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Teeth and Consequence at Private Places
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Friday 08.17.18


Grace Kook-Anderson in Conversation

Grace Kook-Anderson

Normally the skies of the Northwest shower us with constant rain but lately it has been stinging wildfire smoke. True the air is better today but perhaps your lungs are still burning. I suggest arts fans check out this free curator conversation at the Portland Art Museum Between the somewhat newish Northwest Curator Grace Kook-Anderson and her boss PAM Director and Chief Curator Brian Ferriso. Grace has largely avoided the traditional Northwest art cliches, while reminding us of the diversity of the region's art... which has been very international for a long time. Artists like Sam Hamilton and Hannah Piper Burns have signaled that we should expect the unexpected... rather than the march of obvious craft, trees and rain, presented by frequently overexposed local names. Instead, she has been concentrating on many artists who are less, "regional feisthists." ... (more)

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Posted by Jeff Jahn on August 15, 2018 at 18:27 | Comments (0)

Portland Art Adventures

I like the adventure and mental challenge that looking around an interesting art city like Portland can provide. There really is no substitute for experience. Here are some things the truly adventurous should have a look at:

Ann Hamilton's Habitus in Portland

I appreciate having an Ann Hamilton piece around to look at but Habitus in Portland might have gotten away from the artist and curator. Restaging an idiomatic installation piece in a different city, with different materials is tricky. In the Philadelphia version the soft fabric, which contrasted with hard concrete was replaced with Tyvek and a soft dusty floor with less spatial compression here in Portland and did it no favors. Thus, Portland's Habitus lacks the dreamy frission of contrasts + scale of the original. You can look at the Philadelphia version of Habitus here, it is far more successfulfor those reasons and many more. Go and see for yourself... also definitely catch these two more rewarding shows by R.B Kitaj and Jenny Holzer though.

Guns in the Hands of Artists at Moloko

Brian Borrello's Guns in the Hands of Artists series of collaborative exhibitions is incredibly relevant ongoing project but most of the time its taking place far away from the artist's home base of Portland. That why I relished the opportunity to view this research and development installation for turning guns into a coral reef at Moloko, Portland's coral reef cocktail lounge. I like the way it insinuates itself into a less formal art environment, though Moloko is an artist hangout.

... (more)

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Posted by Jeff Jahn on August 12, 2018 at 9:46 | Comments (0)

Early August Art News

This just in, Portland's Mayor Wheeler has reassigned the Arts and Culture Liaison to Commissioner Chloe Eudaly. Frankly, City Comissioner Nick Fish has always cared and done a decent job till now but Wheeler is right the city is at a crossroads. Notably, I appeared before the council 6 months ago and let them have it for their arts affordability plan. It doesn't get at the real issue... where Portland has to become serious about its intentions and how it allocates resources it already has (RACC requires an overhaul, they have improved but still lag behind the cities international cultural ecosystem). The insulting photo of a child at play with paint on the cover of the arts affordability plan pretty much infantilized what is a serious industry in Portland. I heard from a lot of movers and shakers right after I appeared in front of the council, beseeching them to get serious. It really isnt an arts "affordability plan"... its a plan to keep Portland's dynamic cultural edge. We need to look at why, when and how we support the arts and have a clearly articulated plan. In front of the council I mentioned how Houston always considers how it is an international arts hub. Portland is a player, and has been for a long time but the city's leadership and institutions generally have suffered from a lack of vision. Sure there have been steps like PNCA, PSU's new Museum, Rothko and the Japanese Garden, there has been a lot of growing up in the past 20 years but its time for city hall to pursue a plan other than benign neglect in regards to its artists, which are its main repositories of cultural cache. Congratulations Commissioner Eudaly! You will need to be on point, and no the experience of other cities and your own background in the community will only go so far. Most in the arts in Portland are working only in their institutions or businesses and they really dont get to do a lot of big picture thinking. That is what is necessary, and yes that article I've been working on is coming soon.

The Grey Market continues to look at the Biesenbach appointment at MOCA. Look, a lot has been made about rebuilding administratively but I do believe they need vision. They do need more space so the Panza collection and other holdings can shine but they also need an intellectual vision... the right curators can do that but they need to take risks. MOCA has made huge errors by being intellectually risk adverse lately. Biesenbach needs to alter that but he also needs to avoid LA's solipsism (curate a show on LA's solipsism and be done with it) and instead be the point museum on the pacific for global perspectives. Also, nobody has said it yet so I will: "The reason everyone is looking at LA and the west coast is because the East Coast missed the boat and produced the Trump/Hilary situation... the west coast was not excited about either one and California/Oregon/Washington is now the seat of progressive thinking. We are no longer looking back at East, but certainly all good ideas are welcome." There, everyone wants LA to grow up so the whole country can get on with a more mature phase.

