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U of O plans to close White Box
First Thursday Picks December 2016
Mary Henry and Erik Geschke in the Couv
Post Holiday Art Field Trip Picks
Post Election Art News and Shifts
Weekend Picks
Post Election Art Predictions, Portland Edition
Hard Core Pre Election Links
First Thursday Picks November 2016
Lauren Stumpf at Rainmaker
Art talks to talk about
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Tuesday 12.06.16


U of O plans to close White Box

Breaking news, PORT received word that the University of Oregon plans to close its wonderful White Box exhibition space in Portland after this school year. Curator Cris Moss will carry out programming through June 2017. Another institutional change is that the John Yeon Center will be directed by core faculty members and not Randy Gragg as it is now. Overall, it seems like a very rash decision that hurts the U of O's reputation as a serious art school since the White Box is one of the premier exhibition spaces in the State of Oregon. It also gives the school legitimate roots in the very vibrant Portland art scene. They should reconsider, as it will damage the school's reputation immensely by shuttering it without exhausting every avenue (not just AA&A's very Eugene-centric avenues). Earlier this year we helped lead the outside charge to successfully save PSU's Littman gallery from administrative undersight. Big schools have silos and galleries usually are at the short end od most budgetary sticks, despite the fact that they are major connectors to the community and the good will/resources they bring.

The current Christopher Michlig exhibition at White Box through December 10, 2016

All of this is very sad news and puts the U of O's Portland Campus commitments into question. Disclosure, I have a long history with the White Box, co-curating the Donald Judd exhibition and conference in 2010. It was one of the first shows there and of the very highest caliber. This past April Cris and I co-curated the extremely adventurous Habitats multi-media exhibition so I have a lot of insight into how things are in that building. The current Christopher Michlig show was one of my picks for First Thursday this month and indicates how highly myself and others consider this exhibition space's role in the community. This is terrible news as Cris is among the most thoughtful, adventurous and rigorous curators in Oregon.

The Dean of the School of Allied Arts and Architecture Christof Lindner's statement was, "White Box has served as a valuable extension of A&AA's academic mission in Portland for the past seven years. We are particularly thankful for Cris Moss' contributions in ... (more)

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Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 05, 2016 at 17:08 | Comments (0)

First Thursday Picks December 2016

Cauleen Smith at PNCA's 511 gallery

Recently the list of Whitney Biennial artists came out and Cauleen Smith, whose show Asterisms... currently on display at PNCA is one of them. Now, Im not exactly wild about the WB list and have my misgivings about this show which according to the artist, "collects, arranges, projects, and draws connections between bodies unrelated, which together, create space and place. Objects from the collection of the Museum of Contemporary Craft intermingle with objects from the artist’s own personal collection to create the mise-en-scene for cinemascapes that require an a curious and slow-looking eye." (seems strained and MoCC collection feels strained. Still, I like the fact this is a new media show. Besides, it is a sneak peek at everyone's favorite group show train wreck in the Spring and frankly I like going to shows that I am deeply skeptical of. Art simply isn't about seeing your ideas and values reflected back upon you, though that's part of my criticism of this work so have a look and see what you think?

Asterisms | November 3 - January 6, 2017
First Thursday: December 1, 6:00-8:00PM
PNCA (511 Gallery)
511 NW Broadway


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Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 01, 2016 at 15:10 | Comments (0)

Mary Henry and Erik Geschke in the Couv

It is time for Portlander's to envy The Couv as the Archer gallery kills it with two great programmatic choices.

A mini survey of Mary Henry's abstract greatness at the Archer Gallery

Mary Henry is one of the greatest under recognized female modernists of the 20th century and the Portland area is being treated to a micro-survey of her work at the Archer Gallery called Practiced Exuberance. Last Spring, PORT reviewed another micro-survey of just her drawings to give you a taste. As part of the American Phase of hard-edged Bauhaus work under Maholy-Nagy she occupies an important place in art history and is a favorite among those with good eyes and taste in the Pacific Northwest.

