I met Makiko Sugawa several years ago while I was the director at another gallery in Portland. I showed her work there and have continued to show her work since. Makiko lost her leg to cancer 12 years ago. This event heavily influences her work. “Lady amputee in a powder room” reflects this influence. Each of her delicate drawings features a character missing limbs. Like with her prosthetic limb, the subjects of her pieces also have interchangeable prosthetic’s. The difference between reality and her work is that the figures are like dolls with snap on limbs. Makiko is a champion for amputees in Japan and is heavily involved in the community. In a country that is fixated on appearance, this can’t be easy but she keeps knocking down barriers. “Lady amputee in a powder room” opens at Vanilla Gallery in Tokyo on February 6th.
Portland artist and Forest For the Trees alumni Adam Friedman has a new show opening with Cordesa fine art in Los Angeles on February 11. I stopped by Adam’s studio to check out the work before it heads down to southern California. During our chat Adam told me that the title of the show is a response to the appropriation of words associated with nature by modern financial and political institutions. Words like erosion and climate are used by these folks as a metaphor for the ups and downs of their organizations. If I had to guess I would say most of these people are probably out of touch with nature other than what they see on the screens of their devices. The use of geometry and natural scenery in Adam’s paintings really illustrate this disconnect. Adam has also created an an almost topographic installation piece for the gallery featuring a series of triangular mountains. If you are in Los Angeles, don’t miss this show.
This article from Artspace about the state of brick-and-mortar galleries is really interesting. In the last couple years or so I have been constantly thinking about how quick and drastic the brick-and-mortar gallery model has changed. I sort of chalked it up to progress or changing times. Now I realize these changes are not always so positive. Embracing change is good but the old model has to be replaced with something that doesn’t lower the bar for advancement in art. Adapt or die seems to be the course of action. I just hope people are not adapting to a new low standard.
The modern art world has divided itself into so many genres, I’m not even sure what part of the art world I belong to anymore. Low brow, pop surreal, new contemporary etc….. A rose by any other name is still the final nail in the coffin. The art world that I see around me seems to be filled with artists and curators who cut off their noses to spite their face. If this Artspace article is correct, and it’s true that stand alone galleries are on the decline, then we need to examine the possible causes. Curators who constantly dumb down their curation for social media popularity or to turn a quick buck could be to blame. Artists who beat a dead horse because they lucked into some popular aesthetic or who make cheap tchotchke under the excuse that it makes art more “affordable and accessible for the masses or beginning collectors” should also take some responsibility. This always smacks of underestimating the art viewers ability to comprehend growth and change in in the art world. It also underestimates the new collector’s ability to invest in original art as opposed to just buying an inexpensive image. Lack of criticism in the age of “everyone wins a trophy” could also be a major player. How can artists and curators improve without criticism? These things devalue the art and the gallery experience. Add in the dependence on social media, and the equation breeds mediocrity. These fast moving changes push galleries and artists into unfortunate choices. I always felt like the responsibility of curators was to foster and discover new artists and to push established artists to experiment and challenge themselves. The contemporary internet “likes” model fosters pop culture themed group shows that pander to the masses. Many galleries are all feeding from the same pool of artists and recycling them from show to show and state to state. It must work since everyone is doing it, right? Possibly, but it’s a short game mentality. Social media is not the end of the brick-and-mortar galleries but it makes maintaining integrity much more difficult and much more important. Galleries will survive but they may not be a standard brick-and-mortar space on the same corner every month. Some galleries will thrive simply due to lack of competition. Some will move to more cost saving spaces. I feel that art and creativity is a long game. Reinvention is a must. I fall firmly into the category of constantly evolving and exploring different environments to learn, display and market art.
First edition of Sketchtab at Gigantic Brewing here in Portland. I invited artists to sketch on the back of coasters in exchange for pints of beer. Fantastic night. Next installment, February 2017.
Photos from the event –
Coaster sketches from the evening –
Opening Saturday December 3rd at 6pm at Gigantic Brewing.
New work from Tall Trees of Tokyo artist SAL.
If you would like to be added to the artwork sales preview list for this show, please provide your name and email.
Show is currently hanging at Gigantic Brewing through October
AVAILABLE ARTWORK –
Opening reception photos –
Eric Wert –
Observation was crucial to the Dutch masters of the 17th century. A fact that Eric Wert and the classic painters have in common. With their internal glow and intricately painted tapestry backgrounds, Eric’s paintings raise the still life to new levels. He has a knack for painting the real and making it surreal.
Eric was born and raised in the Willamette Valley, and lived in Chicago for several years. He returned home to live and work in Portland 9 years ago. During his career, he has been very fortunate to have artwork included in over 100 exhibitions and art fairs across the U.S. and in Europe. This exhibit with Hellion will be his 13th solo exhibition, and his first in the Pacific Northwest.
The subjects of the paintings in Stomping Ground are all local. Some are unique species native to the region, such as the Northern Red Legged Frog; others, like the Bull Thistle, are invasives with which we are all familiar. These paintings are inspired both by observations of the distinctive flora and fauna of the Northwest, as well as by study of 17th century Dutch Golden age painters, such as Otto Marseus Von Schrieck (1613- 1678), who cast an enlightenment age eye toward the beauty, strangeness and complexity of the often overlooked natural world.
In The Ether with Veronique Dorey and Tamaki Mori
Veronique Dorey –
Tamaki Mori –
AVAILABLE ARTWORK VERONIQUE DOREY –
AVAILABLE ARTWORK TAMAKI MORI –