cloepfil designed Museum of Art and Design

If Terry Toedtemeier and John Laursen don't win the Frances Fuller Victor Award for General Nonfiction in the Oregon Book Awards for Wild Beauty I'd be very surprised. Even without the award the book is a legacy that cannot be underestimated. It's simply the most important book to be published in the state in over a decade!

Brian Libby discusses this year's AiA Design Awards. Suddenly, architecture in Portland doesn't seem so staid... responsible maybe but not staid no longer. Oh and since the Oregonian still does not have an architecture critic I'm going to declare the obvious, Libby is the architecture critic of record in the state and has been since Randy Gragg left.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on October 20, 2009 at 11:27 | Comments (0)

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Wednesday 10.14.09

Ugly links

Brian Libby goes to "The Couv" and checks out Maya Lin.

Mighty Toy Cannon considers Portland's Ugly...

Is the Portland Building the world's ugliest as some suggest? No, but It is probably the most dated edifice to the 80's I can imagine. On the plus side it has an installation art program with a stipend. I've never seen an installation that actually played off the 80's nostalgia, but someone should.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on October 14, 2009 at 10:27 | Comments (1)

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Tuesday 10.13.09

Tuesday Links

RACC has a brand spanking new website... the old one was oh so 2001.

The Whitney Museum is moving ahead with their expansion near the High Line. I suppose the recession is over, is Chelsea too?

Tyler Green asks the AAMD the tough question about the recent rash of private collector shows in major museums and gets dodged.

Can the Barnes really be improved upon... doesn't look like it. Private art collections create special context for themselves and something IS lost irrevocably by trying to popularize something this important. In the case of the Barnes it's context on a level that has no equal.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on October 13, 2009 at 11:31 | Comments (2)

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Tuesday 09.29.09

Cloepfil scores

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Brad Cloepfil in his SW Portland office (photo Jeff Jahn)

It was announced today that Brad Cloepfil has won the competition to design the new National Music Center in Calgary Canada. The design is exciting and somewhat reminiscent of Kahn's National Assembly building in Bangladesh (probably one of the 5 greatest buildings ever built)... Cloepfil is a U of O grad who studied and apprenticed under several of Kahn's acolytes. You can read part I and II of our very extensive interview with Cloepfil for more info on his background.

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Model of the National Music Center

What's more this announcement shines a light on Portland's own Memorial Coliseum... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on September 29, 2009 at 10:37 | Comments (0)

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Monday 09.28.09

Monday links

The Angels of Anarchy show in Manchester England charts the contributions of the Surrealists who happened to be women. Would love to see this on the West Coast of the USA.

Roberta Smith seconds my opinion about a sort of unconvincing minimalism and equally unconvincing dumpster art in NYC galleries these days.

The Portland Art Museum has launched a community website for China Design Now, which opens October 10th

Tilt Export and Clark College are hosting a new series of art talks, the first is U of O professor Kartz Ucci on October 7th.

There are images of Gallery Homeland's first East/West opening in Berlin on their blog now too.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on September 28, 2009 at 13:05 | Comments (1)

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Friday 09.18.09

Friday appetizer

I'll have several things for PORT from my recent trip to New York (monday). Till then, here are some links:

Roberta Smith is excited about Kandinsky in the Times... (overall there is a renewed interest in the mysteries of abstraction in NYC these days and the big K is a good place to start)

The Memorial Coliseum has been granted a spot on the historical register. How about a real arts and entertainment renovating that isn't driven by corporate sameness. Let's see, the TBA festival will need a home some day and something akin to Gehry's Walt Disney Concert hall with Redcat gallery and and other active and large scale cultural space for this city are sorely needed.

One of Sol LeWitt's last commission has been completed in the subway system.

The pathetically sub par design for the I-5 bridge is about to lose Mayor Sam Adams' support, KGW has the developing story here. I've said this repeatedly but the design requires a very good world class architect to justify itself, something that has not been present and if Portland (via its mayor) doesn't supportthe project it's dead. Message to Oregon and Washington governors, design competition. Mayor Adams is right to oppose this badly needed project if it is going to be some half-assed monstrosity. Here is Adams' statement, this is an opportunity to stop wasting money on bad design and restart this project (with tolls) so it can be done right.

Eugene's Josh Faught just won the 31st annual Betty Bowen Award. You can see his work in MoCC's Call and Response show reviewed by Amy last week.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on September 18, 2009 at 9:53 | Comments (0)

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Thursday 09.10.09

Thursday Links : Cranky Critic's Edition

Newish Mercury critic Matt Stangel has a review of Bobbi Woods at Fourteen 30, a show I'll definitely check out before the end of the month. Nice to see the Merc is still committed to criticism in a time when all publishing is facing serious business challenges.

NYT's architecture critic Nicolai Ouroussoff discusses the newly unveiled Net's stadium design by none other than SHoP architects, one of the four teams that competed to do Portland's now iconic aerial tram. We absolutely require another such competition to produce an acceptable design for the new I-5 Columbia River Crossing. Current design is a farce, lacking the world class thinking such a complicated project requires.

For once, the O just sticks to the facts in their reportage poll results (70% in favor) for CAN's plan to raise 15-20 million in a new tax levy for the arts. Seriously, I enjoy not having to bitch about his conservative-reactionary O'Reilly Factor style reportage and it is nice when Row doesn't editorialize or hyperfocus on money as if it is the only thing that matters in the arts. Quality matters more than anything and it's the quality here that has an international reach, relevance and growing acclaim. In short, money is a trailing not a leading indicator in Portland, and the quality of artists living and... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on September 10, 2009 at 14:02 | Comments (0)

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Sunday 09.06.09

Art and tennis?

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Laurent Perbos, Aire 2005

It is US Open time and I'm watching Nadal play Alamagro right now... just for fun please indulge this as Art and tennis have an incredibly long history together considering Caravaggio etc. In fact it's probably where I developed a kinesthetic sense of schematic space, which then made understanding abstract art much easier in High School when I became interested in more avant-garde art. Over the years, I've even noticed that art aware tennis players often love Agnes Martin and Sol LeWitt. Makes sense.

Then there is the fact that the art world loves to play tennis. Michael Kimmelman blogs about it, Tyler Green tweets about it and I've heard even Marizio Cattelan plays a little. Locally, tennis is very popular in the art scene... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on September 06, 2009 at 11:31 | Comments (2)

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Wednesday 08.26.09

Betty Bowen Finalists 2009

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Betty Bowen (on the right)

The Betty Bowen Award selection committee has selected 5 finalists this year, who will now compete for the prize. The 2 Oregonians are Jovencio de la Paz and Josh Faught. The three others are Jenny Heishman, Sean Johnson, and Matthew Offenbacher.

Though I'm a little suspicious of regional art awards (usually driven by politics instead of pure artistic strength) I think this list at least does a good job of highlighting lesser known artists in the region instead of well known critical/institutional favorites, which was something Bowen wanted. I predict... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on August 26, 2009 at 16:58 | Comments (2)

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Tuesday 08.25.09

Tuesday Links

The New York Times considers why New York is not producing the best architectural minds anymore and blames suburbanization + high rents.

It looks like Portland will be getting the world's greenest large building.

Here is a hilarous review of a critique of the art industrial complex.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on August 25, 2009 at 9:08 | Comments (0)

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Monday 08.24.09

Chris Johanson and Jo Jackson mural in North Portland

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Unfinished mural by Jo Jackson and Chris Johanson in North Portland

Maybe the new mural at Albina Green at the corner of N Albina and Sumner has caught your eye already. If it hasn't it should, it's a 14' x 53' work by Portland's Chris Johanson and Jo Jackson. According to RACC:

"The mural relates to the building, its surrounding neighborhood and the community in its theme of the contemporary natural environment. Chris and Jo work with imageries that relate to nature and the city often in their work. In this project they intend to combine a colorful abstract landscape including both native and exotic species, coexisting together in nature. Using symbols of ...(more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on August 24, 2009 at 10:48 | Comments (0)

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Wednesday 08.19.09

PAM acquires two Sanford Biggers works

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Biggers' Cheshire (2008)

The latest additions to the Portland Art Museum's contemporary collection are two of Sanford Biggers' "Cheshire" works; a video piece and a newly installed wall/floor sculpture with a LED light show. Both purchases were made possible through fund's provided by the Contemporary Art Council. They will both be on display through August 30th as part of Biggers' show in the ongoing Miller-Meigs series.

The Cheshire sculpture acts both as as a sign and light show performance, with its teeth approximating the Cheshire cat's winking but toothy smile. Like most of Biggers' more recent work its tough to categorize because... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on August 19, 2009 at 13:20 | Comments (0)

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Monday 08.17.09

More Monday Links

Tyler Green discussed one of my favorite artists, Fred Sandback, as a recent acquisition at the NGA.

Any large scale naval reenactment gets my thumbs up and this project in Queens is no exception

Brian Libby's excellent post on Portland's bid for the 1968 Olympics is extremely interesting.

Gallery Homeland was on OPB's Morning edition at 6:50 Am today discussing their upcoming East/West exchange exhibitions in Berlin and the importance of import/export for the visual art scene (pssst update the GH website with an East/West page). Analysis: showing outside Portland, even Berlin isn't a new thing for Portland artists... but an entire exhibition series in Berlin is cool. Artists are always taken for granted in their home cities and it is important to stir things up by showing outside of town... there really isn't a "locals only" art scene anywhere anymore. Group shows like the East/West project are hardly ever definitive but they do open up new contacts and connections and that's the thing about Portland's new (but decade old) scene... we just aren't limited to the immediate environs anymore. We don't think or act in isolated ways... nice hustle Gallery Homeland.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on August 17, 2009 at 10:55 | Comments (0)

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Wednesday 08.12.09

Wednesday Links

Edward Winkleman has some great advice for anyone that wants to achieve anything. If any project is truly worthwhile it's worth letting it develop on its own time table, rather than merely calibrating for the moment.

Zaha Hadid's pavilion in Millennium Park (Chicago) looks great.

Kenneth Johnson at the NYT's looks at what happens when a museum tries to reflect assumed sociological content in its collection instead of being cutting edge. It's sometimes a problem in our part of the country when institutions hedge on so callled Northwest Art (usually with some overwhelming nod to craft and nature). I'd counter that it's much broader than that (especially in Portland, Seattle and Vancouver BC) it's just easier to perpetuate the stereotype on an institutional and critical level than to challenge it.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on August 12, 2009 at 10:27 | Comments (0)

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Monday 08.03.09

Monday links

Roberta Smith's review of Ron Arad's retrospective explores the exhibition's conceits. Sure there are ideas but are there enough to support such a sustained look? Is Arad suddenly looking more dated?

Just one of the conversations sparked in part by PORT's suggestion that the new Willamette transit bridge be dedicated to Mark Rothko (the city's most famous yet locally unheralded son).

The Rose Museum's board officially sues to halt the shameful closure of the museum by Brandeis University.

Ben Davis takes a swim in the muddy waters between Deleuze and Francis Bacon.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on August 03, 2009 at 9:45 | Comments (0)

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Monday 07.27.09

Monday Links

On Artnet Elizabeth Kley has a tour of the seemingly endless series of summer shows in New York, many of them of the group variety.

The Blog of Innocence considers appropriation in art.

The LAT's reports some major LA galleries are expanding.

