December First Thursday Picks

Rippling abs, muddy jockeys, South American deserts, and more invite you out to December gallery hunting.

By Portland Monthly Staff December 6, 2012

Portland Art Museum
Bacchanal Ballroom

A half-dozen beautiful human specimens—chiseled Platonic ideals of man and woman—dressed like Greek warriors strike heroic poses on pillars surrounding the dance floor. Above them, a DJ decked in a toga and laurels rains music down from his Mt. Olympus style DJ booth. Below them, the common folk gawk and take pictures with their cameras of the rippling abs of mythic proportions, not quite sure whether to tip or not. An Erotic Ball party at the Crystal? No, just another Thursday night at the art museum during The Body Beautiful in Ancient Greece.

If you haven’t yet made one of the Bacchanal Ballroom Thursday night happy hours at the Grand Ballroom, you might be surprised by its transformation into a night club setting, where the Bawdy Beautiful Review (i.e. the models, many of whom are circus performances) do a number of choreographed performances before pulling the surprisingly diverse crowd onto the dance floor. It’s easy to forget that not so far away, there’s a hushed museum of priceless antiquities.

Continues 5:30–8:30 p.m. tonight and next Thursday.

Laura Russo
Fay Jones: New Work
Jan Reaves: New Work

Fay Jones is widely considered one of the most influential and accomplished painters in the Northwest—in fact, Seattle commuters pass one of her vivid murals at Westlake Station in the downtown transit tunnel on a daily basis. Her buoyant renderings of people and animals seem poised to float away like clouds. 

Eugene-based Jan Reaves looks at the abstract essences of the natural world and lets the exploration soar through her painted lines and geometric shapes. "Through the material of paint and gesture, I explore the seen and unseen parts of the world around mem" she says. "I search for the 'something' in the making of a painting that synthesizes and fixes the experience of the actual, illusive, the transient, the ephemeral, and the mysteries of our enivorment into the illusory space of a painting."


Stumptown's Downtown Shop
Daniel Root: Photo Finish

So, we’re a bit partial here, but Daniel Root’s photographs for our November feature on the high stakes rebranding of Portland Meadows were vibrant and stunning. While the well known sports photographer was shooting documentary images for us, he also took portraits of the jockeys just seconds after they finished their races. Gloriously splattered with mud, the jockey’s faces capture so much of the spirit of the race—and the success, or lack thereof, of the racer. Hint: the cleaner the face, the better the finish.

The opening reception with Root is Sunday, December 9 from 5–7 p.m.

Elizabeth Leach Gallery
Lee Kelly: Atacoma  

Mark R. Smith: Vestibules and Portals, Laminates and Veneers

Inspired by a recent trip to South America’s Atacama region, the driest desert in the world, Lee Kelly, an artistic titan of the verdant Northwest, imagines its shimmering, shifting sands into steel sculptures layered with silver and gold leaf.

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. 

Oregon Jewish Museum
Graphic Details: Confessional Comics by Jewish Women

Shuster, Siegel, Kane: a list of the giants of comic art reads like the guestbook of a bar mitzvah. Conspicuously missing, however, are the many Jewish women who’ve influenced the art form, especially with their autobiographical work. Seeking to redraw the map of comic art, OJM presents confessional comics by 18 lady illustrators of the Jewish persuasion, including Aline Kominsky-Crumb, Robert Crumb’s partner and an accomplished artist in her own right, and queer artist and writer Ariel Schrag.






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