Tuesday, April 28, 2009

May 1 On the Existential Danger of PowerPoint

I began to worry when I heard of parents helping their small children prepare PowerPoint presentations for school. Not because of the dangers of school, children or parents. We live in a world of challenges and we need large amounts of information to figure out how to make it right. That is what Edward Tufte thinks and I concur. He also hates PowerPoint.

Edward Tufte is professor emeritus in political science, statistics, computer science and information design at Yale. He is one of those best teachers you have ever had. His thesis is that we are all very smart; we need and want a lot of information; we are able to use that information, clearly presented to make important decisions.

Tufte presents his ideas in several of the most beautiful books you will ever see: The Visual Display of Quantitative Information; Envisioning Information; Visual Explanations: Images and Quantities, Evidence and Narrative; and Beautiful Evidence.

In his books, Tufte presents historical and contemporary examples of data rich graphics with practical suggestions on how to apply the same ideas to your own projects. He argues that PowerPoint structures explanation too simply, leading to poor decisions. He gives examples from NASA in which PowerPoint presentations confused decisions to the point of death. To that end, he has also authored The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint: Pitching Out Corrupts Within.

In a witty rejoinder, artist and musician David Byrne penned Envisioning Emotional Epistemological Information, supporting the use of PowerPoint in art - it's really a conceptual rejoinder, reinforcing Tufte's thesis through irony.

Tufte visits Portland about every 2 years to present a day-long seminar on presenting data and information. I have attended and I recommend it. You will not be bored. Tufte has a side interest in the early history of books. He collects them and has his assasants circulate them, white gloved, through the parcipitants. It is fascinating to see the first edition of Descartes, 1500'ish! Included with registration are copies of Tufte's books, making it a bargain. All the details are at www.edwardtufte.com. It sells out, so register in advance if you are planning to go. At some point he will retire fully, so now is the time to see his presentation if you are so inclined.

At the Portland Marriot Downtown. All day. $380, discounts for full time students or groups registering together.

Monday, April 27, 2009

April 30 What Water Is?

PSU's social practice artists are collaborating with the school's Sustainability Research Project for a night of talk of water. Water is the basis of life, so it is a good focus for art!

Here is the program -
Water 101/How Water Works: The Hydrologic Cycle Presented by Caleb DeChan
Colorless, Odorless & Absolutely Necessary: A Performance Lecture by Linda Wysong
International Perspectives on Water: A Community Forum
Improving Your Relationship with Water: Practical Applications Concerning Collecting, Saving & Using More Sustainably
Appreciating the Willamette: A Group Pilgrimage
Reflection is an Activity: Wearable Water Activism by Natasha Wheat

At the Thursday, SEA Change Gallery seagallery.wordpress.com 625 NW Everett #110 6PM-9 Free

April 29 Polaroid Show

The magic of Polaroid may not be entirely dead, but I would see it while you can. Harvard dropout Edwin Land originally developed polarized sunglasses. In 1948 he developed instant chemistry-based film. The film has been a great scientific tool and an artist favorite. Polaroid has ceased manufacturing, but the Impossible Project has purchased a Polaroid factory and vows to restart. Keep hope alive!

Portland artists Alicia Rose, Jeff Selis, Jan Sonnenmair, Barbara Kinney, Jon Jensen and Lincoln Barbour show their Polaroids, each a unique print. See it at OfficePDX www.officepdx.com 2204 NE Alberta 6PM-8 Free

April 27 Art for All is Good

I believe the purpose of art is to move people emotionally. Otherwise why do it? There is the easy path, for instance incorporating obviously charged material as ingredient. Sampling Holocaust material would be an example, you would be guaranteed a response. I think that is too easy.

Doug Bland is the real deal. Working in community arts with intellectually disabled people he discovered the mix of special, ordinary and extraordinary individuals, together in community art- making environments, works.

Bland creates university research on community art making and societal communication, the raw material of individual identity and cultural evolution.

His talk is part of the PSU Monday Night Lecture Series. Look for the sandwich board sign to find the room. Talk in Shattuck Hall, Room 212 or the Annex out front, 1914 SW Park Avenue, at the corner of SW Broadway and Hall on the PSU campus. 7:30PM Free

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

April 22 Earth Day and Styrofoam?