Last Friday the Oregonian pointed to the growing bills over the Columbia River Crossing. The Oregonian's coverage of this and other major design and planning projects is hobbled because they lack an architecture/design critic. For example, the biggest problem with the CRC so far is that this current design is "design by committee" and it is clear the complicated design is just beyond their abilities. To be frank the the current design is an embarrassment. Because this is a super complex project it requires a major architect who can innovate. Instead of focusing on "innovation" committees tend to study and spend money money on more studies. Right now there is a lot of 3rd rate thinking and design assosciated with the CRC and it's costing way more than getting somebody truly talented would. Questions: Why are all the designs for this thing coming out of Washington State? Why are they so gawd-awful? I'll keep harping on it but we need a major architect to save this badly needed and sadly mismanaged CRC project.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on July 27, 2009 at 13:34 | Comments (1)

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Friday 07.24.09

Willamette transit bridge design update

Today's mixed-use Willamette Transit Bridge design review was similar to July 2nd's event with a great many refinements mostly focused on tower designs (more images as they become available).

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Concept 2 tower design with separate paths for bikes and pedestrians

The biggest refinement was the separation of the bicycle and pedestrian lanes at the tower belvederes. It's a good idea if in fact these belvedere's come to pass.

...(more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on July 24, 2009 at 17:28 | Comments (0)

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Thursday 07.23.09

The Rothko Bridge?

Tomorrow, Willamette Transit Bridge architect Donald MacDonald will address Portland's design community at a sold out (i.e. capacity) crowd at AiA's Portland Office. A few weeks ago PORT broke the story on the new"A" bridge and it was further expanded on by Bike Portland and Portland Architecture... given the massive traffic we got I suspect there will be more media types at the meeting tomorrow.

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Mark Rothko, 1961 © 1998 Kate Rothko Prizel &Christopher Rothko / VG Bild Kunst, Bonn 2008

But before that I'd like to propose something that PORT staffers have been talking about for years, the City of Portland needs to acknowledge its most famous and noteworthy resident, Mark Rothko, in a major way. Ironically, Rothko's place in history is assured as one of the twentieth century's greatest artists but he is generally unknown or unacknowledged by the city he grew up in . (A city which now boasts a strong international level art and design scene). It is an embarrassing omission, which demands attention.

I believe the new Multi-Use Willamette River Transit Bridge is an ideal candidate to be named after Rothko. This is especially fitting since the artist spent considerable time crossing back and forth across the Willamette and frequently painted the very location of the new bridge.

For more information, Rothko's time in Portland was assiduously studied by our own Arcy Douglass here.

...(more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on July 23, 2009 at 13:31 | Comments (2)

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Tuesday 07.21.09

Spiral Jetty threatened (again)

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What if most of this water were land?

Tyler Green has the latest on the new threat to the Spiral Jetty, a fertilizer production operation that could lower the Great Salt Lake's levels permanently and turn Smithson's masterpiece into a permanently landlocked work... which would be sad, Smithson's work is all about changing land water and sky interactions. Not to mention the gigantic fertilizer operation would significantly alter the Great Salt Lake's shoreline and ecosystem. I find it interesting how art has become a water rights/environmental lightning rod here... would Mono lake's levels have been more protected if it had a Smithson earthwork (which was considered)?

Posted by Jeff Jahn on July 21, 2009 at 8:42 | Comments (0)

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Thursday 07.16.09

Matt is back

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The website for Matt McCormick's first feature film Some Days are Better Than Others has been launched. Matt's pretty much the best-liked person in Portland ,which is special considering how good a filmmaker, and video/installation artist he is (ability usually breeds contempt). Here is PORT's review of Matt McCormick's last gallery show.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on July 16, 2009 at 13:17 | Comments (2)

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Wednesday 07.15.09

Big Targets

Brian Libby has the scoop but the Memorial Coliseum continues to come under pressure from those like Randy Leonard and Steve Duin at the O... these are people who just dont understand that it is the most significant piece of mid century modern architecture in the city and therefore deserves some TLC and a new plan that respects its unique contribution to our civic fabric. Lets think about the city's needs and repuropose the building. Put it this way, we have major league arts, farmers markets, cycling and music needs and a minor league baseball team simply doesn't come close to the kind of progressive thinking Portland prides itself on. Let's think about what the city needs and how the coliseum can better serve those needs as a historic structure which can do more (though it already does a lot).

Jen Graves has an interesting review of the Seattle Art Museum's Target Practice show but does anything really make Jackson Pollock look merely "academic" ... c'mon seriously?

Posted by Jeff Jahn on July 15, 2009 at 10:00 | Comments (0)

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Tuesday 07.14.09

Links for old Times sake

Generally I find newsprint to be wasteful, mostly because what is printed on it is a bit of a waste (not that most blogs aren't tripe either). Frankly though, I'm not certain if most newspapers are worth saving in their current, rather diminished state. Still, I and a lot of my generation like reading the New York Times, especially online... here are a few bits:

Shepard Fairley gets probation.

Roberta Smith critiques the Guggenheim's collecting practices.

Ken Johnson feels some young artists need more time to develop. It reminds me what is so good about Portland, artists get to develop more fully (esp. those who have the discipline) than a place like New York which often rushes them to market. Maybe, Portland is the slow food of art scenes? Still, it is amazing how many of our local artists do get galleries elsewhere when they are ready (though there are always more that deserve it). Being undervalued beats being overrated.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on July 14, 2009 at 9:09 | Comments (0)

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Saturday 07.11.09

Raphael's La Donna Velata comes to PAM

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Renaissance masterpiece, Raphael's Woman with a Veil is coming to Portland in October, in a one painting show. October is going to be one great month at PAM because that is also when the updated China Design Now opens for its only West Coast appearance.

It is a very direct reminder how strong art has a way of transcending both booming and busted economies, focusing us on excellence and contemplation instead of dollar signs. Frankly, I've always liked the way the Portland Art Museum has responded to challenges under Brian Ferriso, a strategy which can be summed up simply as, "High quality art justifies itself "... and bringing this Raphael is no exception. We also like the fact that museum members will not be charged extra to have a viewing and it is nice that the exhibition will have a certain amount of crowd control (limiting 25 viewers at a time) to allow for less congested viewing (it isn't ideal but better than fighting hundreds for a sightline). In the past decade two other major old master paintings have vistited Portland, The Holbein Madonna and Rembrandt's Self Portrait as the Apostle Paul.

Opening October 24, the show was organized by the Portland Art Museum and made possible by the Foundation for Italian Art and Culture and brings one of the most important paintings of the High Renaissance to Oregon for the first time. The oil on canvas painting will be on loan from the Medici collection of the Palatine Gallery, Palazzo Pitti, Florence... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on July 11, 2009 at 16:49 | Comments (5)

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Tuesday 07.07.09

Linkage: Spiral Jetty, Women at MoMA, Abromovic

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Spiral Jetty and environs

Are the Spiral Jetty's environs being threatened yet again? via MAN. The Jetty is more than just a disconnected finger of land with little context (as a lot of photos portray it)... it is actually wonderfully connected to its spectacular environs.

Also, Tyler Green's analysis of Jerry Saltz vs. MoMA is pretty much spot on. Every time I visit I find myself wondering about the ossification of MoMA's permanent collection on view. For some reason I'm always treated to way more of Robert Morris' 3rd tier postminimalism (post original idea?) art while finding the refreshingly original Lynda Benglis and Anne Truitt is often impossible. But I think the issue with MoMA goes way beyond gender... the museum is a victim of its own success and has trouble being anything more than a tomb of influence for anything over 20 years old. Though MoMA's special exhibitions do address the issue by having Dorothea Rockburne etc. This is one area PAM competes a little better than some museums, Judy Chicago, Hilla von Rebay, Louise Nevelson, Dorothea Rockburn, a small Eva Hesse, Agnes Martin and Anne Truitt are nearly always on display.

Critic Adriane Searle gets scared by Marina Abromovic.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on July 07, 2009 at 10:12 | Comments (0)

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Monday 06.29.09

Links of perception

The NYT's takes on the Walker/MOCA developed Dan Graham show now that it has hit eastern shores.

Sanford Wurmfeld's very interesting painting/installation.

Eva Rothschild's work reminds me of this months show at Tractor.

Needless to say perceptual/kinesthetic experience art is everywhere again. Arguably, the three artists mostly responsible for this renewed interest are Robert Irwin, James Turrell and Olafur Elliason. A lot of interest in Portland for this kind of work as well.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on June 29, 2009 at 10:21 | Comments (0)

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Wednesday 06.24.09

Linked

I really liked Michael Kimmelman's piece on the Elgin Marbles in the Times... for once having New York's supposedly chief art critic in Europe pays off. What's more the writing is sharp, with the kinds of critical angles he seems to soften when writing at home.

Lisa Radon's excellent review of Anna Gray and Ryan Wilson Paulson's Pearl District debut speaks volumes to Portland's sizable booklovers crowd.

Jerry Saltz describes a Portland-esque art experiment... 'cept we've been developing this way for years. Here it isn't a single site, it's the way our scene operates and it is different if the art develops this way instead of an episodic situation.

MoCC's Call and Response website gives everyone a chance to respond to the changes we've seen in the Portland art scene over the past decade. I'll be making a presentation on this at another museum this summer as well, so my response was quite brief.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on June 24, 2009 at 10:28 | Comments (2)

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Tuesday 06.23.09

Entropy is good for art links

Things are tough for art galleries and The New York Times chronicles the shift to a market that favors collectors vs speculators. When I was in New York last March I noticed a vulnerability I've not noticed before... frankly this might be a good thing because though the art market boomed during the past 7 years it has produced little art of consequence. At least Portland galleries have lower rents and aren't used to selling unknown artists for 10K+.

Edward Winkleman discussed the NYT's gallery woes article from his own very personal angle.

In Venice Bruce Nauman surprised no one by being top of the heap.

Jerry Saltz discusses how a phase of art that is dying in Venice might be a good thing.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on June 23, 2009 at 11:36 | Comments (0)

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Thursday 06.18.09

Links of renown

The Tribune has a nice piece on MoCC's Call and Response... with a lot of smart stuff quoted from curator Namita Wiggers. But, define renowned? ...in my book only Chris Johanson qualifies, though many more international artists are getting set to move here... (being international isn't enough either, we have lots of internationally active artists in Portland now, for me it's the probability of a solo show at MoMA some day that is the litmus test).

Jessica Stockholder's park installation shows just how good she is. Local artists like Jenene Nagy, Stephanie Robison and Jacqueline Ehlis are all quite influenced by her... and she's actually from the Northwest... so will we ever get a solo show of hers here in Portland?

If there is a critic in Portland who is more interested in sexualized identity politics than... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on June 18, 2009 at 11:43 | Comments (1)

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Wednesday 06.17.09

PNCA names new chair of MFA program

At PORT we've all known for a while that our pal MK Guth was stepping down as PNCA's MFA chair, especially after being in the last Whitney Biennial. What wasn't clear is if they could get some similar star power to replace her, yet they needed it. Now with noted curator (SF's Yerba Buena) and artist Arnold Kemp, it looks like they have the star hire they needed. In fact, Portland's professional portfolio of leaders just continues to improve... here's PNCA's release:

Pacific Northwest College of Art (PNCA) announces the appointment of Arnold J. Kemp as Chair of the Master's of Fine Arts in Visual Studies program.

"We are so pleased to appoint Arnold Kemp, with his great strengths in so many spheres of the art world," said Greg Ware, Provost, PNCA. "We feel confident that he will bring diversity, richness and depth of experience not only to our MFA students, but to Portland's art community... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on June 17, 2009 at 13:03 | Comments (0)

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Monday 06.15.09

Archer Gallery anounces new director

Over the years, the Archer Gallery has become one of the more daring college spaces in the metro area and I was saddened last year when Marjorie Hirsch made it clear it would be her last year as director. Her efforts like Ellen George's impressive solo show and the recent Considered Space put the Archer Gallery on the map... but there's always more room for a risk-taking and professional curatorial program as Portland's institutions continue to catch up to all the very worldly artists who have moved here in the past decade or so. I also wondered, what would the Archer be like without her?

