Chas Bowie, bastard that he is, left the Mercury a while ago to focus on some "personal projects." If I ever leave the Mercury to work on "personal projects," you can rest assured that what I'll really be working on is a couple of well whiskeys at Union Jack's; Chas, on the other hand, has managed to get some pretty great arts- and Portland-related things off the ground. First, there's his new photography blog, That's a Negative, and second, he'll be speaking tomorrow at Quality Pictures about photographer Roger Ballen. Let's get press release-y.

Although Roger Ballen's disquieting scenes of ambiguous, psychological tableaux look unlike any photography being produced today, Bowie will present historical photographs--both celebrated and obscure--to demonstrate what he calls "Roger Ballen's spiritual and aesthetic ancestry." Drawing from startling and evocative images from the past 150 years, "Before There Was Ballen" will explore photographic pioneers who sought to capture the tensions of insanity, theatricality, the grotesque, spontaneity, power relationships, animal interaction, and classical portraiture with their cameras.

The photographs Bowie plans to discuss include wide-ranging examples such as a remarkably formal abstraction by Roger Fenton of the queen's rifle target from 1860; Ralph Eugene Meatyard's hallucinatory compositions of children posing in latex masks of elderly, shriveled people 100 years later; archival portraits of 19th century zookeepers posing with their animal charges; and photo-documentation of the female inmates of the Surrey County Lunatic Asylum from the 1850s.

Chas also wrote about Ballen's work for the Mercury a little while ago (you can read his piece right here). Plus, Holly Andres' awesome-sounding work is still showing at Quality too, so all in all, I'm going to wager this'll be a pretty solid event. More info: That's a Negative and Quality Pictures.

Quality Pictures (916 NW Hoyt), Sat June 28, 10 am, FREE (though space is limited, RSVP at