Ralph Pugay

By LAUREL REED PAVIC

I have been thinking about Costumes, Reverence, and Forms currently at the Center for Contemporary Art and Culture for the better part of a week. When I first saw the show, I was perplexed. Partially, the reaction can be chalked up to the gallery map provided at the entrance that identified the artist and title for each work. The map was based on a building blueprint with confounding layout features—a hidden staircase, an unseen office, a set of what look like four stove-top burners nowhere to be found. But beyond the map, I felt intimidated by the work, concerned that I just didn’t get it.

But once I made peace with my spatial inadequacies and considered the show further, my initial hesitation faded. So what I want to tell you is what I wish I had known going into gallery and what has helped me move beyond my initial “huh?” reaction.

Tabitha Nikolai’s “Sick Transex Gloria,” part of “Costumes, Reverence, and Forms” at the Center for Contemporary Art and Culture/Photo by Mario Gallucci

The exhibition is a curatorial exchange between CCAC in Portland and Vox Populi in Philadelphia. Vox Populi is an artist-run space and the curatorial group that participated in the exchange included Mark Stockton, Bree Pickering, Chad States, and Suzanne Seesman. CCAC is part of the Pacific Northwest College of Art. The Center’s director, Mack McFarland, and assistant director, Ashley Gibson, were the curators from Portland.

The Portland and Philadelphia curators each generated a list of about 100 artists in their respective cities to give to their counterparts in the other city. The curators then looked through the artists’ websites and culled the field to about 20 artists they wanted to do studio visits with on a visit to the other city. From the “semi-final” group of studio-visit artists, each set of curators selected four artists to be in the show. This all took the better part of a year and involved many conversations between the curators and artists. The “guiding principle” terms—costumes, reverence, and forms—were chosen after the roster of artists had been determined. There was an iteration of the show in Philadelphia in January of 2017 and the show opened in Portland in April.

The curators didn’t select individual works but instead selected the artists whose practices they were most struck by. Both sides were surprised by some of the other’s finalists. The selection of works for the shows was much more fluid and artist-directed. Some of the artists wanted to show newer work than the curators had seen in the studio visits, and others wanted to respond specifically to the exhibition space. While the shows in both locations included all of the same artists, the roster of works included is not identical.

The Vox Populi show had an entry archway that clearly identified which artists were from which city. The CCAC version didn’t indicate this except in the gallery brochure. Portland artists were identified with a small blue arch and Philadelphia artists with a small pink arch. There was no “key” for these symbols though (and I actually just figured it out now, leaving me again feeling a little slow). Marianne Dages, Beth Heinly, Anna Neighbor, and Kristen Neville Taylor are the artists from Philadelphia. Avantika Bawa, Tabitha Nikolai, Jess Perlitz and Ralph Pugay are the artists from Portland.

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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!

Disjecta’s third go at a biennial, Portland2014

Not all that new is not all that bad.

The Portland2014 biennial is in full swing. Headquartered at Disjecta, and dispersed throughout the city in other galleries and on the streets, this third iteration distances itself from previous ones with the intervention of a curator from outside the region. Amanda Hunt is based in Los Angeles and selected 15 artists from 300-plus applicants.

The artists who emerged are not entirely a PDX who’s-who (nor are all from Portland proper) but they come close: Most of the names are very familiar in the visual art community. Although some may level the criticism of “same-ol’ same-ol’” or even suggest a degree of cliquish nepotism, outside eyes made the selection this year. In fact Hunt’s selections may force critics of the biennial to consider the possibility that these artists might fit into another, larger context, one neither regional nor the product of a personality cult. Instead, we are afforded a look at how these artists have chosen to represent the progression of their art making for this special occasion.

This does not mean I didn’t hope for a few surprises.

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