We are about to find out, since Clark College has announced that the new Director for the Archer Gallery is Blake Shell.... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on June 15, 2009 at 15:10 | Comments (1)

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Tuesday 06.09.09

The deal with John Wesley

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John Wesley at Chinati 2009

John Wesley confuses the hell out of people but I really like his work, the Times has a piece on him here today. Of course Donald Judd liked his work too and upon a recent viewing of his installation at Chinati I could see why. He was also an excellent addition to Robert Storr's 2004 Site Santa Fe Biennial on the grotesque, fitting right in with R. Crumb, Carroll Dunham, Robert Gober and Tony Oursler. Wesley's work certainly does create a kind of "Soul Dizzyness" Storr described in the biennial's text.

So what is it about Wesley that keeps him an insider's favorite? For me its his clean clear fugal forms of composition, his blurring between the private things we all notice but don't speak about and bland things we always seem to discuss... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on June 09, 2009 at 11:41 | Comments (3)

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Friday 05.29.09

RACC, CAN and does emerge in 2010 with a strong budget

Even in these tough times Portland is beginning to make arts funding a priority by announcing yesterday that the:

Portland City Council approved the FY10 city budget with a $4,325,300 allocation to the Regional Arts and Culture Council (RACC), including whole funding for most RACC programs. The budget, which was approved 5-0, also includes additional one-time funds for the Creative Advocacy Network to deliver a regional, sustainable dedicated funding solution for arts and culture funding as well as The Right Brain Initiative to support integrated arts education programs.

Yes PORT can be hard on RACC for not being challenging enough sometimes (for public art and individual project grants), still this is a major victory for them in these difficult times. They have been making steady progress in the past few years and this only consolidates their gains. Congratulations are in order as this allows them to continue the momentum.

If you want to count more beans there is more info from RACC here.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on May 29, 2009 at 0:00 | Comments (0)

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Tuesday 05.26.09

Wrong-headed linking

Is the Hybrid Bridge dead? It better not be! Portland Architecture reports there is a rising possibility of an all out war between Portland's design community and Trimet, which many suspect has rigged the Hybrid Bridge over the Willamette to fail while negotiating Trimet's rather design-blind decision making criteria. Seriously, something is very wrong in Portland's civic process if good design isn't given serious attention for its bridges like the new Willamette Span or the Columbia River Crossing. If Portland is to continue being the international design hub it has increasingly become, we must walk the walk. Besides, in "bridge city" we need especially well-designed bridges not just functional eyesores. Seriously, this simply cannot stand and the design/arts community needs to pool all of their networks and fight for good civic design. (aka the Rosales designed Hybrid Bridge and a design competition for the CRC). The process is broken, fix it! Tell Trimet what you think here.

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Francis Bacon's "Study after Velazquez's Portrait of Pope Innocent X" 1953, Des Moines Art Center, Iowa

Roberta Smith takes on the Francis Bacon retrospective at the Met and massively oversimplifies the painter. Though it's an important feature of the work, the male on male aspect isn't Bacon's only claim to preeminence... remember post WWII Europe was an open sore of burnt out cities...(more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on May 26, 2009 at 10:39 | Comments (6)

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Thursday 05.21.09

mary henry

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Mary Henry, "Full Moon Over the Mendocino Headlands," 1971

Sadly, PORT has just learned that painter Mary Henry passed away yesterday. Read Arcy's interview with her on PORT. Then go see an installation of her works from various periods @ PDX across the hall.

Posted by Megan Driscoll on May 21, 2009 at 9:09 | Comments (0)

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Monday 05.04.09

Monday Links

Brandeis' The Future of The Rose Committee is not inspiring confidence and drawing comparison's to Stalin's committees even. How can the Rose be a functioning museum without a director and curators? How can this committee be anything more than a desensitizing tool if it doesn't have suggested members from outgoing Rose staff? To answer one question... would it be a permanent black list... yes almost certainly! This will be remembered as one of the most foul museum raids by caretakers in recent memory.

PORT pal Tom Webb opines on a better use for the memorial coliseum... and better design of the concrete wasteland aka the grounds is key.

David Adjaye will designing the new National Museum of African American History and Culture. Surprise surprise, it's based on sculpture... and though the design is decent it's hardly mind blowing... maybe that is the point, the building will have to stand on its programming ultimately.

Portland Architecture has joined PORT in calling for a design competition for the Columbia River Crossing and gives the Governor a lesson in the difference between aesthetics and design to boot. Design Competition Now... right now the process has been driven by very unimaginative, extremely orthodox... even rigid thinking and we won't get an actionable design until some serious architectural talent is brought to bear. This job is beyond the capabilities of all but the best architects working in conjunction with innovative engineers. Right now it is being driven by standard engineers and nominal architectural talent. A design competition will bring some real solutions quickly for quite a bit less than millions that have been wasted already in this false design process.

C-Monster digs Huang Yong Ping's snake tower... we do too. I wish more Chinese art had Ping's thing, but alas...

Posted by Jeff Jahn on May 04, 2009 at 9:39 | Comments (0)

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Sunday 05.03.09

Gauguin for Portland Art Museum

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Gauguin's Vue d’un jardin, Rouen (1884)

Longtime Portland arts patron Melvin Mark has given the Portland Art Museum an early Gauguin,Vue d’un jardin, Rouen (Garden View, Rouen) in memory of his recently departed wife, Mary. It's an important impressionist acquisition for Oregon's art going public, which has had limited access to any Gauguin works. The painting was exhibited in 2003 at the Portland to Paris exhibition (which also sported another later Brittany era Gauguin, also from a private collection). The work went on display Sunday on the 1st floor of the Jubitz Center for Contemporary art (Mark Building).

Gauguin is one of my favorite artists and interestingly ambitious before he so famously found his way to the south pacific and his most iconic works. In 1884 (same year as PAM's Van Gogh) he was busy trying to ingratiate himself amongst the impressionists (having collected their works etc), then the most vanguard artists at the time (until Gauguin, Van Gogh and Cezanne took that title as the top post impressionists). In 1883 Gauguin had decided to become a professional painter, before that having been a stockbroker with a real talent for art...so considering this is a pretty good painting from that early makes it a bit of a catch. You can see how Gauguin makes even a winter scene look exotic. Thanks to the Marks for making it possible to finally see a Gauguin on a regular basis at the Portland Art Museum (completing the trinity of early works by the major post-impressionists).

Posted by Jeff Jahn on May 03, 2009 at 16:07 | Comments (0)

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Tuesday 04.28.09

Tuesday Links

The Art Newspaper discusses why social networking is important to museums. In a related tangent you can follow PORT on twitter here.

The Guardian considers why "schlocky", "teutonic" self portraitist Martin Kippenberger goes over well with women? It is an odd question. Honestly, my take on him has nothing to do with gender; he's a good artist but not terribly original... he's a kind of permissive force for lesser artists following in his wake. After seeing his retrospective at MoMA recently I feel even more strongly now that his importance (or self-imposed unimportance) seems to rest on his follower's somewhat dubious merit more than his own.

Also, I agree the Simpsons have really lost their edge... even if a majority of the characters are named after Portland streets. Archidose takes apart their architectural ponderings here. I kinda wish it would stop before it gets worse.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on April 28, 2009 at 10:10 | Comments (0)

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Thursday 04.23.09

Portland and Place

My second response to the meeting last night about the integration of the Museum of Contemporary Craft and Pacific Northwest College Craft (PNCA) was that art institutions should consider becoming more specific rather than more general in regards to their programming. It might seem counter-intuitive but there is a term used in retailing called "death in the middle". The term suggests that the way that most people shop for things today is very selective and generally at either the top end or the low end with rarely anything in the middle. The result is that one might see a $500 hand bag being carried by a person wearing a $5 shirt. Either someone really wants something and is willing to invest in it or they need it but are not really emotionally attached to it and therefore it should be as cheap as possible. In other words this is a good market for stores that sells things at the upper end that might be expensive and at the very low end where things are inexpensive, but for the stores in the middle, like department stores that try to be everything to everybody, it is a very difficult time. Just to be clear, these analogies are about the relative price of goods, and maybe the emotional attachments to some products, not indicator of friendliness or approachability. These stores are equally accessible to anyone. It is a good example that we all live in extremes, and that a general audience does not even really exist. More...

Posted by Arcy Douglass on April 23, 2009 at 15:48 | Comments (0)

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Wednesday 04.22.09

Design Competition for I-5 crossing... Now

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Zaha Hadid's Shiekh Zayed Bridge... it is still time to up the ante on the new I-5 Columbia River crossing

So the Oregonian has continued to report on Sam Adams and the Columbia River Crossing without much critical authority here (because they don't have an architecture critic and need one desperately). For example they fail to note that major architects have built better and quite iconic bridges without tall features like the Hadid designed one above.

Basically, the proposed design is laughably bad (I've called it a casino in the past) and proves the design process is broken and backwards... overall requiring a fix. Why? because the architects involved are clearly out of their league, designing an inelegant and patronizing monstrosity that resembles the car Homer Simpson designed (The Homer).... essentially decoupling aesthetic form from function. Major architects know better, hell even minor ones do... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on April 22, 2009 at 13:00 | Comments (2)

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Tuesday 04.21.09

Rose City still watching The Rose

Richard Lacayo has the latest updates on the sad sad situation over at Brandeis University's Rose Art Museum.

What this looks like to me is Brandeis is still attempting to let the museum's public connections wither (with no director, curator, or education department) so as to bolster their case. The State's Attorney General is on them though. The question is, will those who have donated artwork in trust to the museum take a hard legal approach to Brandeis if the university attempts to liquidate the work for the benefit of Brandeis in general and not the Rose specifically? To me that's a massive breach of trust and something tells me the donors and their representatives have some fight in them if it comes to that.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on April 21, 2009 at 10:56 | Comments (0)

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Thursday 04.16.09

Favorite small painter: Paul Klee

Tyler Green has been making links to tweets about people's favorite small paintings, here, here and here.

Though I don't have a favorite small painting per se, I do have a favorite small scale painter, Paul Klee. He's ultra influential these days with his lyrical pre-minimalist and fairytale theatrics, which relate to artists like Chris Johanson, Mark Grotjahn and Tomma Abts etc. Even architects like Steven Holl with his perforations, Rem Koolhaas's irrationally rationalized materials, Zaha Hadid's fugal curves and Herzog & de Meuron etc. They all owe him a great deal.

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detail Clarification, Paul Klee (1932) Berggruen Collection at the Metropolitan Museum

Right now I currently have a crush on Klee's...(more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on April 16, 2009 at 12:10 | Comments (0)

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Monday 04.13.09

Monday links and good advice

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Mickalene Thomas at Lehmann Maupin's Glamour Project

One-time (before grad school at Yale) Portlander Mickalene Thomas had a whole page in the times last week, look for PORT's in depth interview with her in the coming days.

Jen Graves put the smack down on Seattle's art scene. Frankly, I think... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on April 13, 2009 at 10:00 | Comments (0)

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Friday 04.10.09

Talkin bout the next Jesus?

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New Museum, new show, new sign art?

Jerry Saltz takes on the Younger Than Jesus show at the New Museum and particularly liked Ryan Trecartin, whom weve seen a couple of times at Igloo and TBA. He also explains why postmodern theorists look just as hypocritical as modernist idealogues.

Frankly, in many ways it looks like the same old thing weve seen for years and something tells me no institutionally sanctioned "ennial" will define the next really big thing, we need a cleaner break.

