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Mid October Links
Paul Allen, philanthropist and arts champion dead at 65
Midwest Art Initiative Tour
Haunting October Picks
End of September News
September review cluster
Post Analog at Grapefruits
Mid September Art News
Utopian Visions Art Fair
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Saturday 10.20.18


Mid October Links

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ill have much more soon...

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

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

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

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

Paul Allen, philanthropist and arts champion dead at 65


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

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

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

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

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

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

Midwest Art Initiative Tour

Midwesterners are pragmatic folk and I grew up there. In the Midwest if there is a need for something one can go ahead and judge but you are also expected to go out and fix it if possible. That sort of what I call "initiative pragmatism" leads to a lot less armchair complaining and posturing. Also, though I visit there often I'm always surprised how it has lead to numerous gems in unexpected places.

Thus, on my latest trip to Chicago and Central Wisconsin while accompanying my partner as she conducted her architectural research, we came across many of these intitiative pragmatism sites. All of which conduct idiomatic psychological shifts of locale... even in an areas we had visited many times. More specifically, the pragmatic display of art made even familiar environs novel and provocative, perhaps even more so than visiting than the main museums we usually hit because most museums are a bit similar to one another. Sometimes, it pays to avoid the well blazed trails and find the out of the way gems. Here are some favorites from this last trip:

At the Manilow Sculpture Park Tony Tasset's weary and careworn Paul Bunyan sculpture, "Paul," seems to portray the giant lumberjack having a major existential crisis in the prairie. Not enough trees for a giant lumberjack, eh? What does this hipster guy with his hat topped with a red ball need? Will Paul take up farming, or perhaps politics?

David Wallace Haskin's Skycube does a great job of bridging the Elmhurst Art Museum's main building with its Mies van der Rohe McCormick House, moved to the site and a more typical museum structure. Haskins Skycube is on permanent display but it also compliments his temporary Polarity exhibition in the two buildings adjacent...

Gaylen Gerber's exhibition Supports at the Arts Club of Chicago was a wry look at the way plinths can cue objects collectively. Here in the main galleries it looks like the exhibition has been swept into a storage space... amusing and interesting, its the sort of art about art show that plays well in an arts club.... (more)

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Posted by Jeff Jahn on October 11, 2018 at 22:48 | Comments (0)

Haunting October Picks

October is usually one of the premier months to see work in Portland's art scene. Perhaps partly because every day in Portland is Halloween the bar for standing out is already pretty high and October becomes a double down. Here are my picks:


Ghosts and Venus by Maximiliano and the collaborative trio of Rise x Fall shows just why the Littman Gallery continues to be one of the Portland metro area's most challenging art spaces. Most of Portland's University galleries are pretty conservative in their embrace of liberal values (more Hillary than Bernie or Ocasio-Cortez) but the fact that the Littman is programmed by PSU's students means it is closer to its student body and Portland's far more progressive citizenry. Here in another multimedia exhibition Maximiliano's still developing work explores the gauzy liminal veils of understanding between gender identity, the USA's Imperial posturing and its citizenry's somewhat haunted interface with society's so called norms.

"Rise x Fall is an ongoing collaborative series of both video and live performances by Maxi Miliano, Ruben Marrufo and Jaleesa Johnston. Using the veil as an indicator of otherworldly presences, rise x fall explores the liminal terrain of transition, between stability and instability, and the rise and fall of empire. Taking inspiration from the crashing of the waves against the earth, this piece inhabits a space of the simultaneous pain and fear of death, as well as the hope and growth of rebirth."

Ghosts & Venus | October 4 - 25
Live performances October 18 & 25 at 6PM
Littman Gallery (Smith Student Center, 2nd floor) Portland State University

Victor Maldonado at Archer Gallery

I Say, "Radical!" You Say, "Feminist!" is one of those shows about gender, identity and the human body that you'd think had been done a million times in the Portland area, but in fact I havent seen this sort of edgy survey of artists working in the subject attempted in a very long time. Way to keep a keener edge 'Couv and people who are really fired up should find it to their tastes.

At the Archer you will find a who's who of up and comers as well as experienced guides like: Roz Crews, Kelly Bjork, Wynde Dyer, Emily Endo, Alexa Feeney, Klara Glosova, Junko Iijima, Tyler Mackie, Victor Maldonado, Patricia Melton, Matthew Offenbacher, Alyson Provax, Kelly Rauer, Maggie Sasso, Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Ann Leda Shapiro, Naomi Shersty, Alisa Sikelianos-Carter, Anthony Sonnenberg, Alexander Wurts. Though to tell the truth they could probably restage the show every year for 5 years without using the same names. The thing is the show seems to be actually curating work that invigorates and bounces off each other... none of the old, "who can humblebrag the best" that has become a cul-de-sac of tepid liberal elite thinking. With today's news nothing could be more relevant than visiting this show.

