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Wednesday 09.19.18

 

Utopian Visions Art Fair

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People often ask me, is there anything new going on in the Portland art scene. Answer, a resounding yes and though the world really doesnt need another art fair the Utopian Visions Art Fair is exactly what the world needs... new faces and ideas looking for hope and a new way. Some of my favorite artist and art agitators like Maximiliano, Victor Maldonado, Chicken Coop Contemporary etc. are all involved. Tune in and catch up.

Utopian Visions Art Fair
Friday, September 14 2018 5-8PM
Saturday, September 15 11AM-4PM
Sunday, September 16 11AM-4PM
518 SE 76th Ave


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Posted by Jeff Jahn on September 13, 2018 at 18:31 | Comments (0)


Early September Links

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

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

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

Chistopher Chichocki's art looks at the Salton Sea.

Jerry Saltz on Hilma af Klint.

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

An interview with Liza Lou on her latest show.

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

...(more)


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


Labor Day Weekend Picks

Unlike most art scenes Portland's Summers tend to bring extra activity. To that a bunch of new shows have arrived and a few worthy ones are entering their last days. Catch these shows and of course that Ann Hamilton is still up, I felt it was a bit cobbled together and needed some more tailoring to fit its site but decide for yourself...

here are my picks:


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Carnation Contemporary is a new collective and they are launching their gallery venue today. I love their studio space off Interstate ave but they are also opening up a proper gallery space in the Disjecta Compound. The inaugural show is called First Date and has my full attention. Portland needs to support these artist driven initiatives to retain its enviable edge as a creative epicenter.

First Date | August 31- September 30
Opening Reception: September 1 | 6-9PM
Carnation Contemporary
8371 N Interstate


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As a domestic house that converts to a gallery Indivisible is perhaps the most intriguing of Portland's alternative spaces. Their latest show Encounters by Jeleesa Johnston should not be missed. The opening vibes are always pure Portland.

Encounters | September 1 - 22
Opening Reception: September 1 | 6 - 9PM
Indivisible
2544 SE 26th



...(more)


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Posted by Jeff Jahn on August 31, 2018 at 19:18 | Comments (0)


Museumy Links

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


Wendy Given at Vernissage

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Wendy Given, Nighthawk

True, I find a simple restatement of stereotypes like; trees, rain, and more trees to be a Northwest narrative that doesn't really require another show but a better way to look at it is, "what kind of wilderness?" Is it a deep dark, conceptual one triggering the lizard parts of the brain and filtered through modern concerns? It sure can and Wendy Given is one of those area artists who goes into the woods so to speak with her latest show... You, Darkness. It is a major theme in the region that has international reach... see Twin Peaks (which is just one instance of this strong artistic subject mater regarding the unknown, nature and animals).

You, Darkness | August 7 - October 30, 2018
Opening: August 21, 5- 7PM
Artist Talk: September 18, 5 - 7PM
Vernissage Fine Art
1953 NW Kearney Street Tel: (971) 277-4118


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Posted by Jeff Jahn on August 21, 2018 at 11:33 | Comments (0)


Mid August Links

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

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

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

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

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

An artist visualizes Big Data.


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


Grace Kook-Anderson in Conversation

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Grace Kook-Anderson

Normally the skies of the Northwest shower us with constant rain but lately it has been stinging wildfire smoke. True the air is better today but perhaps your lungs are still burning. I suggest arts fans check out this free curator conversation at the Portland Art Museum Between the somewhat newish Northwest Curator Grace Kook-Anderson and her boss PAM Director and Chief Curator Brian Ferriso. Grace has largely avoided the traditional Northwest art cliches, while reminding us of the diversity of the region's art... which has been very international for a long time. Artists like Sam Hamilton and Hannah Piper Burns have signaled that we should expect the unexpected... rather than the march of obvious craft, trees and rain, presented by frequently overexposed local names. Instead, she has been concentrating on many artists who are less, "regional feisthists." ... (more)


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Posted by Jeff Jahn on August 15, 2018 at 18:27 | Comments (0)


Portland Art Adventures

I like the adventure and mental challenge that looking around an interesting art city like Portland can provide. There really is no substitute for experience. Here are some things the truly adventurous should have a look at:


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Ann Hamilton's Habitus in Portland

I appreciate having an Ann Hamilton piece around to look at but habitus in Portland might have gotten away from the artist and curator. Restaging an idiomatic installation piece in a different city, with different materials is tricky. In the Philadelphia version the soft fabric, which contrasted with hard concrete was replaced with Tyvek and a soft dusty floor with less spatial compression here in Portland, doing it no favors. Thus, Portland's habitus lacks the dreamy frission of contrasts + scale of the original. Also, those substitutions change all of the contexts and meanings in less successful ways.... sequels are notoriously problematic (in ways I wish to touch on in a larger article I am at work on). You can look at the Philadelphia version of habitus here, it is far more successfulfor those reasons (site sensitivity, context etc) and many more Ill touch on later. Till then, go and see for yourself... also definitely catch these two more rewarding shows by R.B Kitaj and Jenny Holzer.


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Guns in the Hands of Artists at Moloko

Brian Borrello's Guns in the Hands of Artists series of collaborative exhibitions is incredibly relevant ongoing project but most of the time its taking place far away from the artist's home base of Portland. That why I relished the opportunity to view this research and development installation for turning guns into a coral reef at Moloko, Portland's coral reef cocktail lounge. I like the way it insinuates itself into a less formal art environment, though Moloko is an artist hangout.