For the Times Holland Cotter seemed to have the same feeling all critics always have when seeing a survey of young art, they look for energy and trends.

Just a note, PORT will have a trio of big interviews this next week so keep your eyes peeled.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on April 10, 2009 at 9:58 | Comments (0)

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Thursday 04.09.09

Mark Woolley Gallery to close

The WWeek has the scoop, another sad day... Mark Woolley Gallery to close after 15 years in business. (Yes close is the right word this time, galleries often reinvent themselves but that isn't the case here.)

PORT reviewed the gallery's excellent 15 year anniversary show in December 2008 and hoped the recently relocated space had found its footings again after losing most of its top artists to other galleries as of late... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on April 09, 2009 at 17:49 | Comments (4)

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Willamette bridge follow up

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Pedestrian view from proposed "Hybrid" bridge, courtesy Rosales + Partners/Schlaich Bergermann and Partner LP

Brian Libby at Portland Architecture has a great follow up on the hybrid bridge unveiling. I couldn't make it but this more detailed design is much better and Rosales is correct in that this hybrid cablestay/suspension design is more transparent experience for users (see above) than the wave design. My overall concern centers around how this future Portland icon is getting less aesthetic attention things like former Mayor Potter's beard or Randy Leonard's bass-akwards fixation on a neon sign. Aesthetics matter and it seems like design is trying to be snuck in through the back door of the discussion. This is the same problem with the I-5 bridge, which needs a top tier architect to pull off with any kind of hope for success.

Barry Johnson over at the Oregonian, is also discussing Willamette bridge appropriateness with some good thoughts. Still, his focus on height is a bit of a red herring, it's about a design that stands up to context rather than pandering to it. A more tailored cable stay design could be even more elegant and appropriate than the wave or hybrid design and declare that pedestrians/bikes and mass transit are the most celebrated modes of locomotion in the city. In my mind this bridge was considered an engineering and budget driven project above all else. The aesthetics are being added at the end... a kind of hail mary attempt by the architect to save the process from itself . That strategy is appropriate for the architect but frankly it's bad for a "city planning"... ironically what the bridge will come to symbolize. All things considered this "hybrid" design should be Trimet's first choice (let's see).

All that that said this Willamette span issue clears the path for stronger discussion of the I-5 bridge, which is currently a blind man's elephant in dire need of an architectural competition to gain clarity. Also, the Oregonian still requires a real architecture critic to take the lead in this discussion, healthy civics require major and experienced critical framing. Art criticism is more of an insiders game and PORT is just offering an aesthetic assessment on a larger issue... our focus makes us more limited in major civic discussions. Important yes, but we are just voices from the vis art community.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on April 09, 2009 at 9:30 | Comments (0)

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Wednesday 04.08.09

Wednesday Links

Portland Architecture has weighed in on the Hybrid Bridge model for the Willamette we gave you a peek at last weekend. It seems like the consensus is the Trimet process hasn't taken design seriously enough, even though that bridge over the Willamette is likely to become a major symbol for the city. I can say PORT has gotten image requests for the seemingly out of the running wave design and none for the other options.

If you want some cultural blood sport, Tyler Green's play by play over deacessioning between Christopher Knight and Donn Zaretsky. My feelings about this are that museum deacessioning should only occur if it if the work is unrelated or secondary to the Museum's primary focus and or the museum already has significant holdings of that artist rendering the work a second class citizen. Deacessioning should be rare and done to support the museum's mission... which is not the case with The Rose, which is just a money grab.... pure and simple.

Richard Speer reviews Matt King's Science Diet at Fourteen30 with panache. It is one of the best shows in Portland right now.

And filed under "why repeat the effort": C-Monster has a great list of links to check out today.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on April 08, 2009 at 10:52 | Comments (0)

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Saturday 04.04.09

New Bridge Model Unveiling -updated

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advance look at "Hybrid Bridge" model courtesy Rosales + Partners/Schlaich Bergermann and Partner LP

On April 7th at City Hall, architect Miguel Rosales will unveil his latest bridge design, the first new span over the Willamette in over 35 years. There will be a scale model unveiling at 6:00 and a lecture by the architect at 7:00.

PORT has followed this design closely and I liked how the most recent hybrid cable stay/suspension bridge cut an elegant European profile across the Willamette... though it felt unfinished from an on bridge perspective, lacking enough monumental verticality (something that can be resolved hopefully).

*Update below the model views look more resolved

...(more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on April 04, 2009 at 10:38 | Comments (0)

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Tuesday 03.31.09

Greener bridge over the Columbia?


Image of the New St, Andrews bridge, an uninspired design but interesting eco-concrete (seen in bad sculpture) has potential

The New York Times has a fascinating article on green minded, pollution scrubbing cement being used on the St. Andrews Bridge in Minneapolis. Yes it's the replacement for the one that collapsed...but might it have an application for our Columbia River Crossing on I-5? Mayor Adams has made a promise of A Better Bridge and his political future rests on delivering it. The St. Andrews project only uses the cement on sculptures but a Portland bridge design could possibly incorporate it more fully?

This Columbia River Crossing is still a vague blind man's elephant and as I've mentioned numerous times it is going to take an architect to really bring this project some coherency and make a truly better bridge. How about a design competition?

Right now the two mayors are the leading voices on the design issues and frankly that's just wrong. What the politicians need is an architect whom they can torment into being on time and on budget while the architect can create designs that do more than simply speak to one issue or group. A design competition gives people a visual, till then the discussion is about lanes, dollars, concrete, wind turbines, bridge heights, where people live and other red herrings that only see part of the picture. A good design has to address all of those things and much more, a politician can duck or steamroller issues but a bridge embodies them and I think the two mayors should avoid their current situation. Let the designs embody the discussion so the politicians can politic.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on March 31, 2009 at 9:38 | Comments (0)

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Monday 03.30.09

More links

Tyler Green indicates that the Hirschhorn has undertaken a series of rolling gallery closures because of a lack of security gaurds.

Jerry Saltz discusses who is looking a bit dated or artificially enhanced as the less buoyant art market casts their recent work in a more sober light.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on March 30, 2009 at 10:59 | Comments (0)

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Friday 03.27.09

Correction: Pulliam Deffenbaugh, reinventing itself

Correction: Ok never trust the Oregonian (I should know better) Pulliam Deffenbaugh Gallery is not closing just adjusting its current form. Basically they are leasing out some space during slower months to PDX comtemporary, next door. I've been out of town but have known about the restructing for a few weeks.

What should be noted is that Pulliam Deffenbaugh is an essential core gallery and founding PADA member, but of all the main Portland galleries, I've been most concerned about them. For the past year the gallery has been doing mostly group shows (some stellar but red dot sales have been noticeable slower than many other PADA galleries). It's been a long time since they had a blockbuster solo show sales-wise too. *Disclosure I showed in one of the better selling group exhibitions last year.

For more background, a few weeks ago MaryAnn Deffenbaugh announced she would be leaving the daily operations of the gallery to work in development for OCAC. Like a lot of Portland galleries, a large portion of their sales in recent years have came from outside the city (now likely effected by the economy) and yes some key local collectors have been hit hard in the financial crisis.

*Update Rod Pulliam and MaryAnn Deffenbaugh have yet to figure out what the new business arrangement will be... so basically this whole story broken by the Oregonian's doom patrol seems a tad premature.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on March 27, 2009 at 13:22 | Comments (1)

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Thursday 03.26.09

Rothko in Portland



Today is the 95th anniversary of the passing of Mark Rothko's father Jacob Rothkowitz on May 27, 1914. Rothko was 11 at the time and had only been in Portland 7 months before his father passed. The house that they lived in at the time was in 834 Front Street in Southwest Portland.

I have been rereading James Breslin's excellent biography of Rothko and found this quote on page 34:

Rothko spent "his youth in front of the endless space of the landscape of Oregon lying covered by the wintry snows, in front of the monumental emptiness that is nothingness and and at the same time part of it 'all'".

Posted by Arcy Douglass on March 26, 2009 at 20:19 | Comments (0)

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Links of DOOM

It looks like the horrible Atlantic Yards development is dead, according to Frank Gehry. That's good news, for once!

The Guardian reports on Berlin's art market downturn.

AFN reports that Bergamot Station is in potential danger. Honestly, I can't believe that would really happen.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on March 26, 2009 at 9:57 | Comments (0)

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Monday 03.23.09

Escaping to and from New York + links

Well, I'm back from New York and now catching up on all the better coffee and significantly less polluted and overall greener environs of Portland.

But New York does have great architecture and museums. I'll have lots of interviews, reviews and pictures for you later but below is a di-opical summary of my trip:

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Steven Holl's psychology building staircase at NYU

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Arthur Segal's wonderful and still fresh Strasse auf Helgoland II (1924) at the Met.


Also, here are a few links that caught my eye while away...(more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on March 23, 2009 at 11:51 | Comments (0)

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Saturday 03.07.09

speak and(in) sign(s)

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Alexander Nemerov

Yale professor of art history Alexander Nemerov is speaking and leading two workshops on the practice of art history at Reed College this week, all free and open to the public. On Monday, he'll lead a workshop based on his essay Seeing Ghosts: The Turn of the Screw and Art History, from Michael Ann Holly and Marquand Smith, eds. What is Research in the Visual Arts: Obsession, Archive, Encounter (2008). On Tuesday he'll present the lecture Helen Keller: Making Contact, asking "What is the relation of Helen Keller to the visual arts in America? Which artists from her time perceived the world in the way she did? What would their work look like if they did share her views, and why would this matter to us now?" And finally, on Wednesday he'll present another workshop, this one guided by his essay Fragments of the Home Front, from of Icons of Grief: Val Lewton's Home Front Pictures.

Monday workshop • 4:45pm • March 9 • Vollum 110
Tuesday lecture • 7pm • March 10 • Vollum lecture hall
Wednesday workshop • 4:45pm • March 11 • Library 41
Reed College • 3203 SE Woodstock Blvd.

(More: Kathleen Dean Moore at PNCA, Book signing for MoCC at Powell's, J. Morgan Puett for PMMNLS.)

Posted by Megan Driscoll on March 07, 2009 at 13:15 | Comments (0)

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Tuesday 03.03.09

Linkage: Zombies, Creatives and Science

Frenchy but Chic, gives his hilarious report on the College Art Association's annual zombie conference in LA last weekend.

Chris Burden is having some trouble getting his gold.

Barry Johnson discusses Portland's Coraline economy. One correction... Portland's is the same as the Warhol economy, only Portland has less cocaine and better coffee than New York version (ie more supportive than inherently status driven). Essentially, Portland is analogous in the global creative economy... there is no one center but there are popular centers. During the last few recessions Portland has typically gained a lot of new talent fleeing San Francisco, the Midwest and Seattle. PDX is also appealing to those New Yorkers who want to concentrate more on the work than the rat race. You can definitely network here but it's even better if you already have a network. Also, with creative efforts following the New York or LA style "quick buck" style of project development doesn't always lead one to something lasting and new... as we hope Laika will be. Lastly, Coraline economy doesnt work as a term... because they are hardly the only game in town, Portland's creative economy is actually more centered around small businesses, but Laika is a welcome change. Ziba, W+K, Nike, Addidas etc. are at least on par with Liaka if not moreso so lets not act like this is a new thing with only one major player.

