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Newspace Closure? & Analysis
Clay Mahn's Bad Habits at FalseFront
Revisiting the North Coast Seed Building Open House
North Coast Seed Building Open House
Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education reemerges
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Friday 07.21.17

 

Newspace Closure? & Analysis

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This past weekend the Portland art scene was shocked to learn that Newspace Center for Photography was closing its doors. There hasn't been a formal statement about what happened from the board but the fact that a "for lease" sign has gone up on the building is a clue that it relates to their building. The board and staff was apparently working hard to find a solution so everyone is quite interested in what will be said today at 7:00PM in an open information session. Hopefully they are still considering alternatives like a move or reconstituting of the organization in a different form because their program has been socially engaged and excellent at a time when Portland absolutely requires it. If you care about photography and social engagement in Portland it would be wonderful to sit in and offer your 2 cents. Arts orgs die because of neglect and perhaps this shock treatment can spearhead support?

For some context, Portland has a terrible history of simply ending longstanding and very popular exhibition programs like the PCVA, PICA at their old Weiden + Kennedy Space (something they haven't yet fully recovered from with a consistent and diverse year round visual arts program... their new home does hold promise though), the New American Art Union, Portland Art Center, Museum of Contemporary Craft and the just 2011 when Newspace moved into this exciting new space. Obviously fundraising in Portland is challenging... there is a certain benign neglect (that isn't benign) and an aversion to leadership and strong vision that makes our art organizations bleed into each other as it is typical for 5 or more organizations to work together on a project. This leads to difficulty reaching donors who cant tell who does what? There is also a huge shift taking place in the way traditional art organizations are being used and supported.

*Update Details about the closure came out in the Oregonian. First off, that is never the correct way to close an institution... you issue a more detailed statement, not a town hall leaving the news sources to sort it out. Second, it looks like the lease was not the issue, instead it is the model. Relying on classes for revenue is a dicey proposition and most of the art schools around the country are facing decreased enrollments. What's more this was more of a skill center rather than a degree oriented institution so their courses are competing with online guides.... (more click below for more analysis)

Newspace Closing Remarks? • 7:00PM • July 10th
Newspace • 1632 SE 10th • 503.963.1935


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Posted by Jeff Jahn on July 10, 2017 at 13:48 | Comments (0)


Clay Mahn's Bad Habits at FalseFront

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Bad Habit (B) at Falsefront

Portlanders are stressed, blood has been spilled along ideological and racial lines recently and our own government appears to be trolling the entire United States as political shell games are being played. In short nerves are raw.

Finding an exhibition that speaks eloquently and meaningfully in these somewhat less than nuanced times has been difficult. Yet, one has presented itself and its like breathing clean air for the first time in so many months.

Funny thing, the exhibition is called Bad Habits...

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The show is hung at FalseFront, one of my favorite alternative spaces. It is an art gallery in front of a house in a charming residential Northeast Portland neighborhood. Thankfully it is about as far from Documenta as you can get, no crowds, no Obrist wannabes... just 3 small green paintings on linen in a room with ample natural light that mercifully overpowers the gallery lighting. .... (more)


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Posted by Jeff Jahn on July 09, 2017 at 10:23 | Comments (0)


Revisiting the North Coast Seed Building Open House

Last week I visited the North Coast Seed Building's annual open house. Going on for 22 years now it is perhaps the most Portland event anyone can attend. The building's occupants are fondly dubbed seedlings and there is profound sense of becoming in these spaces. Touring spaces like this is like experiencing an anatomy of the City of Portland. Yet spaces like this have been disappearing such as; Town Storage, Worksound and Recess, all of which are no more.

Yes there are other landlords who get it like Brian Wannamaker and Al Solheim but If I were to nominate anyone for the reinstated Oregon Governors' art awards Ken Unkeles (owner of the NC Seed building and others) would be my top pick. June 30th is the deadline. Frankly I'd like to see these awards avoid the typical roll call of higher profile patronage names and also include those who have had a less heralded catalytic role in Portland's very robust cultural ecosystem. Artists simply need spaces to work and show and Unkeles' approach as you can see just from some of the artists below has had an impact... essentially creating the equivalent of a cultural coral reef.