I Say Radical, You Say Feminist | September 25 - November 10
Closing Reception November 6 2-4PM Archer Gallery
Clark College
1933 Fort Vancouver Way
Vancouver Washington

... (more)

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Posted by Jeff Jahn on October 06, 2018 at 7:37 | Comments (0)

End of September News

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

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

Ai Weiwei discusses the destruction of his studio.

Was Starry Night influenced by Great Wave?

Kboo interviews new artist run space Carnation Contemporary.

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

September review cluster

Some complain about the state of "New Portland" but the actual art being produced in the city right now is especially strong. In fact, the current lineup of exhibitions is remarkably sharp and is perhaps being catalyzed the greater pressures of the moment? Certainly artists in Portland have a lot to discuss. As I have traveled in the state and elsewhere I keep coming back to some of my favorites, all of which have a certain dark tinge to them. It is as if contemporary art is telling dark fairy tales we wish weren't but already know to be so true so here is a series of short reviews:

Mark Smith and Maria T.D. Inocencio at Lewis and Clark College

Arguably the strongest and easily the most extensive exhibition in Portland this month is Loss of Material Evidence by Mark R. Smith and Maria T.D. Inocencio at Lewis and Clark College's Hoffman Gallery. It is a tour de force in material as memory and pattern as personality translated via sustained activity/interaction with family members and other loved ones. This exhibition successfully goes into places where contemporary art often fails, specifically the persistence of the personal and the building of meaning... (more)

Tabitha Nickolai at Williamson Knight


Fernanda D'Agostino at Open Signal

Perhaps no art institution is more in touch with the pulse of culture in Portland than Open Signal is and Fernanda D'Agostino's Mapping (Borderline) is a very successful example of why... (more)

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Posted by Jeff Jahn on September 26, 2018 at 22:16 | Comments (0)

Post Analog at Grapefruits


The latest show at Grapefruits Post Analog featuring the work of Paloma Kop and Sara Goodman. Grapefruits is a space specializing in non digital programming so I've been looking forward to this as a signature kind of exhibition for the space. I also like the fact that much new media is already old media.

Here is a curatorial statement from Sarah: "Within the last 20 years, we've seen the transition from analog to digital video tools in the creation and distribution of moving images. Between maker and consumer, there’s always been a collaboration between user and tools, but now we rely less on physical labor and more on access to digital software and platforms.

Although there is a long history of analog video creation, within recent years, there's been an increased resurgence of analog tools to create and distribute newly created video content. A renewed fascination with physical labor. We take a larger role in the collaboration with the machine from the start. We fetishize the passage of time; the destruction of magnetic medium. We aestheticize the failure and decomposition of a tool that always had planned obsolescence. Nostalgia for a past that had an optimistic future.

Now, we master the imperfection and glorify it. Intentionality of destruction; yet generative in its genesis. Paloma Kop and Sara Goodman produce video works of generative materials that they then manipulate through physical analog video processing tools. These time based recordings are both performative and ephemeral. A ghost on the screen, tracking, glitching, transforming. Both Sara and Paloma transcend this art form by creating prints of their works. Using a screenshot to hold onto the chaos. Printing out a screenshot, instead of sharing it online. The progression of glitch from electronics to paper, manifests our ubiquitous perception of technology ruling our world. The tools we use, either analog or digital, manifest metaphysical changes to the way we perceive the world."

Ok, that is a tall order but that only gets my attention more.... nothing liker a little ambition to make Portland work better as an art scene. Besides I like analog glitchcraft, it speaks to that road warrior aesthetic or the lived in star wars univers where Han Solo had to smack the hyperdrive to avoid obliteration by an Imperial Cruiser.

Post Analog | September 20 - October 21
Opening: September 20, 6-9PM | Performance @ 8PM: drc / erc Grapefruits Art Space
2119 N Kerby, Suite D

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Posted by Jeff Jahn on September 20, 2018 at 15:31 | Comments (0)

Mid September Art News

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

Jeffrey Deitch returns to LA...

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

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

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

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

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

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

Utopian Visions Art Fair

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.


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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:

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


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
2544 SE 26th


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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)

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