Mary Henry | Practiced Exuberance | November 22 - February 11
Reception: November 29, 4-6PM (The gallery will also be open for Erik Geschke's talk Nov 30th, see below)
Clark College | Archer Gallery
1933 Ft. Vancouver Way, Vancouver Washington

Detail of Erik Geschke's Arena (2015), photo Jeff Jahn

Erik Geschke is one of Portland's most meticulous and slightly unnerving artists. Through a variety of materials (often with a twisted pop art sense of humor) he upends expectations, often with a sense of uncanny disasters, which have already occurred. Frankly, I loved his last major Portland solo show and reviewed it here. Erik received his M.F.A. from the Maryland Institute College of Art's Rinehart School of Sculpture in 2001, attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture with a full fellowship in 1996, and received a B.F.A. from Cornish College of the Arts in 1993.

Erik Geschke | Clark Art Talk
November 30th, 7PM (Archer Gallery will be open before and after talk)
Clark College | PUB 161
1933 Ft. Vancouver Way, Vancouver Washington

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Posted by Jeff Jahn on November 25, 2016 at 18:49 | Comments (0)

Post Holiday Art Field Trip Picks

Well, the feasting holiday is over, leading to the post holiday/family need to exit the house and exercise the mind's eye and take in new contexts. Art can be great for this and here are my picks for some great shows to feed/sustain the mind.

Paul McCarthy and Ed Ruscha in Open This End

Open This End is the most exciting group show in Portland this Fall. Partly, this is because it comes from one excellent collector, Blake Byrne, whose good taste and adventurous attitude the work maintains a sharp edge about it. Collecting something that carries an implicit challenge takes on the responsibilities of what Art with an "edge" demands and therefore occupies a special place between civics and taste. Thus, what Open this End does so well is provide a variety of multifaceted world views.

Open This End | September 8 - December 11
Ronna and Eric Hoffman Gallery of Contemporary Art
Lewis & Clark College
0615 S.W. Palatine Hill Road

Andy Warhol Prints from the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation at the Portland Art Museum

The current retrospective at the Portland Art Museum, Andy Warhol: Prints from the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation is the largest of this seminal artist's output ever and should be on the to do list for anyone who can make it. There is breadth and scope here and PORT interviewed catalog essayist Richard Axsom for the occasion. Like so many Post WWII artists Warhol had mostly drained his work of allegory while introducing popular iconography as a kind of folk or kitsch context. This was something fascists had abused so Warhol's rise as an artist became a rehabilitation of sorts, bringing back iconic secularism without nationalistic jingoism and other subjugation. As the Cold War continued Warhol became became the defacto Pope of Americana, canonizing our taste in many secular/cosmopolitan things. The show is an ideal way to connect to the kind of America that is both being threatened by the next presidency. In other words a great post holiday field trip for Portlanders.

Andy Warhol: Prints from the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer | October 8, 2016 - January 1, 2017
Portland Art Museum
1219 SW Park Avenue

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Posted by Jeff Jahn on November 25, 2016 at 14:59 | Comments (0)

Post Election Art News and Shifts

Well there has been a political shift, it is not a slight one and this will affect art. PORT was one of the first to write about post election art. A week later there are now some more voices discussing what this might mean:

Jerry Saltz can always be counted on to charge forward in difficult times and like myself he sees this as an opportunity to get away from the recent parochialism that the market and some very soft thinking have lead to. Jerry always has a very New York take and I'm not certain what a Trump presidency means for art in NYC but it certainly means that money wont be going away as part of the equation.

At Jezebel this piece disagrees with Saltz, thinking that the bohemian artist on the outside is gone (neoliberal art school talk). That seems like an argument akin to "painting is dead" but the pessimism is healthy. That said artists find a way and yes radical action can outflank a lot of this very mitigated neoliberal stuff art schools have been cranking out.

This E-flux essay also seemed to see the radicalization in art as a consequence of the election.

Jennifer Rabin writes a good morale boosting piece in the WWeek. That said I do feel Portland now has a duty to up its game, not simply accept what we have as good enough (especially institutionally, Portland needs to up that game). Artists should assay the task of creating culture but the past 10 years have not been the best. One artist that is right on target and incisive is worth more than 100 that arent... that said those 100 may have been part of the collective Weldschmertz that leads to some stronger art. The key is expectations.

