IT SEEMED UNFAIR to let the summer slip away without hitting at least one First Friday, which is basically how the Central Eastside cries "Polo!" to the Pearl and Alberta District's "Marco." Lookatus! We have art walk too! Very well, we'll look at you.
Nationale gallery on E Burnside teems with people murmuring about its imminent move to SE 33rd and Division (recently re-branded by d-bags as "D Street"). Meanwhile, in Myranda Gillies' Primary Motions, "Cyclone 2" is less a whirlwind than a chain-link fence pattern made airy by lighter-gauge wire and fewer twists per juncture. In "New Born Free," a black textile fringed with yellow ombre synthetic hair drapes on a peg as if someone took it off when they came through the door. Referencing horsehair from native designs, it's ancient-postmodern. "Fades" are large, light textiles, loosely woven from natural and synthetic fibers and hung banner-style on copper-piping frames. Their pastel colors reference the sunset, an appropriate metaphor for Nationale ending an era.
Across the street at the Gallery at the Jupiter, creepy twee has imploded. Brooke Weston insets dollhouse fixtures and furniture into taxidermy animals: a Tudor window juts from a deer's side, with the animal's fur serving as its roof thatch. Over the shoulder of a black bear, a staircase leads to a sort of, well... den, with a tiny overstuffed chair and a mouse-skin rug.
At One Grand Gallery, the usual smug fucks gather for a group Biggie Smalls-themed show. "There's so much more, like, 'riot grrrl' here than in California!" a woman in neon Nikes exclaims loudly into her cell phone, whereupon I run along.
Oh, YU contemporary center. Y U gotta be so conceptually demanding and aesthetically deprived? Oh, 'cause you're contemporary? Fine. Go ahead and explain this loud empty room to me. Wheelchair-bound artist Park McArthur (and yes, that's relevant; it's one of her recurring themes) presents two "minimalist sculptures": giant blocks of foam rubber—one peach, one blue—sticking, untouched, out of the plastic bags they were presumably delivered in. Speakers on the wood floor blast distorted megabass blips and moans at alarm-like intervals; these are sound clips gleaned from the internet. Earlier, someone read a suicide note. There's more in the brochure, but YU's out of the brochure. Two days later, I'll read the letterpressed literature and be intrigued by texts about robots designed to care for the elderly, a spinal surgery description, and more. The three pages will transport my brain to many places, but not back to this dull and inscrutable exhibition in the YU space.
Of course a clear-eyed choir boy talks me back into believing. At the PACE (Portland Audiences for Cultural Exploration) kickoff mixer at Enso Winery, founder Will Richards, who moonlights in the Portland Symphonic Choir, gushes eagerly about volunteering for arts organizations around town as an usher ("or whatever they need"). Paintings from Duplex Gallery adorn the butt ends of wine barrels, and gypsy chamber quartet Râz Ensemble plays out a late-summer evening of mixed messages and inevitable change.