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North Coast See Building

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Bonnie Croissant is doing interesting things with macrame


...(More)


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Posted by Jeff Jahn on June 29, 2017 at 17:57 | Comments (0)


North Coast Seed Building Open House

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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. 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 | 2-10PM | June 17
North Coast Seed Building


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Posted by Jeff Jahn on June 17, 2017 at 12:27 | Comments (0)


Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education reemerges

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Grisha Bruskin's Alefbet

I cannot think of a better time for Oregon's Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education to reemerge on Portland's Park Blocks. Beset with hate crimes its astounding how humans seem to repeat their mistakes and the greatly expanded museum's exhibition of intolerance by all is just what we need to see right now (and always. International art star Grisha Bruskin's Alefbet (the Alphabet of Memory) comes to us from Russia and is a stunning and mysterious tapestry that everyone should see. The revamped museum is free and open to the public today.
Grand Opening: June 11, 12-4PM (free)
Alefbet | June 11- October 1, 2017
Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education
724 NW Park


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Posted by Jeff Jahn on June 11, 2017 at 9:04 | Comments (0)


PSU's new Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art bucks sad campus trend

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rendering of the new Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at PSU

At a time when nearly every college gallery or museum seems to be under pressure the exciting news this week is that Jordan Schnitzer has given Portland State University 5M for a 7500 square foot, 2 level museum within the renovated Neuberger Hall. It reminds me a lot of two respected University programs that taught me a great deal decades ago, the Illinois State University Galleries and the INOVA program at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, both of which do museum caliber shows and similarly have a discreet director position that makes the space more than just an extension of the existing faculty and their prerogatives. Instead, those spaces expanded the cultural climate of the campus (INOVA in the early days was extremely daring, later they moved off the central campus and became less cutting edge but still good). What is great about PSU's new museum is how visible this will be on the campus quad, inviting students to just stroll in.

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New rendering (top) and current Neuberger Hall (below)

Situated right on the Park Blocks the JSMA should add civic vibrancy to what is now just a mid-century curtain wall. I've long felt that university galleries expose students to art at a crucial time when they are building their intellectual apparatus. I experienced this first hand. Simply wandering into an exhibition on campus introduces an opportunity for curiosity and unlike most tests and quizzes there is no right answer and a museum scale setting gives it more weight. Overall, "Art" inherently encourages tolerance and flexibility... something our world certainly could use more of and possibly lost sight of until recently. The gift also makes PSU a much bigger cultural player and it was mentioned at the press conference how they could coordinate related exhibitions with the other museums and schools on the Park Blocks. It enhances the South Park Blocks "Museum District" count and considering Portland as a hot tourist destination it simply strengthens our civic cultural portfolio. PSU is still in the process of sorting out details like whether the Museum will have a collection or not but regardless the museum will have access to the Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation's vast lending library of art.

That is the easy part of this story, but it really requires more context in a time where University budgets and brass haven't seen the value of even internationally important spaces like groundbreaking Rice Gallery in Houston, which sadly closed just last month. Spaces just do not fit narrowly proscribed "core" mission statements. Yet, they are important for that very reason, breaking up the cognitive biases we all develop. For a local example, June is the last month for the White Box space at the University of Oregon's Portland Campus. Let's not mince words, closing the White Box for simple storage space is a horrible philistine waste considering its excellence and 7 year history.... (more)


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Posted by Jeff Jahn on June 09, 2017 at 17:12 | Comments (0)


Women To The Front

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Keep Me Safe, Tracey Emin

What I like about collectors putting on their own shows is not every one of their open house efforts is worth recommending but Women to the Front at Lumber Room fits the bill. First of all as a single collector show of female artists it refreshingly isnt trying to be comprehensive history making exercise since important artists like Lee Bontecou, Agnes Martin, Anne Truitt, Eva Hesse and Helen Frankenthaler and are not present though crucial artists like Lynda Benglis, Kiki Smith and Tracey Emin (some would debate her being crucial but they forget she is the King of confessional art, male or female). Instead, knowns like Ana Sew Hoy and Eve Fowler (who is unveiling a site specific work) are rounded out with other Artists who happen to be women. This is Part II of an exhibition where some of the artists are moved or subbed in. In the past I was not impressed with the space's previous all ladies attempt Interior Margins, whose language and curatorial assumptions seemed to make a lot of younger female artists bristle (a schism that played a part in the last presidential primaries for Democrats) but I think these shows play a part of developing new language and contexts and checking out this less formal arrangement is interesting because it keeps the exhibition itself a kind of experimental gathering.

