First Thursday: Scene and Herd

Almost two years ago, Tokion Magazine dedicated an entire issue to a new school of artists they named the “disobedients.” Underneath this moniker was found street art, post-graffiti gallery art, video directors, graphic designers, toy designers, skaters and pretty much any DIY artist who’d taken the ethos of punk and hip-hop and made a go at it visually.

It wasn’t an organized movement before Tokion put a name on it and it certainly isn’t an organized movement now, but that hasn’t slowed the number young disobedients to surface in gallery spaces. This First Thursday, the Scene and Herd posse found ourselves smack dab in the middle with some of Portland’s best established and up-and-coming disobedients. What we got was some great art, stupid lines and really drunk.


Overheard at Backspace, 115 N.W. 5th Ave.:

“Look at that one.”

“What, the X-box? I’ve got one of those.”

Portland’s gaming paradise seems like a strange stop to find young and exciting art, but I was pleasantly surprised. Mixed in between the networked computers, power drinks and sallow, walleyed gamers was a nice variety of work from a handful of artists.

Giuseppe Lipani has an impressive series of work – apparently illustrations for a children’s book about crows. Quinton Bradley’s paintings and lithographs are fun, bringing to mind the work of Elizabeth Peyton with a vague political bent.

There are a couple of awkward moments in the show, however, the most glaring being Laudin Michael Fierro’s installation, featuring dozens of condoms adorned with messages and artwork hanging from pieces of twine strung like laundry lines. The artist’s statement cites the misconceptions of sex and the threat of AIDS; its earnest awkwardness conjured an image of Bono, fist raised among the condoms, white flag waving, yelling about apartheid and a better tomorrow. Ugh.

Next door at the Compound Gallery, 107 N.W. 5th Ave.:

“I can’t believe you’re wearing your Dunks out! Those are limited edition sneakers!”

I cannot say enough nice things about this gallery. It’s the epicenter of disobedient art in Portland and located over an amazing import toy store, blurring the lines between the art and consumables in the best way possible.

Its show, Gorgeous Girls, a collection of beautiful women, brings together the work of Joshua Petker and Marco Almera.

Petker’s women are vivid, loose paintings that evoke both the best of ’60s illustration and the kitsch of Spanish bullfighting paintings. His strokes, as vintage as they may feel, are complimented beautifully by his use of bold and occasionally day-glow colors, (in a good way, I swear).

Almera’s women exist in a perpetual California sunset with rich browns, yellows and oranges, complete with modernist furniture, muscle cars, and perfect tans. His collection of prints and paintings vary from slick commercial work to black velvet and suede paintings.


Overheard at the Motel Gallery, NW. Davis, between Fifth and Sixth:

“There’re too many paintings.”

“Yeah, what are there, like 100?”

Why yes, there are, like, 100 different pieces to look at this month at the Motel Gallery. To celebrate Motel’s first anniversary, 100 different artists got together to create an over-stimulating barrage of color and fun.

The effect is that of a Paris salon show around the turn of the century crashing head first into the Technicolor nightmare of Munchkinland from “The Wizard of Oz.” All your favorites are here, too, from national superstars Fawn Gehweiler and Martin Ontiveros, to local heroes like E*rock and the indestructible Bwana Spoons.

The work here is amazing. There is just so much of it, too. I hate to say it, but it must be seen to be believed. While you’re there, shop the selection of handmade goods by local and national designers. Happy birthday, Motel.

Overheard at the Basil Hallward Gallery, inside Powell’s Books on W. Burnside:

“I bet you could put my dick in that one.”

“What’s wrong with you? You can’t put your dick in that. I mean, I guess you could, but I really don’t think you’re supposed to.”

Did someone mention the indestructible Bwana Spoons? The multitalented illustrator/curator/zinester who brought you such classics as the Grass Hut Corp.’s Ain’t Nothing Like Fucking Moonshine zine, and the new Pencil Fight zine, as well as being a regular contributor to the Willamette Week and doing shows of his own work all over the country, put together a show dedicated to the art of the stuffed animal, Plushtastrophe. These aren’t your average Pooh bears, my friend.

Tucked away on the third floor of Powell’s, you will find some of the most brilliant and fucked-up plush animals you have ever seen. But please, don’t hug them too hard.

After all that free wine and what with this mighty staph infection I’ve got on my ass yet again, I never made it to the real galleries deeper in the prefab and stucco Pearl district. But who cares?

Let the rich housewives do their color field art and O’Keefe impersonations; I’ve got t-shirts, skateboards and toys to keep me inspired. In fact, I was so inspired that I decided to do a little disobedient art of my own and write my name in the snow with pee. I know, the snow is long gone, so I used your porch. I hope you don’t mind.