In 2006, galleryHOMELAND launched its annual Scratching the Surface exhibition, in which the gallery's usual stable of local and imported talent uproots for a week of lectures, performances, and installations on the Vera Katz Eastbank Esplanade. Using the Willamette River as a physical backdrop and a metaphor for connectivity, the event is a compelling illustration of the city's tight-knit arts community. Now, with the third annual event fast approaching (this year, it runs from August 30 through September 7), galleryHOMELAND has unveiled Surface Tension, a group show that looks back at previous Scratching the Surface participants and teases with a few of this year's artists.
Although the exhibition does feature a handful of first-rate installations from Sean Healy and Tim Folland, most of the show takes a historical slant, displaying various remnants of performance pieces. As such, we're treated to glimpses of Paul Middendorf and TJ Norris' "Cracked Compass" from 2006, though the few photographs and blue, wall-mounted buoy and flag hardly provide much insight beyond the fact that it happened. Other entries are much easier to grasp, such as Adam Ross' playful "Esplanade Signs," installed for the 2006 event. In one, the common posting "No Dumping" is recast as a romantic imperative next to an icon of a broken-hearted boy. Marc Dombrosky and Shannon Eakins similarly capture Scratching the Surface's light heart with a series of nautical flags stitched from old athletic jerseys.
But none feels quite as emblematic as Gary Wiseman's installation "Schema." After ducking under a blue tarp to enter the space, one is encircled by five monitors and a projector, each playing footage of a billowing blue tarp meant to simulate a violent sea. The sounds—howling wind, whip cracks, and muffled churning—convincingly conjure the ocean's power, but Wiseman's anything-goes production values happily remind that it's all an illusion. As extension cords and power strips dangle from the ceiling and snake around the room, "Schema" might not be all that deep, but it's hard to resist such fun.