This is the 29th rotation of Earth Day around the sun. Green is back. Art is back too at the South Waterfront. The construction zone at the riverside foot of the tram hosts art events as part of its branding activities. Mike Salter takes up residence in the Ross Building studio (map) and will be constructing sculpture from Styrofoam brought by you tonight. Hopefully the art and discards will be recycled! 6PM-8 Free

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

April 9, 10 event.space.dance.neighborhood

Tahni Holt is a modern choreographer and dancer. She does idea-based work with a strong architectural flavor. .event.space. takes place in the Ace Cleaners event space. The audience outside on the sidewalk will see the dancers inside: .event.space. "reclaim[ing] real time experience yet through the lens of the modern world: transparency and technology. Using methods of technology without actually deploying them .event.space. plays with fast-forwarding, rewinding and slow motioning. Light waves are made visible. Lighting plots are powered by human form, colored animation arises amidst black and white, and a song split in thirds becomes a place keeper of time." At the Ace Cleaners, corner SW 10th and Stark and streaming at www.tahniholt.com. 7PM and 9. Free (donations accepted)

Meanwhile over at Gallery Homeland, which has Ethan Rose's excellent sound installation, Abraham Ingle presents his neighborhood diaries project for listening and discussion. Ingle has been creating neighborhood walking tour podcasts. They put stories to the ordinary spots that are not. More on the neighborhood diaries project at www.hoodturkey.com At Gallery Homeland www.galleryhomeland.org 2505 SE 11th x Division 8PM Free

Monday, April 06, 2009

April 9 What is Interesting?

Many of you know TED, a superb conference of world changing ideas. Russell Davies thought the idea was great too and has started his own series, Interesting. It has been held in London, Amsterdam, New York, Sydney, Vancouver, BC and now Portland.

The principles of Interesting are:

Someone finds an interesting place and asks people to talk about interesting things;

There’s no selling of stuff or services, in the lobby or on the stage, no marketing case studies;

Content is open source, not owned;

Sponsors give tangible things that make the event better;

Tickets are affordable on an individual level vs a corporate one;

It’s organized collaboratively without any one person taking ownership;

Interesting is a goal, not a claim;

And it’s not for profit, extra money goes to a charity, to fund the next one or to the bar at the end of the night.

So an interesting night of interesting talks with an interesting audience of collaborators, you.

The talks are short, you won't be bored. They may not be heavy world changing items, but a few might. You get a chance to meet the 80 year old Norse bartenders. All the details are at www.interestingportland.com At The Norse Hall 111, NE 11th 6:30PM $16

Sunday, April 05, 2009

April 6 Spatial Enquiries

Michael Rakowitz makes politically-themed sculpture, sometimes incorporating social process and his own family history. He is giving a talk about it. It is part of the PSU Monday Night Lecture Series. Look for the sandwich board sign to find the room. Talk in Shattuck Hall, Room 212 or the Annex out front, 1914 SW Park Avenue, at the corner of SW Broadway and Hall on the PSU campus. 7:30PM Free

Saturday, April 04, 2009

April 4 LA<>PDX Art Exchange at Milepost5

Anna Fidler is a genius at synthetic landscape. She has constructed sea jungle-like, and Chinese landscape-like, views from meticulously cut paper and layered paint. She has made interior installations and work on the land, captured on film.

For this show, she has organized dual exhibitions in Portland and Los Angeles, of artists from both. So in a way, it is an artistic landscape: "Portland’s ebb and flow of dreary winter and resplendent summer, fascination with experimental music, European-influenced urban planning, and bicycle riding seems far removed from LA’s vast, sprawling pocket neighborhoods; each island-like and different from the next, U-turns, car tans, canyons, and fiery Santa Ana winds. I feel that there is much to be gained by an exchange of sorts between these fascinatingly dissimilar cities that I have lived in; united by the commonality of art making. This exhibition was created to incite a curious dialogue between artists, schools, writers, and spaces."

The landscape includes these artist pairs, from LA and PDX respectively: Erik Bluhm+Patrick Rock, Patricia Fernandez+Jessica Jackson Hutchins, Amy Green+Damien Gilley, John Knuth+Sam Gould, Alura Owens+Storm Tharp, Juliana Paciulli+MK Guth, JennyPhelps+Holly Andres, Noah Thomas+Ben Stagl, Amy Tallman+Melody Owen.

To create the work, artists exchanged objects to constitute still life compositions. Only the objects exchanged could be used and none could be discarded.

That is the work you will see tonight in Portland. It's at Milepost5 www.milepostfive.com 900 NE 81st (go by MAX) 7PM-10 Free

Friday, April 03, 2009

April 3-4 Out of Town Butoh in Town

The first Butoh was made in Japan in 1959. The creators, men, realized that women would have their own angle. So women soon joined performances and the rest is history. Performers Joan Laage from Seattle, Krakow, Seoul and Nicole LeGette from Chicago are here for only two nights, late. It is in the intimate performance space at Disjecta, The Headwaters. Details theheadwaters.net/performances/ 8371 N Interstate, right near Paul Bunyan. 10PM $15, 10 artists/students

April 3 Eastside Art Openings

There is art all over the East side Fridays.

