Portland art blog + news + exhibition reviews + galleries + contemporary northwest art

recent entries

Loss of Material Evidence at Hoffman Gallery
Hoffman Gallery Changes at Lewis and Clark?
1st Weekend Picks
Meow Wolf The Movie
Giving Thanks Readings
Meet RACC's new leader Madison Cario
November Reviews
Early November Links
Spooky reviews
Countdown to Portlandageddon?
Mid October Links including PNCA/OCAC merger talks
Paul Allen, philanthropist and arts champion dead at 65

recent comments

Sam Marroquin
Event Horizon
Sam Marroquin
Sam Marroquin
Sam Marroquin

categories

 

Book Review
Calls for Artists
Design Review
Essays
Interviews
News
Openings & Events
Photoblogs
Reviews
Video
Links
About PORT

regular contributors

 

Tori Abernathy
Amy Bernstein
Katherine Bovee
Emily Cappa
Patrick Collier
Arcy Douglass
Megan Driscoll
Jesse Hayward
Sarah Henderson
Jeff Jahn
Kelly Kutchko
Drew Lenihan
Victor Maldonado
Christopher Moon
Jascha Owens
Alex Rauch
Gary Wiseman

archives

 

Guest Contributors
Past Contributors
December 2018
November 2018
October 2018
September 2018
August 2018
July 2018
June 2018
May 2018
April 2018
March 2018
February 2018
January 2018
December 2017
November 2017
October 2017
September 2017
August 2017
July 2017
June 2017
May 2017
April 2017
March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005

contact us

 

Contact us

search

 


syndicate

 

Atom
RSS

powered by

 

Movable Type 3.16

This site is licensed under a

 

Creative Commons License

Sunday 12.09.18

 

Loss of Material Evidence at Hoffman Gallery

Comforter1_s.jpg
Comforter, Maria T.D. Inocencio (all photos Jeff Jahn)



Arguably one of the strongest and easily the most intensive two person exhibition ever to be mounted in in Portland, Loss of Material Evidence by Mark R. Smith and Maria T.D. Inocencio at Lewis and Clark College's Hoffman Gallery, ends today. It also ends its consummate curator's 20 year run in a blatant example of University administrative myopia and disregard for cultural offerings in higher education. First, let's concentrate on the exhibition as LoME 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. It doesn't hurt that the two artists themselves constitute a family unit but I also appreciate how they both integrate and separate their individual voices. Perhaps, one can think of this as a memorable Thanksgiving dinner? For myself that what this constitutes, an extensive extended family feast... with all the simmering conflicts and savored time spent in reminiscence.

mm_Hoffman_Timetunnel_s.jpg
Time Tunnel

Visitors are greeted by Time Tunnel, a large collaborative piece by the two artists who are married. Maria apparently contributed the intensive structure while Mark's impressive eye for color, texture and pattern make visually absorbing. As someone who pays close attention tou couples in the arts (being in a one myself) I cannot stress how rare a successful and integrated collaboration like this is. Sure it might resemble high modernism but what it really constitutes is nonverbal monolith of what a close knit team can do. Perhaps only in Portland is the subject domestic machinations fetished and put on display like this exhibition and it is a major element of what Portland's art scene does better than any other in the USA. What Time Tunnel does well is introduce the viewer to the mesmerizing effect of material as a kind of token evidence of a life lived. Being constructed of fabrics that had previous uses it presents an engaging and partial picture... presenting the scope of the subject matter, families that accumulate stuff that is then dealt with as they age and eventually pass on. I am generation X and have personally had to deal with much of this already. Do L&C students realize how important a subject this is? When I was in college I certainly could not have grasped it... but perhaps an art exhibition would have poetically made it more palpable.

MM_Perenial_Host_Pies_s.jpg
Perennial Host at opening

A prime example of this familial sculpture is Perennial Host (another collaborative piece), which literally serves up apple pies to visitors, much like one of Mark and Maria's relatives at family gatherings. Many can related to this and I personally had an aunt ho produced award winning pies and passed on recipes to her children. With Perennial Host the Hoffman Gallery serves up a meal of materials and even served up fresh apple pies at the opening.