Tyler Green uses Brought to Light to refute one of Brandeis' biggest and most faulty assumptions. PORT's in depth review of Brought to Light, by Bean Gilsdorf makes it doubly clear. Arcy's review of the big Olafur Eliasson show a while back is also a case in point, though Eliasson can be a bit more of a funhouse. For historical examples we should point out that Robert Oppenheimer was a collector of Robert Motherwell and Da Vinci was in many ways the first scientist, utilizing Bacon's New Organum way before Bacon was born.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on March 03, 2009 at 10:51 | Comments (0)

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Thursday 02.26.09

Save the Oregon Cultural Trust from political raiders

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Oregon Cultural Trust license plate, a program that has raised 1.3 million of the 1.8 in jeopardy

Notice, if you gave funds to the Oregon Cultural Trust that money is in danger of being reappropriated for things other than culture, RACC has the info here. What's even mindbogglingly worse the 1.8 million dollar war chest the trust has already built up over the years is in danger of being "recaptured." This would effectively kill the program's credibility with donors for all time by breaking their trust.

This is the same sort of short sightedness that constantly puts cultural funding at risk, but it's far worse because it decimates a successful program that is trying to pull Oregon out of the bottom 5 for funding of the arts. Time to dig in, sharpen your teeth and definitely click here and let the politicians know what you think.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on February 26, 2009 at 11:25 | Comments (0)

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Tuesday 02.24.09

More institutional linking

One of my favorite art writers, Adrian Searle, has some issues with how a Picasso show has been presented.

The New York Times reports on how some very successful artists are using their art as collateral for loans in these troubling times. Ok it's another newspaper schadenfreude story but it reminds me why museums should act differently than artists do towards their own work. It's the artist's right to gamble with their work, a museum like The Rose isn't an asset to be liquidated. It is a museum holding work for the public in trust.

Jerry Saltz discusses White Column's contributions and mission on their anniversary.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on February 24, 2009 at 10:00 | Comments (3)

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Sunday 02.22.09

New PNCA and MoCC integration details and analysis

Here's a follow up on the PNCA/MoCC merger. In the past week I've spoken with both Tom Manley, President of the Pacific Northwest College of Art and Kathy Abraham Chairman of the Museum of Contemporary Craft's Board... so PORT has some important details for you now. I apologize for this having taken me so long but I've got some major projects of my own at the moment.

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PNCA President, optimist and soon to be craft/design Museum President Tom Manley

Despite all I've heard, I'm still just as cautious as before... though I feel PNCA is less in danger of jumping the shark and damaging itself. The school also develops an opportunity to launch its curatorial studies program much faster. That's important since I consider PNCA's fate to be nearly analogous to Portland's goals as a serious art city.

Some of the new information:

Museum retains separate 501.c3 status and governing board

PNCA undertakes fundraising campaign and slightly alters 5 year plan to address museum's financial situation and lack of endowment.

...(more details)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on February 22, 2009 at 21:39 | Comments (0)

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Wednesday 02.18.09

Julie Bernard 1st recipient of PADA service to art award

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Julie Bernard at her home surrounded by art by Cliffird Gleason (the large red painting) and others

The Portland Art Dealers Association has announced its inaugural recipient of its Award for Service to the Visual Arts, Julie Bernard.

Julie has been a fixture in the arts community supporting various arts organizations and with her radio program Art Focus on KBOO radio, which she hosted for a staggering 25 years, (it continues on with other hosts). Frankly, I can't even remember how many times Ive been on it but the half hour show was always a blast, focusing on local and national art figures alike. She has a subtle wry wit and knew how to push peoples buttons. Bernard stepped down in 2008 and it is wonderful that PADA is acknowledging her contributions.

Here is Joseph Gallivan's interview with Julie Bernard in the Tribune.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on February 18, 2009 at 18:49 | Comments (1)

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Making the best of a bad situation links

Once again Tyler Green has some great analysis, this time on how the so called victory of a 50 million dollar arts stimulus inclusion... isn't one. The US is going to need a new cultural plan to help us gain a new competitive edge in a world economy where new ideas will determine who is on top. We can't beat China for workforce or manufacturing but we can innovate. That takes supple minds, a majority of which need culture to develop.

In Britain there is a slack space movement. This has been happening in Portland for at least a decade but the city could encourage it more.

Zach Feuer is downsizing his gallery stable. Frankly Tal R was one of his best artists (and very influential on all of the others), so this might be a good thing for him to step into a bigger spotlight.

As ever, Edward Winkleman does a great job discussing the ways gallerists are digging in to hang on. It isn't solid doom but nobody should be underestimating the current situation. The active gallerists will create their own luck.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on February 18, 2009 at 10:10 | Comments (0)

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Tuesday 02.10.09

Links and leadership


First off, Tyler Green's two part interview with Rose Museum board chair Jonathan Lee is a must read for anyone on a non-profit board. Christopher Knight's historical addendum to Tyler's posts also brings the situation into greater focus. It is an incredibly cautionary tale and if this museum is as they say "monetized" it could set off a flashflood of short sighted anti-cultural profiteering. Long standing institutions keep things in trust for the public and its the public that loses when museums are destroyed for convenience. Leadership means looking at the heuristics of the situation, not simply some cause an effect and if Brandeis does move forward I suspect the lawsuits from those who donated to the Rose will make them wish they hadn't.

Second, frequent PORT reader and our favorite writer over at the Mercury Matt Davis has a report on the I-5 Bridge. It's good that Sam is taking his measure of this thing and not moving too quickly. Still one major issue remains, the project will need a major architect. An engineer simply cant juggle the competing desires, politics and functions of a project like this and PORT was one of the first to really make this case a long long time ago... pre scandal Sam heard it too. Hopefully our beleaguered mayor can show some leadership on this very important issue and bring more intelligent discussion, but something tells me he needs an architect to take that role over from him. Here's a start: a major bridge design competition will allow architects to help the public understand the bridge in ways this project hasn't manifested yet. A bridge is functional philosophy and the architect takes on the role of whipping boy (freeing politicians to do other things like torment the architect the hired).

Last but not least PORT is still thinking about the MoCC/PNCA merger and PNCA has even thanked us for forwarding a more intelligent discussion on the subject (see O we aren't slagging, we know what we are talking about and we were criticizing the plan to make it better, now if that only worked everywhere else). I'm simply cautious about this situation and combining a museum with an art school is tricky business, it can be done right but I don't want PNCA to inadvertently hurt itself and Portland in turn.

Here are some more thoughts:... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on February 10, 2009 at 23:07 | Comments (0)

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Sunday 02.08.09

Better late than never on the MoCC PNCA merger

Looks like at least someone at the Oregonian is finally willing to start asking more questions about the PNCA/MoCC merger. Good, but is it too little too late? (PORT asked these questions and more on the 1st day)... and essentially Row is reversing his earlier rather wishy washy approach with a slightly harder line? (something I've been grousing about and wish I didn't have to, these are basic questions that should have been asked weeks ago by everyone, not just PORT).

OK so let's now look at how the University of Wisconsin, University of Washington and Univeristy of California Berkeley all got their top notch university museums and collections too. These university museums somewhat define the schools they exist within, and it would be doubly true for an art school. Depending on the choices made, PNCA could really enhance or screw itself up... but without a separate endowment and serious autonomy for the museum it is definitely even more difficult to get it right.

... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on February 08, 2009 at 18:35 | Comments (1)

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Friday 02.06.09

Fontanelle gets NADA

Congratulations to Fontanelle who was just accepted into the prestigious NADA (New Art Dealers Alliance) gallery club. PORT reviewed their last show here. It's associations like this which will help young galleries survive. See it isn't all bad news in Portland gallery world (Tom Cramer is still selling too btw).

Posted by Jeff Jahn on February 06, 2009 at 1:32 | Comments (0)

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Monday 02.02.09

Linked up

Tyler Green has a great recap of the whole Brandeis situation as well as a pointing out Harvard Art Museum Director Tom Lentz's interesting interview in the Boston Globe. Seems like Harvard isn't trying to get all LACMA and try to collect the Rose's collection, obviously Tom Lentz is a class act.

Yes the Brandeis story has hit the New York Times and Roberta Smith comes out swinging. To corroborate her condemnation... I'm a direct product of universities who had nice art galleries and museums like UW Madison's Elviehjem (now the Chasen), ISU's galleries (which exposed me to serious contemporary art), IWU's Merwin & Wakeley galleries, Eccles Museum at USU (where I learned to love H.C. Westerman). Smith is right to point out Brandeis' myopia towards the teaching value of such an institution at a liberal arts university.

Oh and its isn't merely fear that has tongues wagging about the planned PNCA/MoCC merger as Barry Johnson at the O claims, it's very real "institutional culture" head scratcher. PORT pointed out some very real best practices issues over separation of institutions, autonomy and the differences between Museums and Universities... all now highlighted further by the Brandeis' decision. At least the O is now raising some questions, but to date PORT is the only place that has really looked at the organizational delicacy of the situation and like any merger the devil is in the details. C'mon, if Christopher Knight worked at the O he'd be all over this and it's part of the reason Portland institutions have problems... our arts coverage of institutional intricacies is weak (mostly it is just some reporting and little analysis... even when there is research, it isn't contextualized or given simple cautionary case study comparisons... cough, Brandeis, cough).

Paul Goldberger looks at Diller Scofidio + Renfro renovation of Pietro Belluschi's Alice Tully Hall. Belluschi, who lived in Portland during his early-mid career ...(more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on February 02, 2009 at 14:06 | Comments (2)

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Wednesday 01.28.09

Arts Management Links

Tyler Green has a superb and timely interview with the Rose Art Museum's director, Michael Rush. It's a must read for those following Brandeis' reprehensible decision to liquidate the Rose's collection and dissolution of the museum. What becomes clear from the interview is that this decision has nothing to do with the Rose's own financial standing and everything to do with Brandeis' situation. The Rose even has its own healthy endowment. Of course this is extremely relevant to Portland as PNCA and The Museum of Contemporary Craft are pursuing a merger, for which I urge extreme caution (Arcy's outright against it).... and this is partly why. Look, even established gallery programs like Reed's Cooley and Lewis and Clark's Hoffman gallery face ambivalence from important sections of their university so visual arts programming is always a tricky balance, even without a formalized collection.

Art Scatter has a relevant article on arts management everyone should read too.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 28, 2009 at 11:01 | Comments (0)

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Tuesday 01.27.09

Economic and Cultural Crisis Links

By now everyone has heard that Brandeis University is planning to sell off its art collection. (I've had tons of emails about this since last night and Tyler is definitely on it). In short, this is reprehensible... just like the idea of selling off the University of Iowa's super important Guggenheim Mural by Jackson Pollock was. It also underscores my concerns about a PNCA/MoCC merger. Institutions are defined by their priorities and a University has to be very stable to consider having a formalized collection under its care. Also, I believe that is where Obama's stimulus package needs to think beyond financial institutions. Museums and Universities are just as much the job creating entities that the automakers and lending institutions are, in fact they will likely outlive them.

Here's what one recent museum world layoff recipient has been up to. AKA, if the model is broken, make a new model.

Jerry Saltz discussed this interesting strategy for museums trying to deal with the current economic crisis, while still providing new programming.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 27, 2009 at 15:10 | Comments (2)

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Sunday 01.25.09

Sammy Stays

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The AP is reporting that Sam Adams, our newly elected mayor is staying put amid some sex scandal I have barely any interest in other than I like living in a US city where sex scandals are kinda passé. Good for him and good for Portland. No, Adams isn't popular with all of PORT's staff or sponsors for the lies and a perception that he can be a bit "phoney" but I think this is a good development for Portland because there is work to do. Adams got elected in part because of his commitment to the arts as key to Portland's identity. Though his savvy in such things as artist live/work space and arts organizations is sometimes questionable, at least he is interested and any earlier pre-mayoral mistakes are educational opportunities.

At least he has shown he is interested in listening to good and very obvious advice regarding 4.3 billion dollar bridges from PORT.

