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December is typically an excellent month for viewing art in Portland. Perhaps this is due to the urgency that both artists and viewers feel to escape the bleakness of a northwest winter. The following three exhibits are prime opportunities for one to flee the world outside, and investigate the internal.

At the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art, Curator Stuart Horodner teamed up with Kristy Edmunds to coordinate the exhibit "Northwest Narrative: Portland." In the selection process for this display of work from various Northwest artists, the curating duo began from this starting point: "Why is this region such a lively subject for the artists who live and work here?" An exploration of the aspects of the physical environment, the rainy weather, and traditions of individualism are all considerations that steer the exhibit of approximately 20 Portland-based artists. The results include a range of media: photography, painting, sculpture, video, and installation work.

PICA, 219 NW 12th, 242-1419, Through Jan. 12

The Cooley Gallery at Reed College presents "Sunlight, Solitude, Democracy, Home," an exhibit of 80 photographs by Robert Adams that chronicles aspects of the American west. The survey of Adams' work spans four decades, and is described by some as "decisively changing the ways many think about the American west." Writer and photographer Leo Rubinfien offers these thematic categories to organize and grasp Adams' work: Sunlight, solitude, wreckage, flowering, artifact, citizen, democracy, scinttillae, home, and innocence.

Douglas F. Cooley Gallery, Reed College, 777-7790, Through Dec. 30

Savage Gallery presents work by two East Coast artists, Bryan Hunt and Brice Marden. Marden gained a national reputation in the 1960s and 1970s for Minimalist canvases. Yet, this exhibit offers a suite of abstract prints. The series of lithograph/etching hybrids initially appear simple. Atop a monochromatic field, textured by etching marks, Marden layers a pattern of colored, ribbon-like marks. After a moment or two with these works, the uniform pattern seems to morph into figurative shapes.

Hunt's work is more immediate. His exhibit of two sculptures and selection of paintings work together to form a land-to-air theme. Two abstract sculptures appear as unusual aircrafts. Hunt's large-scale, two-dimensional work provides milky, aerial perspective maps that are essentially far more beautiful than useful.

Savage Gallery, 416 NW 10th, 223-2868, Through Dec. 22