What is art? No, really. Certain pieces make canon while others fade out, and at nearly every abstract gallery a non-believer has huffed: “My three-year-old could make that.”

Upfor Gallery’s current group show goes some way toward answering—or at least examining—the question. Conceived in collaboration with Envoy Enterprises in New York, Portland shows off the third installment of the Big Apple's four-part series, based on the late Oxford University linguist Roy Harris’ 2010 book The Great Debate About Art.

Harris identified three major stances on the subject: A canonized POV, which declares art is determined by major institutions; An individualist approach that says art is in the eye of the beholder; and the argument that the concept is the art, as opposed to its execution. Upfor’s ten works are each a commentary on the Harris book as seven artists muscle in on the debate.

Gallery owner and director Theo Downes-Le Guin gave us the scoop on five works that grapple with art’s slippery definition—click through the slideshow to see them all. 

The Great Debate About Art opens at Upfor Gallery 
on Wednesday, July 22 and runs through August 29.  

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