... (more)


Read More

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 09, 2018 at 10:05 | Comments (0)


Hoffman Gallery Changes at Lewis and Clark?

Nothing_Martin_sm.jpg
2016's Open This End at the Hoffman Gallery (L to R) Jack Pierson, Andy Warhol, Agnes Martin, Tony Smith and Rita Mcbride

**There will be updates as they come in

Lewis and Clark College, known for being perhaps the most liberal of all of Portland's Liberal Arts Colleges has decided to "change....toward a more student-centered and student-responsive gallery experience at the end of this school year." That means their excellent curator Linda Tesner has been laid off and according to the school, "we plan to look for a faculty member to lead that process." The question remains is that a professional curator? Linda did shows of startling international caliber but also mounted excellent student and faulty shows that all benefited from a higher level of competence. Portland institutions are terrible at assessing caliber of cultural programs and it will be very difficult for this development to not become a downgrade. How does an institution that touts itself as, "A private college with a public conscience," defend an inward navel gazing + likely cost saving measure? How do the today's students feel now that they are being expected to program their own art experience when for 20 years previous students had a very interactive, socially conscious high caliber professional curator?

At first I heard that the space was closing at the end of the school year, which seemed incredibly short sighted as this is one of the jewels in Portland's cultural scene and nothing could be more crucial to a Liberal Arts education than the actual "Arts." For years there has been bureaucratic pressure (like renting the gallery space etc.) but now the director+curator Linda Tesner has been laid off, despite having done an excellent job curating shows like: The world class: Open this End and this stunner and Alison Saar. Reading between the lines this move seems to devalue the curatorial expertise and contributions just like the the closure of the White Box did to their director. (Changing leadership when someone is doing a great job and is popular always looks odd to art critics). Then there was the way the Art Gym's cancelled move to OCAC displaced longtime OCAC staff (its bad to have institutions displacing each other). I can say I never heard L&C art students complain that the Hoffman wasnt challenging or current or engaged enough, the opposite actually. Instead, it was without a doubt one of the best run spaces in the West Coast but always seemed to lack support from some higher ups. Will that change? contact L&C's president and tell them what you think: president@lclark.edu The irony is deep as now L&C President Wim Weiwel will have the main gallery of PSU's new art museum named after him and I know for a fact he likes attending art exhibitions.

Many in the arts community consider this a crushing blow and an act of philistinism in a school with an otherwise enlightened reputation that is being tarnished, needlessly. True this is happening all over the country but L&C is a wealthy with a very progressive reputation. This is extremely unfortunate and The Hoffman rightly drew accoclades from Peter Plagens in the Wall Street Journal in 2012 for its student exhibition.

Alumni Response:
2012 graduate Drew Linehan described the news as, "remarkably disappointing."

2003 graduate Leah Emkin was shocked saying, "The Hoffman was an integral part of our arts program. Linda was very inspirational as a woman leader in the arts."

Other Alumni indicated how the Hoffman under Tesner made the campus less isolated and brought the world to the wealthy enclave in the West Hills. How does looking more inward institutionally help a supposedly ultra-liberal arts college? Something does not sit right... a bit like a big hospital without a surgeon and replacing them with a part time medic. It just isnt the same thing unless the caliber of director remains and from everything I heard over the years it may have contributed to some bureaucratic aca-envy. Linda's program mounted large scale shows for local artists and L&C faculty as well as international artists. This exhibition and cultural exchange with Cuban artists and L&C students is a prime example of the great things Linda did that apparently was not valued.

What this seems to be is a bureaucratic push for a different director so the question must be will it be be for someone of comparable expertise and program of comparable caliber? With the loss of so many institutions like the Museum of Contemporary Craft, White Box, Newspace, Art Gym etc. it seems like depth of long term curatorial experience that informs challenging shows doesnt seem to be valued very much. Agendas in higher ed can be some of the most political. Yet, what I liked about Linda is she was one of the most fair minded people in the art scene. The arts arent just a mouthpiece, they are an exploration and I'll be watching this closely. What is sure here is that Linda leaves very large shoes to fill as the Hoffman is not a tiny gallery. It is a large museum style space that requires a lot of experience and preparations to program. Its not the sort of space a faculty member can just pull off as a side gig and in general I fear for the state of L&C's art program.

