Wednesday, January 31, 2007

collection (Maria T.D. Inocencio)

In my old diary I wrote about Maria T.D. Inocencio a couple of times. She is the one who made an exhibition called the Tree. A Big Leaf Maple in her own yard had to be cut down and so she brought it into the Autzen Gallery at PSU. At the end of this show, people were able to take away snags and seedlings. We still have this one in our yard, though someday it will have to be moved.

Maria works with all kinds of materials, including hair. You see her hair in these stones above, which she gave me for my 50th birthday. They are special - I have them in my kitchen and look at them everyday.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Phil Bard

Today Phil Bard is joining me on the radio. I heard his name for quite awhile before I ever met him – namely as person who helped people realize their dreams and facilitate their projects. This kind of person interests me. Sure, he usually gets paid for it, but from what I understand he goes way beyond the call of duty. I found too, upon meeting him, that we was an excellent communicator.

He helped Amy Archer make the transition from c-prints to the digital format, so she could go bigger and cleaner too. Phil also aided a maestro like Terry Toedtemeier into the digital format. And every Jim Riswold exhibition at Augen Gallery has benefited from a Phil Bard printing.

Of course someone this sensitive to the needs of an artist is also an artist. He works with large format cameras and place. The photograph above is from his gas station series.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

more photos from that time

Researching Bernd Naber took me to life in New York for me at that time, and how close I came to exploring what really interested me (the cross, the square) and how I was shot down by Frank O’Cain, one of my teachers at the Art Students League. So there I am, meeting Bernd, who is really on a similar track. Except I don’t know it yet. And neither does anyone else.

While looking through that dark roll of film, I also found portraits of other individuals I knew at that time, mostly hanging on to the dying lifetstyle of the East Village Artist. Recently Portland Public Art wrote about Matthew Courtney, pictured above. He was a charming man, elegant and smart and a PDX ex-pat. He was also the MC of Sunday open mike poetry readings at ABC NoRio, which is where I met him. Rio was a cold and wrecked sort of place but we had a lot of fun there.

There were also some pics of artists from CoLab, who I was showing with here and there. Above you see Stefan Eins, who founded Fashion Moda in the Bronx. He made very simple paintings in a sort of spiritual, childish scrawl. He also created installations and gave countless artists all kinds of opportunities. This photo above was from a show we were in at the Police Building on Centre Street, which had just been turned into fancy condos for the likes of Christy Turlington and other supermodels. Still, this building had this old prison in the basement, and that was where we showed. I still have that show on my bio: “The Prison Show.”

In this roll were also people I can’t even remember, which is sad because sometimes they are standing next to some cool artworks. But Monty Cantsin, pictured above, is someone I remember quite well. I could do more than one post on him, as he has consistently delivered weird art in the 27 years I have known him, most of it in the name of Neoism. He came into PDX around 1980 and I met him through Mike Lastra.

Friday, January 26, 2007

collection (Bernd Naber)

I was introduced to Bernd Naber sometime in 1988 by a man who worked for Turske and Turske in Zurich. Bernd seemed like the epitome of a German artist – cool and eccentric and not too much of a mensch.

He was nice and we met on several occasions. I made a whole series of photographs which vaguely document his installation which Roberta Smith reviewed in ’89.

We have some art interests in common. I especially loved his ragged squares that he made and he was kind enough to give me one. Bernd is also known for the monochrome.

collection (Don Olsen)

Don Olsen makes drawings, paintings and things which seem in-between. He also painted murals and so we had him create a small wall painting for Chambers. Two small painted blocks were in this show and he kindly gave Wid and me one each. It was a pleasure to work with him. I still have up pictures from his opening here.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

more on PORT

“People love to talk about emerging artists; people talk less about emerging critics, emerging writers….”

And this is another reason to support PORT. I never saw it quite so clearly as when I listened to that remark, made by Katherine Bovee, when she came on Artstar Radio along with Jeff Jahn the other day.

We need not only more writing but also better writing about art. It has been too easy to toss something out and for us to feel in some way grateful to get that toss. Of course you can’t blame a paper which, as Jeff said, must set its sights at an 8th grade education. But this interview made me fully realize just what PORT is fostering here: a future for writers, a place where the writer can grow up in public. And since that is what every artist is doing as they exhibit throughout the years, it’s only fair that writers also have that kind of opportunity.

During this conversation, we also talked about the wearing of many hats and if this is any kind of conflict of interest. I like the confidence that Jeff enjoys in being able to make art and hang shows and write about them all at the same time. Katherine, too, had no nagging questions at the end of day.

