As East Burnside continues its rebirth as a hotbed for hipster hangouts, boutiques, and art spaces, Renowned Gallery has quietly positioned itself at the heart of it all. The young gallery is a tiny and underdeveloped space that seems a little uncertain about what it will become, as artwork crowds the walls and a meager amount of fashion merchandise takes up precious floor space. But there's definitely hope, as owner Tony Nguyen seems to have a sharp eye for emerging talent. For its second show, Renowned presents Hold Me, Please, by recent Portland transplants Casey Watson and Isaac Lin. And while the show is a product of a couple sharing space and working side by side, few overlapping aesthetic similarities are revealed, apart from an exacting and detailed execution.
Lin, a Rhode Island School of Design grad whose work will be included in a group exhibition at San Francisco's Yerba Buena Center for the Arts later this year, creates dense and hypnotic compositions, in which geometric shapes interlock and multiple planes seem to be superimposed. These ink and acrylic works are clearly indebted to both Op art and Minimalism, but identifiable figures—from music notes to the hard-edged silhouettes of trees—help elevate the work above homage. "Night Sun," Lin's largest work in the show, adds another layer to his opaque surfaces through intermittent drawings in stark white ink. The lines of these drawings are more fluid and expressive, adding some much-needed warmth to his rigidly constructed works.
Watson, on the other hand, provides the show's sweetness in a series of framed ink drawings that revel in their knowing sentimentality: a bouquet of pastel peonies; 10 lovingly represented specimens from a rock collection; and a small wreath composed of flowers and ferns, twirling ribbons, decaying autumn leaves, and a brown house moth. All the works are concerned with nostalgia, but the latter uses ephemera to create a gorgeous tapestry of memories. Unlike the highly controlled composition in Lin's noisy abstractions, Watson's drawings create their own version of order, in which the random memorabilia of life is decorative and lovely.