Portland looking beyond Portlandia... ofc, yeah we were beyond it before it even aired but this fluff article has a good title and I've been thinking a great deal about it. Portland is the capital of the USA's conscience, maybe not the only place involved in the discussion but it is ground zero for the main event.

Ai Weiwei's studio has been demolished.

Seattle art fair going for the quirk hype Portland is pretty tired of?

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Posted by Jeff Jahn on August 08, 2018 at 17:01 | Comments (0)

August must see picks

Jenny Holzer at PNCA

Jenny Holzer's work couldnt be more relevant at this moment in history so her Use What is Dominant in a Culture to Change it Quickly exhibition at PNCA's 511 gallery is especially timely. Consisting of the artist's Sentences and Sentiments from the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation the artist holds forth on the questioning of power through words and the redaction of words. It is also part of next week's Converge 45.

Use What is Dominant in a Culture to Change it Quickly | July 19 - August 22
First Thursdays 5-9PM
Opening Reception August 9, 5-7PM
511 NW Broadway

Kitai at Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education

Perhaps the strongest exhibition on display in Portland at the moment is R.B. Kitaj A Jew Etc., Etc. at the OJMCHE. A virtuoso painter who scraped the paint ever so lightly on the canvas here... Kitaj romances his life as a Ohio come British transplant to LA, influencing today's LA painting scene significantly. Even though my British art friends have grown callous to him we hardly ever see Kitaj in the Pacific Northwest and this one is full of quality. On full display at OJHCHE Kitaj romances the studio and his outsider status as well as drawing upon the chilling loss of the love of his life. So many of the noted painter's best works are on display and every First Thursday goer should stop by the OJMCHE. Check out Jesse Hayward's more in depth look at one Kitaj painting that stars in the show.

R. B. Kitaj A Jew Etc., ETC. | June 6 - September 30
Open Free on First Thursday
Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education
724 NW Davis

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Posted by Jeff Jahn on August 02, 2018 at 12:21 | Comments (0)

End of July News

Is it the End of July or the end of civilization? Just kidding but I have to ask it:

Klaus Biesenbach will be the new Director of MoCA. Well he does like celebrities, which is something you need to embrace if you are going to get MoCA back on track. But can they replace all the curatorial expertise the institution has squandered in the last decade like Alma Ruiz, Helen, Molesworth and Paul Schimmel. Can Biesenbach rebuild that? For an unecessary sports metaphor think of this as "a rebuilding season" because MoCA has lost so much talent. Also, as LACMA reaches the home stretch on its new building campaign will MOCA right itself and expand enough to put its permanent collection to better use? If so I challenge Biesenbach to do so that reinvigorates the tradition of intense and opinionated curatorial expertise at this crucial institution. Otherwise, I fear MoCA my not make it. From what I know Biesenbach might have the skillset, especially if his development staff is stronger. Maybe this director is the chosen one? maybe not? But at least he has plenty of examples of what not to do like squander expertise, tone deaf market lead conservatism etc. Can the reintroduction of curatorial rigor that is in close association with artists be the answer? That's what I believe... it is like the farm to table movement in food, be close to the artists (farmers)! Today's curators at major museums have mostly lost that. *Update: Christopher Knight makes a to do list for Biesenbach and he's right about the tedious Eurocentrism... why go back there when the pacific rim, which includes the West Coast of the USA is still growing into its potential far more than the already mature European continent, which is already well represented. Let's look to the future and we wish Biesenbach luck if he can please with intellectual rigor (LA has a very academically trained cognescenti who are annoyed with MoCA right now) and hollywood sparkle turned into $$$ and institutional momentum he will have what it takes. In an ironic turn it may be Michael Govan and LACMA's new expansion that can give Biesenbach another major wave to catch. That said he's got to know what seeing to catch it... experience in NYC or Europe doesnt really prepare one for the West Coast.

Laura Hoptman is also leaving MoMA but unlike Biesenbach is staying in NYC. Like a lot of curators they all seem to want to be directors. In general this is problematic as directorships are very different and it means that the best or at least most ambitious curators all see the job as a steping stone to a directorship, which is more about numbers and the daily operations of a museum. Thus, the expertise pool is depleted upon the altar of management and fund raising.

