Winter visual arts showcases contemporary visions, interactive opportunities – Here is Oregon

Exploring what’s coming up in early 2023 was an exercise in looking back and looking forward, apropos for going into a new year. Several art spaces have closed or moved away, but others have opened or moved into bigger spaces or refortified their programming. Here are nine shows to get you out to see what’s new and different in Portland.

“Early Northwest Masters: A Survey”

The Russo Lee Gallery, one of Portland’s most venerable, has made it a tradition to start the new year with a group show of the Pacific Northwest artists who started it all. Included are a number of luminous still life works that Sally Haley was known for and a crisp late work by her husband Michele Russo. Works by another contemporaneous and influential artist couple, Hilda and Carl Morris, are also included, as is a selection of work by Louis Bunce. Can’t forget Louis Bunce. Charles Voorhies, Manuel Izquierdo, and Kenneth Callahan are also represented.

Through Jan. 28, Russo Lee Gallery, 805 N.W. 21st Ave.; russoleegallery.com or 503-226-2754.

Digital composite artwork

Sandy Sampson: “We Make Worlds”

“We Make Worlds” is as much a declarative statement as it is the title of this retrospective of work by social practice artist Sandy Sampson. The exhibition includes works such as “Daisy Chain,” a socially engaged project first enacted more than a decade ago. For this iteration, Sampson met with communities across the multiple Portland Community College campuses. Video of this activation will appear in the gallery along with video of an earlier activation of the project. Another reactivated piece offers questions to be answered and recorded. The transcriptions are read aloud at a future performance, the collected responses becoming a fascinating study of people and place at a given point in time. Questions posed to the Portland Community College community: “What is Not Education?” and “What Makes Work Good Work?”

Jan. 12-March 9, North View Gallery, Portland Community College Sylvania Campus, 12000 S.W. 49th Ave.; pcc.edu/galleries.

A woven piece of art resembles a computer punch card.

“Weaving Data”

Many of the artists in “Weaving Data” are interdisciplinary, but the connecting thread, if you will, of this powerful lineup of contemporary artists is their work with textiles. The group show includes both established and emerging artists, many based in Oregon. It was curated by Theo and Nancy Downes-Le Guin, who further hone their point to focus on the intersection between weaving and computing. Faig Ahmed digitally distorts classical Azerbaijani carpet designs to create handmade carpets that are optical illusions; April Bey’s gorgeous portraits are rendered in digitally woven blankets and mixed media works composed with jacquard weaving, among other materials; Ahree Lee’s conceptual work is given form in handwoven textiles that reference computer technology; Kayla Mattes’ richly comic handwoven tapestries depict the fleeting memes of digital culture. Other artists in the show are Joan Truckenbrod, Sarah Wertzberger, Jovencio de la Paz, Shelley Socolofsky, and Vo Vo, who creates installations with an underpinning of social engagement if not confrontation.

Jan. 24-April 24, Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at PSU, 1855 S.W. Broadway; pdx.edu/museum-of-art or 503-725-8013.

“The shape of memory”

One of the pleasures of the Oregon Contemporary space is the possibilities it offers for seeing art that dominates the space as well art that brings you in for closer looking. The work in the group show, “The shape of memory,” may fall into the latter camp. As part of the 2022-2023 Curator in Residence program, home school, the Portland-based curatorial team manuel arturo abreu and Victoria Anne Reis, present a textural exhibition that includes sculpture, works on paper, installation, and video work by Star Feliz, Deborah-Joyce Holman, Dozie Kanu, Nkhensani Mkhari, and Portland Backyard Art Group. An interactive piece by the graffiti writer MODUS, who paints in New York City and internationally, will give visitors a chance to participate in the visual layering of language that the exhibition explores. Spray paint provided.

Jan. 27-March 19, Oregon Center for Contemporary Art, 8371 N. Interstate Ave.; oregoncontemporary.org or 503-286-9449.

A piece of artwork.