Lastly, let's all go and show our support this weekend. The current exhibition is one of their all time best and will host a closing event on Sunday December 9th from 2-4PM with a Gallery Talk and Pie Tutorial.

Loss of Material Evidence | September 8 - December 9
Hoffman Gallery
Lewis and Clark College


Read More

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 04, 2018 at 12:30 | Comments (0)


1st Weekend Picks

Manga_manga-s.jpg
Manga Hokusai Manga at Portland Japanese Garden

The latest show at the Portland Japanese Garden, Manga Hokusai Manga: Approaching the Master's Compendium from the Perspective of Contemporary Comics, takes a look at the connection of early Manga to today's modern form. This is the US debut for a traveling show, which compares acknowledged masters from all eras. The show takes us from Hokusai to today's best and brightest. I'm personally struck by the way all forms are stylized visual compendiums, like stored visual thinking about basic and sometimes capricious aspects of life that are normally fleeting or nigh impossible to capture in photography or words. One could call it a kind of essential visual theater on the page. There are lots of events set with this show including a scholarly lecture on December 15th... and a closing panel, which will be announced.

Manga Hokusai Manga: Approaching the Master's Compendium from the Perspective of Contemporary Comics | December 1 - January 13
Portland Japanese Garden
611 SW Kingston Ave



Victor_Maldonado_Painter_s.jpg

This is your last day to catch Victor Maldonado's Liberation Stories at Froelick Gallery and it is one of the strongest painting shows Ive ever seen in Portland, which is interesting because the artist
tends to be more of a conceptualist. But here he's visceral, engaging the history of street art, Philip Guston, Baselitz, Guggenheim Mural era Pollock and perhaps even Hermann Nitsch? The thing is it all comes from being the city of Portland's most visible Mexican/American artist who is paradoxically "not Mexican enough" and at the same time always summoned to be on any multicultural panel (the essential voice who is always on the panel but never given the award, which makes me furious). The truth is Victor has always walked a tightrope... being a bit of a provocative troublemaker as an artist and as a great ombudsman as an administrator. These paintings just burn through all the stereotypes and their tornadic vorticies coalesce into bodyslammed wrestlers... or are the dead? Always too smart, too nice, too handsome, too considerate and too perceptive to sit into left and right wing political schemas his works are troubling and put the viewers on the ropes in paintings like The Fallen and Ofrenda. I like his newfound confidence, now on display many years after earning his US citizenship, Victor is taking the victory lap nobody seemed to be willing to give him (including himself).

True, he's a friend and I couldnt be prouder of him but ultimately this is a cultural comeuppance. Victor's paintings simply cannot be ignored... and in any other progressive city besides Portland would have been celebrated more. But Portland's institutions do not acknowledge true provocateurs like Victor... yet it is exactly what the smugly woke need. The "liberation" here is the fact that Victor has been crucial for over a decade and somehow despite not really thinking of himself as a masterful painter has become just that. The sheer economy and bravura of works on display arent about revisiting traumas... they are a all in your face testaments to the considered vitality paint can convey. No more hiding, this is the strongest solo painting show in years from the Pacific Northwest (only about half of the recent works are on display).

*He also has an excellent Chapel on Display at the Archer Gallery and today is the last day to see it.

Liberation Stories | October 30 - December 1st
Froelick Gallery
714 NW Davis



Jeffrey_M_p2_sm.jpg
Jeffry Mitchell's Tyger! Tyger at PDX Contemporary

Another last day, in this case to catch Seattle's Jeffry Mitchell. He is on a roll and one had better be to intone William Blake's great poem by calling his latest at PDX Contemporary, Tyger! Tyger! What makes this baroque conglomeration of delicate ceramics and wall works the the way the ceramics feel like folk art. Somehow Mitchell's latest works feel like they are pantomiming the often touted schism between western art and the far east rendering the argument moot. I enjoy that and by using folksy spun lathed stools as plinths Mitchell purposefully confuses crockery, mysticism and furniture. He's been doing some of the very best art of his long career lately.

