Ann Hamilton

Busy Bodies

MK Guth’s "This Fable Is Intended for You: A Work Energy Principle: Final" at Elizabeth Leach Gallery

It’s a bit sad, really, writing this review for MK Guth’s This Fable Is Intended for You: A Work Energy Principle: Final at Elizabeth Leach Gallery. I know I’ve missed something significant—something prior to the making of the sculptures presented. After all, it is Final, and indeed the last iteration of a body of work, the bulk of which exists only as documentation. It also seems to be the last of a decade’s worth of projects she has done that involve braiding. I regret I’ve missed them all except this one.

MK Guth, Installation View/Elizabeth Leach Gallery

MK Guth, Installation View/Elizabeth Leach Gallery

The progenitor of this current work, This Fable Is Intended for You: A Work Energy Principle, occurred in 2009 and 2010. Here is part of the description from the extensive catalogue created for Guth’s 2012 exhibit at Marylhurst’s The Art Gym: “…a public project at One New York Plaza… Guth invited New Yorkers to bring unusable fabric (old clothes, sheets, rags) to a storefront transformed into an artist studio. Over a five-week period, Guth worked with volunteers to take the materials apart…and weave the fabric into large ropes and sculptural shapes. Guth then choreographed a series of performances for the Under the Radar Festival, in which 24 participants used the ropes to create complex and evolving geometric shapes and patterns.” But this is all by way of providing background more than context for Final.

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Santa Fe ups the Wattage

Portland artist Marie Watt blankets the territory in Santa Fe's Northwest-tinted summer of art

SANTA FE, New Mexico – Marie Watt’s blankets march down the expanse of a large gallery at SITE Santa Fe, hanging like somebody’s spectacular wash from a row of receding clotheslines. The Portland artist, who comes from Wyoming ranchers on her father’s side and the Turtle Clan of the Seneca Nation on her mother’s, holds down much of the main territory at Santa Fe’s leading home for contemporary art, and her work reaches well beyond the blankets themselves. Cut apart and reimagined, added to by dozens of hands, pictorialized and abstracted, traditional and thoroughly contemporary at the same time, Watt’s blankets reclaim history and invent the future, subtly ravishing the eye along the way.

Marie Watt's blankets at SITE Santa Fe. Eric Swanson Photograsphy

Marie Watt’s blankets at SITE Santa Fe. Eric Swanson Photograsphy

Watt is just one of several Oregon and Pacific Northwest artists whose work is popping up prominently in this city of Southwestern art. Painter and sculptor Rick Bartow is a key part of a show of work by contemporary Native American artists at Chiaroscuro Contemporary Art through Sept. 5. Many fine Northwest pieces, from Alaska to Oregon and Northern California, are in the large exhibition Connoisseurship & Good Pie: Ted Coe and Collecting Native Art, through April 17 at the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian. And as the annual Santa Fe Indian Market and its new rival, IFAM, the Indigenous Fine Art Market, crowded the town with visitors over the past week, a solid sprinkling of Northwest artists were part of the mix.

Santa Fe, with its deep history and mingling of three cultures, has an art scene that is divided along Indian, Hispanic and Anglo cultural lines, but that also crosses borders in interesting and sometimes innovative ways. The museums and popular markets such as Indian, Folk Art, and Spanish work closely together: indeed, the organization that runs the Spanish Colonial Museum also runs Spanish Market, and is trying to expand the market to other cities in the Southwest.

Unlike Portland – which has one large art museum and a single smaller one, the Museum of Contemporary Craft – Santa Fe is littered with small museums, both private and public, in addition to the larger, general New Mexico Museum of Art downtown. What you don’t find in one place, you likely will in another, from the Georgia O’Keeffe to SITE to the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts to the four institutions within easy walking distance on Museum Hill: the Spanish Colonial, Wheelwright, International Folk Art, and Museum of Indian Arts and Culture.

The commercial gallery scene, meanwhile, is vibrant, with many old-liners and a new crop growing in the emerging Railyard District, where the farmers’ market also keeps things bustling, especially in summer and fall. Smallness can have its problems, in funding, collecting, and administration, but the varying sites and approaches create a sense of excitement and churn that single institutions often can’t match. What’s more, unlike other multiple-museum centers such as Los Angeles and New York, everything in Santa Fe is pretty much close to everything else. That makes museum-hopping fun.

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Worksound goes International in time for this month’s gallery walks

Introducing Worksound International alongside Storm Tharp, Ann Hamilton and more...

I know. We are still recovering from the whirlwind of experimental, new media, and performance art the Time-based Art Festival brought to town earlier this month, and a new round of gallery opening sounds…tiring. But many of the  October shows really aren’t to be missed. And this month features the launch of a new gallery dedicated to showcasing and connecting international artists with the local Portland scene.

Established by Modou Dieng, Jason Doizé, and Jesse Siegel, Worksound International launches its inaugural exhibition with Furniture Porn, paintings by Mark Takiguchi, Dean of Academic Affairs at the Pacific Northwest College of Arts (PNCA). Modou Dieng is an associate professor of painting and drawing at PNCA, the founder of the previous incarnation of Worksound, and a locus of Portland’s art scene.  Maybe you remember the mural that was his contribution to Disjecta’s Portland Biennial? His co-conspirators are Jason Doize, curator of FalseFront studio in Northeast Portland, and Jesse Siegel, a San Francisco artist recently transplanted to Portland.

