November Gallery Grazing

Where to Go this First Thursday

Historical self-portraits in drag, crystalline celestial explosions, and 200 pounds of hair all invite you to get out for the monthly gallery hop. Plus, Game of Thrones!

By Aaron Scott November 1, 2012


Charles Hartman Fine Art
Hayley Barker: The Prismatic Sun
November 1–December 1

For her critically acclaimed exhibition Cathedrals in 2011, artist Hayley Barker, a current finalist for the Portland Art Museum's 2013 Contemporary Northwest Art Awards, painted a series of neo-Impressionistic communions with forest and gardens inspired by the diary of the mystical naturalist Opal Whiteley. For inspiration for her new exhibition, The Prismatic Sun, she looks instead to J.G. Ballard's 1966 science fiction novel, The Crystal World, about a virus that crystalizes everything it touches (combined with Barker’s own recent experience of illness and healing), becoming a thing of both destruction and beauty. And Barker’s large oil paintings, dazzlingly luminescent explosions of thick impasto, are devastatingly beautiful. Whereas her landscapes in Cathedrals were stable places of comfort, these paintings “are about the need to find joy in life in something that’s dizzying,” said Barker at the reception last night. To that end, many of the works are like looking at a crystalline sun and then having the image shattered into organic fractals that disintegrate as they reach the outer fields of your vision. Far more jubilant than your art history teacher’s impressionistic landscapes, I can only think to call them a heady and intoxicating celestial impressionism.

Elizabeth Leach Gallery
Mark R. Smith: Vestibules and Portals, Laminates and Veneers
November 1–December 29

There’s something incredibly tactile about Mark R. Smith’s paintings, which combine printed fabrics and fleece blankets from the Goodwill Bins with acrylic paint and silhouettes of humans and human-made objects, playing with the physicality of each. In the Domestics series, the most simply geometric of the works in this show, he creates concentric ellipses out of various striped fabrics, their textured surfaces contrasting the exact borders between them, and their various stripes battling it out for the eye’s attention, creating an almost psychedelic, fabric-based, lo-fi optical illusion. In the In the Course of Forming an Aggregate View series, he paints a solid color over a printed fleece blanket, leaving the original print showing only through a cluster of silhouettes of similar objects, like medieval weapons or statues, in the top left corner. The results feel like flags that combine a strange mix of cultural significance and clip art, making beauty from tacky valueless blankets. 

Elizabeth Leach Gallery
MK Guth: Best Wishes

October 4–November 24

MK Guth’s Best Wishes is the result of a 20-day interactive performance she did in the opulent Cosmopolitan hotel in Vegas, where she sat in a fishbowl of a room and invited passers bye to write down their wishes and dreams on pieces of ribbon that were then braided into her hair, along with 600 feet of fake hair, until she had two, 300-foot braids that weighed nearly 200 pounds. Reversing the Rapunzel myth, she relieved others of their burdens by taking on their desires. The exhibition includes a series of photos taken on the final day, where her hair spills out over the bar seats surrounding her, trails after her as she walks down a deserted highway, or pools around her in an anonymous hotel room. While her braids are built from the collection of others’ hopes, the photos are alienating and lonely, her back always too us, like the enormous baggage of others has isolated her from the world. Also on view: the 200 pounds of hair hanging in a knotted and knit installation.

Froelick Gallery
Stephen O’Donnell: La Vue à travers

Kevin Kadar: Repose
Ronna Neuenschwander: Breaking the Mold
October 30–December 15 

Fascinated by the historicized portrait, self-taught painter O’Donnell casts himself back in time, and sometimes across gender, for his ferociously witty self-portraits, decking himself in ostentatious gowns, bespoke uniforms, and rococo hairdos. His work won a prestigious national award last year from Artists Wanted. Kadar’s figures, on the other hand, rarely wear clothing, existing brightly lit in timeless but apocalyptic landscapes, and Neuenschwander’s sculptures blend African and American elements using ceramics and found objects.


Annie Meyer Artwork Gallery
Shawn Demarest: You are Here
Hayley Barker: The Prismatic Sun
November 1–30

In the transient urban landscapes she paints, Portland artist Shawn Demarest seeks to capture those evanescent moments when we stop, if only briefly, to recognize that where we are is beautiful—even in gray, rain, or sleet. For an interview we did with the artist and slideshow of her work, click here.





Reading Frenzy
Winter is Coming: A Game of Thrones Fan Art Show
November 1–30

Eighteen local artists contribute works inspired by the HBO series Game of Thrones (and, of course, the series of books that form their basis). We have to admit, we have no idea what to expect from this exhibition, but with like 100 years before the premiere of season three, we need a Westeros fix. Winter is coming, and you'll find us at this opening to ward off the White Walkers!




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