First Thursday Standouts 

Art Review

The gallery offerings for July are many and varied, though a trend is apparent--Many exhibits favor an indulgence in color and a wealth of abstract mark-making. The following is a short list of shows that promise to seduce viewers with a rich palette and unique painting styles.

Portland painter and poet Walt Curtis is most recognized as the author of Mala Noche, the novella which became Gus Van Sant's first film, and he has hosted KBOO's Talking Earth poetry show for 30 years. But Curtis has also been a serious painter for 25 years. His current show, Native Spirits at Mark Woolley Gallery, is a selection of paintings that explore native value. Curtis' style is in sync with a Primitive school of painting, and reflects the impulses found in the work of Basquiat and early Picasso.

Alongside Curtis' work, Seattle outsider artist Anne Grgich presents recent mixed-media paintings.

At Basil Hallward Gallery at Powell's City of Books, painter James Boulton presents Sample/Sequence, a two-prong effort featuring abstract and Pop tendencies. The Sample portion of the show consists of nine square panels arranged in a grid. Each offer a specific dose of color and unique shape or style of mark-making. Boulton then combines these elements in the three, large canvases that comprise the Sequence portion of the exhibit. The panels contain influences from specific artists as well as the American culture at large. The palette and shapes refer to both advertising and graffiti, and Boulton's style contains traces of Rauschenberg and Lari Pittman.

This month the Elizabeth Leach Gallery features a large cast of artists. One of the headliners is Mark Smith, a participant of the 2001 Biennial at the Portland Art Museum. Smith's unique sculptural work presents viewers with a discourse on the aspects of transitory culture. The designs for his wall pieces are derived from the floor plans of public assembly facilities, such as stadiums and arenas. In his current show, Public Structures, Smith presents work that mimics a crowd presence. For example, in MoshPit, Smith compacts a large collection of shirts, pants, socks, etc, on a plywood backing, under a thick wrapping of clear vinyl. The clothing replaces people-and suggests the feeling one gets at a crowded concert.

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