Tyger! Tyger! | October 30 - December 1
PDX Contemporary
925 NW Flanders


Read More

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 01, 2018 at 9:50 | Comments (0)


Meow Wolf The Movie



PORT has followed Meow Wolf since the early days and even visited them in Santa Fe last year. What is important is the way the artists of Meow Wolf have taken back the modes of production and presentation to support themselves and in the process have become the biggest art draw in Santa Fe (a place full of heavy hitters). In fact, two Portland artists, Nathanael Thayer Moss and Chelsea Linehan were involved in the Santa Fe warehouse project and you can see their work scattered all over the trailer above. The movie plays all over the country on Thursday night, including Portland.


Read More

Posted by Jeff Jahn on November 27, 2018 at 16:09 | Comments (0)


Giving Thanks Readings

How to talk to kids about art? I dont have kids but I spend a lot of time talking to kids about, partially because they see things adults do not. maybe I should do an article about how kids teach adults to look at art?

A Tinguely is restored to its commotions! Art doesn't always sit quietly in the corner.

The artificial divide between textiles and art? In some ways this battle is already over intellectually but not in markets or museum space (hidebound by conservative investment conventions rather than intellectually)).

Francis Bacon on how to be an artist
...

The Menil's new Drawing exhibition facilities set new standards of seriousness.


Read More

Posted by Jeff Jahn on November 24, 2018 at 14:40 | Comments (0)


Meet RACC's new leader Madison Cario

Cario_RACC_Portland_sm.jpg

RACC (Regional Arts and Culture Council) and the main public granting agency has finally announced that they have chosen a new executive director, Madison Cario. Cario seems to have an easy, direct but informal way about them that should fit in well in Portland. As a former marine and someone who didn't grow up with arts and culture they seem well placed to inject the decisiveness the agency (which used the word "quirky" too much [even once is too much] and "excellence" hardly if ever in communications). Over the years artists have asked for a lot of reforms and to be sure some have been adopted but the sense is the agency aims too low in terms of ambition... coming off at least a decade or more behind the bleeding edge of Portland's very dynamic cultural scene.

Luckily, Casio has been a curator (science and technology oriented visual arts even) and not just a bureaucrat. The question will be if they will merely implement token multiculturalism or if Cario can make the agency become a more important cultural ally in keeping Portland's cultural edge keen? Till now many of its practices have had a dulling effect as Portland likes to pat itself on the back without really challenging the status quo (some important art does make people uncomfortable). Most of our exhibitions institutionally try a little to hard to soften their criticisms, yet the sharpest artists themselves have a great deal of edge. I call this Portland's Artist/Institutional schism and RACC is central in this discussion.

You can watch this video to get a sense of Cario:

Contemporary Talks: Madison Cario from Jason Parker on Vimeo.



Now with City Council calling for an arts affordability plan (it needs to be an arts sustainability and retaining/encouraging creative edge plan) RACC is crucial to executing that effectively. To do that the agency needs a lot of reforms that the cultural scene has calling for decades now.

Here are a couple of things that really need to be looked at immediately:

... (more)


Read More

Posted by Jeff Jahn on November 14, 2018 at 12:43 | Comments (0)


November Reviews

This November has perhaps the strongest selection of area shows in years and its the last day for the one at the Archer, so I suggest you get out there and soak it all in after this election week. Somehow art gives perspective.

Victor_Maldonado_Painter_s.jpg

This month is Victember! Victor Maldonado's Liberation Stories at Froelick Gallery is one of the strongest painting shows Ive ever seen in Portland, which is interesting because the artist tends to be more of a conceptualist. But here he's visceral, engaging the history of street art, Philip Guston, Baselitz, Guggenheim Mural era Pollock and perhaps even Hermann Nitsch? The thing is it all comes from being the city of Portland's most visible Mexican/American artist who is paradoxically "not Mexican enough" and at the same time always summoned to be on any multicultural panel (the essential voice who is always on the panel but never given the award, which makes me furious). The truth is Victor has always walked a tightrope... being a bit of a provocative troublemaker as an artist and as a great ombudsman as an administrator. These paintings just burn through all the stereotypes and their tornadic vorticies coalesce into bodyslammed wrestlers... or are the dead? Always too smart, too nice, too handsome, too considerate and too perceptive to sit into left and right wing political schemas his works are troubling and put the viewers on the ropes in paintings like The Fallen and Ofrenda. I like his newfound confidence, now on display many years after earning his US citizenship, Victor is taking the victory lap nobody seemed to be willing to give him (including himself).