Here's how we see it, PORT just doesn't care about sex scandals. We do care about art, design and aesthetics and we will evaluate him on those matters alone.

Who knows, maybe a slightly humbler Adams will be a more effective mayor. Clearly he's going to have to regain confidence from a lot of people and some head scratching pet projects like the convention hotel are probably dead for now. Also, what does the mayor think about a 70 year old Portland art institution merging with a 100 year old one? LA's mayor definitely wasn't for MOCA merging with LACMA a few months ago.

Also, note to the New York Times. The map you ran on Saturday is incorrect, that dot is near San Francisco, not Portland. Please make note of the correct dot in blue below.
Where_Portland_Really_Is.jpg

Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 25, 2009 at 23:17 | Comments (3)

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Thursday 01.22.09

PNCA and Museum of Contemporary Craft become one?

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PNCA's Goodman building, one of 2008's two real estate acquisitions

Isn't 2009 dynamic? maybe too dynamic. Still, Portland really can't let one of its major institutions, the Museum of Contemporary Craft, fail and PNCA still isn't quite whole yet after splitting from the Portland Art Museum in 1994 (disclosure PNCA is a PORT sponsor and I had a solo show there last April). Now this merger solution is being seriously considered by the boards of both MoCC and PNCA. My cautionary stance is thus: this proposal puts a lot of eggs in one basket and requires a lot of discipline to pull off. Put it this way, Portland loves to collaborate but it isn't great at creating well-defined (and thus fundable) institutions. Only PAM under Ferriso's tenure has really gotten things right in the institutional discipline sense and that example goes back only 2 years.

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The Museum Of Contemporary Craft (photo Basil Childers)

The idea of PNCA merging with (ie absorbing) the troubled Museum of Contemporary Craft has been kicking around for a few weeks and I feel cautious about this elegant solution of necessity becoming the mother of invention. For example, nobody wants PNCA to get overextended in juggling such a multinodal approach as they are already dealing with growing pains. There is a reason Reed, PSU, OCAC, PAM, PICA, L&C and PNCA don't combine into one silly Voltron like multi-robot, multi-acronym cultural monstrosity. Autonomy has advantages too, but in this case that might mean MoCC's demise and a continued hole in PNCA's progam.

...(more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 22, 2009 at 0:05 | Comments (6)

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Tuesday 01.20.09

Linking to History

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A Shepard Fairey sticker

The Art of Obama blog ran the inaugural address through wordle today. It probably isn't great art and definitely pales in comparison to the actual swearing in of Barak Obama but it's interesting how Presidential words get fetished. Americans only elect extremely strong leaders when we really need them like; Washington, Lincoln, the Rooseveldts and now Obama. As a historian I've felt weve been in need of our own Marshall Plan level reprioritization of our civic, cultural and individual values. Not since FDR have we had a President that is both willing and charged with such a task by his election mandate. In a cultural context, art does best when humans reconsider their priorities and instead of the straw man and rather deserved scapegoating of Bush the art world will need to truly investigate our options more fully than the past 8 years or so have given us. Art also needs peace and a certain stability to fully flourish, may the next four years provide it...


(more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 20, 2009 at 11:30 | Comments (0)

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Sunday 01.18.09

Quality Pictures Closing-definitvely

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It is official, one of Portland's newest and best art galleries, Quality Pictures, will close this coming Saturday (*Update to Update - it's going to take a bit of time before anything definitive can be stated. It definitely seems like business partnership restructuring drama and the gallery is currently closed with a contact on the door). It's best to just let this play out.

...(more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 18, 2009 at 21:01 | Comments (0)

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Thursday 01.15.09

Distinguished Guests in Oregon Museums

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Robert Motherwell, Elegy to the Spanish Republic (Basque Elegy), 1967
Oil on canvas 82 ¼ x 138 inches, Private Collection.
Location: 2nd floor, JCMCA Portland Art Museum

It has been a a year or two since we've seen a nice Robert Motherwell "Elegy" at the Portland Art Museum, but this latest guest is by far the nicest one I've seen in Portland in the near decade I've been living here. In case you are unfamiliar, Motherwell... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 15, 2009 at 12:02 | Comments (2)

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Tuesday 01.13.09

Vogels give 50 works to Portland Art Museum

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Richmond Burton, Untitled 1997, The Dorothy and Herbert Vogel Collection: 50 works for 50 States

The Portland Art Museum has been given a generous gift of 50 works from super collectors Dorothy and Herbert Vogel. The Vogels, known for championing cutting edge minimalist and conceptual work are dispersing their 2500 work collection to 50 museums in 50 states. If you are unfamiliar with their story, it's worth checking out here and here.

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Dorothy and Herbert Vogel living within their collection

The Vogels weren't wealthy and lived in a small New York City apartment, yet managed to be some of the best collectors of artists like Richard Tuttle and Robert Mangold. Among the 50 works going to the Portland Art museum is Richmond Burton's "Untitled" from 1997, it's one of his best known works (probably because of the Vogels) and dovetails nicely with the Clement Greenberg Collection, acquired in 2000. Other artists included are John Hultberg and Dike Blair.

PAM's Northwest Film center will screen Sasaki's documentary Herb and Dorothy on March 28th and 29th. Thank you Herbert and Dorothy Vogel for generously sharing your personal obsession with us, may you inspire others to follow your incredible example.

(PS I always love it when PORT gets a scoop simply by reading the museum's membership magazine.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 13, 2009 at 11:41 | Comments (1)

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Thursday 01.08.09

Think Links

Tyler Green's wonderful remembrance of Betty Freeman illustrates the all important difference between being a just a collector/donor and being a true patron. It's a deep... quantum level of involvement and personal investment in the artists and cultural organizations that makes a huge difference. I'm working on a historical post that looks at influential patrons (a hot topic in Portland these days).

Randy Gragg interviewed Miguel Rosales about the two possible Willamette river bridge options. Man I miss Randy's contributions to the O, whose architecture coverage since his departure has flagged (though this piece by Brian Libby is a start... there really is no replacement for an architecture and design critic, except a full-time architecture and design critic... especially in a city where design is a major industry). Here's what PORT had to say on the new bridge designs a while back. We want new pictures of the wave design so we can more fully assess it... maybe there will be new images at Rosales upcoming talk on Monday night at Jimmy Mak's (door opens at 5)?

Jerry Saltz ponders MoMA's recent sex change

Yes, Ill have PORT's 2008 roundup posted by Saturday night (now that the show I've been assisting on had its wonderful opening last night... it is always art first). Here's Richard Speer's take on 2008.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 08, 2009 at 12:25 | Comments (0)

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Friday 01.02.09

First Links of 2009

Roberta Smith looks at an artist who turned obscurity into art. What this says to me is the art world is looking to challenge the current cannon of noteworthy names... again (I think this recent spate started with the rediscovering of Lee Bontecou and James Lee Byars).

Artnet had a good overview for the art world in 2008 here.

The O has posted their 2008 roundup... I'll have PORT's very detailed, multifaceted roundup posted soon (I'm helping install a very technically demanding show). PORT's analysis should give everyone something meaty to chew on.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 02, 2009 at 10:06 | Comments (6)

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Thursday 01.01.09

Last Weekend

Ok it's 2009, but it is also the last weekend for these four interesting shows held over from 2008.


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Livia Marin, Form Follows Variation

The Museum of Contemporary Craft's Manufractured. There are a lot of highlights in this massive group show, including Regis Mayot and Jason Rogenes (a personal favorite). Show runs through January 4th (it's free too but consider becoming a member)

...(more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 01, 2009 at 17:11 | Comments (1)

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Tuesday 12.30.08

Looking back at 2008 on PORT

2008 may be the year that most everyone I know can't wait to leave behind but it was easily PORT's best year ever. Tomorrow I'll post PORT's annual year in review.

Till then, here's a list of just a few of our standouts from 2008:


Arcy and I interviewing Brad Cloepfil in a marathon 2-part art and architecture geek fest... we kinda good cop/bad cop'd him but the man is a aesthetics machine

Arcy's interview with Ed Ruscha, AKA the world's greatest living painter

Ryan's interview with Storm Tharp, ending with the most intriguing hamburger discussion of the year

Amy's critical takedown of Ethan Jackson's Couture show at NAAU

My review of Paul Sutinen at 9 Gallery

Arcy's historical piece on Donald Judd at the PCVA... uncovering an important show in Judd's development.

Arcy's review of Robert Rauschenberg's final works at Bluesky

My review of the Contemporary Northwest Art Awards

Megan's heartfelt review of Jim Lommason's Exit Wounds at NAAU

Arcy's digestion of Shiro Nakane's lecture at PNCA

My interview with Fritz Haeg at Reed College

Alex's interview with Garth Clark

Amy's review of Video Gentlemen at NAAU (see a trend here, the Couture series has been a critical favorite)

My review of Keith Boadwee at Rock's Box

My review of Jacqueline Ehlis at NAAU

Arcy's essay on Barnett Newman's 18 Cantos

Megan's tough but fair analysis of Disjecta with some very constructive advice... which happily seems to have gotten through

My analysis of PAM's new direction with Brian Ferriso

My review of Gertrude and Otto Natzler at MoCC

Amy's interview with Jonathan Lasker.... this is a clinic on how to do a smart, informed interview for an art audience.

My analysis of the I-5 Columbia River Crossing, AKA the 4+ billion dollar bridge

Ryan's interview with MK Guth

Arcy's interview with Vito Acconci

So please bear with me, it's time for me to be "The Publisher" and toot our own horn:

...(more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 30, 2008 at 13:53 | Comments (3)

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Tuesday 12.23.08

Yes Virginia there is a MOCA in 2009

Great news, MOCA will survive as an autonomous institution... when it is Govan vs. Broad, Broad always wins. Also, why is there even a Govan vs. Broad dynamic? It isn't just that Broad has the money, it is that he is a smart donor who forces institutions to do the right thing. It takes involved and principled donors, not just people who write checks. I can also add that it's way easier to deal with the Broad Foundation's press office than MOCA's.

I think Tyler's analysis is spot-on. No need to duplicate it... here's what we had to say earlier.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 23, 2008 at 8:59 | Comments (0)

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Friday 12.19.08

Snowy Hopes

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Snowy Portland 2008

Before the calendar takes a break for the holidays, I wanted to share a little good news from the RACC. They have collected record funds to award in grants in 2009 to artists, nonprofits, and arts education. Eloise Damrosch, executive director of the RACC, reminds us that supporting the arts is essential to the health of the community in difficult times: "Without question, artists and arts organizations make our community a better place to live, and they need our support now more than ever. Just imagine what it would be like if we didn't have the arts to get us through this difficult time; the arts bring us together, to challenge and entertain us. The arts give us hope."

Enjoy the snow, I'll be back December 29. (PORT will still be updated but have more sporadic posts during the holiday week)

Posted by Megan Driscoll on December 19, 2008 at 11:30 | Comments (0)

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Your morning MOCA

It looks like MOCA is going to be saved (in the most culturally responsible way), here's the LA Times report. It looks like director Jeremy Strick might be out.

Here's Tyler Green's take.

PORT had this to say initially about the whole situation.

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Carl Andre, 8 Blocks and Stones, 1973
Concrete blocks and river stones (from Portland), Each: 11 1/2 x 11 3/4 x 3 1/2 in. (29.2 x 29.8 x 8.9 cm) The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles The Barry Lowen Collection 85.36

Later, we visited Michael Heizer's iconic Double Negative, part of MOCA's awe inspiring collection... which also includes a portion of the piece Carl Andre did for Portland's equally awesome PCVA back in the 70's. May MOCA avoid the PCVA's fate... this is encouraging.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 19, 2008 at 11:08 | Comments (0)

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Friday 12.12.08

Thank You Terry













Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 12, 2008 at 10:05

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Thursday 12.11.08

Terry Toedtemeier passes away

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Terry Toedtemeier speaking at the Wild Beauty press conference

PORT is extremely saddened to report that Terry Toedtemeier, the Portland Art Museum's indispensable curator of photography has passed away. More details to come but his life's work can be seen in what I consider to be the year's most important show, Wild Beauty.

