Portland is proving to have its fair share of art connections with Texas. Last week on the Meet-Up Art Walk we stopped in Froelick Gallery and spotted the work of Terrell James, an artist we met at Barry Whistler Gallery in Dallas. She lives in Houston where the gallery owner has roots.
The weekend prior we stopped into Weaving Data at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at PSU and shared the show with some artist friends in Dallas who were well aware and wished they could see it. And of course, seeing Oldenburg’s slice of wedding cake a few months ago completed a Texas tale heard long ago.
When you remove yourself from a place, you become removed from connections, human and otherwise, that took a long time to make. As was the case when we moved to Dallas from New York, it took some time for our orientation to shift. The huge Hudson River collection at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art probably muddied our view of the Texas bayous, but we eventually found a new center.
Last weekend at the Portland Fine Print Fair I realized that now in Oregon, orientation was gone. For the past decade or more, I learned about Texas art and artists, the history of art movements in Dallas, Houston, and Fort Worth and related artworks to the people I had learned about. It struck me I was in a completely different place now, with new things to discover.
For sure, the print fair is not about Oregon artists, and there isn’t really such a thing as Texas art. There are artists living everywhere and geography is often a minor influence, if at all. That leaves it up to the galleries, dealers, shows and artists who have a presence in a place to provide a worldview – and a center – for viewers. Perhaps it’s a new place in the web that connects us as humans.
I expect we’ll continue to find commonalities and references, and grow into a new reality. It’s a matter of being out and about, seeing and learning. Here are a few things that caught our eye recently.
Another Wet Street, Guy Gilray, Rental Sales Gallery, Portland Art Museum
They warned us of the wet and of the seasonal disorder we would be faced with in our new northwest home. Neither has bothered us much. In fact, I tend to want to embrace it with paintings like this one.
Limestone sculpture by Benjamin Mefford, Blackfish Gallery
In the current exhibition at the Blackfish Gallery, Benjamin Mefford demonstrates his mastery in a variety of medium in his solo show: “Material”, ranging from soft wool to hard stone. In retrospect, the artist concurs that the theme that unites all his work is the organic natural abstract patterns. While limestone sculpture takes dedication to eschew a certain form, he is more proud of those wool art pieces which take advantage of physics to support their forms (without any wiring).
Paintings by Wayne Jiang, Lan Su Chinese Garden
We caught the last day of Wayne Jiang’s exhibition at Lan Su Chinese Garden. Jiang draws his inspiration from old masters but focuses on simple and mundane subjects in our daily life. Most of his paintings are in acrylic; yet through delicate glazing and layers, he is able to achieve luminosity typical in oil paintings from the Golden Age of Dutch art. He also references American painter William McCloskey and features a few wrapped oranges in the show.
Kayla Mattes, Blue Screen of Death, JSMA
This was hanging with a companion piece called Zoom Cats. They show the frustration that often comes with our digital lives. Blue Screen shows the barrage of negative messages we so often encounter. The weavings use a soft material and a traditional process to give us pause. Zoom cats, which you can imagine show cats on a zoom camera, reminded me of the pandemic period when we met familiar faces on the screen. But in an unnatural setting, it can even be harder than usual to know what to say. So often we give up and show off our equally dumbfounded pets.
Benny Fountain, Last Pink Light, Froelick Gallery
We saw a show of this artist’s work a few months prior. Beautiful sketches of landscapes and light. At once, moody, encouraging and quiet.
Terrell James’ work at Froelick Gallery
We found a Texas connection at Froelick Gallery. Mr. Froelick, originally from Houston, Texas, moved to Portland in the 90s. We have seen Terrell James’ works at Barry Whistler Gallery in Dallas. At Froelick Gallery, the ephemeral feelings of nature are suggested by quick brushstrokes of green, blue and silvery white, likely a nod to the PNW’s landscape.
Eddie Reed, You Too. Blackfish Gallery
Bold colors and complex reactions to repeated images below the painting gave me the feeling that this artist pays close attention to the world around him and works to make sense of his reactions.
Sekino Jun’ichiro, Portland Airport, 1979. Portland Art Museum
Mt Fuji is often present in Japanese prints and so these artists may feel at home looking at Mt Hood. Seeing familiar places is always fun and gravity brought us to this scene. These days the airport is often the first thing we see in a new city. Far away things are often quite different, yet as we explore, much will seem familiar.
Decaying sculpture in Downtown Portland
It’s frustrating to see things like this. Perhaps it was commissioned when the building was constructed but should have been removed when it was abandoned. To me, it represents the urban and societal decay many long-time residents see as all too apparent here. I like to think this story hasn’t ended.
Top: Fine Print Fair at Portland Art Museum