March First Thursday Picks

Magic realism at Blue Sky; psychedelic precision at Leach; haunting, empty frames at Froelick; and all-you-can-eat pancakes tempt you to hit the galleries. Oh, and the sun.

By Aaron Scott March 7, 2013

It’s a gorgeous day. Head out to see some art. Here’re our picks:

Blue Sky Gallery
Arthur Tress
: Selections from San Francisco 1964, Dream Collector, and Theater of the Mind
Vadim Gushchin:
Inventory of a Private Library

Photographer Arthur Tress’s first subjects were the surrealist carnies and dilapidated structures of Coney Island, where he grew up. After transitioning to straight documentary work exploring the high costs of pollution on the city’s poorer edges, he shifted into a magical realist style that seemingly combined the surrealism of his youth with the urban decay of his later work. Drawn from three exhibitions, the work on display at Blue Sky depict the likes of a half-groom/half-bride standing in a demolished church, a legless boy with roots for hands sprouting out of the sidewalk, and a delicate pauper of a boy emerging from a ramshackle rooftop in a dried up bay, a ferry grounded in the background. Tress's works are in major collections around the world, and the exhibition Arthur Tress San Francisco 1964, which is excerpted at Blue Sky, recently debuted at the de Young Museum in San Francisco.

Tress will give a talk on Saturday, March 9 at 2pm.

Elizabeth Leach Gallery
Joseph Park: Morphic Fields
Amanda Wojick: The Hawthornes

This month, Leach pairs two young but respected NW artists—they’ve both exhibited at the Portland Art Museum—whose shows marry the modern and the organic with bright blasts of color.

Using historic photographs as reference points, Joseph Park’s chronological series of oil paintings displays the seven year development of a style he calls "prismism." He masks buildings and people with neo-cubist structures that shimmer like oil slicks, looking like some force field cast by Lex Luther encasing the building or person at hand. Some of his brush strokes billow organically, while others rigidly adhere to the refractions of his prisms. His technical skill is so exact that the paintings, with their bright candy colors and glossy varnish, feel almost like they’re done with computer aided design—and a hardy dose of psychedelics.

Many of Amanda Wojick’s previous works have dealt with her sense of intransigence, but a number of years teaching at the University of Oregon has grounded her in a house between two mighty Hawthorne trees. The newfound permanence is seen here in 12 welded steel sculptures—delicate abstract works that speckle spare frames with torch cut blossom silhouettes, each painted a bright color in an autobody shop. Their form grafts together the organic and the modern, while their grid layout recalls minimalism but also a fruit tree grove, where your view of the whole shifts as you move through the room and peer between and through their branches and blossoms.

Froelick Gallery
Ritsuko Ozeki: Scene
Miles Cleveland Goodwin: A Long Road Home

Ritsuko Ozeki was working on this show when the tsunami hit Japan in 2011. Finding herself unable to make art for a time, she pressed restart on her practice, returning to basic line work that evolved into simple landscapes and dolls (some hauntingly separated at their joints). But the most powerful work is her series of empty picture frames, from small to large and simple to ornate. Originally printed in gold and silver, Ozeki reprinted them in black, so that they encase and display the ongoing sorrow and emptiness that remains in place of all the faces lost. What should be a wall of family portraits is instead a wall of loss. “Our life has gradually returned to 'normal', and memories from the time are starting to fade,” she says in the show statement. “But the void which sunk deep into our skin does not fade so easily.”

Ozeki and Goodwin will give an exhibition tour and discussion on Saturday, March 9th at 11am.

Laura Russo Gallery
Gregory Grenon: The Glass Opera
Michael Paul Miller: The Present End

Aptly titled, the works in well-known NW painter Gregory Grenon’s The Glass Opera depict a series of women with so much mood and often pathos that there’s a little opera in each. And of course, in Grenon’s personal technique, they are painted with oil on the reverse side of glass, so that they are always looking at the viewer through a window of glass. Sometimes they meet our gaze (some more defiantly than others), sometimes they look away, but always they seem to have a story to tell in their simple but evocative colors and lines that we can only begin to glimpse.

Grenon will give a talk on Saturday, March 16 at 11am.

Friday and the Weekend:

Chris Fraser: In Passing

Chris Fraser’s site-specific project closes this weekend, so let’s cut to the chase: if you haven’t seen it, you need to load the family in the car, grab your Max pass, or hop on your rain-slicked bicycle and peddle your winter-light-craving self up to Disjecta—double time. This is one of those rare shows capable of generating sheer and utter joy across demographics, from stodgy art veteran to those who find art inaccessible and pretentious to seven year olds. 

In Passing is an immersive experience that's like walking into a giant light spectrometer or physic's famous Young's slit experiment. It's a seemingly simple installation that transforms light into an exquisitely exact but interactive playground of color and shadow, where the colors becomes as tangible as paint, and the work reacts to you at every turn....

You can read our full review of In Passing here. Fraser will be giving a talk on Saturday at 6pm followed by a reception from 7–10pm.

And the wild card (or wild cake, as the case may be):

The Pancakes & Booze Art Show
Urban Studio
March 8, 8pm–1am

Claiming to be the largest pop-up art show in the country, Los Angeles’s Pancakes & Booze brings together three things many hold dear regardless of city: pancakes, liquor, and underground and emerging artists. With works by over 75 such Portland art makers and an all-you-can-eat pancake bar, this event promises to at least be filling (I ended up stuffed to the brim by the number of exclamation points in their press release alone). For a look at some of the art, check out the event’s Facebook page.


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