There's a new form of art criticism in town taking the form of pointed satire. Like The Onion of the Portland art scene, Portland Art News ( ) skewers sacred cows in a laugh-out-loud faux-reportage style. In the two issues since the e-zine's conception, editor Clay Hawthorne (aka local artist Stephen Cleary) has broken the following stories: "PICA cancels TBA Fest for more audience-reaching monster truck rally"; "Local art writer and self-promoter Jeff Jahn enters aerial tram design competition with a 200 ft. statue of himself"; and in a dig at the recent lackluster Carton Services exhibition, "Portland Art News announced that 'Surplus Boxes Put on Better Show Than Area Artists.'" When I spoke to Clay Hawthorne, I expected to be talking to more of a biting, caustic satirist, but to my surprise, he was toned and even polite as we talked about lampooning the local scene.

CHAS BOWIE: Why Portland Art News now?

CLAY HAWTHORNE: I think there's a need for more voices out there, and I thought that satire would be a good way to approach some of the things that are going on right now in the art world.

CB: When I moved here just over two years ago, the first thing I wrote was for The Organ, and it was a piece that was very critical of a show at PICA. I was astounded by how many people came up to me after I wrote it and told me that this was a small town, and there was no need to rock the boat.

CH: I haven't really had that response yet. You'll notice that in the second issue that's online now, I didn't go as quickly after the critics, who are easy targets, or PICA for that matter. I've been thinking about more general themes, like art world ambitions, and the sometimes ludicrous-feeling task of being a visual artist, and taking those ideas apart. And I think having a sense of humor in the writing helps to diffuse some of the potentially angrier responses.

CB: Is there anything in town that's too good, too cool, or too sacred to be spoofed in Portland Art News?

CH: I don't think so. I'll definitely go after anything that I think is worthy. CHAS BOWIE