Elizabeth Leach Gallery, 417 N.W. Ninth Ave.
“Fresh” could be the most exciting show on the radar right now (minus D.K. Rowe’s sad-dish review in the Snoregonian). The group show features new work by many of Portland’s favorite artists and, unlike recent PDX Modern showcases, has a sense of play and enthusiasm so lacking in ex-MFA circles right now. As corny as this sounds, “Fresh” really lives up to its promise. Featuring more than a dozen artists, “Fresh” fills the EL gallery to the gills. From Kristen Kennedy’s globular love fests of paint and amorphous form to Mark Mulroney’s staccato cartoon landscapes, “Fresh” forces the viewer to run a gambit of saturated color and alternating abstract form. Portland Art Museum’s biennial pick Chandra Bocci brings some of her least saccharine work to date and the video window by Peripheral Produce star Matt McCormick was a pleasant and moving surprise.
“Out Of Sync”
Rake Gallery, 325 N.W. Sixth Ave.
Another surprising group show, “Out of Sync,” features video instillations of all variety. From sculpture to straightforward installation the giant Rake Gallery is buzzing with young cinema. A fairly new discipline video offers a distinct and often hugely abused medium, and one that has only begun to positively reach U.S. audiences in the last couple years. To see such unique and not trite work in one space – so much of it being PDX bornb – is great, and with special performances and events happening towards the end of the month it seems Rake is finally taking full advantage of its space.
Laura Russo, 805 N.W. 21st Ave.
Mary Josephson terrifies me. Her midsized oil on wood paintings should be some of the most banal I’ve seen. Her portraits are steeped in exoticized, vaguely jingoistic subject matters, are occasionally slightly surrealist in nature, poorly framed and make me think initially of the worst coffee-shop Kahlo-worship. So why, as I stood there trying to figure out her acclaim, did I slowly become attached to certain pieces? Is there a certain educated appeal to Josephson’s work or is it simply because I’ve aged another year and have become staid in my tastes with old age? Hard to say, but I can’t risk going back.
Genuine Imitation Gallery
Kimberlee Hutchins’ work reminds me of every skate deck and rave poster my little brother brought home between 1994 and 1996. Her cute, yet evil world features cute cats, bears, bees and, yes, birds frolicking and bleeding alongside ambiguously nude women/children. Truthfully, there’s not much here. Given Hutchins’ obvious talent and the general good discretion of Genuine Imitation, it’s well-executed, well-traveled territory and disappointingly banal. One question though: Why is it young, cartoon-inspired artists in Portland can’t properly paint hands and feet? Sure they’re hard, but knuckle down you slackers. Five fingers! Five toes! For serious!