True, he's a friend and I couldnt be prouder of him but ultimately this is a cultural comeuppance. Victor's paintings simply cannot be ignored... and in any other progressive city besides Portland would have been celebrated more. But Portland's institutions do not acknowledge true provocateurs like Victor... yet it is exactly what the smugly woke need. The "liberation" here is the fact that Victor has been crucial for over a decade and somehow despite not really thinking of himself as a masterful painter has become just that. The sheer economy and bravura of works on display arent about revisiting traumas... they are a all in your face testaments to the considered vitality paint can convey. No more hiding, this is the strongest solo painting show in years from the Pacific Northwest (only about half of the recent works are on display).

*He also has an excellent Chapel on Display at the Archer Gallery and today is the last day to see it.

Liberation Stories | October 30 - December 1st
Froelick Gallery
714 NW Davis



Abigail_D_PICA_sm.jpg
Abigail DeVille at PICA

Ever since PICA shortsightedly abandoned their excellent space in the Weiden + Kennedy building in 2004 weve been hungry for them to reinstitute a regular visual arts program and over the years they have done it with fits and starts. Now with a home they own those expectations have finally come to fruition. PICA's latest exhibition, Abigail DeVille's The American Future, brings something timely and ambitious in the massively caverness warehouse space PICA now inhabits. DeVille is a rising international star and the exhibition's sheer theatricality is a major payoff for anyone visiting. There is a ziggurat made from piles of Street Roots newspapers, a deathstar like version of Pioneer Square's Federal courthouse looming over a re-imagined approximation of "Portland's Livingroom" Pioneer Square as well as art by PEAR youth on the walls. The whole show is more of a series of set pieces... (more)


Read More

Posted by Jeff Jahn on November 10, 2018 at 9:56 | Comments (0)


Early November Links

Weve got a huge amount of stuff coming for you including reviews and Portlandageddon. But first lets look at some news:

One time Portlander and long time PORT pal Paul Middendorf has re-launched the institution he started in Portland and continued in Houston. Paul is the best kind of person and a hero of the Portland (artists into the city) and Houston (real water) floods... but some well known Portland art scene figures didn't support him (you know who you are, I'm talking institutional people and it wasnt simply money). Well he's proven himself in Houston (just like Portland) yet he's been appreciated more there. Portland's City Council and other leaders who are looking at Portland's art scene need to ask... huh, what could we have done better and apply it to those who are still in Portland? Sometimes Portland's art scene politics are detrimental in their parochial character. That said lots of new, great things have sprung up since, Open Signal, Carnation Contemporary, regime change at Disjecta etc. (History lesson = Paul was Disjecta's first and last non guest curator and the only male staff curator ...though Cris Moss did curate a biennial.)

Daniel Nord's almost skeletal sci-fi might seem a bit unsettling but it is exactly the kind of work that is relevant now.

Perhaps the art world might be sick of laughing at the same old jokes about itself?

Chicago's Mayor does the right thing and pulls a Kerry James Marshall mural from a Christies auction. Look, public art isnt just some asset to flip when the street repair fund is low. Think of it as a public museum collection that enriches the city, not a rainy day fund. The artist said as much in an interview today. Essentially these are civic treasures held in trust by government... the fact that this was actually considered shows how atrophied civics have become in the quantification of assets as some sort of portfolio to manage.

