With summer rapidly approaching and springtime colds and midterms leaving you in a daze, sometimes it’s too much to spend your art time trying to justify or comprehend someone’s hyper-personal conceptual MFA mumbo jumbo. Sometimes you want to drink beer in the sun, walk through cherry-blossom rain showers, tell bad jokes and look for someone to make out with. And sometimes you just want to see some radical art. Something steeped in joy. So to that end I give you my top three “Rad as a Bike Ride at Night” shows for April.
E-Rock, “Self Portrait as an Artist”
Stumptown, S.E. 34th and Belmont
E-Rock is one of those genius-type guys who uncompromisingly plugs away at his vision – sometimes well underneath the radar – while all the while making Portland a better place to live. His label, Audio Dregs, puts out amazing avant-electro and dance music packaged lovingly, oftentimes featuring E-Rock’s art. He’s done videos for everyone from Nice Nice to Panther, to Global Goon and Ratatat. I mean, visually he’s all over the place. “Self Portrait as an Artist” is an amazing cartoon show of black and white paintings featuring big blocky drawings that are both really fucking funny and quickly done. My favorites are “Simon and Garf,” featuring Paul Simon and Garfield recreating the cover of Bookends, as well as E-Rock’s self-portrait of himself as a Smurf as Freddy Mercury. Or was it himself as Freddy Mercury as a Smurf?
“Ninjas Are Sweet” group show
Moshi Moshi, 811 E. Burnside St.
This ninja-themed group show features 20 artists painting, drawing and whatevering everyone’s favorite killers in the night. I recently told a friend I would only move to Brooklyn with her if she would get me a job as a ninja. Then she sent me a Craigslist ad for a ninja-themed restaurant hiring ninjas to perform ninja magic at the tables. I applied but was too much of a fat guy to fit in the costume, so I am still stuck in PDX working at my shitty jobs. Why am I telling you this instead of reviewing this show? Because this show is too good to review. There are not enough good words in the English language to describe this show. So go to it.
Renowned Gallery, 811 E. Burnside St.
As long as you’re hanging out on the new hyper-rad 800-block of East Burnside Street, see Michele Blade’s show at Renowned. Blade is one of those unabashed nature lovers who spend so much time drawing in the woods that their work can get a little, um, esoteric. This is, frankly, awesome. Give me graphite drawings of yetis, fairies and orbs over cheeseball MFA shit any day. Seriously, drawing is one of those practices that are treated like an exercise, reduced so often to cartoons or still lifes, to see an artist reaching, even in an ironic or goofy way with such a limited medium, is fucking great. And I’ve been to those woods, and it’s there man, all of it. The paintings aren’t bad either.