In the 811 block

The Squirrels Made Me Do It is a show by Ann Chambers, Joe Ledbetter, Michelle Valigura and Amanda Visell, who has made a pretty bold Paul Bunyan and Babe painting. It's a veritable Northwest Noah's Ark! All great fun at the Grass Hut. www.grasshutcorp.com

Meanwhile the Burnside Queen of reuse, Redux, shows glass and mixed media constructs by Molly Wolfe. Portland is a glass town and the reuse mixed media idea is unusual. At Redux www.reduxpdx.com

The 811 block also subsumes Stand Up Comedy, which is not what you think, but rather a smart clothing and zine store. There too is Sword and Fern, clothing and jewelery.

All at 811 E Burnside

Worksound is a large bold gallery run by an artist. Group shows are a good strategy: plenty of artists here from which to choose, who all have friends, filling the space, and sometimes with music too. Pretty is as Pretty Does Pretty Vacant is a large group show. At WorksoundPDX www.worksoundpdx.com 820 SE Alder

In Science Diet, Matt King presents idea-based sculpture and maybe 2d work too. King reuses sometime otherwise discarded material to create smart sculpture. At the smart Fourteen30 Gallery www.fourteen30.com 1430 SE 3rd

23 Sandy has Falling Trees by David Paul Bayles from Corvallis. Bayles captures the blur of trees felled by loggers, perhaps the time the spirit of the tree is traveling to wherever the spirit of felled trees go. My personal philosophy is that things made of trees should last at least as long as the tree took to grow. Yet the grain pattern of my floor underfoot indicates it is surely from trees which lived for more than 600 years. I will not even go into the metaphor of the Lead Pencil Studio's woodburners. Bayles works in film, meaning he dows not know until he gets into the darkroom if he has captured the falling tree's passing. www.23sandy.com 623 NE 23 x Sandy

There are illustrations by Brent Wick further up Burnside next to Urban Art spot Destroy Store. Life + Limb combines a zen view of home, with some very artful plants + art. www.lifeandlimb.net 1716 E. Burnside

A time for Lions is a show by Jonny Fenix and Blake Britton. At Nemo Design www.studionemo.com 1875 SE Belmont

Angela Cash shows Imsomnia, in the Yale school of constructed cinematic narrative in still form. We are visually sophisticated and media smart. This is one photography vector that addresses that. At Pushdot www.pushdotstudio.com 1021 SE Caruthers

TILT was a noted Everett Lofts Gallery, which continues now as a guest curation project. Approximate is an instance, in this case, a collaboration by musician Ethan Rose and sculptor Damien Gilley. It's at Gallery Homeland www.galleryhomeland.org 2505 SE 11th x Division

Thursday, April 02, 2009

April 3 Noted Japanese Butoh Performer Speaks

Butoh was birthed by Tatsumi Hijikata in 1959 in Japan. Hijikata tapped his birthplace's energy to create a new movement form. It was inspired by the wild energy of nature in the Northern Honshū countryside. Natsu Nakajima was born in the even further North, but came to Northern Honshū as a child when Russia expelled Japanese from Sakhalin. A trained dancer, she is one of the first woman to begin performing with Hijikata, in 1963. In 1969, she formed a small group, Muteki-sha. She created a continually evolving career work Niwa, The Garden. "Niwa is a forgotton garden, very tiny, very Japanese: it is the garden of my memory of childhood. I wanted to see my life from the perspective of a woman seated in a garden, watching it bloom and wither." She continues, "Butoh should reject any notion of symbolism, message, or formalism, and only express its energy and freedom. It is not an art I aspire too, but love." In another expression of compassion, Nakajima worked for many years with handicapped Japanese, establishing programs in many Japanese cities and performing with handicapped dancers. Nakajima-san has been teaching an intimate workshop on her movement ideas in Portland this week. She speaks of her artistic vision at Portland State University today. (quotes from Butoh, Viala and Masson-Sekine c1988)

This is an opportunity to see a seminal Japanese performer and perhaps a glimpse of a very special artistic life. The event is sponsored by Portland State University's Center for Japanese Studies and organized by Mizu Desierto founder of The Headwaters Studio.