Takiguchi_SpreadTogether they’ve restructured the Worksound space in Southeast Portland to create a platform from which local artists can access global perspectives. Mark Takiguchi’s work explores how commercial forces direct and define desire in our globalized economy. Furniture Porn uses abstraction to examine the dissonance between the presentation of interior design and the supposed happiness brought on by living in a well ordered home.

Worksound International will have the opening reception for Furniture Porn and launch its first season of exhibition programming on Friday, October 3 from 6 to 9 pm at 820 Alder St. Portland, OR. Furniture Porn: Paintings by Mark Takiguichi will be on display from October 3 through November 23. Hours: Friday and Saturday from 2 to 6pm, and Sunday from 1 to 4pm.

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Victorian Antler Dance, 2014, Gouache, acrylic, pastel and colored pencil on paper

Victorian Antler Dance, 2014, Gouache, acrylic, pastel and colored pencil on paper

Charles A Hartman Fine Art – The newest body of work by Anna Fidler, A Dream within a Dream, features supernatural landscapes host to silhouetted figures performing ambiguous rituals. Inspired by the horror-mystery film Picnic at Hanging Rock, local scenery, and Gothic poetry, these works explore transformation through a topographic style of working on paper. Fidler’s paintings celebrate the euphoric, rebellious, and mythical power of ritual and landscape.

 

 

Foreigner, 2013, acrylic on panel.

Foreigner, 2013, acrylic on panel.

 

 

 

 

 

Upfor Gallery  – While I’m all for art off the beaten track now and then, the placement of Ralph Pugay’s contribution to Disjecta’s Portland2014: A Biennial of Contemporary Art at the corner of Southeast  Grand and Morrison made it difficult to appreciate the disquieting humor Pugay is known for: Viewers risked injury at the busy intersection. Which is why I’m all the more excited his first solo exhibition at Upfor, Critter, will include new acrylics of absurd narratives in which the mundane and the fantastical converge.

 

Needle in the Timestack, 2014 paperback book slices, wood, bookbinder's adhesive

Needle in the Timestack, 2014
paperback book slices, wood, bookbinder’s adhesive

Elizabeth Leach Gallery – In what we can only hope will become an annual event, Ann Hamilton is once again being exhibited in Portland. The show includes works originally commissioned to be a part of a 2009 installation for the Guggenheim Museum in NY. Book Weights is in conjunction with the Henry Art Gallery’s exhibition, Ann Hamilton: the common SENSE which will be on view at the Seattle gallery October 11, 2014 – April 26, 2015.

 

Eugène, 2014, oil on panel

Eugène, 2014, oil on panel

 

 

 

 

PDX Contemporary Art – Tiger is an exhibition of Storm Tharp’s painting with an emphasis on portraiture. Despite including an investigation of the history of painting and the historical debate over various theories of painting, Tharp’s work is accessible in that it is both figural and abstract and references such well-known artists as Eugene Delacroix, Lucian Freud, and Picasso. Central to his work is “the development of character and the human endeavor.”

 

HAP Gallery Special Edition: Pavo et Mus musculus, 2014 C-print, series of 30.

HAP Gallery Special Edition: Pavo et Mus musculus, 2014, C-print, series of 30.

 

 

 

 

Hap Gallery – Creatio is an installation designed specifically for Hap by artist Wendy Given, who recently designed a piece for the Portland Building Installation Space. Given’s practice is guided by her interest in natural philosophy, history, folklore, myth and magic. Through photography, drawing, sculpture, and installation, Given investigates multicultural creation mythology through current interpretations of archetypal symbolism to reflect on modern culture’s mode of assimilating and processing myth.

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Finally, here are the links to two great maps of the many galleries and art institutions of Portland that have great shows beyond the scope of this humble 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!

The book I read was in your eyes

Anne Hamilton at Elizabeth Leach, Anna Gray and Ryan Wilson Paulsen at PDX Contemporary Art

When I first thought to write this essay for ArtsWatch, the artists for the 2014 Whitney Biennial had not yet been announced. I mention this because now I cannot consider the Portland exhibits I wish to write about without contemplating the tenor of the Whitney curators’ choices for the upcoming Biennial. Much of the art chosen is by artists who also write about art, or artists who often use text in their work, or artists who only use text in their work, and to fill out this line of thought, publishers of texts. (See the breakdown here.)

Not that I want to make claims for being prescient or any such thing, but the art that caught my eye in Portland the last two months also had much to do with writing and reading. Never mind that I am often creatively geared this way and that my own predisposition may guide me toward this type of work—I have seen a lot lately. In the last year or so I have written essays about artists who use text as a central focus of their work: Lisa Radon’s sublime ἐπί ἡμέρα (epi hemera) and Sue Tompkins’ typewritten works at Portland Museum of Modern Art and part of this year’s TBA Festival.

Now, Elizabeth Leach has an exhibit by Ann Hamilton that runs for ten weeks through January 11, plus Anna Gray and Ryan Wilson Paulsen were around the corner at PDX Contemporary Art last month. Then there is an ongoing curatorial thrust of Yale Union. While I hesitate to call it a trend, I cannot brush it off as a coincidence. Something is afoot.

Whether text (and I mean this in the broadest possible sense) is finally getting its due as the inspiration for and an element of a fair amount of art we see these days, or that the worlds of the poet, philosopher, curator, critic and artist have irrevocably melded into a Leviathan of practice, it nevertheless has me thinking.

Does building a richer inner life, namely by reading, run the danger of becoming a form of hermeticism, thereby leaving something or someone behind?

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