News from Disjecta on the growth front, its controversial director will be leaving his post at the helm. As this piece on PORT once chronicled long ago, Bryan Suereth has always been his own biggest asset and weakness. I knew that when Michelle Grabner was chosen to curate the heavily built up but poorly realized Portland 2016 Biennial it would also expose problems. Possibly, it was the way the host exhibition at Disjecta had all the care of an overstuffed estate sale... using the same old more artists = more attendance strategy Bryan has used since the Modern Zoo in 2003. The institution needed to grow beyond the ploy of being big rather than good (being stretched all over the state made the host show all the more feeble and pointless) and Suereth always had people making excuses for him, none more than Meagan Atiyeh (often uncomfortably so, read the comments). Behind the scenes board members have long confided they are annoyed with issues he's needlessly created and this last biennial set off another wave of many artists who were simply put off. True, some artists love him and he's always been an ardent supporter of those he saw as allies but ultimately one needs other skills for Disjecta to grow into something more serious. (*Side note, the last male curator to work for Disjecta was Paul Middendorf who quit in 2005). That said, Suereth a founder (however mercurial) has put in a lot of work over the years and improved to a point. It is exciting that they can move forward building on his efforts and a bit of tragedy that its founder never seemed to learn some of the basics.

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Posted by Jeff Jahn on November 16, 2016 at 12:44 | Comments (0)

Weekend Picks

Portlanders, the election is over and we need some new information to fill our head. I suggest these experiences:


Needless to say immigration is going to be veritable forest fire of disputes in the next 4 years, so check out Jose Carlos Tassara's Amigos Imaginarios at Worksound. Curated by Jesse Siegel, "Amigos Imaginarios explores the relationship of facial features and the socio-economic disparities in Latin American culture. The public perception of predominantly caucasian features as more commercially viable, a reality which is broadcasted via social media, billboards and television featuring mainly white men and women to a largely non-white population. Tassara subverts this ideology by creating concrete representations inspired by his own native features and repeating them to create patterns reminiscent of ruins, mutation and mixing."

Perhaps Tassara's show is what I'm talking about when I recently called for contemporary art needs to stop treating groups as monogenic with the kind of very surface deep moderate liberal way of looking at things. Edgier and more rigorously detailed art is needed because there has been a wake up call.

Amigos Imginarios | November 11 - 18
Opening reception: November 11 6 - 9PM
Worksound International
820 SE Alder St.

... (more)

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Posted by Jeff Jahn on November 11, 2016 at 17:36 | Comments (0)

Post Election Art Predictions, Portland Edition

Jasper Johns, White Flag (1955)

"I know of no country in which there is so little independence of mind and real freedom of discussion as in America." -Alexis de Tocqueville *note PICA will have a support meetup November 9th from 7-9PM.

This wont be terribly popular to all art ears but its time to take stock. Some were shocked by the presidential election last night, others (mostly younger than Baby Boomer voters) were less so but still had a hard time confronting the ugly truths that lead to it. In short, the tenor and shape of liberalism of the past 20+ years was dealt a bit of a death blow and things will be a bit more critical or probing now. In other words the "Art World" will be looking to find its more critical-radical roots and stop being th comfort food of liberal/conservative elites. This will effect art to a point and I expect the art world will find some its lost edge again. Thomas Jefferson famously considered education to be American democracy's biggest Achilles Heel and de Tocqueville has always had the first and last word on our anti-intellectual bias. It looks horrible but we did survive Dick Cheney, and with Trump at least we do know what to look for. Overall, Garrison Keillor's Washington Post piece did a good job but doesn't address the Arts role in this. Basically, cultural capitals like New York, Portland and Los Angeles take on a kind of permissive City State vs anti-intellectual Nation State dynamic, yet to fix things places outside of the city will be key and liberal smugness wont help. That means that culture has to become nimble and more mobile and not just of the city. Portland is on the front lines (good thing Chloe Eudaly will be on City Council). Places like New York, Portland, Seattle and San Francisco are under pressure from markets which have been pricing out artists and galleries. Yet, there still need to be new laboratories of culture that leverage those market pressures to support safe zones for artistic experimentation within city cores. With so much hate there will need to be islands of tolerance where there can be a real fight.