The idea of artist-as-curator has been canvassed a bit in Baby Smith’s journal, where she says she is surprised that more curators do not take risks and create taste and style, as opposed to following it. I had to point out - and it was a revelation while I was doing it - that someone who does not represent artists is in that risk-taking position. I mention the representation part because not everyone is happy that Chambers does not do it.

We absolutely need even more galleries who represent than we have at present here in PDX, but I saw from the start of my curating that this was not to be my deal. We are actually living in a place where you can curate not only good artists into special exhibitions, but artists who have been in biennials, received all kinds of press, have an interesting and substantial track record and are still unrepresented! I learn a lot from every new artist I work with.

Jeff mentioned that for him to write about the work, he had to have a vested interest in it. No ‘conflict of interest’ in his view - just plenty of it. “We wear our hearts on our sleeves,” he said, maybe more than once. I translated that into passion.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

collection (Ken Butler)

The first time I met Ken Butler was when he was making some kind of slide presentation at The Earth Tavern on NW 21st. I don’t know what the occasion was but he showed images of the major Dadaists and the Russian Avant-Garde. He also showed a lot of Moholy Nagy, whom I later found out was his Main Man.

Like Moholy, Ken did everything and most of it quiet well: he made experimental abstract films, built kinetic sculptures, made all kinds of beautiful photograms and diazo prints and collages. His house in the NW was a treasure trove and we became friends. I’ve known Ken since that evening in 1978 and we’re still pals. He will have a major show this year at the Marylhurst Art Gym and I am looking forward to it.

At the time we met, he was just getting into the art form which he would be most closely identified with: musical instruments made of found materials. These pieces stand on their own as aesthetics objects, but they also make interesting sounds. He was able to teach kids all over the country through the Young Audiences program about found sound and found sculpture and has formed all kinds of bands based on these instruments.

The piece above is from 1974 and he gave it to me when he was cleaning house one day (!). The piece below is very similar to a what he showed in A Century of Collage at the Elizabeth Leach Gallery in December, which he gave us about a decade ago.

Friday, January 19, 2007

northwest passage

As Portland Public Art reports, there’s going to be a very special film event at Cinema 21. Mike Lastra, who videotaped and recorded most of the initial punk/ new music scene here in PDX during the late 70s, will present a montage of those videos. I fully expect to see people I have not seen in years in these videos and just like how I remembered them.

I once recounted online how my heart raced when I saw The Filth and the Fury, again at Cinema 21. Same deal: I looked for my friends, or even not my friends, but this nameless pack completely memorable because there were so few of them and because they were all so truly unique. Kids invented, and that kind of invention was a real risk. My boyfriend was beaten up and I was screamed at from cars all of the time. Not called a punk, mind you. They hadn’t read Newsweek yet. They figured I was some kind of weird hooker.

We most certainly did not have just the slash-and-burn fast music. PDX was an undercover arty town and some of the best sounds came from that category: Smegma, Lastra’s own band, is legendary. We used their basement as a practice place, as did many bands. Looking back, that alone is such a generous act. Nobody had any money and they never asked for any.

I was trying to figure out how I could help promote Mike’s efforts when duh, I remembered that I had a radio show. So he will be my guest just days before the screening on February 12th. Then we can get the lowdown on Northwest Passage. In the above photo, Mike is on the far right.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

the creative class

You know something that bugs me? The quote unquote Creative Class. I remember an artist telling me once on Artstar that: “Those people are in competition with me like an arch enemy.” I think I know what he means.

It’s not just the fact that their design studios are quickly replacing our art studios, since they are gainfully employed in such a manner that helps raise our rents as they eye the real estate we pioneered. It’s the whole notion that they are even ‘creative.’ Yeah, let me put quotations around that.

They’ve told me before that my old diary, while interesting, was in need of a redesign because of the readability factor. Their sites are often in the grey on white regalia so often used that it does not even register. I'm asleep already. If this was a tax form, I could understand it, but please don’t tell me that the site of an artist is merely there for ‘information.’

It makes sense to cling to the quiet if your art (or your life) is. But if it isn’t, it makes no sense at all.

Thanks for the facts and figures, but I cannot also say thanks for the memories. The best art gives experience, not necessarily an easy read. Can we have some creativity from the Creative Class?

Sunday, January 14, 2007

collection (John Brodie)

Most of John Brodie’s work I have really enjoyed: the books, the stripes, the collages. I have a couple of paintings on wood and this one is small enough to scan. He had a show at Lovelake in 2003.