PNCA_OCAC_Merger.jpg
Speaking of civics, the biggest story in Portland right now outside of the elections is the now planned merger of OCAC and PNCA. This is hardly a done deal though it is being presented as such. There has been precious little info with no public statements but Im of two minds on this and nothing has changed since my initial assessment. For history's sake I'll point out how I worried far more about the previous Museum of Contemporary Craft merger than any other media, which sadly turned out to be correct so take that into account. PNCA has informed their staff and students more than OCAC has, and OCAC is operating in a leadership vacuum with an inexperienced interim president and a board that likely got spooked by something after the State of Oregon's Attorney General started looking into the Art Gym's move to OCAC (timing suggests this). Non profit boards in Oregon tend to be That means a weak bargaining position. The thing is(just like the MoCC merger, and I was the only media to mention this) is they need a kind of autonomy and checks and balances that come from an endowment. I've heard numerous times about a 5 million dollar endowment drive, which is needed whether or not the schools combine. That's good as higher education is broken, with only endowments to support general fund, teaching positions and scholarships as the only protection. The thing is this merger really only makes sense if it produces an institution with greater vision than PNCA and OCAC already have. Considering the way committees seem to run higher education Im deeply suspicious of happening (which means Id love to be wrong/surprised). The way we are hearing only 1 narrative seems to be building suspicions among staff and alumni for both schools... and the way OCAC staff, students and alum are very wary of reprisals now is not ideal (all stemming from a weakness in the board and placeholder interim president (not slight intended she's been thrust into this and would be difficult for a seasoned pro). All that said the best MFA program in the state is the joint OCAC+PNCA Applied Craft and Design and a new combined school that keeps the core mountain village community that OCAC represents, with a more focused PNCA all under a new name (please no Portland Institute for the Arts and Crafts aka "PIAC") could be good if it has vision. Instead, right now I see something akin to a human relationship where both schools are afraid to be alone in some drive for 1000 students as a quorum of safety? So what happens after the holidays?

Some ideas:
If this does happen, try to find a way to put the Craft Collection on better display (OCAC has a small but important collection too) and an exit strategy if it doesnt work out as planned because ultimately both schools problems are brought on by a broken higher education system. Otherwise I cant see how that narrative gets redirected to something more positive without some real visionary planning and some clear checks and balances (OCAC needs its own senior fundraising officer if it merges). Still waiting on details and a whole public mea culpa for OCAC's board has to be done just as it was for the MOCC, which held public meetings. It is delicate, I appreciate that but Portland is in no mood to lose another crucial institution without some transparency and it would be smarter to release some basic statements that set some expectations because with the MOCC failure most will assume similar outcomes. I personally dont believe that but as I speak to others that's the tone things have mostly taken. Of all the conversations Ive had only a few have expressed great faith in preserving what makes OCAC so special.... that's a failure in the rollout of this story, though it is correctable.


Read More

Posted by Jeff Jahn on November 06, 2018 at 10:14 | Comments (0)


Spooky reviews

Even though every day in Portland is Halloween, October has some of the best shows of the year. Perhaps it is because the bar has already been raised? Here are some short reviews I suggest you check out (yes the big Portlandaggddon essay is coming soon):

American_Realism_Smithsonian_sm.jpg
Far Right Nancy Grossman's Cob I, at PAM's Modern American Realism from the Smithsonian Museum

Perhaps one would expect a show titled Modern American Realism: Highlights from the Smithsonian's Sara Roby Collection to be about staid Americana but the opposite is true. In fact one could just as easily call this American Surrealism. The iconic Edward Hopper has such a mood, Louise Nevelson's work is like a gothic child of surrealist assemblage and wood from the first portion of the industrial revolution and Paul Cadmus owes a lot to Georgio de Chirico with its long shadowed architectural arcades. Jack Levine's Inauguration is a surreal fantasy combining three separate presidents being sworn in, playing with the electorate's projections of the assumption of power. But the best cases are Nancy Grossman's Cob I and Theodore Roszak's works which all the Goth's are gonna Love.

The exhibition is full of first rate works coming from the Smithsonian and it is a wonderful reminder of how wierd American Realism can be.. and still is. It is a national strength, the acceptance of so many alternate realities and it is a perfect show for these scary times and looming election, whatever your politics.

Modern American Realism | October 20 2018 - April 28 2019
Portland Art Museum
1219 SW Park



Radical_Isay_femminist_sm.jpg
Work by Sonnenberg, Dwyer, Endo and Maldonado

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.

That said the exhibition is a bit overhung and some of the best works are in too much competition for space. The highlights include Anthony Sonnenberg's big sparkly naked men, Victor Maldonado's Lucha Chapel, Alexander Wurts's festive Current Vibe video, Junko Iijima's big pink fabric adventures, Naomi Shersty's hauntingly retro The Following and everything by Wynde Dyer. Perhaps with some editing this could have been an all time great show for the region but being too ambitious for the amount of space it suggests larger venues (like the old Art Gym) should have taken this on at this scale.

