Stampede by Josh Keyes, who is contributing to Breeze Blocks 5th anniversary show.
  • Josh Keyes
  • "Stampede" by Josh Keyes, who is contributing to Breeze Block's 5th anniversary show.

I can't believe it's already time for the final First Thursday art walk of 2011; the year has flown by!

Usually, December shows are filled with an abundance of gift-ready artwork, but this time around I'm seeing less of that— at least on the press-release surface— and more theme-driven group shows.

After the jump are details and sample images from a number of exhibits that open tonight on the West side of town, spanning feminist revues and Occupy-related works, X chromosome-only collections and birthday parties over at Breeze Block (five candles on their cake!) and Hellion (a year old and going strong). All this and a photo project about Gypsies, just a click away!

In this week's print issue, I wrote about a great show at the Lumber Room featuring female artists from the Pacific Northwest, and it seems like there's something in air— estrogen?— as December is filled with other lady-centric exhibits. Below the Lumber Room at Elizabeth Leach Gallery is a show called Body Gesture, pairing seminal feminist artists from the 1960s and 70s with emerging female artists working in the field today. Important note: Body Gesture will close tonight at 5:30 pm due to PULSE Miami 2011 and resultant understaffing— First Thursday open hours will resume in January— but I mention the show because I know some of you folks get down to First Thursday a bit early, and it might not be a bad place to start off. Body Gesture includes works by Lynda Benglis, Carolee Schneemann, Nancy Spero and many others. 417 NW 9th Ave.

Also focusing on female artists, Upper Playground's Fifty24PDX is hosting XX Marks the Spot. As is par for the course, Fifty24PDX's web presence isn't throwing the general public many bones as to what to expect from the show, but peep the above list of participating artists and drink in all the great possibilities. 23 NW 5th Ave, 6-9 pm.

Breeze Block Gallery is turning five, and to commemorate another successful year, the gallery will present a best-of exhibition— bringing together work from artists who've shown in the space in the past, as well as a few Breeze Block noobs (including one my favorite locals, Josh Keyes, whose work leads this post). Here's a full list of featured artists:

Meg Adamson, Sean Barton, Kevin Bouton-Scott, Ryan Bubnis, Conrad Carlson, Brandon Chuesy, Sara Golden, Jay Howell, Bryce Kanights, Cole Kemp, Samahra Little, Tim Kerr, Josh Keyes, Melissa Loop, Justin Lovato, Joshua Petker, Natalie Phillips, Jeff Proctor, Sam Rodriguez, Stephen Scott Smith, Sloane White.

Pretty awesome lineup! Expect tunes from DJ Spence, plus drinks and “surprises.” Surprises are sweet. 323 NW 6th, 6 pm-late.

Also celebrating a birthday is Hellion Gallery, which just made it through its first year. While the gallery's curator Matt Wagner (previously of Compound Gallery) has classically focused on bringing Japanese art to Portland, this time around he'll be mining local talent (see the above flyer for contributing artists). I'm really excited about checking out new work from AJ Fosik, who recently presented this piece at Jonathan Levine Gallery in New York City:

The Shepherd Inevitably Consumes the Flock, by AJ Fosik
  • AJ Fosik
  • "The Shepherd Inevitably Consumes the Flock," by AJ Fosik

I'm also looking forward to see what Zach Johnsen will bring to the show, as well as Joe Shea and Blaine Fontana. Added bonus: DJ Slimkid3 (Pharcyde) and Colton Tong will be spinning records. 19 NW 5th Ave, #204, 6 pm.

Stepping away from the birthday parties, Modhi is hosting The Art and Images of Occupy. As you might've guessed, the show focuses on artwork created at and about Occupy Portland, as well as the movement at large. Here's a little blurb about the show, lifted from the press release:

This opening is a celebration of the art created at or about the camps and dedicated to the camps and the ideas and ideals behind the Occupy Movement, past, present and future. Including over one hundred photographs from local photographers including Mark Kronquist, poetry, fiber, metal, ceramic and other artisans. The exhibit will also include signs salvaged from the camp, which, at end of the show, will be donated to the Oregon Historical Society’s permanent collection.

It's important to note that 25% “of proceeds from the event will be donated to the City of Portland for Park Restoration.” 625 NW Everett, #108, 6-9 pm.

Obukhovo III, St. Petersburg, Russia, by Joakim Eskildsen.

Lastly, Blue Sky Gallery is hosting The Roma Journeys by Joakim Eskildsen. If you thought Occupy encampments had a Gypsy vibe, this show might give you pause (and, maybe, a reason or two to take those words back). The Roma people are one of the many ethnic groups lumped under the umbrella term, Gypsy, and Eskildsen spent extended periods of time studying their culture, camera in hand. It's an examination that carried the photographer from Hungary on “through India, Greece, Romania, France, Russia, and Finland.” The resulting images are something to see, for sure. 122 NW 8th Ave, 6-9 pm.