Tomorrow is another day of music at Artstar and I think I will play almost an hour of Richard Butler, whether it is Psychedelic Furs or Love Spit Love. I love that man. Next week I will have the critics from PORT on. More on that show later.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

(part two)

It was this slide presentation which became the fateful event. A woman came up to me afterwards and said: “I like your work. I’m from San Francisco. Would you like to have a show there?” And she helped me get my first one person exhibition at the Goodman Building. I ended up knowing Jean Pauline (of Modern Times Bookstore) for years, as I did a lot of people I met at that Anarchist Symposium.

I don’t think I’ve ever had as much fun at a show as that first one: new in town, no expectations and the only people I knew there were avant-garde artists, musicians, writers like Vale of Search and Destroy (and later, Research). I don’t even remember putting any kind of tags or prices on my work, but that opening was full of a certain kind of luminary.

And since I knew so few, I blanketed the city with a special kind of propaganda, diazo prints made by Thor Lindsay, a remarkable ultramarine blue and white (now faded). One day I left my staple-gun on a city bus after telling a man about the show. He was the first one to step into opening night, returning the staple-gun which I still have today.

The show was called Photomontage Etc because like many first exhibitions, it was a mixed bag. The only documentation I have of it is this picture, shot before my group of transparencies, which once functioned like a constructivist stained glass at Northwest Artists Workshop. In a Rudi Gernreich dress, I stand with the wonderful Bill Gaglione, who created VILE with Anna Banana, was a performance and mail artist extraordinaire and also had a rubber stamp business.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Anarchism in America (part one)

Awhile back I viewed a copy of Anarchism in America, a film made in part during the Anarchist Symposium here in January of 1980 at Lewis and Clark College, organized by Pietro Ferrua. Of course I was looking for myself and also the people I met then.

I just had to be alone during this viewing, as I expected to cringe and wince over whatever stupid things I might have said 27 years ago, and however I might have looked. But no surprises really. I'm just at some party scene talking about Hannah Hoch and Man Ray and who I think must be Ken Butler to someone… talkin' about art. Not much has changed (save the styling!).

The only other person I recognized was Leigh Clark-Granville, a hot actress here in Portland back then. She was beautiful and really creative. Years later I saw her in NYC, at Don't Tell Mama, a well-known cabaret spot, not doing as well (and neither was I). Then I ran across her back here sometime in the 90s - she was sounding a little on the edge of something, but then again, so was I. I wonder where she is now.

The above pic is a cryptic clip of the Kinetics, one of the bands I was in, when we played at that Anarchist Symposium. I understand that videos exist from this event and not just that gig. There were loads of panels and presentations – I even did one on anarchism in art history, leading right up to the present with slides of mail artists and the art of punker friends, including my own work.

More later.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

dream frames

C of Portland Public Art asks me if the non-framing of my work in the OHSU collection was intentional, especially as every other piece there had a frame.

Far from it. I dream of frames luxuriant, of a curvature Baroque to compliment the straight lines I like to paint. And make them an apricot gold like a Reinstein Ross. Some assume I would prefer a plain stick minimalist affair but that is not the case.

There’s just not enough cash to do the whole nine yards. And yes, I know how frames can make the show; I can think of several local artists who don’t show without the nine yards. The now-filmmaker-once-visual-artist Paul H-O had an entire show of empty frames to drive home the point (at least I think that is what that show was about…).

exile postcards

Holy Toledo. Ask and ye shall receive. No sooner do I say that I sure would like those Exile postcards and they are with me. Maybe only my high school art pal Ross Sutherland could know I did not exaggerate their importance and sweetly sent all TEN of them! This blog is already paying off.....

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

collection (Jenny Strayer)

This piece I received for Christmas this last year. Strayer is a great collagist with a meticulous eye for detail. Her knowledge of art history helps her make fun work too. The name of this piece is Christmas with Hans Bellmer.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

the hand of the artist

While looking through my box of paints, I realized what an attachment I had formed with them: just the reality of color, looking at it, mixing it, spreading it around. Many times I defended a result-driven stance, but without the process, how interested would I be in the results?

A conversation with Wid Chambers led me back to the subject matter of just making things, as he confessed to me that he had missed that while doing his digital works. The hand of the artist was a bit absent from a process which takes a click of a mouse and the resources of a master digital printer. Lately he's been making sculpture as way to return to a more hands-on activity.

It is when people assumed that I too made a digital art that I saw how basic and old-fashioned my studio practice actually was. Unlike Jim Riswold, for example, I do not employ a team to make my product (though we obviously both like red and green...). There's just me laying down fingerprints.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

collection (Dee Reich)

One summer Lauren Mantecon had a garden party. This was when I first started Artstar Radio, so it must have been 2002. I decided to bring along a tape recorder and ask people various reporter-on-the-street questions about the local art scene and make a program out of it.

