It’s the first First Thursday of the now fully-blown summer season, and what better way to spend a long, bright evening than meandering between galleries and finding the finest fine art in town. We've selected six top shows opening this week for your heatwave artwalk.
On display side-by-side at Blue Sky Gallery this month, both Mila Teshaieva and Paris Petridis turn their lenses on desolation abroad, examining landscapes grappling with globalization and wealth disparity.
Petridis’s series, The Void and the Country, was taken in Egypt and shies away from the human form, instead depicting strikingly unpopulated landscapes in muted colors. His photographs emphasize a humanity that is sparse and mediated: the few faces we’re shown exist as paintings and sculptures, and the series is dominated by empty chairs, gravestones, and public spaces devoid of human bodies. Photographed just days after the fall of corrupt Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in 2011, The Void and the Country highlights desolation in the wake of an oppressive political regime and, according to Petridis, the “debasement of human life in favor of an aggressive, globalized economy.”
In neutral tones that echo Petridis’s photographs, Teshaieva’s series, entitled Promising Waters, explores a different set of emerging national identities: the photographer spent three years documenting Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan, three former Soviet republics along the Caspian Sea. The landscapes and portraits juxtapose images of lavish wealth—largely a product of the region’s sought-after oil reserves—with scenes of dusty, hollowed-out poverty; in one image, a trailer sits in the foreground while gleaming white minarets loom behind it. Blue Sky Gallery, July 1–August 2.
Liz Harris (well-known as the solo member of ambient dream-pop act Grouper) crafts dense, intricate black-and-white ink compositions, her almost-but-not-quite geometric patterns and shapes offering a quavering, organic take on Sol Lewitt’s sharp forms. Portland Museum of Modern Art, July 3–August 28.
In warm, somehow aged-looking tones, Martha Pfanschmidt’s monoprints could be repurposed pages of Da Vinci’s notebooks. Populated by spiraling planets and Cartesian grids, Chaos explores order and disorder in nature. Waterstone Gallery, June 28–August 2.
Flowers and birds abound in these two exhibitions, displayed next to each other, but Day’s paintings of dense, cluttered building interiors and florid landscapes balance out Esler’s moodier, more muted scenes. Augen Gallery, July 2–August 1.
Portland mainstay Whitney Nye exhibits at Laura Russo Gallery with a series of large paintings inspired by the environment. Bright, repetitive patterns form layered abstracted landscapes and immersive scenes, carrying on a concern with the environment that has persisted throughout Nye’s medium-hopping career. Laura Russo Gallery, July 2–August 1.
In a style sometimes referred to as “sculptural painting,” Portland-born Gulbrandson creates textured mixed-media compositions that refuse to stick to two dimensions. Flecks of reds and gold add [ornamentation] to his mostly gray canvasses, whose gloomy, bombed-out forms lend a dark twist to the show’s Latin title: “Loving One’s Fate.” Gallery 903, July 2 – August 31.