Visual Art

The Coolest Gallery Shows in Portland Right Now

Food by way of Warhol and Hockney, a dizzying look at German history, autumnal brushes with the occult, and more

By Conner Reed

Convinced there's nothing better than strolling into a gallery, reading a little placard, nodding solemnly, and making an aside to your date or your friend or thin air? Us too. So we've done a little curating of our own.

We've rounded up the most worthwhile visual art viewing experiences in Portland right now, spanning photography, paintings, site-specific work, and more. Most are free to attend, some are available outside regularly scheduled hours by appointment, and all should spit you back out on the street slightly shaken. Check back seasonally for updated picks, and happy nodding.

The Art of Food

Andy Warhol, Cow

Food, 100 ways, as rendered by everyone from Hockney to Holzer to Warhol, is on view at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at Portland State University all season long. The pieces have been sourced from Schnitzer's sprawling personal collection, spanning mediums and arranged thematically, to abstract food from its utilitarian purpose and instead nudge us toward considering its political, spiritual, even sexual implications. 11 a.m.–7 p.m. Tue–Wed & Fri–Sat, 11 a.m.–5 p.m. Thu through Dec 3, Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at PSU, 1855 SW Broadway, FREE

Die Plage 

The Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education is displaying this 4,200-canvas photomontage covering German history from the Weimar Republic through World War II for the first time since its creator, Harley Gaber, died by suicide in 2011. Gaber visited Buchenwald and Dachau while completing the work, which juxtaposes canvases of personal belongings, historical photos, and more, all set to music Gaber composed himself. 11 a.m.–4 p.m. Wed–Sun, Oct 7–Jan 29, Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education, 724 NW Davis St, $5–8

Dream Girl

Portlander Sa'rah Sabino, whose work appeared in the Portland Art Museum's Aux/Mute Gallery last year, is holding down a solo show at East Burnside's One Grand Gallery through late October. The work puts Sabino in dialogue with her grandmothers, whom she never met, and features large, stunning oil and acrylic works with supplementary objects and sculptures, all arranged in the gallery's airy, light-washed digs. Various times through Oct 22, One Grand Gallery, 1000 E Burnside St, FREE


The Pearl District's Lumber Room pulls together works by Portland photographer Ivan McLellan and Portlander painter Otis Kwame Kye Quaicoe for this exhibition about Black agricultural workers across continents and backgrounds. McLellan's photographs, many from or related to his Black Cowboy series, showcase images of American rodeo performers, cattle ranchers, and cotton farmers, while Quaicoe's paintings focus on shea farmers from Ghana, where he was born. Linking the work is a shared consideration of the legacies, inherited and in process, of Black farmers throughout the globe. Noon–6 p.m. Fri and by appointment, Oct 8–Jan 14, Lumber Room, 419 NW 9th Ave, FREE

Probably Just the Wind

Paul Koudounaris, 'St. Valerius'

Subtitled "Death, Necropolitics, and Transformation," this group show pulls together works by 22 artists as curated by Aaron Gach, founder of occult Bay Area art group the Center for Tactical Magic. Probably Just the Wind, like any fall programming worth its salt, deals in death: its twin firmness and ephemerality, its gravity and lightness, with contributors including gaming artist Joseph DeLappe and feminist art collective Hilma's Ghost. 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Mon–Sat, Oct 14–Dec 23, Parallax Art Center, 516 NW 14th Ave, FREE

They Come from Fire


MacArthur "Genius" grant recipient Jeffrey Gibson brings his bright, provocative, multifaceted work to the Portland Art Museum for a show that promises to be all of those things in spades. Programmed alongside a retrospective of Yanktonai Dakota painter Oscar Howe, They Come from Fire features photographs Gibson staged of Indigenous people standing on the pedestals of toppled Portland monuments, multicolored glass panels adorned with text, and more, in an effort to "bridge the museum's contemporary and Native American art collections," per PAM's website. 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Wed–Sun, Oct 15–Feb 26, Portland Art Museum, 1219 SW Park Ave, $22–25