Friday, March 2, 2012

First Thursday; @Various Galleries, 3.1.12

One of my roommates tagged me for this one, at the last minute; it was my first First Thursday, where all the galleries Downtown, China-town hang new pretties on the walls and (momentarily) fling open their doors, enticing people with free pizza, booze, live music, and all for free. At times, living in Portland, wandering around in the Pearl District feels like living in an Art Museum that is open all night - its an aesthetic town.

The reason we went was to see Anthropormorphism, the opening for artist Dawn Yanagihara, which mainly consisted of gracefully faded chimeras: bird people, deer people, lion-headed people. The effect was consistently antiqued, not necessarily a step backwards in time, but sideways, into a world that never was. Little nuances like an e mail sign up sheet that was a little league list from a Texas town in the 50s, the spell was complete and thorough. More graphic design than fine art, i didn't feel like this was art for the ages, although it was tasteful and would look nice on yr walls. She was selling post-cards and prints, (in old-fashioned manila envelopes), and looked like she had people lining up to give her money; people must've liked it. I would like to see what this artist does, when no is looking, her execution is impeccable and her attention to nuance, detail, and mood, to create an emotional experience, is impressive, and appealing to mine eyes. Anthropormorphism is a figure of the times.

The band My Body provided the soundtrack for the evening, furthering the anachronism with a blend of accordion, electric guitar, glockenspiel, BOSS SP-505 Drum Machine. They created a somniative drift, consistently dreamy and mellow, excellent tone was had by all. Jordan Bagnall's got a lovely voice and presence, and the reedy drone of her accordion was rich and trance-y, like a harmonium, a wooden trellis for the simple-yet-effective electric guitar lines, all snaky middle-eastern Faith-era Cure sounding, to weave around. Not a saccharine sugar ride, but more amniotic and soothing, seducing you into the warmth of the SoHitEk Gallery.

My favorite exhibit of the evening was by Vilem, a conjoined show with artist Kristina Koenig, titled “We can blame the Eskimos…They don’t have an army…”. Vilem's pieces were large, messy affairs, that reminded me of works by Basquait or Anselm Kiefer. One of the pieces featured the pink pegasus created by Basquait and Warhol for Exxon, flying over a serialist field of xeroxed oil wells; Vilem's not trying to reinvent the wheel, obviously, he is pondering and perfecting. A number of the pieces photo transfers from his own photography, glazed with homemade chemicals (don't tell Homeland Security), they sketchy dirty possibly fucked up, full of hidden imagery, layers buried in the fog. He was hanging around the gallery, talking about his various pieces, espousing on art, meaning, creativity, irish men and the origin of China Town. He didn't seem like he was trying to sell me some post-criticism, he's just doing his thing, making art that is trying to say something. Many of his pieces were LARGE and textured, they looked great hanging all together, creating a vibe in the room, you could get lost for hours. He said the exhibit was going to be up for at least another month at the fotoeffect gallery, 625 NW Everett St, #107. The pictures on the internet can't hold a candle to the objects themselves.

Many more interesting things were seen and heard, and i was bowled over for gratitude, yet again, to live in this town in 2012; my friends and i launched into all manner of speculation, heated discussion, agreement and argument, and all of our shores were slightly broadened.

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