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)


Read More

Posted by Jeff Jahn on October 28, 2018 at 9:40 | Comments (0)


Countdown to Portlandageddon?

KBOO_Jahn_2018.jpg
photo: Joseph Gallivan

The Portland art scene is due for a thorough physical and KBOO's Joseph Gallivan interviews me as a bit of tease for what's in store today at 11:30AM. Look back later here for Part I of Portlandageddon a thorough anatomy of the scene at the moment and recent past with some predictions for the future. It isn't all bad news either. True criticism isn't a beat down, its a way to gain a more faceted and focused view to address concerns and shortcomings as well as celebrate and further support advances that have already distinguished themselves.

I take a look at most every major institution and trend in trendsetting Portland but if you want background and a refresher before then please check out these articles:

This critical look at what little we know about the potential OCAC/PNCA art school merger. So little is known but it is supposed to come before the boards of both schools by the end of the month.

Much of what I wrote here in 2012 hasn't changed but what I foresaw way back in 2000-2003 has already happened. Portland needs to turn a corner or risk what makes it special... some of this is finally happening with City Hall's Arts Affordability Plan but its scope and vision is too limited. Portlandageddon will point out many of its biggest holes (good news no new organizations or taxes are required but it does require a clearer purpose in our arts funding mechanisms).


Read More

Posted by Jeff Jahn on October 23, 2018 at 10:00 | Comments (0)


Mid October Links including PNCA/OCAC merger talks

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

PNCA_OCAC_Merger.jpg
The biggest story in Portland right now is the proposed merger of PNCA (Pacific Northwest College of Art and OCAC (Oregon College of Arts and Craft), 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).

*Update On Friday night a meeting with concerned OCAC Alumni and OCAC's Administration took place. By all reports it was one of those tough meetings that everyone was glad reconnect to each other with such dire news. Ive heard conflicting reports that attendees were, "asked not to discuss it with those who were not at the meeting ,"(they simply cant ask that and yes people are talking). Another report indicated they were encouraged to share info with other alums and the community. (so far there has been no official position for me to refer to, but both sides seem pretty clear in their own understanding). Apparently the meeting was open to press but was not indicated as such and those that understood it as a closed discussion, along with the timing drove many away that wanted to attend. I've also heard that OCAC never really indicated what was driving this rush to merge. More importantly, only one option "Merger" was presented as an inevitability. Many alumni and I myself question the lack of options and creativity in the situation. At this point both OCAC and PNCA probably need to make a public statement (that Oregonian article doesnt count) and my questions for OCAC's board remain.

How engaged is OCAC's board? It seems like only one option is being pursued... which seems like a board giving up on fixing it themselves and counting on PNCA to be a deus ex machina to save the school. Portland has seen a lot of that lately and lost too many crucial arts institutions like the Museum of Contemporary Craft, Marylhurst University, the art institute of Portland, The White Box at the U of O, etc (all without a proper fight to save the institutions). I also think City Hall should chime in on this and this is Chloe Eudaly's first test as the New Arts Commissioner. Mayor Ted Wheeler also needs to show an interest. If PNCA is the only way to save OCAC Id be behind that, but the case and details for it have not been made. Also, I worry about PNCA's health if a merger takes place (both schools share the same problems). Overall, Portland's very active residents are in no mood to lose or weaken the very core arts institutions that help make Portland what it is. It appears there is some crisis driving this, but a crisis creates special fundraising opportunities. There has been the customary talk of "transparency" but a lack of official statements and a limited meeting without key information indicate something else and this needs to be handled better. I do think everyone involved is acting in good faith but the main questions regarding vision, current situation and options are main questions for OCAC's board.

There will be more press on PORT and elsewhere


The Manny Farber exhibition 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.


Read More

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


Paul Allen, philanthropist and arts champion dead at 65

Paul_Allen_sm.jpg

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.

Allen_Landscape_PAM_sm.jpg
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.


Read More

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


s p o n s o r s
Site Design: Jennifer Armbrust   •   Site Development: Philippe Blanc & Katherine Bovee