Friday, January 30, 2009

alternative methods

Not long ago Charlie Finch posted a couple of pieces (here and here) in Artnet on the future of the art world and how a collective approach might be an answer to when you no longer have a gallery showing you. After the first piece, there was quite a conversation over at Edward Winckleman about it. I was sort of surprised at how many people did not believe in a collective model - or in artists doing other things besides making their art.

Just the idea that an artist would sit a gallery bugged some. Do they think this is the wrong way for an artist to dirty their hands? You still see that in Portland and I like running into them there. But I guess in NYC it became a sort of act of disgrace.

But why be so attached to The Grand Dealer as the only possible model? Even at its height and heyday, it does not work for everybody. There is more than one way to show or sell your work. What I often see here in Portland (and it’s probably the same everywhere else) and is that there are not only too many artists to fit them all into the gallery system, there are also types of artists and types of work that don’t work well there. I was one of them until I was almost 50 years old. And I still like doing art things, art ventures which are not about the gallery system, which do not take place there.

When I first moved to NYC, I showed with Colab a lot. I am not saying these were all the greatest of shows but I am glad they were there. You can look back at your rites of passage and see that some of the rough and tumble times were very good times. I think if I was just in the gallery system since 25 and that was my life, well, that could have been really boring. If you do spend some time in alternative methods, it can shape you for the rest of your life in positive ways.

February at Art Focus

This week KBOO is in progress with their pledge drive and Art Focus took the week off. I hope those of you who listen regularly to KBOO will consider giving them some money.

All of February at Art Focus is already scheduled. On the 5th I will interview Jesse Durost, who is currently showing Fabrications at Fourteen30. On the 12th Patrick Rock will be my guest. He’s an artist and the founding director of Rocksbox. He also seems to be single-handedly transforming the most of the various gallery programs at PSU. On the 19th Art Focus will feature Fontanelle. Leslie Miller, co-founder of the gallery, plus exhibiting artist Mark Warren Jacques will join me. And the final week of February belongs to Jim Archer, who is well known as a curator but also is very active artist. He is showing paintings at the Life in the Everett Station Lofts.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Mandy Greer and Darrel Morris on KBOO

Link to the interview archive.

Tomorrow on Art Focus on KBOO I will interview the two artists showing at the Museum of Contemporary Craft, Mandy Greer and Darrel Morris. Mandy Greer’s show (image above) is an installation of crochet, braiding, sewing and beading using yarn, beads, shells, feathers and more. It contrasts an orgy of green against a night sky of black and silver constellations. Darrel Morris presents large works (image below) from the last ten years which feature the stitch on fabric which may seem like drawing to our eyes, yet that’s not exactly what it is. Both of them have really interesting stories on how they got to their unique practices. The museum is hosting a panel discussion which happens tomorrow as well, featuring the artists and the curators Stefano Catalani and Namita Gupta Wiggers.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

cary doucette on KBOO

Tomorrow I am interviewing cary doucette (work above) on Art Focus on KBOO. He has a show up at 12 x 16 called parts and pieces. He is showing alongside Jerry Walker (work below), who graduated from the museum school in 1969, showed in several Oregon Biennials and at the Fountain Gallery too. He passed away at the age of 42. The work and its resurface has an interesting story which we'll cover in the interview.

It's curious to me how artists disappear, especially if they had a such a strong career or personality earlier on. Sometimes it just takes a wrong (or at least fateful) turn for everything to change and fall through the cracks. And it's just as extraordinary a turn when someone years later resurfaces. These works were all carefully packed and stored away for years unseen. And by a turn of events, things said to the right person at just the right time, we could now have a conversation about this work. While Walker left us, his work did not.
The show made me think about the people I've known over the years, people who made good work and had such interesting ideas - just gone, fallen off the planet. I've looked for them and can't find them. But this show revealed to me that you never know. Cary posted some short videos of both exhibitions here.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Susie J. Lee at the Marylhurst Art Gym

Yesterday I interviewed Susie J. Lee at her exhibition Shadow Playing at the Marylhurst Art Gym. Susie told me that she tutors students in math and science and that the parents of girls are particularly glad a woman is the tutor. Her various relationships with females of all ages prodded her to explore what women leave behind or take with them as they mature. The installation at Marylhurst has video and audio of girls (and women) playing, taunting, reciting. The girls are about ten, which I think is a pretty amazing age. Around ten to twelve, we are so much what we are going to be and in fact we can be closer to ourselves than when we are sixteen. It’s like you take this big detour and some of us never come back.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Laura Fritz on KBOO

Last night I was able to preview Evident by Laura Fritz at the New American Art Union. Evident is an installation of video and furniture which embraces the entire space at NAAU. It is also a part of the Couture series, curated by Ruth Ann Brown, who generously gave stipends to selected artists for a group of no-strings-attached solo shows, allowing two week installation time and six week long exhibition runs. I interviewed Laura already at KBOO for this show, which broadcasts tomorrow (Thursday) at 10:30AM.
Here's the archive.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

we're optimists

While the details are not exactly right, Charlie Finch has managed, all the way from New York, to nail down the facts fairly well in his latest Artnet Column. We are optimistic. We want to do something even when the financial forecast is worse than stormy. And as Jason Renaud said recently and so eloquently: “We wanted to use a sledgehammer but found that art worked so much better.”

Meaning: photographs, documentation, stories, words and in this particular case, a film. Currently in production and directed by Brian Lindstrom, Alien Boy tells of the life and the death of James Chasse. A couple of years ago my online diary was full of his story: an artist on the forefront of the Portland punk scene, a maker of fanzines, a singer in a band and someone who struggled with schizophrenia. He died in police custody after an altercation with them and they probably should not have been dealing with him anyway. But for the record, Jim was not drugged, he was not dangerous – to himself or others. He was actually considered "a success" in the mental health care system here, a survivor.

The Mental Health Association of Portland has already moved mountains in progress since James Chasses died. There were so many mishaps along the way in his death, so many ways things could have gone differently. Slowly big changes have been made and the police in Portland get very special training for dealing with the mentally ill now. This film will only accelerate the process and take it across the country. People are concerned. Some people are very angry. It was heartbreaking to see what happened to Jim.

So I’m organizing events, house parties and finding ways to unite people so they can verbalize their concerns, get to action - and help us finish this film! We’ve already had some powerful success and Brian Lindstrom has a beautiful track record.