Governor’s Arts Awards, revived

After a 10-year hiatus, the governor's awards return with five honorees. Plus: some highlights from September's gallery shows.

With school in session and Labor Day in the rear view mirror, Thursday is the first First Thursday of the fall season (even if autumn doesn’t officially arrive until Sept. 22), and art galleries across the city are busily installing new exhibits.

We’ll get to that. But first, some good news from the state capitol in Salem: After a 10-year hiatus that began when the state and national economies cratered, the Governor’s Arts Awards have returned. Gov. Kate Brown’s office announced Tuesday morning that the revived awards, which also coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Oregon Arts Commission, will go to two individual artists and three organizations.

Governor’s Arts Award winner Arvie Smith’s “Hands Up Don’t Shoot” (2015, oil on canvas, 48 x 48 inches, collection of Nancy Ogilvie) was part of his APEX retrospective exhibition at the Portland Art Museum in 2016/17.

Portland painter Arvie Smith and Yoncalla storyteller Esther Stutzman are being honored with lifetime achievement awards. Pendleton’s innovative Crow’s Shadow Institute of the Arts, Portland Opera, and the James F. and Marion Miller Foundation are also being honored.

Bright and physical and both seductive and confrontational, Smith’s rich and often satirically infused paintings are steeped in the history of race and African American culture. In Strange Fruit: Arvie Smith’s seductive provocations at PAM, I wrote about his 2016/17 APEX reprospective at the Portland Art Museum. Stutzman, of Kalapuya/Coos heritage, has been retelling the stories she learned from her grandmothers to school groups and elsewhere for more than 50 years.

Storyteller and Governor’s Arts Award winner Esther Stutzman.

The Miller Foundation, founded in 2002, has been a prime mover in nurturing arts and education programs throughout Oregon. Portland Opera, which was founded in 1964, presents both grand-scale and more intimate productions, and also has an active education and community outreach wing featuring its touring Opera to Go program.

And Crow’s Shadow, which was cofounded by artist James Lavadour 25 years ago on the Umatilla Reservation outside of Pendleton, has developed a national reputation for its printmaking workshops and residencies while also providing economic and artistic development for Native American artists. The Hallie Ford Museum of Art in Salem will host a major retrospective exhibit, Crow’s Shadow Institute of the Arts at 25, Sept. 16-Dec. 22. And through Sept. 30, the Karin Clarke Gallery in Eugene is showing a selection of monoprints made by the late Oregon master Rick Bartow during a residency at Crow’s Shadow.

Wendy Red Star is one of many artists who have produced work — including her 2015/16 three-color lithograph “Yakima or Yakama – Not For Me To Say,” above — at Crow’s Shadow.

“Not only do the arts enrich our quality of life and local economies,” Gov. Brown said in a prepared statement, “arts education is key to fostering a spirit of creativity and innovation in our youth.” The awards will be presented Oct. 6 during a ceremony in Portland preceding the 2017 Oregon Arts Summit.




Just a few of the many September shows to keep an eye on. Most open on First Thursday, Sept. 7; a few have other openings:

Bill Will Funhouse @ Hoffman Gallery, Lewis & Clark College. The sometimes puckish, always interesting Will will be on hand for an opening reception (with “carnival-themed refreshments”) 3-5 p.m. Sunday for this retrospective “interactive art experience. Prepare towalk along a marked path to the tune of whirring and buzzing machinery. Sept. 10-Dec. 10.

Robert R. Dozono’s Still Working on Garbage Paintings @ Blackfish. Dozono’s built a long and fascinating career combining his interests in environmental and aesthetic issues, especially in his garbage paintings: For more than a quarter-century he’s been collecting trash from the Clackamas River and using it to build large landscape paintings. With outdoor drawings and paintings.

Liisa Rahkonen’s Between Worlds @ Michael Parsons Fine Art. New sculptures, drawings, and paintings o creatures that “walk the world between the conscious and the unconscious.”

Shu-Ju Wang’s Grounded @ Waterstone. The artist’s complex and captivating Future Dictionary of Water series of works based on invented words about water given her by friends is nearing completion. There’s something both natural and wonderfully imaginary about these pieces.

Eunjong Lee’s Seoul Physiognomy @ Blue Sky. With Korea north and south in the news, the photography gallery’s exhibition of Lee’s large color panoramas of the quickly growing and changing South Korean capital are timely. Also: Alejandra Laviada’s Geometry of Space, delicately balanced studies in shape created in-camera by layering multiple exposures on single images.

Marie Watt’s Companion Species @ PDX Contemporary. Watt, well-known for her series of works about blankets and Native American cultures, turns in this show to the beliefs of the Seneca and Haudenosaunee people that animals are our first teachers, exploring the “reciprocal relationship humans have with nature, and our responsibilities as responsive stewards.”

Picturing Oregon @ Portland Art Museum. This intriguing installation of regional landscape art settled quietly into the museum in mid-August and hangs around through August 2019. A look at depictions of Oregon spaces and places, it includes historical and more contemporary art by the likes of Childe Hassam, Lily E. White, Carl Hall, C.E.S. Wood, Louis Bunce, Roll Hardy, Myra Albert Wiggins, Amanda Snyder, Michael Brophy, Charles McKim, and more – a treasure trove for aficionados of the state’s artistic tradition.

Tables Turned @ Portland ‘Pataphysical Society. The design and social practice artists Erin Charpentier, Travis Neel, and Samuel Wildman take a look at the aesthetic and social ideas of such 18th to 20th century groups as the Shakers and the Oneida Community, and recreates some of their physical objects to consider “how ideology manifests in the built environment,” and how such environments challenge dominant modes of thought.

Miles Cleveland Goodwin and Gwen Davidson @ Froelick. New and, from the looks of them, deepening paintings by the Southern regionalist Goodwin, who grew up on the Gulf Coast, attended Pacific Northwest College of Art and worked in Portland for a while, then returned to the South and dug deeply into its look and being. Portland painter Davidson shows some deceptively placid-looking painted and collaged landscapes from the Oregon Coast. Look, and then look again.









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