It wont be an easy sell for Art. Because of that persistent anti-intellectual bias in the USA those in the Arts and Culture camp have always been on the outside of the mainstream for both parties. Despite this, "culturalists" have a major role to play in the next 4 years in the United States. Why? Because the best art embodies a supple yet razor sharp incisive way of thinking and it is ok to create disagreements over it. The long standing anti-intellectualism needs to find champions of ideas and ideals that Americans can rally around (some may have a start in Art... though Art itself has no answers). I'm talking about the arts helping to inform leaders who can have truly substantial disagreements together, and learn to do so through culture and therefore respectfully disagree... not some forced and false consensus which was the way softer boomer liberalism of the past 20+ years has been. Things will be re-radicalizing and re-intellectualizing and it was inevitable. The arts will become a little more dangerous and less like the pet of the rich it has increasingly become over the past decade or so.

Art is like an instrument panel for what is going on in the culture and a gym for minds which require to exercise critical thinking and experiences. Capital "A" Art isnt doctrinaire or zero-sum thinking... in a word it exists because it is nuanced and substantive without being ossified in interpretation. Sadly, the recent election was anything but nuanced. I characterize it as more of a shouting match sneer off, effectively making this about personality without addressing ideals much. It was incredibly parochial and vulgar with one side being a bully and the other doing a "I'm rubber your glue" diatribe. I forgot how bullies usually win those. The only real counter is an instance on a nuanced and questioning approach to life. That nuance is how artists live... no nuance = no Art. Artists are like the physicists and poets of living with stronger and different priorities and they imbue it upon their work in a way that makes those values, ideas, approaches and observations portable.

What does it mean for visual art, well there will be a good hard look at liberal ideals and values and a ratcheted up polemic content?

Here are some predictions:

Anything gilded will be a not so secret code for Trump... the hair of course will be everywhere.


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Posted by Jeff Jahn on November 09, 2016 at 16:40 | Comments (0)

Hard Core Pre Election Links

The US election has most of the art crowd in Portland very agitated so I'll dish out some already agitated but topical links.

Donald Judd is very important for a number of reasons but one that gets lost in the mix is is critique of institutions of all kinds and the way that such things de-radicalize the choices of artists. Thus, this historical take on Judd in new publication called Affidavit is interesting, if a bit light. Fact is, most museums still find Judd very challenging because his work inherently critiques the kind of procedures, contexts and presentation methods that museums are addicted too, yet have nothing to do with the work and the ideas themselves. Basically, Judd is a hardcore artist who drives the discussion, not a pawn of the marketplace and patrons. I wrote on this for the Judd exhibition and conference I co-curated a few years back.

Portland has a major problem with its "success" eating into the very neighborhoods that produced such cultural vibrancy... so I find this creative super space in Amsterdam project very interesting. Years a ago Portland created something called Milepost 5 and the developers wished they had spoken to I and my team before they had already built/executed most of it. Right now Portland could put these new tech companies and others who are outpricing the core arts ecosystem here and turn them into allies. As a cultural laboratory these interests could enhance each other rather than compete for space and Amsterdam gets that. It doesn't actually cost more money but it does take forethought that most US cities do not engage in.

Last but not least check out Roberta Smith's review of Pipilotti Rist's retrospective at the New Museum. I consider her to be the most important artist of the past 30 years (think internet tropes not art museums) and showed her in Portland back in 2006. She complicates the art experience as a form of knowledge that we could use more of and she is just starting to get her due. For some reason it takes edgier female artists a longer time to get their due if their work is not particularly sexualized and titillating. In fact, Rist makes work that transcends that ploy, it is work of the body and intellect without relying on or ignoring sex. It is just a facet rather than a focal point. Rist is hard core curious and perplexing while being generous. I've found that all the best artists tend to be more generous in the way they present/position their work.

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Posted by Jeff Jahn on November 07, 2016 at 13:13 | Comments (0)

First Thursday Picks November 2016

November is traditionally an odd but good month for art viewing in Portland. The month is short but prime for those who collect so the galleries usually roll out a heavy hitter or do something very experimental.

Anne Appleby, Gentian June 18, 2016

For my money Anne Appleby is the best abstract painter in the Northwest and one of the top tier artists on this side of the continental divide. Drawing from color in nature her luminescent works show how deft her surfaces are with pulsing energy and life. She is our Matisse and so poetic. Mind you, I've split a desert with her but looking at her work is exactly the same... tough, life affirming and intelligent all at the same time.

