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Tuesday 07.17.18


Teeth and Consequence at Private Places


Portland has seen a lot of excellent private art openings and events this weekend but here is an artist organized event we can point you to. Organized by Christopher Russell and Bobbi Woods Teeth and Consequence at a space called Private Places explores violence in an intellectual way via the writings of Jean Genet. Unfortunately this subject matter is completely relevant today.

"I give the name violence to a boldness lying idle and hankering for danger. It can be seen in a look, a walk, a smile, and it's in you that it stirs. It unnerves you. This violence is a calm that disturbs you." - Jean Genet

I'm always suspicious of artists leaning on writers when exploring things that emerge from the lizard part of the human brain (because I think the artists understand better than the writers) so lets see how Heidi Schwegler, M. Page Green, Sweaterqueen and writer Dennis Cooper do. It is certainly has the markings of a classic summer group show.

Teeth and Consequence | July 15 - August 26th
Opening Reception: July 15 3-5PM (by appointment after)
Private Places
2400 Holladay Street

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Posted by Jeff Jahn on July 15, 2018 at 9:44 | Comments (0)

One To See: R.B. Kitaj's The Studio Where I Died

R.B. Kitaj, The Studio Where I Died (2005)

This show brings together over a dozen works that span the artist's career with a special suite of late work in the back rooms. Many of these gems were painted in Los Angeles in the 2000’s.

Install view R.B. Kitaj A Jew: Etc., Etc. at OJMHCE

In these paintings we see a colorful tragedy, a piquant blend of West Coast light and European winter. Kitaj was born in the US but trained as an artist and lived mostly in England where he maintained a life long friendship with the painter David Hockney.


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Posted by Jesse Hayward on July 14, 2018 at 9:46 | Comments (0)

Artist Opps

It is summer time, the time that stronger artists are working and all the wannabes screw off. Here are a few things you might consider applying for:

It is time again to apply for the annual Betty Bowen awards. What I like about it is it is supposedly aimed at under-recognized artists (results debatable). What isn't debatable is the Betty Bowen awards are often far edgier than the awards in Orgeon, whose panels seem to always choose artists who ruffle zero feathers and unsettle no one... focusing instead on effortful craft (ie work that draws attention to its exertion or "making") sometimes that's a good thing but often it distracts and looks vain or pretentious. That said Contemporary Art gets at the tension and uncertainties of the age. The Betty Bowen seems to grasp that concept, that said they still have an ultra lame $10 entry fee. That said, perhaps the in person presentations at the second round weeds out the edgeless who cruise in the no-wake zone of Oregon awards. Deadline: August 1, 2018

PDX Airport has an ongoing call for submissions. I for one appreciate having sometimes surprising work scatted throughout the airport and it reminds me what Portland is all about. BTW there is no $10 fee because... PDX airport is more evolved than that.

RACC has a call out for the monthly Night Lights projected art series. Sometimes the series has produced some of the most striking work you can see on a First Thursday. Deadline: July 26, 2018

Chaco Canyon is amazing Unesco world heritage site and I visited this immense ruined city complex just last year. Chaco Canyon also has an artist residency program. It isnt cheap to apply ($55 or $110 for couples) but if you arent hokey there is a real opportunity here. Yes a yurt is involved. Deadline: October 7, 2018

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Posted by Jeff Jahn on July 09, 2018 at 16:59 | Comments (0)

Summer Show Strut

Many art cities check out during the Summer but Portland's weather is great and San Francisco + NYC residents vacation here in droves. The net result is "summertime" is a strong time for shows. Sure there are the ubiquitous summer group shows but these solo efforts are incredibly strong and relevant. Nobody knows the art scene better and here are my picks with short reviews:

Eva Lake Anonymous Woman #63

Eva Lake's collage work has been the strongest and edgiest overtly feminist work in Portland for years now... but Portland generally doesnt give awards or accolades for being relevant and edgy. Please defy that embarrassingly idiotic and cliquish logic (in an otherwise very relevant and edgy city) by checking out her latest show Through the Ages at Augen Gallery, where she takes on fetishes of ruined antiquity and fresh feminine beauty as the anthropological paradox that it is. The show is a bit of a mini surver going from 2018 work way back to the targets. One of Eva's latest Her Highness #3 with its skeletal body of an enlightend bodhisatva and a model's face alone gives me chills. Eva's been doing well in NYC and internationally... so as it typically is, Portland usually neglects its strongest artists only to let the world pick up the slack. Yes, see it... this is a strong group of works that posits the idea that power is an edifice that asks women to jump through an extra series of hoops for paradoxical trade offs. Like local awards panels, sometimes those hoops are even other women and men simply arent as hard on each other.

Through The Ages | July 5 - August 4
Opening Reception: July 5 6-8PM
Artist Talk: July 14, Noon
Augen Gallery
716 NW Davis


Dust to Dust is doing an intriguing job of bringing somewhat functional art to N Mississippi ve in the back of Beacon Sound and their latest show Vala Rae is every bit as 1970's as it sounds. Comprised of milky ceramics with occult markings and lots of pre-columbian references including the Moche culture, the whole thing comes off like wandering into some evolved pleasure society ala Zardoz or Logan's Run movie sets. Even Jorge Pardo did similar almost kitschy things at LACMA years ago. Or maybe it is a combination of the Isis mystery cult from Roman times combined with a Florence and the Machine video set? What I truly enjoy the most though is the way this hybrid space is addressing the pressure traditional galleries are facing. True, Vala and Rae are both alumni of Motel Gallery (perhaps the original Portland hybrid) and other hybrids like Nationale and Land have been in effect for a long time but somehow this show feels like a journey that unfolds in ways those other hybrid spaces rarely did. There is a movie set like concentration to it being in the labrynthine back of the shop and the artist's use of mirrors and tables create a staging that is an engrossing summer adventure.

