Muy rom퀌�ntico!

The following dialogue is loosely based on every pretentious art show opening.

"Hello my name is Choncy Jones. And you are…?"
"Bredgette Stuvegese." (Sharp, cold handshake.)
"Do you know the artist or the curator?"
"Ooh, yeah! Me too!" (Fake, fast, high-pitched laughter.)

This is one of the many reasons I avoid typical art gallery shows. Yet, I’m always amazed at the sincere and solid work hanging abandoned on the walls while the constant teeming of networking takes the center of attention.

What are you going to do? Well, you could just blend in. Or you could do something completely taboo: look at the artwork! Dive into it. Have a conversation with it. Flirt with it. Touch it. Smell it. Taste it.

Of course it’s easier to step up when the art rocks. This last First Thursday (Westside Art Walk) brought some art you might want to step up to.

Two of the cutest Valentine-themed group shows happened at both Reading Frenzy and Motel. Reading Frenzy’s show is an auction to benefit the local non-profit youth art center p:ear. Crazy idea right, art giving back to the community?

At Motel, Carson Ellis’ ink and watercolor pieces peer into the keyhole and watch lovers, sailors, smokers and flappers embrace in timeless brown bag air. Jen Corace also threw in a couple acrylic/oil/watercolor pieces where a big, snuggly panda bear wrestles in the snow with a little girl in a red coat. Muy rom퀌�ntico!

At the Compound Gallery and Japanese toy store, a group of five painters were, according to the flier "on the fringe … where dreams and reality mix." All I saw was more horny-boy comic art. Only Eric Bailey’s candy queens posed hip-hop style with matching animal spirits broke the show’s monotony. What could be better than gigantic hoop earrings and a peacock embellishing a glorified East L.A. princess?

One of the finest examples of art playing second fiddle to "networking" was found at Gallery 500. If the art were as lame as the people, it would have been just another blah-blah gallery show. However, Mona Superhero brought some art well worth stepping up to. Who knew you could get so crazy with utility tape (commonly used in signmaking) and melamine plastic? Mona knew!

Golden guitars, men in short shorts and high socks, clustering hot air balloons, naked ladies holding hot pink grenades and other various bold icons were living it up like religious superheroes in their vivid natural setting.

Since the utility tape was cut, the rich vivid colors stood out solid with sharp tight lines. The pieces also had thoughtful layering going on, for example, one piece had a massive boom-box popping up under a layered red sky, you could only see it by getting close enough to lick it.

So, if you ever want some inspiration and reassurance that Portland isn’t completely dry of creative juice, go and check out these shows.