Women To The Front
Opening Reception: June 8 5-7PM
Regular Hours: Fridays 12-5PM
Lumber Room
419 NW 9th


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Posted by Jeff Jahn on June 07, 2017 at 12:00 | Comments (0)


Weekend Picks: In House Edition

With Portland's intense real estate market perhaps the last refuges for Portland's vital alt-space scene are its excellent in-house galleries which turn residencies into art spaces. Does RACC support them enough? Emphatically, NO... but we should be valuing and supporting them. Here are two to check out this weekend. These are the sorts of places emerging art stars launch build national and international art careers... less so our University and commercial galleries, which often catch on to things late... way after an artist builds a career outside Portland. There is a disconnect between the dynamic experimental scene and institutions.

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Indivisible continues to do interesting things with the home as gallery concept so their latest "Interchange: is of interest. Featuring Sharyll Burroughs, Jaleesa M Johnston, Mary Edwards, and Ju-Pong Lin it is a multimedia installations & performance group show.

Interchange | June 4-24
Opening reception: June 3, 6-9PM
Additional viewing June 10, 17, and 24th, noon to 5PM
Indivisible
2544 SE 26th



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Clay Mahn

Another great house gallery is Falsefront, which presents an intriguing show by Clay Mahn called Bad Habits. Though the press release gives no information except an obstruse poem (a bad habit?) I'll go by the Chicago based artist's previous work and still recommend it.

Clay Mahn | June 4 - July 2
Opening Reception: June 4 12-5PM
Falsefront
4518 NE 32nd Ave


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Posted by Jeff Jahn on June 03, 2017 at 12:00 | Comments (0)


Mikalene tells it like it is

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Mickalene Thomas

I've known Mickalene Thomas for a long time and interviewed the one-time Portlander years ago just as she was conquering New York. With all that has happened in Portland recently I think her free talk at the Portland art Museum Tomorrow will be a breath of fresh air.

Mickalene Thomas
June 1, 6-7PM (free)
1219 SW Park


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Posted by Jeff Jahn on May 31, 2017 at 12:50 | Comments (0)


Weekend Picks

Suddenly the never ending soggy February has ended and Portland is awash in summer-like sunshine. Time to emerge from the caves to feel the heat at these cool shows:

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P.I.M.G.'s Liminal Passage, this weekend at Pioneer Square

One of the best things to happen to the "under rent pressure" Portland art scene is the Housguest series of well-funded exhibitions in Pioneer Square. The latest comes from the Portland Immersive Media Group who specialize in Virtual Reality and otherwise altered reality situations. Titled You Are Here there is a full weekend long program starting this afternoon. It is all free and open to the public, with viewing accessibility Friday 6-10PM, Saturday 11AM-10PM, and Sunday 11AM-6PM at Pioneer Courthouse Square. Full details of program can be found here.

"During the weekend, visitors to Pioneer Courthouse Square will be able to interact with Virtual Reality (VR) through multiple experiences. Audiences will be able to traverse the physical and digital world through "Liminal Passage," experience an idealized digital version of Pioneer Courthouse Square in VR, escape to anywhere in the world through Google Earth VR, and be transported by several experimental performances throughout the weekend. Join in throughout the weekend to hear from VR experts Kent Bye and Amber Case, and attend performances by Golden Retriever."

