To a grinding halt

Once a month over 50 zillion downtown galleries and coffee shops host art openings – we call it First Thursday. These openings enrich our city and allow us to break out of our grinding routines. Visual art has a ghostly quality that you can feel yet, words fail to describe. Some artwork is so bland that it might as well be hung in the Ross Dress for Less housewares department, while other art can stretch into your eyeballs and pull out tears. Reaching out with the determination of an ice cream truck in the middle of winter, I will try to hammer down the ghostly qualities within the artwork appearing in our beloved city.

Artists who dream in the color of money should definitely make a trip to the Froelick Gallery, 817 S.W. Second Ave. Only two works from a collection of over 20 were not sold at the opening. Priced around $2,500 a pop, the oil paintings reflect refined domestic silliness. If Eddie Bauer and the Starbucks’ interior designers got together to paint fine art, the Froelick Gallery’s walls would be full of the final product. That said, I must admit Brian Kershinik’s work is sincere and touches private parts of my mind.

Speaking of marketability, Powell’s Books is hosting its yearly rock ‘n’ roll poster exhibit. To really dig into the art you have to look at the layers. The silkscreened posters get their color one layer at a time, so the artists not only come up with radical designs to sell you a ticket to a show, they also have to mentally deconstruct the image in order to assign colors to different layers. For example, Mike King, who designed the ghostly Decemberists poster, spent weeks digging through old books, hunting for images of trees, anchors and tattooed men. He then busied himself with scanning, manipulating and printing to match the picture he saw so clearly in his mind. Next time you’re in Powell’s, give the show some of your time.

If silkscreen art is rubbing you the right way, then you must pay a visit to Powell’s City of Books’ lesser-known competitor, Reading Frenzy. Reading Frenzy stocks self-published books you’ll never find at Powell’s and hosts some of the greatest underground artists who are too hairy and freaky for mainstream audiences. The small press sanctuary is located only one block away from the monstrous city of books. Upon the walls of this rouge-hued bookstore/gallery, Icky A. has hung artwork for the people. It’s within a student’s price range ($25) and deals with issues of industrialism and naturalism.

Another hot spot for hipster art in our beloved city is on the outer crust of the Pearl District. As always, the Compound Gallery (located inside Just Be at 107 N.W. Fifth Ave) hosts some of the finest reasons to leave your grinding routine in the name of art. Inside the gallery, a husband and wife team are blowing the place up. Dora Drimalas, who openly admits to making “old lady art,” and her hubby Brian Flynn not only paint smooth familiar faces, but they go all the way with their presentation by painting the gallery’s white walls with colors and designs that help the art bounce right off the wall and into your heart. To see more of what Dora and Brian can do, swing by the shop.

Click here to see more images from First Thursday.