Hanging out with the Locals

Going to the Locals on opening night had me remembering acertain opening a few years ago: I walk behind a curtain, enter adark room full of weirdnesses and eventually exit. As I exit, I runinto Henk Pander, a veteran painter in town. I say to him: “Thisshow reminds me of the ’80s.” He goes in, comes back and I turn tohim: “I suppose you saw something like that in the ’60s.” “No,” hesays, “I saw something like that in the ’50s.”

And so it goes. Not to say I didn’t see fun things at theLocals. Just like I saw fun things in the ’80s.

What bugged me was the reference in the Oregonian on how thisshow was “DIY in the Pearl.” Ugh! Enough already! Especially if youwant to talk about this show – as it is in Blackfish Gallery (420N.W. Ninth Ave.), and Blackfish is indeed a group of artists whoshow themselves and have for two decades. They’ve been there andthey’ve done that without labels and Core Samples or any of it.

I’m not saying that what Blackfish shows is all new andwild and crazy. But then again, being independent or noncommercialis not reliant on new and wild and crazy.

The Locals curator Vicki Lynn Wilson thankfully addresses thisfully in her curatorial statement. She also makes no apologiesabout this show not being a ‘best of’ or conclusive arrival of whois who.

Wilson says that the many offbeat shows of artists we might notknow (but have heard of) are in places we just don’t get to. “Ithought it might be fun, and maybe important, to have a warehouseshow in a white, Pearl District gallery, with all the trimmings ofglossy brochures and First Thursday crowding.” Basically, her goalwas to mix it up and bring high end people to low end art.

The show was installed just like any haphazard wild night. Notthat I mind and in fact I enjoyed it, but this was not atraditional white space art show. It was still kids’ night out ininstallation style and it was still kids’ night out when you lookedat the crowd. This did not look like a sedate Pearl crowd shocked;it looked, rather, simply shocked.

But if you’ve been to openings throughout the years in thePearl, and even if you haven’t, you could definitely appreciate theLocals. I took a friend of mine visiting from San Francisco to thisshow on opening night. Exhibitions like the Locals is a reason shewants to move here. It’s the mix that grabbed her, the fact that ashow like the Locals could exist so easily in the same area as moresedate, large money galleries like Alysia Duckler.

This exhibition mixed the visual arts with music andpublishing and video – anything independent seemed to satisfycriteria. One could spend time with a fanzine or listen to sometruly non-Top 40 music. While not a bad way to spend a rainyafternoon, I would still not say that we were blazing new trails.But if you haven’t been exposed to this kind of work then youbetter haul your ass to the Locals, tout suite.

It’s possible that some of us here face the group show thresholdthat Jeff Jahn has written about extensively in his column atNWDrizzle.com (of course it’s easy for him to say that after he hasproduced several of them!). Another collection with little commonground, unfamiliarity aside. You start to yearn for more.

Richard Speer of Willamette Week hit the nail on the head whenhe raved about Bryan Suereth’s piece as an arrival and point offocus for this show: the large suspended dripping ice cubes filledwith men’s ties – what does it all mean? I don’t care; it lookedgreat. Yes, yes, the transient quality of it all. Just like aVanitas painting.