Art notes: new grads, old pros, big names, prison art

From Picasso to new college art grads, a quick guide to July's First Thursday and other gallery openings

First Thursday, the monthly walk of openings in the city’s art galleries, is this week, with a few holdovers and a few shows opening on slightly different dates. A few of the many new exhibits to watch for:

David Slader in the studio. His new exhibit opens Thursday at Gallery 114.


Erin Law, Lewis & Clark College, “Untitled 2,” 2017. Plywood, paint, plant, video loop. 84″ x 18″ x 36″. Blackfish Gallery.

Recent Graduates Exhibition 2017 at Blackfish. For the 22nd year, Blackfish presents its group showing of work by art school graduates from colleges and universities, private and public, throughout Oregon. With two each, selected by their respective schools’ art faculty at fifteen schools, that’s thirty artists. This is always a good opportunity to see the work of up-and-coming artists just entering the market. In the curious lingo of the art world, they’re known as “emerging artists,” a title that seems to be almost magically attached to young artists until at some point they mysteriously become “mid-career” artists and finally become … what? Veterans? Eminences grises? Old masters? Geezers? (Portland has, as you may know, a thriving Geezer Gallery.)

Miró and Picasso at Augen. Meanwhile, a couple of fully emerged artists – Pablo Picasso, a Spaniard who was active in France, and Barcelona-born Joan Miró, who worked in Paris and his native Spain – are showing prints and, in Picasso’s case, some ceramics, too. If you’re not familiar with them, they’re good artists to know. Paired nicely with a back room show of prints by the veteran Northwest artist Thomas Wood.

David Slader and prison artists at Gallery 114. In his new exhibit Human Being, the veteran (if you’ll pardon the expression) Slader, whose own paintings in this show are of women, has invited three artists who are serving time in Oregon prisons to join him: David Drenth, P. Pat, and Jerome Sloan. Their work falls clearly into what’s often called outsider art or folk art – work outside the influences and training of the nation’s art schools. “I came across this work almost by accident when I stumbled upon and was stunned to discover art of compellingly expressive power,” Slader writes. “To most of us, our incarcerated population (which, at 14,000, is bigger than many Oregon towns) is invisible. We seldom stop to even acknowledge the essential humanity of the men and women we lock up, often for decades. But anyone who can create art like this has a soul that cannot be ignored. Some of this work is raw and brutal and some is tender, but it is all totally unlike anything that you are likely to be familiar with.”

Art by Oregon inmate David Drenth joins David Slader’s exhibit at Gallery 114.

Anne Siems and Whitney E. Nye at Russo Lee. Siems is known for her delicate, mysterious paintings that sometimes seem to exist in spectral places between. In her new show Essence her focus shifts to faces and color fields. Nye’s brawnier and more geometric new oil and mixed media pieces explore, in the gallery’s words, “uncertainty and change, with sometimes humorous and obtuse references.”

Dislocation at PDX Contemporary. PDX gathers work by 22 artists, among them Lorna Simpson, Avantika Bawa, Storm Tharp, Janene Nagy, Vanessa Renwick, D.E. May, Adam Sorensen, and the late Terry Toedtemeier, to explore the idea of dislocation.

Storm Tharp, “Figurine,” 2017; ink, fabric dye and acrylic on paper; 62″ x 118″. Part of “Dislocation” at PDX Contemporary.

Stephen Adams at Waterstone. In his new show Intimacies, Adams’ mixed media sculptures, often in wood and glass, explore the relationship of disparate elements in close contact, and the beauty that rises from the alliance.

Anna Fidler at Charles A. Hartman Fine Art. The always intriguing Fidler’s new show Ettes and Esses – named for suffixes that feminize nouns, as in “actress” and “suffragette” – seeks to reclaim the diminished power in pieces of mysterious imagery (think “sorceress”).

Anna Fidler, “Sorceress,” 2017; acrylic, gouache, colored pencils on paper, 36 x 26 inches. Charles A. Hartman Fine Art.

Jennifer Steinkamp at Portland Art Museum. Opening Saturday and continuing through Sept. 17 is this installation of large-scale video images by the well-known media artist of scenes from the natural world, which interplay with the architectural shapes of their surroundings, bringing a sense of untamed nature to human-shaped spaces. It’s an early entry in Converge 45, a citywide exploration of contemporary art, running in various locations Aug. 9-12.

Carolyn Garcia and Deborah Unger at Guardino. Two artists dealing in figurative fantasies (Garcia’s minutely detailed scenes of fairy-tale portent growing from her response to a friend’s death from cancer, Unger’s playful but psychologically pointed mixed-media carvings) are featured at the Alberta Street gallery. With Nadine Gay’s phantasmagoric figurative ceramic scenes.

Deborah Unger, “Safe from Me,” wood, fiber. Guardino Gallery.

Master American Printmakers at Michael Parsons Fine Art. This is a simple and superb idea for a show, and one that’s bound to excite fans of printmaking and followers of historical American art. For his July show Parsons is blending prints by American masters and masters of Oregon printmaking. The names constitute something of an all-star team in the field: Whistler, Childe Hassam, Thomas Hart Benton, the great illustrator Rockwell Kent, J. Alden Weir and more on the national squad; Charles Heaney, Gordon Gilkey, Jack McLarty, William Givler, George Johanson and others on the Oregon team. Play ball.

Thomas Hart Benton (1889-1975), “The White Calf,” 1945; lithograph edition of 250; 10″ x 12 3/4″; at Michael Parsons Fine Art.



2 Responses.

  1. Victoria Gellner Boone says:

    Great to see,especially the print show at Michael Parsons. George Johanson talk on July 8th.

    • Bob Hicks says:

      Thanks for pointing that out, Victoria. George speaks at 2 p.m. Saturday in the gallery. A good way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

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