Randy Gragg, architecture critic for The Oregonian, conceived of Core Sample after being blown away by the groundswell of artistic energy currently happening in Portland. Though the city still lacks a serious non-commercial venue dedicated to showcasing young regional artists, this absence has created a DIY culture known for putting shows together at the drop of a hat. Unfortunately, these productions are often half-assed efforts revolving around a keg of PBR. With Core Sample, Gragg challenged the scrappy independent art community to do it up, and do it better than they've ever done before.
All indications suggest this challenge was taken seriously. The roster of artists involved reads like a roll call of who's who in the local art world. Core Sample eschewed gallery-and institution-based shows, and asked the artists to assemble the exhibitions they'd like to see. To sweeten the deal, a swanky full color, 200-plus page catalog will be published with an essay by Larry Rinder, hot-shit curator of the Whitney Museum in New York.
Like a cross between a yearbook photo, homecoming parade, and debutante's ball, Core Sample is a primo opportunity for Portland art and artists to put on their Sunday best and look pretty, and for the rest of us to watch the show, see the new fashions, and marvel at the spectacle of it all.
For a complete list of Core Sample events, visit www.coresample.info. Here are a few exhibitions and performances that look especially good. All events run on Saturday and Sunday, noon to 6 pm, and weekdays from 3 to 8 pm, unless otherwise noted.
219 NW 12th, PICA
Prompted by an insurgence of young Turks waving the youthful banner of the DIY movement, artist and curator Nan Curtis organized Later, aka "what happens when indie artists grow old." Turning back to the scrappy history of Portland's art scene, Curtis has reassembled a generation of Portland DIY artists who were doing it when many Core Sample artists were just beginning to color outside the lines. Happily, many have bucked the odds and continue to make art, with a curious attention to new technologies. Expect plenty of video installations and knockout work by Paul Sutinen, Bill Will, and Christine Bourdette.
1875 SE Belmont
With Elephant, the darling Charm Bracelet duo simultaneously honors and destroys the legacy of indie art events in Portland. Brad Adkins and Christopher Buckingham will be stuffing a Range Rover-sized vinyl elephant with posters, flyers, invites, and other promotional materials from art events of the last five years (you are invited and encouraged to bring any from your own collection to contribute to the piece). Before stuffing the beast, though, they will shred the material into unrecognizable scraps, and blend histories together into their own elephantine concoction.
1136 NW Hoyt, The Maytag Building
Malia Jensen, a local artist of scary talent, has been digging through the flat files and sketchbooks of some of Portland's best to sleuth out their drawings. While some artists, like Paul Green and Storm Tharp, are known for their drawings and paintings, others, including Harrell Fletcher and Mel Katz, are usually associated with other media. I'd bet that for every one, though, their dreams of art began with the simple act of drawing. This could be a great opportunity to see some of their best and most direct work.
Red Shoe Delivery Service
Roving, multiple locations
Here's a fairly passive-aggressive spin on the do-good community artwork that Portland loves so much. MK Guth's work is concerned with the gap between superheroes and normal human beings. Using The Wizard of Oz as her launching pad, Guth and her crew of chauffeurs will take people across town to wherever they want to go, provided they--you guessed it--put on sparkly red slippers, click their heels on camera, and say, "There's no place like (Freddie's, my baby momma's, Bruce Conkle's Sasquatch show at the Portland BuildingÉ)."
1133 NW 11th, Bridgeport Condos
When Stephanie Snyder returned to Portland to take over Reed College's Cooley Gallery, she was amazed to see so many artists using the same "second cycle" aesthetic that she and her friends were into 20 years ago. "When we were going to high school, we bought all our clothes at the bins, we were scavenging materials for ad hoc theater pieces, making books out of found objects, always searching through cast-off materials." Here she explores a new wave of artists, including Melody Owen, Paige Saez, and Chandra Bocci, whose work is liberally informed by materials lifted from libraries, thrift stores, and yard sales.
1039 NW Glisan
In his written statement, artist/curator/ writer Jeff Jahn astutely observes that one of Portland's biggest draws is its strong combination of "a cosmopolitan human presence and feral Nature." He has organized a group of artists who explore this sometimes uneasy relationship and cautions us to expect "flying trees, cavemen, videogames, cartoons, diseases, and miracle cures, as well as a testament to the simplified applications of man and the complex sublime of nature."
1136 NW Hoyt, The Maytag Building
Andrew Dickson presents a career retrospective of the jet-setting, internationally known artist Wren. Dickson reports that Wren's monumental work in Legos will be featured, as well as an in-depth interview in which Wren talks about his cameo in Kids and the implications of using his photographs in Budweiser commercials. Things aren't always what they seem in Dickson's universe, but he promises this will be the most comprehensive presentation that Portland has ever seen of this complex artist.