He died last night and collapsed while speaking in Hood River about the Wild Beauty show. Also, he had a recent history of heart problems.

It is a terrible and tragic loss, he had such a sweet presence that was coupled with an utterly contageous passion for photography, geology and life. We will all miss him and our thoughts are with his family and loved ones.

The community has lost a giant but we gained immeasurably through his efforts.

...(more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 11, 2008 at 10:03 | Comments (5)

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Tuesday 12.09.08

Tweet & more Miami photos

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 09, 2008 at 10:29 | Comments (0)

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Monday 12.08.08

Overreacting and Underreacting

Last night I really enjoyed Morley Safer's interview with Julian Schnabel on 60 minutes... mostly for the artists hilarious meltdown over what Robert Hughes wrote years ago. First Schnabel was offended that Safer even brought his nemesis up. Then Schnabel wouldn't drop Hughes as the subject. (tsk tsk, overreacting to a critic is a telling sign of massive insecurities and a more self aware artist knows how to take a punch...). As far as press goes Safer is a pretty pleasant interviewer... why get all Khan vs Kirk with him, why attack Safer so personally as a proxy for Kirk (erm I mean Hughes)? Still, I admire Schnabel as a film director (though all the footage which was lost then resurfaced in Downtown 81 certainly laid the groundwork for Schnabel's own Basquiat film) but as a painter he's a second or 3rd rate practitioner compared to his contemporaries Basquiat and Anselm Kiefer. Still I need to see his latest film The Diving Bell and The Butterfly.

Yes, the calls to action for saving MOCA (and calls for new leadership) as an autonomous institution keep growing. Here is the new non-facebook mobilization page.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 08, 2008 at 11:52 | Comments (2)

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Thursday 11.27.08

Infiltrating the holiday

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I always enjoy it when an artist sucessfully finds a way to infiltrate more mainstream events and Keith Haring's balloon, (Untitled) Figure with Heart, in today's Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade gave me reason to watch a little bit of the otherwise very top 40 spectacle. It continues Macy's Blue Sky Gallery Series of contemporary balloons, you can watch it here.

Often, I find post-mortem work like this problematic but Haring had expressed an interest in this before his untimely demise. Also, someone like Paul McCarthy would make it a parade to remember for sure!

Posted by Jeff Jahn on November 27, 2008 at 14:49 | Comments (0)

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Wednesday 11.26.08

Saving MOCA Tonight

Tyler reports that MOCA's board is gonna gather tonight with the purpose solidifying MOCA's vulnerable position. They may dine together as a group, but the whole affair is about not eating crow.

Here is an online petition so you can voice your support for MOCA.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on November 26, 2008 at 9:50 | Comments (0)

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Tuesday 11.25.08

Linkage

Dave Hickey amusingly addresses the excesses of 2007's Freize and Art Basel Miami Beach art fairs in Vanity Fair.

Jerry Saltz discusses the latest from Cindy Sherman.

The recently unveiled Powell's redesign isnt that good. cmon... a building housing that many architecture and design books just can't look like a suburban strip mall in Northbrook Illinois!

Posted by Jeff Jahn on November 25, 2008 at 13:40 | Comments (1)

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Monday 11.24.08

MOCA & Broad recap

In case you missed it Eli Broad tabled an offer to save MOCA, frankly the LACMA idea just never made any sense.

Tyler digested Broad's offer here. Eli broad takes a lot of heat but he has done a lot of good for LA and for that matter Portland too.

It is interesting that board members of a very important institution are being held to task.... also a heads up, PORT's Arcy Douglass was out at Double Negative (part of MOCA's collection) a few weeks ago and his post on it will be up in an hour.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on November 24, 2008 at 9:57 | Comments (0)

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Friday 11.21.08

Before the weekend

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Pipilotti Rist's Pour Your Body Out (7,354 Cubic Meters) @ MOMA

It looks like Pipilotti Rist is the first artist to fully make use of MOMA's newish atrium's scale. That figures, it isn't a major step forward for her in scale but it is an exciting step for MOMA... whose atrium has dominated formerly enormous Monets etc.

Tyler is focusing on the singularity of MOCA's superb collection and he also points out there is now a facebook page for the saving of MOCA.

Here is Artnet's coverage of MOCA's excellent Kippenberger show.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on November 21, 2008 at 10:37 | Comments (0)

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Wednesday 11.19.08

MOCA's troubles & uncertain fate

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MOCA

Tyler's post on MOCA's fate is the must read art news post of the month. He's right, in my mind MOCA has supplanted The Walker, The Guggenheim and The Whitney as the world's most cutting-edge art museum programmatically. Speaking of cultural mergers, I don't think the Guggenheim is in any position to merge with them as their LA satellite.

Overall, with a dwindling endowment and no recent expansion or capital campaigns one wonders at the strange lack of ambition in LA (a place with no shortages of such). Here's the LA Times on the subject. I might add more to this later today, but it is uber-odd that such a major institution would be facing such last ditch decisions... of course cultural institutions should raise alarms when they are in trouble but if they look confused it doesn't help. It does help that MOCA's progamming warrants saving.

*Update: Christopher Knight's "seething" open letter says quite a bit of what needs to be said, earlier this year PORT's look at PAM showed the alternative strategy. The lesson.... endowments protect museums and more specifically, the nature of the endowment (not merely its size) often defines an institution.

The talks of a merger between LACMA and MOCA also seem terribly strained to me... MOCA losing its excellent collection also clips its wings for any future growth, branding it as a failed experiment. Like Knight stated, the first steps are a staff reduction as a good faith move then they need a bridge loan and a smart capaital campaign. Punting on MOCA is bad for LA, and the entire US... how about a bridge loan from the city rather than a weakened (merged) MOCA?

*Updated reactions:
FBC
Jeremy Strick's initial response

Posted by Jeff Jahn on November 19, 2008 at 10:17 | Comments (0)

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Tuesday 11.18.08

Long Term Thinking

Finally, there will be a new Sol LeWitt wall drawing retrospective... which will be on display for 25 years.

PNCA has a new Vice President for College Advancement (fundraising), Deborah Hopkinson. With 20 years of experience with OSU etc. she is a smart move. In 2 years PNCA takes over the 511 building from the government and their 32 million dollar centennial campaign will need a very steady hand using long range planning for major gifts during these difficult financial times. The campaign should be in overdrive by the time the economy is crawling out of the anticipated slump for the next year or so.

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Skylab's Root Award's winner (office space) for North

Portland Architecture discusses Portland Spaces Root Awards for design. Sorry, but I can't help making some weak pun about how design has been putting down ever deeper roots in Portland. See the first Root Awards here. Overall, I'm still mulling over my reaction to the awards... they were a lot like the first Contemporary Northwest Art Awards, not bad... but not a revelation either. The important thing is that awards enhance a sense of achievement by spotlighting it, that is what cities do... they give talent a platform. Awards are a type of recurring platform. Now if only the O would stop turning editors into writers and hire an achitecture and design critic... the single most important writing job in the city can't be left to freelancers because follow-through is key!

Posted by Jeff Jahn on November 18, 2008 at 10:50 | Comments (0)

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Tuesday 11.11.08

Linking and thinking

The similarities between Michael Heizer's Rift and Daniel Libeskind's Jewish Museum in Berlin are striking... though it is a somewhat fractal form and the commonalties shouldn't surprise us, fractals repeat even when we think its human creativity at work.

Peter Schjeldahl looks at both Franz West and Mary Heilmann. I'm continually impressed with West but Heilmann (whose show I saw at OCMA) is frankly pretty uneven and not that surprising. Throw in Chris Johanson, Rachel Harrison and Carol Bove and there is a real case for a Paul Klee fanclub revival going on as of late.

The Oregonian gives more details on the downsizing at the Museum of Contemporary Craft (a PORT sponsor). All of this just seems like prudent preparation much like the direction the Portland Art Museum undertook last year (another PORT sponsor). One big problem though is the lack of an endowment, it's tough to be a true museum without an endowment. Only once they have an adequate endowment can the MOCC transition fully from a sales gallery with an exhibition program into a full museum. It is also worth reminding everyone that the MOCC's supporters still have significant means and the museum shouldn't water down great programming like the Natzler show or the more contemporary lexicon in Manufractured. Still, MoCC needs both types of shows (classic and experimental) to remain valid... Our Garth Clark interview makes that necessity as plain as can be.... and it is also why curator Namita Wiggers is the most necessary person at the institution. She brings their programming to the museum level, now they need an endowment that matches the curatorial seriousness. Wiggers is simply one of the best curators in her field and key. Ill have something on Portland's creative economy soon, there are sobering facts that everyone already seems prepared for as well as some serious opportunities. In general, Portland typically gains a lot of entrepreneurial talent during recessions.

The Portland Art Museum finally has a new website. It might not win awards but it is a step up from the vintage 1998 look.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on November 11, 2008 at 11:09 | Comments (2)

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Friday 10.31.08

Friday Links

Roberta Smith has an interesting piece on theanyspacewhatsoever show at the Guggenheim, rightly questioning why it is comprised of, "a group of the usual suspects," who seem to show up in blockbuster contemporary museum shows frequently. Looks like a fine show that we've seen many times before in London and even Portland way back in 2000. Maybe with "Change" being the active term in this election cycle the art world will be forced to find some new names in the Post-Bush era?

Also in the NYT's Holland Carter calls Miro an artistic "serial murder"... I don't buy that, he seems more like a satirist of human ideologies and habits... kind of the Steve Martin of Spanish modernists, it's definitely physical comedy with a flair for the philosophical. Miro's work could have easily said, "Wellllllll EXC-ccc-CCC-UUUUUSE MEEEEEEEEEEEE!" while wearing an arrow through the head hat while playing the banjo.

A lot of so called "balanced" journalists try to make it seem like the sky is falling (panic is good for selling dead trees... hmm?) so it's good that Tyler Green pops a few of the WSJ's doom balloons in his discussion of museum economics in these erratic financial times today. (I'll discuss local economics next week) To be sure some institutions are going to be challenged (especially SAM which partnered with Washington Mutual) but institutions like the Portland Art Museum saw this coming (and likewise so did most of their major patrons).

Posted by Jeff Jahn on October 31, 2008 at 10:10 | Comments (0)

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Tuesday 10.28.08

Reading between the bridges

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Bridge architect Miguel Rosales @ AiA Portland

Architect Miguel Rosales Urban Design Board presentation at AIA's Portland HQ's today was interesting... and it should be, it was about the new light rail and pedestrian bridge across the Willamette weve been following.

The meeting wasn't about revealing anything new about the design or process, it was more of a "read between the lines" moment and getting a measure of the architect and project. Here's a PDF that details where we are now and covers most of the presentation today.

What came out "between the lines" was this:

1st priority is following all of the federal guidelines... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on October 28, 2008 at 21:52 | Comments (1)

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Tuesday 10.21.08

Tuesday Links

In a kind of victory for serious blogging, Christies just used PORT's interview with Ed Ruscha as reference material for a lot. You can read Arcy's Ruscha interview that was sourced, here.

Roberta Smith reported that the Frieze art fair has chilled, but the international art market hasn't been frozen solid yet.

