February Gallery Guide

Skinny Dipping with Hap, Something is Wrong at Hellion, Ok, Cupid? at Upper Playground and more...

Happy Black History Month! This February I’m excited to introduce a new gallery on the scene – Jeffrey Thomas Fine Art – a name that those of you who’ve been in the scene for a while might recognize. But since I fall in the category of people for whom name recognition hasn’t kicked in, I’m not going to vet his local chops here, just give an overview of what it looks like he’s doing with his new space.

Located on Northwest Raleigh Street between 22nd and 23rd avenues, Jeffrey Thomas Fine Art is an “installation-based exhibition space” that will periodically be activated by performance workshops and public talks. The gallery salon (think people chatting philosophy over wine) is a collaboration with Katayama Framing and Murdoch Collections that will present a series of group exhibitions curated around specific concepts.

Marilyn Murdoch (Murdoch Collections), Peter Murdoch (Katayama Framing) and Jeffrey Thomas (Jeffrey Thomas Fine Art)

Marilyn Murdoch (Murdoch Collections), Peter Murdoch (Katayama Framing) and Jeffrey Thomas (Jeffrey Thomas Fine Art)

Installation can mean several different, but related, things in the art world. First, there’s the fairly straightforward idea of installing a show. Depending on the type and scale of work, this will be more labor intensive that simply hanging a few flat works, and can also include activities such as building display cases and temporary walls depending on what the exhibition design calls for.

Second, there’s installation as artistic practice, which is often considered site-specific. This then turns into a pun about the specificity of seeing the work in the place that it’s designed for or responding to (sight/site). Installation art can respond to a lot of things – architecture, community, landscape, ideas, etc., through materials and practices not traditionally considered part of the visual art. In doing so it’s become an interdisciplinary way to create immersive, interactive exhibitions for public audiences.

Jeffrey Thomas Fine Art’s inaugural show is titled The Sum of Its Parts and is curated around the concept of individual works of art that champion the concept of holism as described by Aristotle. Thirteen artists for whom building a whole or complete visual experience is a central component of their artistic practice will present their approaches to the “parts” of their visual practice. Over the next two months (Part 1, and Part 2) new and different work from each of the artists will be installed, creating an evolving exhibition that encourages return visits for an experience that will be greater than the sum of its parts.

The Sum of Its Parts opens Wednesday, February 11th and runs through Saturday, March 7th at Jeffrey Thomas Fine Art, 2219 NW Raleigh Ave. A reception will be held that evening from 5 to 9 p.m. to celebrate the inaugural show and new space. I look forward to seeing you there!


Upper Playground – The rapidly advancing landscape of technology has resulted in countless modern conveniences and comforts, including the ease of connecting with others. As a result, dating sites such as Tinder and Ok Cupid have become wildly popular; most everyone either knows someone, or has a story themselves, about their adventures trying to find love online. In fact, when I was on OkC I posted a lot of the messages on Facebook under the headline, ‘Today in Ok Cupid Messages’ and they still are the most popular posts I’ve made. Fifty24PDX Gallery aims to explore the humor and horror of these experiences in the group show Ok, Cupid? from February 4th through February 28th.



Hellion – Hellion’s first show in their new space is SOMETHING IS WRONG WITH YU SUDA. Descending upon us from Tokyo, Japan, Yu has a unique style that is a mashup of vintage Edo era art and a quirky contemporary view of Japan. For all those Portlanders interested in the clash of history and contemporary, this exhibition promises to be full of visual puns and an exuberant approach to (dis)locating our modern habits with regard to tradition. Basically, if you love those Stephen Chow movies (I’m specifically thinking of Shaolin Soccer) you need to get out from under your blanket and see this show. Opening Thursday, February 5th at 6pm, 15 NW 5th Ave.






Hap – While it may seem too cold for it this time of year, Hap gallery’s February show, Skinny Dip, is not full of ice water for you to dunk yourself in, but is in fact an exhibition of sculptures by Lisa Rybovich Crallé. Working with bright colors, organic forms, bold lines and a sense of whimsy, Crallé creates sculptural forms and installations that bring out the theatricality of everyday life. Look forward to works that will engage your sense of play and stop by the opening reception on First Thursday, February 5, from 6 to 8 p.m.




Nationale – From a quaint and steamy babushka’s kitchen, to the elaborate and vast castle of a Norse god, Carson Ellis’s illustrations explore the myriad spaces we call home. In her third exhibition at Nationale, Ellis shares some of the original illustrations featured in her debut book, Home (Candlewick Press). From the practical to the whimsical, Ellis demonstrates that although homes can be very different, they often share a few commonalities: they are places where we spend our nights, eat our meals, and experience our days with friends and family. On view February 11th through March 16th, with an opening reception Sunday, February 15th from 2  to 5 p.m.


Finally, here are the links to two great maps of the many galleries and art institutions of Portland that have intriguing shows beyond the scope of this brief guide:

Portland Art Dealers Association Galleries and Alliance Members

Duplex Collective’s Gallery Guide

Don’t forget to mention the shows you’re looking forward to below in the comments!

Comments are closed.

Oregon ArtsWatch Archives