At Portland State University. Smith Center, Room 298. Noon. Free

April 2 Westside Art Openings

We are all amateur ethnologists finely attuned to identify. We respond to reflexive similarity and difference in others intuitively. While Edward Curtis' work with indigenous North Americans has been critiqued from many angles, photographs of Africans have not. They still fascinate easily. If the intent of art is to move the viewer emotionally, powerful ingredients are a method. But they must be balanced by narrative and idea. Photographers Beckwith and Fisher operate well within a documentary context with shadings of idea in a focus on major life rituals. I believe contemporary art can do more, and should.

Tonight Oregon photographer Thomas Miller presents his portraits of Africans. This is a great opportunity to respond, considering not only your own ethnographic experience, but its role in art. At Augen downtown.

Amy Archer is master of the repeating pattern. It is almost the texture of knitting large. At Augen on Davis.

www.augengallery.com 817 SW 2nd and 716 NW Davis

Terry Toedtemeier is laughing with us all from the afterlife, and will be as we visit with his 1975 portraits of quotidian life with infrared film. Infrared is radiant energy with longer wavelength than red. Infrared wavelengths span from visible red light, about a hundredth of the diameter of a human hair, to microwaves, less than a third of an inch. Common infrared films respond to wavelengths very close to red. They show a soft monochrome image with some things shifted, tree leaves are white. There is also magic to be made using an infrared flash to make portraits in very dark places unobtrusively. Terry's artistry is taking the ordinary and transforming it into art, from geologic phenomena, to the personal.

Alexis Pike makes landscape photographs of the West. His selective lens captures the dream West painted onto buildings. It is a reassuring reflection of culture and Western culture. Perhaps some of these pieces are public art in their home habitat. In that sense they are charming and unexpected for being so straightforward; surreal too.

At Blue Sky Gallery www.blueskygallery.org 122 NW 8th

A Hunter's Return To The Good Country is a show by by Jessie Bean, Amy Chan, Rachel Denny, Jessica Polka, Brieana Ruais, Michael Russem, and Wesley Younie. Fontanelle wins the copywriting award for the month: "These seven artists offer unique insights into our most primal instincts as hunters and gatherers through a variety of mediums including sculpture, embroidery, painting, drawing, assemblage, and installation. The works on view have all been created with a common passion for collecting, cataloguing, displaying, and questioning elements from our natural and physical world.

After leaving Earth's ancient forests, man suffered the loss of connection to the woodlands it once considered so sacred. In an attempt to patch the gap created by the transition between rural and urban environments, man sought to bring the magic home with them. Some displayed their "hunting trophies" out of pure lust for the beauty of the physical and natural world. Others could not contain their instinctual curiosity and began to examine their gatherings further. They started cataloguing the seemingly dull with an appetite to reveal the wonder of the universe and our place in it. They intuitively knew that through examining even the smallest component, something glorious and new would reveal itself.

The exhibition will appear as a curious reliquary, presenting the artists' nostalgic attempts at exploration by showcasing reinterpreted antiquities. Influences of Victorian era fascination with the natural world can be observed in Rachel Denny's modern version of domestic "taxidermy" wall ornaments made from recycled sweaters. Jessica Polka honors great 18th century scientific discoveries and illustrations with her crocheted and embroidered "specimens", reminiscent of those found in Seba's Cabinet of Natural Curiosities. Michael Russem's delicate graphite renderings of antique postage stamp collections pay homage to some of the most important contributors to 20th century book and letter arts. In addition to other work, Wesley Younie will present the findings of a fictional naturalist in a special diorama installation".

There is music opening night 7PM-9 and later in the month a collectors' night - Show & Tell. Bring an object from your own collection! That is April 23rd at 7. At Fontanelle Gallery www.fontanellegallery.com 205 SW Pine

Chris Rauschenberg shows his landscape photos. Rauschenberg has been making landscape photos, sometimes spanning negatives, showing a Europe ancien, Cuba, and the Souths of this continent with a fresh eye. At Elizabeth Leach www.elizabethleach.com 417 NW 9th

Pulliam gallery has a great representative group show including Linda Hutchins, Jeffry Mitchell, Laurie Reid, Heather Larkin Timken. In one of those which is different from the similar puzzles, Mitchell's ultrabaroque work provides a contrast. At Pulliam Gallery www.pulliamdeffenbaugh.com until 8

Musician and artist Phil Elverum shows a series of photographs, Dreams. In music he is The Microphones and Mount Eerie and this work is consistent with that. Photos by moonlight with expired film in old cameras touch lowfi romanticism. In time of rapid change it is just what is needed. In addition to music and photography, Elverum has also published a book Dawn chronicling a winter spent alone in a remote Norwegian town near the arctic circle bearing his name. At Stumptown www.stumptowncoffee.com 128 SW 3rd

The Everett Lofts are always recommended for your viewing pleasure. Start at NW Everett and NW Broadway.