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Portland2010 Biennial Begins

openings tonight at Disjecta and Rocksbox Fine Art

By Lisa Radon March 13, 2010


Here we go. Portland2010, a biennial exhibition of contemporary art curated by Cris Moss and organized by Disjecta kicks off this weekend with a double hit: new exhibitions with a powerhouse group of artists opening at Disjecta and Rocksbox Fine Art. Portland2010 is really a series of exhibitions in several Portland venues rather than a single venue/multiple artists. Eighteen artists were chosen from a field of 300 and shows will happen at venues ranging from established galleries like Elizabeth Leach to the Left Bank to the Templeton Building (hell, yes, bring back the Templeton Building!). All kicks off tonight, 6-10 PM at Disjecta and Rocksbox.

What I’m most interested in for this first round of openings is to see Are You Ready for the Country? by Springfield, OR’s Ditch Projects at Rocksbox Fine Art (6540 N Interstate). This artist collective runs a space in Springfield where they’ve been putting up what look like really strong shows for some time. And I’ve never been able to get down there. So I’m glad the mountain comes to Moses. I’ve seen great work by a number of Ditch members like Mike Bray (at Fourteen30) and Donald Morgan at the Hoffman Gallery at OCAC. The current members of Ditch Projects are: Julie Berkbuegler-Poremba, Mike Bray, Jared Davis-Haug, Damon Harris, Tim Meyer, Donald Morgan, Dave Siebert, Robert Smith, and Jesse Sugarman.

There exists a separation between the rural and the urban, a relationship of margin and center in which the urban assumes the position of primary focus. Are You Ready for the Country rejects this relationship, offering in its place an extraction of the phantom presence of the rural from within the facade of the urban. Finding inspiration in the apocalypse of vacancy that marks urban failure, Are You Ready for the Country identifies and celebrates the urban center’s sudden and full submission to the rural margin. Refusing the iconography of idealized naturalism, the members of Ditch Projects opt, instead, to frame rurality as the physical lack of constant urbanity. This expanded arcadia offers an alternate interpretation of provinciality, an opportunity for country objects and backwoods instances to be birthed from the crises of urban decay. Are You Ready for the Country displays the trappings of this neo-rurality, creating a buck hunter’s trophy wall of crude plaza monuments and high-tech folk art.

Bring it.

And at Disjecta (8371 N Interstate), Bruce Conkle & Marne Lucas further explore their trademarked(!) Eco-Baroque concept they’ve worked with before at The Art Gym and at PSU. The artists’ statement:

‘Eco-Baroque’ is a maximalist aesthetic approach and style based on natural forms in which magnificent opulence is created using ornate or decorative materials, and mixing in simple natural materials when possible or practical. Exploring this concept, the aim is to inform and amuse while questioning our consumption of energy, (tanning beds, grow lights, and by extension – nuclear fusion), resources, and humanity’s ever-changing relationship to the environment, drawing analogies between complex beauty as found in nature and the luxury goods with which mankind seeks in order to try and separate himself from the animals.

We draw inspiration from moss, lichen, crystals, minerals, honeycomb, coconuts, Native American culture, reflections, gold leaf, fountains, dioramas, chandeliers, most shiny things and psychedelic patterns found abundantly in nature. Our collaborative process is very spontaneous and allows us to push the boundaries of each of our individual oeuvres, often to absurd dimensions. We share a similar sense of humor, political, social and eco-based attitudes about the world and making art. Individually, we have produced work that explores Pacific Northwest regionalism with both humor and reverence for the place where we have been raised and live.

Also at Disjecta (8371 N Interstate), we’ll see work by David Corbett (who recently had work in The Quadratic Logogram of Everything show at Half/Dozen, Sean Healy, who most recently did a project with Joe Thurston at Gallery HOMELAND’s EAST/WEST Berlin, Crystal Schenk & Shelby Davis who I think are reinstalling West Coast Turnaround, their installation from Milepost 5, and dancer and choreographer Tahni Holt whose "Culture Machine (In Progress)" performance will be developed and performed over the course of Portland2010 (more on that shortly).

Ongoing are two exhibitions of work by PORTLAND2010 artist Melody Owen, Letters from Switzerland through March 27 at Elizabeth Leach Gallery (417 NW 9th) and So Close to the Glass and Shivering through April 9 at The Art Gym at Marylhurst University (BP John Administration Building, 17600 Pacific Highway).

Still to come: work by
Holly Andres
Corey Arnold
Pat Boas
John Brodie
David Eckard
Damien Gilley
Oregon Painting Society
Melody Owen
Jenene Nagy
Heidi Schwegler
Stephen Slappe
Kartz Ucci

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