Sacha Baron Cohen flays an art advisor as part of his upcoming movie. He also created a self-hating white male Reed professor so I'm gonna have to see this... It is odd how academia has adopted this prophylactic and anti-intellectual nomenclature. A large proportion of my best friends in Portland are Reedies and most of them have satirized this trend as well so SBC is mining a well defined vein of comedy gold.

... (more)

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Posted by Jeff Jahn on July 31, 2018 at 13:49 | Comments (0)

Alia Ali's Borderland at Bluesky

Alia Ali's Borderland at Bluesky

Borderland is one of the best shows Portland has seen all year and today is your last day to see it at Bluesky Gallery. Alia Ali's exhibition doesnt sit neatly into any genre and as such provides welcome relief from all the twee, "treat the gallery as a studio" shows that masquerade in pseudo-proustian shallow palimpsest hood. It also wont award anyone their woke merit badge. It interrogates nothing and in general treats language and labels like the training wheels of understanding that they are.

.... (more)

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Posted by Jeff Jahn on July 29, 2018 at 10:02 | Comments (0)

Mid Summer Reads

David Pagel on Mary Heilmann. I saw the 2007 show at OCMA... what I like about her is the brazenly formal means to an ultimately informal end. Also, there are still tons of female artists who are far more important than the art establishment and market can account for... Heilmann, Frankenthaler and Anne Truitt are all still under appreciated but there are plenty that are younger and just as important/active today but the museums dont seem to be willing to shake up the discussion... even when the curators are women. I have a radical art history reinterpretation regarding this.

Portland's Jim Lommason traveling exhibition What We Carried is getting attention at the Japanese American Museum LA.

PORT pal Paul Middendorf reports on a house exhibition in Houston. Portland has been doing a lot of house shows for decades now. The difference here is the extreme informality of presentation.

London's design museum hosts an arms dealer as a patron and resistance design at the same time... something has to give and what side the take says a lot.

I am definitely not comfortable with the level of contemporary shrug Ralph Ruggoff's Venice Biennial is accepting. I disagree completely, Art can do something... not just subtle shifts and slight moves towards understanding. My curatorial senses tell me he's making a huge mistake. Mark this.

On a similar note Olafur Elliason criticizes Governments as using culture simply as promotional tools. He'd know.

Temporary asks, Are you being Preached to Again?... while discussing Adrian Piper.

Fruit, murals and prisons at Manifesta 12. More on Manifesta 12.

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Posted by Jeff Jahn on July 27, 2018 at 20:21 | Comments (0)

Patricia Reser Center For The Arts unveiled in Beaverton

Patricia Reser Arts Center at night (art gallery is at the far right and main lobby at left)

Yesterday the Beaverton Arts Foundation unveiled the 46 million dollar Patricia Reser Center For The Arts or PRCFTA. With a lead gift of 13 million dollars by Reser it features facilities for dance, speakers, music, theater, art classes and of prime interest to us an art gallery. It is a place making opportunity for Beaverton (a major Portland suburb of 96,000 people, which up to now has suffered what Gertude Stein once said of America, "There is no There There." Well, there is now... or will be soon! I'll give special attention to visual arts, which have been in a lot of turmoil lately and have needed good news like this. The 46 million dollar center is now 80% funded, with commitments of 21 million from the city of Beaverton and 1 million from The Harold & Arlene Schnitzer CARE Foundation.

Lead gift patron Patricia Reser discussing the eponymous arts center

you can see from this view how prominently the art gallery (front right tip of building) is positioned, essentially greeting those who turn onto the road and will be visible from cars as they go by.

... (more)

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Posted by Jeff Jahn on July 18, 2018 at 12:03 | Comments (0)

Thoughts on the Art Gym moving to OCAC

OCAC student using the Jean Vollum Drawing, Painting and Photography Building (Photo Jeff Jahn)

The Art Gym has announced that it is moving to the Oregon College of Art and Craft. PORT was the first to point out the program could move. *Update: There are complications with moving the endowment that supports the Art Gym in that Oregon's Attorney General must act on what to do with the funds when the Marylhurst University dissolves? Specifically, the AG will take input ... (more)

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Posted by Jeff Jahn on July 18, 2018 at 9:10 | Comments (0)

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 and being in an artist's studio shows how Portland's artists still drive our scene.

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)

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