Inside the house was a coffeenook where a lone silent woman sat. Eventually I joined her and asked for her views. She was dark and mysterious. And what she said, whatever that was, was very thoughtful. When she told me that she was an artist, I said send me your work, just based on the initial persona of this woman.

It took months to hear back from Dee Reich, who sent me xeroxes of the work. So much for presentation, eh? When you like it, you like it, and maybe she sent xeroxes to the one person who would enjoy receiving a bunch of them and doesn’t have to have slides or CDs or grand portfolios. She had a successful show at Lovelake.

Dee does men in ties. Occasionally she will do a woman, but mostly it is men who look like they came from the Weimar Republic. Some of the works are monoprints (like the one above) and some are made on cement, like the piece below.

Saturday, January 6, 2007

collection (Darren Orange)

This piece by Darren Orange looks big, but it small enough to scan. Darren makes work which addresses the wasted environment, oil slicks and coastlines. He used to live in Astoria, which is when Lovelake showed him, but now resides in the Southwest.

art to go

Regina Hackett makes a great blog. She is even using the letters from people who defend artists she was not thrilled with. I like the turn of events here because she can take the fallout and hit it back with a reasonable vigor.

She defends her view and her right to write it without the big yet unqualified agendas in tow. Mind, I don’t live in Seattle and could certainly be wrong, but I do know that much of the writing going on in Portland has conditions attached. Maybe Ms. Hackett has a ton of conditions too, but within her blog she has already set up a place to openly define what they are.

As regards agendas, I read in simpleposie once how at least we had something to react against. This writer implied that his town was so sleepy, there wasn’t even an antagonistic force to deal with.

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Storm Tharp (and Leigh Bowery)

As was expected, Storm Tharp’s new show at PDX is so inspiring. He follows his heart to unsettling places with finesse.
Your first thought on the portraits is Francis Bacon, but with a finer line. Tharp flames his technical charms via a variety of patterns, treatments in the paper, strange area shifts, ink and pigment bleeds. He confidently flushes big and loose color.

The faces aren’t easy to live with either. Most of them are an aggressive reminder of Leigh Bowery, a flamboyant character of the British ‘80s art, music and style scene. The portraits don’t have quite the same shock value as what Bowery came up with, but the provocative and disturbing model is on a similar order.

collection (Kenny Higdon)

During the tenure of Lovelake, Kenny Higdon had a show called The Death of Lewis and Clark. It came right around the heralding of various local celebrations about the explorers. But Kenny had a new view of these adventurers and I loved the stories he told.

The works were all done on cardboard and had a bit of an anti-painting slant to them. Still, they were glazed to gleam. This was my favorite piece in the exhibition, called Jasper Johns.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

collection (Baby Smith)

Like most artists, I am also a small time collector, just by virtue of who I know (or correspond with, as was the case with mail art). Most of the works have been given to me.

As I have a lot of works on paper, much of the collection stays in portfolios. It’s occurred to me that I could at least share some of them here and give them a life that way. I’ve got stuff dating from the mid-70s.

This piece is by Baby Smith who also has a show up right now at Chambers. I am not sure what a 'Heap' is, as I forgot to ask her that during the interview on KPSU. But I do know that everything is from The Fat of the Land, all from what she can pick up off the streets of LA. The pieces are box-like and feel like painting as much as they do collage.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007


Gee, I don’t feel the slightest motivation to write even a small morsel of a “Best of 2006” list. That’s hard to believe, because I still saw a lot of good exhibitions, but I also spent a lot of time putting them together. This means major burnout, translated into a body (and soul) malfunction.

The time right after the New Year is the respite. Quietude is it’s own performance (the name of this piece, made in 1987).

Monday, January 1, 2007

exile in 2007

While the interviews at Artstar may be on hiatus, radio goes on. I will still go in to play music today. I was just thinking yesterday that I might play a whole LP when I read in the New York Times how Lou Reed played the entire Berlin Album for the first time not long ago at St. Ann's.

God, would that have been a show to see. That happens to be the only album I have played all the way through on the radio, since it is such a piece of art, such a complete statement.

Exile on Main Street by the Rolling Stones is another collection that for me holds together as one. Of course it marks a time and place in my life – it’s when I first started doing drugs and sex. Yet I was still a really silly teenager who made tapes with my girlfriend in which she pretended she was Carly Simon and I pretended I was Bianca. I wish I still had those tapes!

I also wish I still had all of the postcards which came with the album. I studied them for ages, had them all on my refridgerator and then sent them to lucky people. The design of the entire album, with the photography by Robert Frank, is one of the best.

It is so legendary that a new book by Robert Greenfield is out which does nothing but detail the riotous making of it. I hear it’s some good reading. I’ll bring in 2007 with Exile.