VALA RAE | June 22 - August 5
Dust to Dust
3636 N Misssissippi

Venus Retrograde @ PAM

Perhaps no show fits the summertime agenda more than Hannah Piper Burns Apex series show at the Portland Art Museum(open for free on First Thursdays). Titled Venus Retrograde it explores my least favorite television show of all time, The Bachelor. Not that Burns particularly condones it either, she pulls apart its reality show grammar of engineered emotional trainwrecks and predictable dating orthodoxies and heteronorm cliches. The expectations are of course for some sort of exploitative emotional gladiatorial battle. I have a hard time with reality TV and the Bachelor in Paradise would qualify as my personal hell. Still, there is a lot to consider here. Reality TV lead to our current president and his ratings based moral code. Also, so many adopt what they see on these shows as benchmarks for their own lives. Honestly the whole thing makes my skin crawl and I find the way reality TV stars in these shows become emotional restaveks, repugnantly selling themselves for ratings. The value here is that Burns' morbid fascination and deconstruction of this media phenomena reveals how the sausage is made. Kudos to the curator who has focused the Apex series... it has been been waffling since its strong inception then slide away from consequentiality but with Sam Hamilton , Dawn Cerny and now Hannah Piper Burns has turned away from show after show of artists who reiterate the most common cliches of Northwest Art (traditional craft and figuration) to challenging expectations with multimedia shows by artists who arent over exposed locally, yet often active outside the region. Apex is reintroducing the museum audience to the fact that what we think of Northwest Art really cannot be tidily summarized then performed to a captive audience. Its reintroducing us to the diversity of practices here and the fact that they are showing all over the world regularly. Shouldn't we know ourselves better than the rest of the world does? Often that hasn't been the case? Now, its better and the series is showing us a plethora of multi media artists who arent playing to to stereotypes (which were never more than a 3rd of what the region produced since the 21st Century began). We arent used to the Portland art museum being relevant to the very international local art scene so this is a huge positive.

Venus Retrograde | February 24 - August 14
Open for Free on First Thursday 5-8PM
Apex Gallery (Schnitzer Center of Northwest Art)
Portland Art Museum
1218 SW Park Ave


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Posted by Jeff Jahn on July 05, 2018 at 14:02 | Comments (0)

July 4th Links

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

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

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

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

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

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

Annual Seed Building Open House

North Coast Seed Building

The North Coast Seed Building is one of Portland's great artist work spaces (many have disappeared or have been threatened). Today it hosts its annual open house. I loved last year's Seed Building Open House. The building is made up of three separate warehouses constructed over thirty years, beginning in 1911. Originally zoned only for industrial use, artists working in the space in the early 1990s were nearly evicted by the fire marshal. Years ago, due to the intervention of a sympathetic member of the City of Portland's Bureau of Buildings, an artist's work was reinterpreted as a manufacturing process, and the North Coast Seed Building became an officially sanctioned artist space. This is one of the best annual events in Portland and we need more of these spaces since several have been redeveloped, robbing the city of its important artist workspaces and overall ethos. Many top Portland artists have studios here.

Open House | Noon-8PM | June 30
North Coast Seed Building
2127 N Albina

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Posted by Jeff Jahn on June 30, 2018 at 9:25 | Comments (0)

Early June Links

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

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

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

Al Held is always worth another look.

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

Mother Shape at Indivisble

As PORT readers already know Indivisible is one of the most interesting alternative spaces in Portland and this house/gallery continues its programming with Mother Shape by Amy Conway. To paraphrase, apparently the exhibition replicates, documents and transcribes the shape of motherhood in the artist's life as a reflective attempt to define the role in on her own terms. It's a heady topic that is very current... especially considering there is a very mom-oriented strain running through Portland's contemporary art scene (in most other places it is more of a liability). Is this the MOm Jeans of contemporary art? Let's see what Conway offers to the discussion?

Mother Shape | June 2-30
Reception: June 2, 6-9PM
2544 SE 26th

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Posted by Jeff Jahn on June 02, 2018 at 14:09 | Comments (0)

Carol Yarrow one of Portland's Best


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

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

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

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

Our thoughts our with her Family and loved ones.

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

Evolving thoughts on Marylhurst closure


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

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

Paula Rebsom's installation on the lovely campus grounds

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

Mike Rathbun at the Art Gym


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

Mid May Links

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

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

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

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

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

Weekend Picks

The weather is finally fantastic and there are a lot of thesis shows from new grads. Here are some adventures to have:


Every year my favorite thesis show seems to be the OCAC BFA offering. This year they are calling it Coalesce and the MFA students are also showing in the same building but for some reason the BFA student offer more gems and better ideas even if sometimes less practiced in presentation. Some of the standouts this year were the woven tapestries of Luciano V. Abbarno, Cathie Carroll's multimedia paintings and Michaela Coffield's installation of child-like wonder. Many others showed a lot of promise but those three are ready to show.

Coalesce | May 11 - 25
Opening Reception: May 11, 5 - 9PM
Gallery hours of 11AM - 5PM daily
120 SE Clay St.


Thirdspace is one of the most interesting alternative spaces in a scene that has seen a lot of pressure on such places. Their latest show is called [Home] and is photography based around the theme. I suspect the lack of details is an attempt to keep gentrifying developers from turning their space into a spa or luxury tanning facility.

[Home] | May 11 - 13
Opening Night: May 11th 6:30 - 9:30PM
Hours: Saturday, May 12th @ 6:30 - 9PM
Sunday, May 13th @ 5:30 - 7:30PM
707 NE Broadway St Suite 205

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Posted by Jeff Jahn on May 11, 2018 at 13:34 | Comments (0)

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