Josh Arseneau – “We Are Your Family Now”
Sugar Gallery, 420 S.W. Washington St.
Arseneau’s exhibit features a series of mixed-media explorations into the phenomena of child soldiers in west Africa. His work, on a variety of surfaces from canvas to dress patterns, owes as much to graffiti and U.S. urban culture as it does to its socio-political subject. In fact it’s the inclusion of these elements, be it graf-style backgrounds or portraits of Tupac, that give Arseneau’s work its weight. The connection between the child soldiers and U.S. culture – not just gang culture – with American flags, juice boxes, postures and hip hop, shows the powerful appeal of violence and affiliation. “We Are Your Family Now” talks about marginalization, and being rendered powerless. It also illuminates how violence offers an escape.
Ogle Gallery, 310 N.W. Broadway
Please stop painting birds. Paint anything, any fucking thing, but birds. No more cute birds. No more natural birds. No more line drawn over silk-screened birds. No more birds pecking out the eyes of your evil stepsister because that’s how Grimm wrote it originally. No birds! None! I know birds represent innocence, escape and natural adaptation; and I know that we, as suffering middle-class white kids, want nothing more than to embody that as well. But I’m done. I don’t care to see it any more.
That said, “Portland Modern” artist Andrew Meyers paints beautiful, natural birds. The pieces are large, dynamic and textural. In fact, they are so good there is no reason for YOU to ever paint birds again, because they cannot live up to Meyers’ work.
Small A Projects, 1430 S.E. Third Ave.
The art of collage has come a long way from the Dadaist cut and paste of Hannah Hoch. Thanks to computers, snip and combine as an art form has become the point and click, and the appropriation of images to manipulate and sample is just a Google search away. Where glue bubbles and torn edges once dominated the works, now clean digital prints adorn gallery walls. Which is to say, the stakes have been raised. Any hackneyed MFA student with a disdain for all things Republican or SUV can manipulate news images and advertisements to reek of ironic statement. From Hoch’s machine men, amputeed veterans and Weimar gluttony, we get Bush with an ass for a face, or a snake’s forked tongue. It takes a lot for collage artists to rise above the trust-fund G3 rabble and do something that carries both political and aesthetic weight. “Iron Eagle” does that. Mannis’ work, featured in Small A’s inaugural show “All I Want Is Everything,” takes the 80 years of combination work and takes it further. His video installations are both meditative and psychedelic, manifesting both cable access and Kenneth Anger. His collage work takes Hoch’s terrifying and hilarious situations, her mocking naturalism, and adds elements of psychedelia, current consumer culture and media exploitation. Also, it’s funny. Really funny.