tacoma art museum

Art: new images for a new year

The first First Thursday of 2017, and other January visual arts events

Well, we pretty much got out of 2016 with the shirts on our backs, and suddenly here we are in a fresh new year.

January brings some intriguing visual art possibilities, including a major retrospective on Oregon master Louis Bunce (1907-1983) opening Jan. 21 at the Hallie Ford Museum of Art in Salem. On the same day in Eugene, the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art opens Sandow Birk: American Qur’an, a visual exploration of how the Muslim holy book intersects with American life. On Jan. 17 the Ronna and Eric Hoffman Gallery at Lewis & Clark College opens youniverse: past, present, future, by veteran Portland artist Tad Savinar, focusing on works conceived in Florence, Italy, in 2014 and 2016 and on prints, paintings, and sculpture from 1994 through 2011.

And the Portland Art Museum has several things coming up this month to help fill the Andy Warhol void: Rodin: The Human Experience, a show of 52 bronzes opening Jan. 21; Constructing Identity, a major look at the work of contemporary and historical African American artists from Henry Ossawa Tanner to Faith Ringgold and beyond, opening Jan. 28; and the Portland Fine Print Fair 2017, which brings together offerings from 20 top dealers, and which the museum hosts Jan. 27-29.

MORE IMMEDIATELY, THURSDAY is the first First Thursday of the art-gallery year, and galleries across town will be opening new monthly shows. (Some have holdovers, or different opening dates.) Here are a few shows that have caught our eye. There’s lots more, so get out and explore on your own:

Carl Morris, “Voyage Unknown,” 1946, oil on canvas, 52 x 32.5 inches. At this point his art is moving away from figurism but not yet into the abstract expressionism for which he’s best known. Photo: Russo Lee Gallery

The iconic Oregon artist Carl Morris (1911-1993) has a show at Russo Lee Gallery, sharing space with Alex Hirsch. Morris moved from WPA-style murals (the Eugene post office) to his own form of earthbound abstract expressionism that kept vital touch with the mysteries of the Northwest landscape. Morris was at once regional and wise to the movements of the international art scene, and this exhibit covers roughly 50 years of development.


Allen Nause (the elfin chap in the center) and the Pakistani cast of "The Odd Couple"

As a summer weekend beckons, still, the arts news bubbles on. Some recent developments that caught our attention.

Today’s report is dominated by a political decision: Mayor Sam Adams has announced that he won’t run for re-election as mayor in 2012, and though that’s “politics” not “art,” it has potential ramifications for the arts going forward. That’s because Adams’ support for the arts during his term has has been stalwart. He has figured out many ways to support the arts during his term: Holding the line on the city’s contribution to the Regional Arts & Culture council during the economic downturn and supporting a tax levy that would stabilize arts funding at a much higher level were the big ones, and there were a multitude of smaller ones.  We will be watching to see how the arts fit into the plans of the candidates to replace him, so much more later.

While we are on politics, the U.S. House of Representatives defeated an amendment that would have trimmed another $10.6 million from the budget of the National Endowment for the Arts. The entire Oregon delegation voted against the amendment.

Allen Nause spent his summer in Pakistan spreading American theater practices and staging Neil Simon’s “The Odd Couple,” which seems an oddly appropriate programming decision somehow. Now, Artists Repertory Theatre’s artistic director is back with tales to tell. He’ll speak at noon on Aug. 16 to the World Affairs Council on the importance of cultural diplomacy and what he learned from his experience. And he’ll talk more specifically about his directing experience for ART at 7 p.m. Aug. 22.

The Tacoma Art Museum has issued a call for entries to its 10th Northwest Biennial. The deadline for entries is Aug. 31.  The exhibition of accepted work opens Jan. 21, and it has become a crucial event for those attempting to come to grips with developments in the arts in the Northwest.

Oregon ArtsWatch Archives