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D.E. May 1952-2019
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February links to Love
The end of OCAC?
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Saturday 03.23.19


More Spring Cleaning

I've been busy with several projects (inside and outside Portland)... including curating a somewhat informal Spring show in Portland this weekend. That said I have a large # of reviews to publish (I am thinking Saturday). Till then these links should tide you over:

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

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

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

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

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

...(more on OCAC + social practice)

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

Early spring cleaning links

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

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

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

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

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

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

D.E. May 1952-2019

D.E. May drawer at PDX Contemporary (many from his show at LAX Art in 2014)

The art ecosystem in Oregon is mourning the death of D. E. May last night. One of our most accomplished and concentrated artists, Dan was an artist's artist with an immense poetic gift for delicate (often paper) materials that had existed previously for other purposes. Dan took their lines and surfaces, pressing them into something like entropic circuit boards that acted like treasure maps for those with an interest in archival ephemera and arcane order. A veteran of Portland's pioneering Jamison/Thomas Gallery Dan became synonymous with JTG almuni gallery, PDX Contemporary, arguably setting the tone for that gallery now known for quiet contemplative work. Gallerist Jane Beebe (JTG then her own gallery PDX) worked with Dan for 35 years and there was something special and nourishing in that relationship. Dan was PDX's pole star and Jane became Dan's favorite ship to run up the rigging and set art to sail on.

Where May's work is crucial is how it sits in continuum with the hermetic traditions of art and civilization. Where monks in the middle ages might toil to hand copy books, Dan's work preserved to appreciate all the details that support precision activities. As artifacts they became a residue of the immense concentration and intention he put into the work. This puts him in line with other hermetic materials artists like Paul Klee, Joseph Cornell, Yves Klein and Richard Tuttle. What made his work so refreshing is its stark contrast to the dumpster diving effluence of many contemporary artists today and Dan could do more in 3 inches than many artists that fill warehouses. That succinct aspect of his work was the soul of material eloquence... his work doesnt carpet bomb your senses so much invite you to saturate your senses with sustained attention. One doesnt leave May's work feeling shell shocked, instead I've always felt refreshed from the agency his work bathes the eyes and mind in.

His work can be found in some of the world's finest collections and PORT reviewed his excellent exhibition The Template Files at PDX back in 2011.

Dan's work is currently on view at PDX Contemporary and on the 4th floor of the Portland Art Museum's Northwest wing.

D.E. May currently on display at the Portland Art Museum


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Posted by Jeff Jahn on February 28, 2019 at 10:40 | Comments (1)

Save OCAC protests

activists protesting to save OCAC

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

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

February links to Love

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

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

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

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

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

The end of OCAC?

OCAC student using the then new buildings in 2010

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

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

... (more)

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

End of January Links

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enrique Chagoya Interview

Just blocks away from Oregon's capital building, an exhibition titled Enrique Chagoya: Reverse Anthropology, From the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation at the Hallie Ford Museum of Art is one of the most relevant exhibitions in this incredibly loaded period of history. Through blending; economics, anthropology, race and a surprising amount of serious humor Chagoya gave PORT's Victor Maldonado an incredible one on one interview. The exhibition is on view in Salem through January 27.

Enrique Chagoya's Bato character (all photos Jeff Jahn)

V: Enrique, what are you working on in your studio?

E: I am painting a codex. I've been working on some textures and some faces and I just needed to put some finishing touches on because the paint is drying. I needed to get that done for the day.


... (more)

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Posted by Victor Maldonado on January 22, 2019 at 2:25 | Comments (0)

January Review Roundup

With one foot firmly in 2019 now is a good time to look at what the Portland art scene has on view with some short reviews.

Residual Membranes at PCC's Paragon Arts Gallery (fg) Exuviation

Amanda Triplett is a serious talent and everyone should take note of this exhibition at PCC Cascade's Paragon Arts Gallery. Combining recycled fabric crafts and coupling it to some of Eva Hesse's postminimalist forms she joins a few of my favorite artists like Ellen George and Laura Fritz as artists who explore the borders of the natural and unnatural through material comportment. It is a form that seems ill understood by a lot of dudecentric artworld dialogics.

The most standout work here, Third Skin, is a riot of oranges and pinks made from reclaimed fibers arrayed like the offspring of a fishermen's net and the small intestines of a Jabberwocky make it both fantastical and a


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Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 13, 2019 at 10:32 | Comments (0)

2019 1st links

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

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

A new movement in British art, research architecture?

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

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

2018 Summary

Horatio Law's DACA Lounge: A Dream Sanctuary at Archer Gallery last Spring

2018 was a difficult year for the Portland art scene (like the disappearance of Marylhurst University, talks of school mergers and the impending downgrade of the Hoffman Gallery), but it also saw the growth of some new venues and a lot of very strong exhibitions. Here is a look back at our most read posts and what follows here is just a bit of a summary. Yes the in depth "Portlandageddon" post is still coming in 2019 and will discuss where we are and what could or should happen. With that, enjoy the following summary of what PORT covered... sadly I think we all still miss Carol Yarrow, I still think of her every day.

2018 was an incredibly strong year for exhibitions as our most read reviews indicate:

Hanakago at the Portland Japanese Garden was incredible

Hanakago at the Portland Japanese Garden showed just why they are consistently the highest caliber cultural cultural institution Portland has.


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Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 31, 2018 at 19:40 | Comments (0)

End of 2018 Links

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

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

Here is a treat, Amy Sillman on Delacroix.

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

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

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

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

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