You Are Here | May 26 - 28
Houseguest @ Pioneer Courthouse Square
701 SW 6th



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Rainen Knecht at Never Not Here | PPROT-SE

With new spaces like Grapefruit Juice and already established house spaces like Indivisble, Portland's alt-space scene is really the crown jewel of of an active art ecosystem. Time to check out OV Project space this weekend for Never Not Here | PPROT-SE

Curated by Midori Hirose, Never Not Here | PPROT-SE looks like another anthroplogical art encampment within a house. There will be new works by Natalie Anne Howard, Shawn Creeden, Rainen Knecht and Dino Matt. There will also be performance with Mia Ferm and visiting artist Michael Reinsch as well as The Tenses.

The statement is proustian, "Some of us live within the daily rituals of waking to an alarm, walking the dog, running late in traffic to the office, catching glimpses of celebrity gossip and cooking magazines at the grocery checkout counter or sitting on a park bench reading political twitter feeds on the phone. Switch off this light. What if these daily happenings were swept away? Stripping away day to day enjoyment or woes, Never Not Here | PPROT-SE are collected expressions of what could resonate. An analysis of the parameters we set for ourselves from a cataclysmic perspective."

Never Not Here | PPROT-SE
When: Saturday, May 27, 6-9PM
OV Project Space
7604 SE Washington


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Posted by Jeff Jahn on May 26, 2017 at 12:27 | Comments (0)


Tuesday links

Well, Ive been enjoying running around to so many thesis group shows (I prefer no to see the solos because Im more interested in the work they make after art school). Though expectedly a bit wobbly on their new legs its nice to see some real resolve and sometimes outright anger in the work this year. The times demand it. Ive got some review and some other longer form content coming but till then here are some interesting stories.

Agnes Gund is the gold standard when it comes to patronage in this country and this interview by artnet partially explains why
. What is important is her focus on follow-through not simply funding vanity art space projects that just advertise her activities. I wonder about most younger collectors... they seem far more fickle. They start spaces or exhibition programs, then they let them go fallow. In a city like Portland where things are rapidly becoming more complicated for artists (studio and living space) as well as rent pressure on experimental spaces that foster careers and create a ladder to build a career/life upon.

Art F City did a nice job of taking down the Venice Biennale this year. The entire art world isnt completely out of touch (Mark Bradford at least made an effort to stay in touch... his paintings are good but his sculpture and installation isn't really his strength) but it is important to point out art that is too far up its own "artist statement".... AFC did that.

Whether you like her work or not this piece on Phyllida Barlow in the Telegraph is a moving look into one artist's journey to the Venice Biennale.


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Posted by Jeff Jahn on May 23, 2017 at 10:00 | Comments (0)


Weekend Picks

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Clifford Still, PH-405 (1967), private collection @ Portland Art Museum

My first pick is easy, the Portland Art Museum is participating in the National Museum Day today so it is free. There's lots of good stuff like the John Yeon show and Sam Hamilton in the Apex Series but its some of the special guests that are soo absolutely worth a visit. In particular this absolutely fantastic Clifford Still PH-405 from 1967 is an absolute stunner. The painting envelops the viewer like walking into a furnace and the heartwood of a tree at the same time. The surface also has the delicacy of scales on a butterfly's wings. It is sublime and since you have to go through that much dreaded tunnel to get to it the crowds likely wont follow you... The museum really does need to fix that floorplan problem with the Rothko pavilion (City Council members get it together, the Rothkos alone will be the crown jewel of Portland's cultural offerings so it needs to happen somehow).

Portland Art Museum
Museum Day (free): May 20
1219 SW Park



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Another easy pair of picks are the annual PNCA MFA and BFA shows. It has been a crazy year and its always interesting to see how graduates contend. TBH, last year there was a lot of hyper-attenuated neoliberal drivel (some good stuff too)... but I bet this year's graduates will have more of an edge. At least I hope so because we need more radical thinking in this world. Frankly, the status quo for perhaps the last 17+ years has not been working and art should challenge the status quo, especially the art world's status quo (please no more grotty pottery on raw plywood plinths and emptied trashcan contents in piles that are glued together, it is done).

PNCA MFA & BFA thesis shows | May 21 - June 16
Opening receptions: May 21, 6-9PM

MFA @ Falcon Building
321 NW Glisan St, 6th floor

BFA @ PNCA
511 NW Broadway


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Posted by Jeff Jahn on May 20, 2017 at 10:01 | Comments (0)


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