... (more)


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Posted by Jeff Jahn on August 12, 2018 at 9:46 | Comments (0)


Early August Art News

This just in, Portland's Mayor Wheeler has reassigned the Arts and Culture Liaison to Commissioner Chloe Eudaly. Frankly, City Comissioner Nick Fish has always cared and done a decent job till now but Wheeler is right the city is at a crossroads. Notably, I appeared before the council 6 months ago and let them have it for their arts affordability plan. It doesn't get at the real issue... where Portland has to become serious about its intentions and how it allocates resources it already has (RACC requires an overhaul, they have improved but still lag behind the cities international cultural ecosystem). The insulting photo of a child at play with paint on the cover of the arts affordability plan pretty much infantilized what is a serious industry in Portland. I heard from a lot of movers and shakers right after I appeared in front of the council, beseeching them to get serious. It really isnt an arts "affordability plan"... its a plan to keep Portland's dynamic cultural edge. We need to look at why, when and how we support the arts and have a clearly articulated plan. In front of the council I mentioned how Houston always considers how it is an international arts hub. Portland is a player, and has been for a long time but the city's leadership and institutions generally have suffered from a lack of vision. Sure there have been steps like PNCA, PSU's new Museum, Rothko and the Japanese Garden, there has been a lot of growing up in the past 20 years but its time for city hall to pursue a plan other than benign neglect in regards to its artists, which are its main repositories of cultural cache. Congratulations Commissioner Eudaly! You will need to be on point, and no the experience of other cities and your own background in the community will only go so far. Most in the arts in Portland are working only in their institutions or businesses and they really dont get to do a lot of big picture thinking. That is what is necessary, and yes that article I've been working on is coming soon.

The Grey Market continues to look at the Biesenbach appointment at MOCA. Look, a lot has been made about rebuilding administratively but I do believe they need vision. They do need more space so the Panza collection and other holdings can shine but they also need an intellectual vision... the right curators can do that but they need to take risks. MOCA has made huge errors by being intellectually risk adverse lately. Biesenbach needs to alter that but he also needs to avoid LA's solipsism (curate a show on LA's solipsism and be done with it) and instead be the point museum on the pacific for global perspectives. Also, nobody has said it yet so I will: "The reason everyone is looking at LA and the west coast is because the East Coast missed the boat and produced the Trump/Hilary situation... the west coast was not excited about either one and California/Oregon/Washington is now the seat of progressive thinking. We are no longer looking back at East, but certainly all good ideas are welcome." There, everyone wants LA to grow up so the whole country can get on with a more mature phase.

Portland looking beyond Portlandia... ofc, yeah we were beyond it before it even aired but this fluff article has a good title and I've been thinking a great deal about it. Portland is the capital of the USA's conscience, maybe not the only place involved in the discussion but it is ground zero for the main event.

Ai Weiwei's studio has been demolished.

Seattle art fair going for the quirk hype Portland is pretty tired of?


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


August must see picks

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Jenny Holzer at PNCA

Jenny Holzer's work couldnt be more relevant at this moment in history so her Use What is Dominant in a Culture to Change it Quickly exhibition at PNCA's 511 gallery is especially timely. Consisting of the artist's Sentences and Sentiments from the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation the artist holds forth on the questioning of power through words and the redaction of words. It is also part of next week's Converge 45.

Use What is Dominant in a Culture to Change it Quickly | July 19 - August 22
First Thursdays 5-9PM
Opening Reception August 9, 5-7PM
PNCA
511 NW Broadway



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Kitai at Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education

Perhaps the strongest exhibition on display in Portland at the moment is R.B. Kitaj A Jew Etc., Etc. at the OJMCHE. A virtuoso painter who scraped the paint ever so lightly on the canvas here... Kitaj romances his life as a Ohio come British transplant to LA, influencing today's LA painting scene significantly. Even though my British art friends have grown callous to him we hardly ever see Kitaj in the Pacific Northwest and this one is full of quality. On full display at OJHCHE Kitaj romances the studio and his outsider status as well as drawing upon the chilling loss of the love of his life. So many of the noted painter's best works are on display and every First Thursday goer should stop by the OJMCHE. Check out Jesse Hayward's more in depth look at one Kitaj painting that stars in the show.

R. B. Kitaj A Jew Etc., ETC. | June 6 - September 30
Open Free on First Thursday
Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education
724 NW Davis




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Posted by Jeff Jahn on August 02, 2018 at 12:21 | Comments (0)


End of July News

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

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

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

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

... (more)


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


Alia Ali's Borderland at Bluesky

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Alia Ali's Borderland at Bluesky


Borderland is one of the best shows Portland has seen all year and today is your last day to see it at Bluesky Gallery. Alia Ali's exhibition doesnt sit neatly into any genre and as such provides welcome relief from all the twee, "treat the gallery as a studio" shows that masquerade in pseudo-proustian shallow palimpsest hood. It also wont award anyone their woke merit badge. It interrogates nothing and in general treats language and labels like the training wheels of understanding that they are.

.... (more)


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Posted by Jeff Jahn on July 29, 2018 at 10:02 | Comments (0)


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