Best Of in Seattle has a mighty fine art blog and likes pointy murals.

And this is just completely awesome.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on October 21, 2008 at 17:06 | Comments (0)

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Friday 10.10.08

Market Schmarket Links

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Basquiat's Boxer

Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich is selling his excellent Basquiat "Boxer." My favorite part of this NYT's piece is Lar's quote, "It’s perhaps the last frontier where the best of the best will not go the way of the rest of the economy.” Is it possible that improbable quality and artistic dedication are recession proof? ...well I think it only holds true for "Basquiats", not lighter weights like Matthew Day Jackson. Sure he's sincere but he isn't that perceptive or poetic. My take is that Basquiat is on another level and his values will probably only improve. Other proven, transcendent artists (Justine Kurland, Chris Johanson) will transcend this financial crisis and those that follow art market trends will follow broader financial market trends.

Also, in the NYT's Roberta Smith explains why Elizabeth Peyton matters. I concur, seriously at what time were beauty and youth not worthy of our attention? Peyton transcends the stupider tabloid stuff in the media and exemplifies why we find young and beautiful people perpetually fascinating. At Peyton's best, she gives her subjects a grace and existential fragility they never really had but for a moment. Some think this is slight but it's like arguing against flowers, you can do it... but at the cost of acknowledging you might have a dead black heart. Frankly I find viewing a Peyton painting more satifying than TMZ's celeb gawking.

Finally, Tyler and I disagree about Peyton. It seriously freaks me out that we both like so many of the same artists like Clifford Still, enjoy tennis, blogging and kick ass architecture etc. Maybe it's our Midwestern/West Coast roots?

Also, check out Jen Graves WACK post. Though I find the ads at the left that state, "find your inner slut," a bit incongruous with the post.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on October 10, 2008 at 10:41 | Comments (0)

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Monday 10.06.08

Monday Links

C-Monster says cruise ships are, "Like Lautner. Only blingier."

Dracula Vs Eisenstein points out a nifty advertisement for Wario Land on Youtube. Nice shake up of spatial configurations.

Salvatore Reda has started a new blog, "Always, Forever, Now" anthologizing art related stories in the press.

Jerry Saltz thinks Martha Rosler is stuck in the 60's. A lot of collage art has this problem.

Listen to PAM curator Terry Toedtemeier talk about Wild Beauty on OPB with a link here, a great interview. Wild Beauty is THE must see show for anyone who loves photography or nature on the west coast.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on October 06, 2008 at 11:36 | Comments (0)

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Thursday 10.02.08

Primer and welcoming committee for Reversed Reality

As Megan mentioned earlier Reversed Reality opens tomorrow and Worksound plays Portland host to 5 of the 6 artists. Here's a little primer on the artists from Hong Kong and Senegal. I'm certain youve seen some of these artists at recent Portland openings but let's give them a big Portland welcome tomorrow.

When I spoke to them today, the four artists from Hong Kong, all thought Portland had a young art scene with a more relaxed attitude than Hong Kong... focusing more on the work rather than purely career driven pursuits:

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For this piece, Doris Wong collected postcards from Portland art events and assiduously copied each of them. Wong's copies are on the right, the originals are displayed on... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on October 02, 2008 at 16:16 | Comments (0)

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Friday 09.26.08

Cloepfil's 2 Columbus Circle

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Cloepfil's MAD @ 2 Columbus Circle amongst its neighbors. Photo Michael Paul Oman-Reagan

Brad Cloepfil's incredibly contentious 2 Columbus Circle opens tomorrow and the NYT's gives it some pretty faint praise along with a fair amount of criticism. Personally, I feel the project flies in the face of all these highly performative and histrionic buildings architects have been putting up lately and that is bold in a different way. The real question is how does it reframe the Columbus Circle and how well do its galleries work? It just seems like everyone wanted this thing to do a jig but what Brad has done is create a more useable and subtle building. I think there is room for subtle in New York.

The architect aquits himself well in this interview from Architectural Record at Business Week's site.

Also, check out part 1of PORT's interview with Brad Cloepfil and get ready for the super massive part 2, it's the longest interview we've ever done and I hope to have it up very soon so check back.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on September 26, 2008 at 10:43 | Comments (0)

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Wednesday 09.24.08

The Henry announces The Brink art award

The Henry in Seattle has announced The Brink, a biennial art award (funded by the Behnke's) that will go to a single deserving artist from Oregon, Washington or British Columbia. Similar to the CNAA's it will take nominations from local art worlders. Check out the details at The Stranger. I'm particularly tickled that they are including Canada in the mix. Art awards galvanize a more civic discussion over an artists work as well as the region's overall support for interesting new art, so you can never really have too many art awards.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on September 24, 2008 at 14:28 | Comments (0)

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Tuesday 09.16.08

Jennifer Gately Resigns

Word has it PAM's first Arlene Schnitzer Curator of Northwest Art, Jennifer Gately has quit. She certainly has had a challenging role to fulfill (bridging historical and contemporary concerns) and PORT thinks her record of mostly positive reviews here says it all... it certainly gives an accurate picture of what kind of curator she is. Also her recent re-install of the Hoffman galleries is spacious and uncluttered (if only the rest of the collection were the same... I hear a re-install is coming). Her eventual replacement will inherit an exciting and challenging situation in one of the country's most active art scenes.

Here are our reviews and other posts in chronologically descending order:

2008 Contemporary Northwest Art Awards
Jenene Nagy
Marcus Rothkowitz ...a painting that should be in the collection
Wes Mills
Chris Johanson
Roy McMakin
2006 Oregon Biennial

Posted by Jeff Jahn on September 16, 2008 at 17:30 | Comments (1)

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Monday 09.15.08

Crap art, condos, wind towers and green art

Donald Kuspit considers the history of shit in art.

Despite the crashing stock market today there will be new condos by HdeM and OMA in NYC... both have already broken ground and something tells me the people who already bought their penthouses will still be able to afford these. Funny how NYC can get cool condos by HdeM and Koolhaas but hasn't been capable of realizing museums designed by these two topnotch talents. Architecture is always defined by the client and though I'm sure the condos will be nice... no high density residential design can hope to take very many chances... and certainly not as many as a museum project could conceivably afford.

Portland Architecture discusses a potential 600 foot observation tower in Portland's city's center (it is also a wind power generator). I want to see pics ASAP... this could be great if the design is up to snuff (an icon of Portland's new and bolder commitment to a better way of living) or tragic if it isn't. *Update Brian Libby has published the images and weighs in. Also, Randy Gragg of Portland Spaces has interviewed the developer.

In a related post Edward Winkleman explores the effect of global warming on art and design.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on September 15, 2008 at 10:54 | Comments (0)

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Friday 09.12.08

Hirst's Castle

Yes, I'm still on the road but we will have a great review for you saturday. Plus I have reviews of Jeff Koons at the MCA, an interview with one of the most exciting young artists today, then there's part II of PORT's interview with Brad Cloepfil (here's part I) and a round robin of exciting museum shows in the Midwest. Dang that is a lot of stuff... Plus PORT's other writers are covering Portland.

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Damien Hirst's The Kingdom of The Father at PAM last Fall

To tide you over Tyler Green considers some of the latest Hirst coverage in Time.

My take, "journalists" are primarily a knee jerk reaction in the written record and they are probably pretty sick of having Hirst jerking them every month for the past 15 years. They are kind of addicted to him but nothing they say about him changes anything anymore... so it feels like everyone is on automatic pilot and everyone feels a little used.

I'm a historian so I don't have the twitchy fingers of a journalist... so I'll make this historical prediction, Hirst is going to be THE artist of the 90's and likely the aughts as well. Sure not all of his work is great but a great deal of it is very good compared to the rest of Chelsea's best fare. My favorite stuff was in the 90's (way better than Matthew Barney in the aughts) but I still think he turns out enough good work to take seriously now... just like Koons he's in it for the long haul and has entered that point where he's competing only with himself. Hirst is still the artist who best exemplifies our age. Life, death, Pop, minimalism, media tweaking/manipulation etc... he has it all. Including a penchant for avoiding museums.

For more Hirsting here is Arcy's review of Hirst's show last year at PAM and my review of a then newly unveiled Hirst in a group show at PAM.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on September 12, 2008 at 9:56 | Comments (2)

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Tuesday 09.09.08

Tuesday links

I'm in beautiful Des Moines Iowa, home of the fantastic Des Moines Art Center and Ill have some things for you later today and tomorrow. Till then here are some links.

Jerry Saltz takes a look at the somewhat indecisive curatorial directions of MoMA and the Guggenheim... with some analysis on how it might change with new leadership situations.

The Capital A art blog from Glass Tire has a pie graph of geographical distributions for the Texas Biennial. Ahhh some things never change, like the statistical analysis of survey shows.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on September 09, 2008 at 9:13 | Comments (2)

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Friday 09.05.08

Friday links

I'm traveling right now but I'll have several posts for you in the next two days, including a review this weekend. I've already seen an incredible show called Sensory Overload in Milwaukee and I've yet to make my way through Chicago etc. Till then check out:

Holland Cotter's take on official Chinese propaganda art

Time's interview with Ann Temkin, MoMA's new chief curator of painting and sculpture

It's nice to see the WWeek doing artist interviews again and the recent interview with Sean Healy is hopefully the sign of more to come. Here's PORT's review of Healy's last solo show for comparison's sake.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on September 05, 2008 at 9:30 | Comments (0)

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Monday 09.01.08

A lil reading

The Guardian got ambushed at the Rothko Chapel.

The NYT's reviews Looking at Music at MoMA... does anybody question Bowie's influence musically or visually? ...or is that something only his kid's might be able to do?

Peter Plagens has published first two installments of his on line novel The Art Critic on Artnet.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on September 01, 2008 at 19:01 | Comments (2)

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Thursday 08.21.08

Do The Gallery Shuffle

For those who thought it was all gloom and doom when Motel and Small A galleries closed they didn't know that two new galleries run by two of Portland's smartest redheads were opening:

Fontanelle gallery and Fourteen30 (which we mentioned last week) both open in September

Fontanelle is run by Leslie Miller, a former Artforum staffer who has been helping Stephanie Synder out at Reed. We are happy to see that her first show, which opens September 4th features one of Motel's best artists Meg Peterson and one of my personal faves Shanon Schollian. It's in Chambers old space. Chambers is moving across town.

Fourteen30 is opening September 26th in the old Savage/Small A space.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on August 21, 2008 at 19:02 | Comments (0)

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Wednesday 08.20.08

Make links not war

Zaha Hadid's design for a house in Moscow reminds me of her ski jump in Innsbruck in addition to Olympic platform diving. It also seems a tad silly like Robotech in real life.

OpenwidePDX is a new photoblog focusing on Portland art scene openings.

Steve Ditko was in the NYT's book review... nothing could be more deserved both for its praise and damnation.

Peripheral Vision discusses honesty and fakery and their tenuously negotiated relationship to visual media.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on August 20, 2008 at 13:07 | Comments (3)

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Friday 08.08.08

Friday News

The big review is coming saturday morning (what a beast to write... it's basically a checkup on the state of abstract art). Till then:

The Guardian has a slideshow of Richard Serra's latest exhibition in London.

David Cohen discusses the Cy Twombly Retrospective, also in London.

Douglas McLennan has a great article on why newspapers are failing.

Tyler reported that Richard Diebenkorn (who was born in Portland but moved at age 2) will finally have an Ocean Park series retrospective.

New Gallery news: Jeanine Jablonski (who has been working for Elizabeth Leach and created GLARE quarterly) is opening a new gallery fourteen30 in the old Small A/Savage space (watch this site). First show in September will feature the work of Los Angeles based artist,