But That Was Then | November 1-26
Reception: November 3rd 6-8PM
PDX Contemporary
925 NW Flanders


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Posted by Jeff Jahn on November 03, 2016 at 15:56 | Comments (0)

Lauren Stumpf at Rainmaker


Portland's available artist studio space has been under increasing pressure from real estate development. That's why I am impressed with the Rainmaker Artist Residency program, which gives recently graduated artists a bit of a leg up so they can get their footing. November kicks off in an interesting way with Lauren Stumpf's debut solo show titled ConTact as part of her residency. She's shown some promise with her deft use of skins of contact paper. Besides it is always interesting to catch a debut if you truly enjoy art.

Lauren Stumpf: ConTact| November 2 - 30
Opening Reception November 2, 2016 | 6 - 9PM
Rainmaker Artist Residency
2337 NW York St, # 201

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Posted by Jeff Jahn on November 01, 2016 at 16:55 | Comments (0)

Art talks to talk about

Paul McCarthy and Ed Ruscha in Open This End

Open This End at the Hoffman Gallery at Lewis & Clark College is the best group show Portland has seen in 6 months and should not be missed. We also have an opportunity to hear from its curator Joseph Wolin on October 25th.

Open This End is traveling selection from Blake Byrne's excellent collection, the exhibition isn't just a scattered trophy room of; Warhol, Paul McCarthy, Mike Kelley, Gerhard Richter and Bruce Nauman. It follows several threads of intertwined societal and personal narratives. I think the installation of Jimmy Carter by Jennifer Steinkamp alone should be compelling because it isn't just the same old political art, it is subtle in a way politics usually are not. What's more, Steve McQueen's groundbreaking multi-channel Drumroll video is on display at PAM as part of Open This End as well.

Open This End| September 8 - December 11
Curator's talk: October 25, 7PM, Miller 105
Ronna and Eric Hoffman Gallery of Contemporary Art
Lewis & Clark College
0615 S.W. Palatine Hill Road


Ralph Pugay is one of Portland's favorite artists and will be the featured speaker at the next Clark Art Talks. As always there is humor but there is something about our awkward times... the way our customs and institutions seem like ill fitting suits these days that makes his work ring so true. The Archer Gallery also has an interesting poster show called HASTA SIEMPRE.

Clark Art Talk: Ralph Pugay
Wednesday, October 26th, 7PM
Clark College: PUB 161
1933 Ft. Vancouver Way, Vancouver Wa.

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Posted by Jeff Jahn on October 25, 2016 at 16:13 | Comments (0)

Monday Links With An Edge

Yves Klein is perhaps art history's biggest wildcard and arguably his influence on the artists of today has never loomed larger. This latest exhibition at Tate Liverpool seems to make a great case as joker savant but it also shows how committed the artist was in comparison to the texture, pigment, happenings and materially exhausted stack sculptors of today. It's that gonzo conviction that seems to be missing often... as if any artist who moves something around deserves a gold star. For Klein it was never about the moves he was making, it was about the strive... that drove a beautiful and fractured subtlety. Klein's work was whole by never attempting to be a complete exercise in art, architecture, or performance. He kept his edge by never being too proud of his genre or material, instead testing Art's elemental use and validity powered his work.

This review of No Man's Land provides a quick but not shallow look at what Art created women can sometimes be without just resorting to the easy cliches. Sure they are there and even then they are better than what I normally come across... nutcrackers and that worn out 2012-2016 trend of mannequins but I also like how it approaches the body. Earlier this year PORT interviewed Wengechi Mutu and years ago I interviewed one-time Portlander Mickalene Thomas. The fact that it all comes from one collection makes it an interesting document but I'd like to see something that rigorously pursues the idea looking at significant art that the market isnt so attached to for greater breadth.

Western Culture by and large doesn't value the body and the use of space and the discussions around such things are stilted or often relegated to some project room rather than front and center. Frankly, I'd like to see that change in many Portland spaces because I'd argue that female artists here tend to be the genre MVP's... despite the fact that the least edgy ones get a disproportionate share of institutional resources. I will argue that female artists with an edge are being undervalued in Portland... despite the fact that they have international and national careers that seem value that very quality.


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Posted by Jeff Jahn on October 24, 2016 at 11:14 | Comments (0)

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