Up to now, TJ Norris' new gallery, Soundvision, isn't very Portland. It's New York or San Francisco, or even Berlin. The gallery's, ahem, vision of coupling visual mediums with audio installation and performance is one that hasn't had much of a home in Portland. Nonetheless, it sits alongside the other galleries that line Everett just south of Broadway.
The opening show is Seth Nehil's "Basket"--walnut ink drawings consisting of organically dense lines coalescing into hubs like a handmade diagram of the networked society. Though not a high-tech piece involving video capture or the like, it's an excellent introduction for the gallery. The work speaks to technocratic themes of networking and isolation without having to rely on the technology itself. Nehil and Bethany Wright will also be the first artists featured in Soundvision's monthly performance series, Soundbytes. They'll break out microphones to capture the sound of breaking things, thereby chiding the audience into "making a certain type of listening sound."
The upcoming shows by photographer Chris Komater and the paintings of Cary Leibowitz, who wrings meaning out of simple phrases and typography, should be interesting. However, the promise of Soundvision's mission will be most realized after the New Year. Internationally lauded sound artists such as Taylor Duepree and Terre Thaemlitz test the boundaries of neo-intellectualized electronic music, but what's more noteworthy is that their art transcends the strictly audio, going deep into the visual mediums. They are scheduled to present everything from interactive sound spaces to "A/V theatre." "The initial attraction may be from people interested in the music, but the sound and visual work feed each other and are indicative of each other, and that's what I want to present," explains Norris.
So Soundvision becomes a de facto challenge to Portland (especially with the city's low-tech musical heritage). Will Portland appreciate and support having such a direct line to some of the most innovative artists working in these digital modes? As Norris said, and undoubtedly hopes, "I think that they'll get it." ELLIOTT ADAMS
Nan Curtis Elizabeth Leach Gallery
Nan Curtis has been in discussion with her PNCA students about why so many contemporary artists are turning to sweet, tranquil subjects, like sewing and domestic pleasure. Their consensus is that in these choppy times, people are grasping at their nostalgic sides, trying to capture bits of times they choose to remember as simpler. Curtis admits that this mentality, plus her new life station as "Mommy," heavily informs her exhibit Homebody #2, which opens tonight at Elizabeth Leach Gallery. Nan's take on the domestic suggests that we leave intimate traces behind in our geography, and that our biographies are composed of small telling details, not just momentous decisions. Our psychic and emotional makeup is formed largely in the home, and in return we structure our homes accordingly. Who we are and where we are have become deeply intertwined, and this is the theme Nan explores in her new installation. This promises to be a very thoughtful exhibit, with highlights including a map of the U.S. painted from memory and a series of drawings called "Places I Go." Also on view is Snapshot, a group exhibition. CHAS BOWIE