November, 2014

Give local art this holiday, Part 1

As Black Friday creeps into Thanksgiving, pushing hysterical consumerism into a time reserved for gratitude, consider some holiday shopping that rings true to the spirit of giving. From locally made coloring books for kids, to jewelry for friends, to paintings for Mom, Portland is home to numerous artists whose work needs to be at the top of your holiday shopping list. Give a present that won’t be re-gifted or returned for a gift card later. Give the gift of local art. The following is the first piece in a series in which we offer ideas for holiday gifts that support local artists with whom we’ve worked and whose art we recommend. Give a small piece of art Not all art is expensive. Several galleries host special shows geared toward smaller, more affordable pieces. If you’ve stayed away from art galleries because you assume the work is out of your price range, you should check out a few of these. Guardino Gallery‘s (2929 NE Alberta St.) Little Things show opens Friday on Northeast Alberta. More than 40 artists* are showing their work, with each piece at Little Things measuring 7 x 7 inches or smaller. This is Guardino’s 14th year for the show, which is geared toward…

Photo of Faux Museum by Jayna Milan

New botanical mystery on display at Faux Museum

Past the small curated gift shop of antique postcards, curious pamphlets, oversized classic candy, and other oddities, past the quiet and delightful gentlemen, Tom Richards, seated behind the counter, lies the Faux Museum‘s (139 NW Second Ave.) latest visual journey The Lost Secrets of the Bennett-Brackett Portfolio. Detailed, technical sketches of plants—peculiar plants that you can’t quite identify—line the walls of the museum. These pieces are the crux of the exhibit, a collaboration between Richards, the museum’s curator, and local artist Jessica Brackett, who drew the pieces. The sketches, at once delicate and scientific, are difficult to identify because they’re complete fabrications of Brackett’s—“faux plants” she calls them. “We wanted to make the drawings become a documentation of a grand conspiracy that spanned the ages,” says Brackett. It was she who suggested the notion of a turn-of-the-century lady explorer, the fictional Ms. Bennett-Badger-Brackett, who would follow the “bread crumbs of a secret government conspiracy.” It was Richards who suggested “a larger context involving conspiracy theories and ancient greats like Socrates and Galileo,” according to Brackett. By the end of the collaboration, Brackett notes that the fruition of their planning was equal parts artist and curator. The exhibit tells the tale…

Discussing Finances Through Art: Umpqua Bank Launches Exhibit: Growth

A 40-foot geodesic dome appeared in Portland’s Director Park this week. It, and several sculptures by local and national artists that surround the dome, comprise Exhibit: Growth, an experiential art installation commissioned by Umpqua Bank. The exhibit aims to demonstrate the power and beauty of a collective experience by taking visitors on a journey of personal discovery. “This project began with a simple question: what does it take to have a conversation about money?” says Eve Callahan, a senior vice president at the bank who heads Umpqua’s Corporate Communications department. Callahan explains that since the mid-1990s, when Umpqua began to introduce its bank branches as community hubs, the company has tried to surmount the taboo of talking openly about finances in people’s daily lives. “Like it or not, money is an essential part of life. It guides decisions about where we live, what car we drive, where we educate our kids, travel, eat…in short, just about everything. Yet people don’t want to talk about it,” Callahan adds. Umpqua is again challenging people to think about the topic of money, this time in an unconventional way—through art. It commissioned the talent of digital art agencies Fake Love from Brooklyn and The Mill whose Los Angeles team…

Fight or Flight by Corey Arnold

Three must-see picks for November’s First Thursday

This week, reward the brain with some unstructured playtime courtesy of another installment of First Thursday. The Pearl District’s monthly gallery walk grants access to local, national, and international artists in a setting ripe for socialization. Head over to Charles A. Hartman Fine Art Gallery (134 NW 8th Ave.) with friends to discuss the work of Portland-based artist Corey Arnold. His series, Wildlife, rediscovers the meaning of “awesome.” Used during Romanticism to describe nature, awesome defines a thing that simultaneously evokes admiration and fear—Arnold’s work delivers both. Expect to be drawn in by the rich colors and held captive by the creatures before you, and feel free to share your experience with Arnold. The artist will be present for the opening reception, which runs from 5 to 8 p.m. At Annie Meyer Artwork Gallery (120 NW 9th Ave.), local artist Shawn Demarest exhibits Snow Day, a series of vignettes prompted by a rare heavy snowfall that descended on Portland back in February 2014. Demarest uses oil paints to depict outdoor scenes, often initially rendered on site in a technique called en plein air. Her paintings then evolve in her studio where time degrades the details of the scene causing her…

Between Here and There: My Own Starlight Scope Myopia

Blessed with great hearing and strong night vision, Army draftee Lance Grebner was often assigned night watch duty for his company in the Vietnamese central highlands during his 1968-69 tour. His story of becoming a go-to guy on the starlight scope brought up some Naval and academic memories for me. Then his narrative took a turn way beyond my field of vision—down a path not fit for sensitive readers. On that path I heard some scary things, recited some poetry, put my foot in my mouth, and tried my best to channel it all into half of a portrait. I work as a figurative painter. For the past few months, sculptor Christopher Wagner and I have been brushing and carving on a series of two-media portraits of combat veterans we’re calling Between Here and There, a project funded by the Regional Arts and Culture Council. Right now, we’re in the middle of creating ten pairs, a sculpture and a painting of each vet created from live models, simultaneously. Setting aside the common image of the homeless, needy veteran or the uniformed vet just off the plane from Iraq, these portraits celebrate each of our subjects as an individual with his…