Fernanda D’Agostino: “Chrysalis (Generativity)”

The Portland Biennial went on hiatus during the COVID-19 pandemic. In lieu of that survey of Oregon art and artists, Oregon Contemporary programmed a series of site-responsive solo exhibitions and installations for its capacious space. The biennial returns in 2024 – its two curators have just been announced – and Oregon Contemporary is also keeping its new program, Site, making it one of its core ongoing programs. The first of two Site exhibitions planned for 2023 is a solo show by video artist Fernanda D’Agostino. Her installation of sculptures made of branches and agricultural netting recalls the nests of tent caterpillars. Video projections of movement artists and scientific imagery illuminate the architectural structures, bringing motion to the layered surfaces.

Jan. 27-March 5, Oregon Center for Contemporary Art, 8371 N. Interstate Ave.; oregoncontemporary.org or 503-286-9449.

GLEAN 2022 Artists-in-Residence Exhibition

I first registered this annual program during an open studio weekend, when an artist made an off-hand comment that her beguiling assemblages – formed from your standard #2 lead pencils – were the result of a GLEAN residency. I was hooked when I later stumbled on a GLEAN exhibition, a quixotic selection of exuberant work shown in a borrowed space. Each year, a jury selects five local artists and gives them access to the Metro Central transfer station to source materials to create work for an exhibition. This year’s residents are Val Britton, Maddy Dubin, Anis Mojgani (the current Poet Laureate of Oregon), Joshua Sin, and ahuva s. zaslavsky. The culmination of their five-month residency repurposing found objects to make art will be on view at the Parallax Art Center, a new art space in Northwest Portland that opened in early 2022.

Feb. 2-March 11, Parallax Art Center, 516 N.W. 14th Ave.; gleanportland.com.

Arlene Schnitzer Visual Arts Prize

Arts doyenne Arlene Schnitzer, who died in 2020, left her mark on the visual arts in Portland in significant ways, among them an endowed prize offered to art and design students at Portland State University. Johanna Houska, who received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Art Practice in 2022, is a textile and garment designer who espouses radically responsible production methods (for an industry that historically doesn’t). Shelbie Loomis, who received a Master of Fine Arts degree in Art + Social Practice in 2022, creates socially engaged work with communities on the gentrifying Jantzen Island. And Nia Musiba, a Bachelor of Fine Arts candidate in Graphic Design, has a multidisciplinary practice that includes public art, such as a massive new mural in Portland’s Eastside Industrial District.

Feb. 28-April 29, Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at PSU, 1855 S.W. Broadway; pdx.edu/museum-of-art or 503-725-8013.

A view of an artist's workspace.

D.E. May

Ephemera was the raw material of D.E. May’s meticulous found object work. Since his death in 2019, his gallery, PDX Contemporary Art, has overseen the ongoing process of archiving his work and the materials that went into it. May, who rarely left Salem for any length of time, called his workspace there the Regionaire’s Club. Gallery owner Jane Beebe described it as like walking into one of May’s artworks. As the gallery continues its archival project, it will show new finds in an exhibition in its light and airy Quonset hut in Slabtown. In Salem, May’s studio may be open by appointment during the run of the show.

March 1-31, PDX Contemporary Art, 1825B N.W. Vaughn St.; pdxcontemporaryart.com or 503-222-0063.

An abstract painting of a highway.

Whitney E. Nye

Whitney Nye’s work follows what she’s drawn to at the time. Over the past 18 months, she has worked in a sublet studio in New York City’s garment district. The long stretch of unfettered time allowed her to develop three different bodies of work: large pieces painted from above that explore both gesture and pigments; a series composed of paintings done in central Oregon during the pandemic that she then ripped up and pinned and sewed into large collaged panels; and a series of more representational work that uses photos taken from a car on recent road trips as the basis for collages made from prints, maps and other paper from her flat files. Her solo exhibition will include pieces from at least two of these.

March 2-April 1, Russo Lee Gallery, 805 N.W. 21st Ave.; russoleegallery.com or 503-226-2754.

— Briana Miller, for The Oregonian/OregonLive


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