February's First Thursday Guide

The following is just a short list of suggested art exhibits for the hungry art fan who has the courage and intellect to skip out on an episode of Friends.

1.The clever folks at Portland Institute for Contemporary Art have done it again--this time serving up a dish of beauty, ugliness, desire, and disgust. London-based, German artist Melanie Manchot presents "Love is a Stranger," an exhibit of photographic and video-based work that investigates notions of self: a bare-bones glance at aspects of intimacy, desire, and cannons of beauty. Though Manchot has exhibited widely in Europe, this is the first U.S. survey of Manchot's work. One of the more promising components is the video installation titled "For a Moment Between Strangers," which documents a kissing performance. Manchot asked passersby on the street to kiss her. She wore a hidden camera, and, as expected, captured an array of responses. Through March 23, 219 NW 12th, 242-1419.

2. Does the mind control the body, or does the body control the mind? The installation "Split," by California artist Michael O'Malley, poses such a question. O'Malley has constructed an interactive space that attempts to figuratively separate the head from the body--and forces Descartes recollections. Through Feb 23. Pacific Northwest College of Art 1241 NW Johnson, 226-4391.

3. In "From Russia with Love," Russian artist Sergei Tyukanov arrives in Portland with a bevy of watercolor paintings and intaglio prints in tow, seeking to tease out a laugh or two, or maybe just a knowing smile. Tyukanov's style is founded on a meticulous drawing style, which animates a series of fantastic creatures and scenes, not unlike the worlds created by Hieronymous Bosch. Tyukanov's lovely images combine such things as shoes acting as castles, fish serving as boats, and other assorted fairy tale characters. Through March 2, Froelick Gallery, 817 SW 2nd, 222-1142

4. Fleck Gallery: "Ant Farms and the Feet that Squash them." The "viewer experiment" continues with the exhibit "Specimens/Speculations" by Laura Fritz. The young local artist presents a series of mixed media works that attempt to make sense of a nonsensical world through "systems" she sets up. This exhibit is a follow-up, of sorts, to Fritz's last solo show, "Dissections," at Nil Gallery in June 2001. "I have always been interested in systems of natural occurrences and the common human need to feel in control of them," Fritz says. In "Specimens/Speculations," she presents the opportunity for the viewer to drop their black apparel and put on a clean white lab coat. Through March. 2, 625 NW Everett, #107, 222-2066.

5. Mark Woolley Gallery presents the work of Sandy Sampson and Jo Ann Gilles. Sampson's abstract oil paintings on wood rely heavily on saturated and appealing colors. Yet the Portland artist also adds a bit of conceptual meat to her process, as a result of recent delvings into algebra. This mathematic influence appears in some of the shapes that layer the milky fields of color, adding a sense of order to the senusual and ethereal panels. Fellow Portland artist Jo Ann Gilles' exhibit "Escapes" is a collection of acrylic and watercolor paintings. The collection of abstract landsapes are inspired by nature. Influences noted include Rothko, Turner, Vermeer, and Gilles' mentor, Ted Katz, who has shown at Butters Gallery. Through March 2, 120 NW 9th, 224-5475.