Amirah Chatman, Heaven’s Probably in Phoenix, 2020, pastel on chipboard, Diptych

Whether displayed against the backdrop of the stark realities of our present-day or in a fantastical, surreal abstraction, hope, resilience, and strength are feelings and states of being that are predominant themes in exhibitions this season. Art lovers will have ample choices to stimulate their optical nerves; well-known institutions have invigorating cultural presentations, while artist-run spaces consider the dreaminess and absurdities of every day. There is also a continued emphasis on exhibits that focus on championing dialogues relating to social and civil justice issues, further continuing conversations and discourse that have been prominently unfolding for the last two years. Bold, vibrant, and electrical colors featured throughout are a welcome reprieve from the onslaught of gray the Pacific Northwest endures the hibernal wintertime. It is a premonition and reminder that spring is anxiously around the corner with its effervescent energy.

Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, and Mexican Modernism

One of the most anticipated exhibitions of this year has to be Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, and Mexican Modernism at the Portland Art Museum in collaboration with Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes y Literatura (INBAL) in Mexico City. This exhibition brings together paintings by Kahlo and Rivera and other famous Mexican artists that were pivotal in the Mexican Modernism movement. Several photographs depict intimate moments, studio visits, exhibition openings, and portraits of Kahlo and Rivera, lending to a more personal view of these iconic painters not often seen together in most museums. Sketches and drawings also accompany the work, giving a glimpse into the creation of their work. Spanish is also featured prominently in the exhibition. The museum walls are painted in mango, cerulean, and Azul, helping pull viewers through this not-to-be-missed exhibition. Tickets are available and will be timed to help alleviate crowding at the show.

Portland Art Museum, 1219 SW Park, February 19-June 5

Possessions, Possessions by Olivia Faith Harwood

Fuller Rosen continues to be at the forefront of showing emerging artists—regionally, nationally, and internationally. The 2022 programming begins with a solo exhibition of paintings by recent PNCA graduate Olivia Faith Harwood. Harwood's work reflects identity, adolescence, and surroundings in surrealist still lifes and self-portraits. Harwood's personal belongings are featured throughout, repeating motifs like spiderwebs, snakes, and boardgames become symbolic in Harwood's work, which takes inspiration from wallpaper, clown outfits, and nostalgic album covers.

Olivia Faith Harwood, Wax and Wane, 2021. Acrylic on canvas, 24 x 18 inches, image courtesy of the artist.

In April, Dana Robinson, a multimedia artist based in Brooklyn, New York, works with vintage materials and found images, will show new and recent work highlighting Black womanhood and the dynamics of memory, identity, and ownership. Robinson's work abstracts commercial-based images with humor; their collection of Ebony magazines from the 1970s-1980s serves as a reference point for collages and painted works on silk, creating contemporary visions of liberation and joy.

Fuller Rosen, 1928 NW Lovejoy, January 29-March 13 and April 2-May 8

Srijon Chowdhury: Groundhog Day

Paintings and installation coalesce in Srijon Chowdhury's Groundhog's Day at SE Cooper Contemporary. The intimacy of the paintings is complemented by the gallery's location, situated on a private residence that is available to the public only during openings and appointments. This new series by Portland-based Chowdhury resonates with solitude and repetitiveness that has become ordinary. Subject matter fluctuates between still life, portraits, and floral imagery, communicating intimate domestic stories that might not entirely be what they seem. Subjects' interior lives are intertwined with fantastical objects often seen in a film, folklore, and religious story. The emotive work in the exhibition displays striking moments of hope and possibility.

SE Cooper Contemporary, 6901 SE 110th, February 20-April 2

The Black Lives Matter Artist Grant Exhibition

The twenty artists selected in The Black Lives Matter Artist Grant Exhibition at PSU stretch the notion of "socially engaged artwork" beyond its cursory definition. The collection of artworks in the show by emerging, mid-career, and established artists varies from installation, photography, video, painting, performance, textiles, sculpture, poetry, and printmaking. The effect is a selection of work that epitomizes allied and conflicting political, social, and aesthetic approaches and encourages differing perspectives. Some of the artists included in the exhibition are Baba Wagué Diakité, Sadé DuBoise, Leila Haile, Elijah Hasan, Willie Little, Latoya Lovely, Christine Miller, Annie Schutz, Sharita Towne, and Kyra Watkins. The Black Lives Matter Artist Grant Program is a multi-university granting project to help grow financial and intellectual investment in artwork centers around the centuries-long fight for Black autonomy, freedom, and life.

Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at Portland State University, 855 SW Broadway, January 18-May 30

Hallie Ford Fellows in the Visual Arts 2017-19

Fifteen Oregon-based artists who received the Hallie Ford Fellowship in the Visual Arts award in either 2017, 2018, or 2019 are showcased in the current exhibition on view at Oregon Contemporary—curated by Jenelle Porter. The work featured is a vast array of ideas and approaches. Some centering around the community, systemic injustice, civil rights, our environments, and daily lived experience. Other concepts deal with the personal like the body, survival, legacies, devotion, and metaphorical dimensions. Additionally, themes relating to power dynamics, storytelling, abstraction, beauty, and pedagogy are explored.

Oregon Contemporary, 8371 N Interstate, February 4–March 20

Don't Shoot Portland presents Feeling Documents: A Liberated Archives Experience

Don't Shoot Portland returns to Holding Contemporary to showcase another vital exhibition, Feeling Documents: A Liberated Archives Experience. The multimedia installation is presented in conjunction with the University of Oregon Center for Art Research (CFAR) program series HABITS OF DENIAL that centers research, exhibitions, and public programs around the theme of "access." The installation will showcase a timeline of artistry and politics that use art and culture, music, and social media to promote the intersections of social justice. The exhibition will be free and open to the public.

Holding Contemporary, 916 NW Flanders, February 17-March 27

Gemstone Groceries by Alex Proba and Super Organic Pasture Raised Leisure by Jess Ackerman

Gemstone Groceries by Alex Proba in the main gallery and Super Organic Pasture Raised Leisure by Jess Ackerman in the Annex space resonate with the gallery's aesthetics; known for showing design-forward, graphic, eye-catching work. Proba looks to her surroundings for inspiration and can uniquely capture life's quiet moments. Paintings and wall sculptures are realized from the sensory and visual information Proba finds beautiful and joyful in intimate and unexpected places. Ackerman's practice consists of emotive nature-morte paintings of daily life portrayed in a palette that effortlessly utilizes pastels and vibrant hues. Orange slices, a glass of milk, cake, candles, flowers, berries, and silverware all coalescence on dining tables, and familiar scenes that are uplifting and celebratory figurative depictions that center around meaningful dialogue around connection and intimacy.

Stephanie Chefas Projects, 305 SE 3rd, Suite 202, February 26-March 26

William Matheson, Dissipatio Courtesy of Nationale

William Matheson, Dissipatio

William Matheson's new series of paintings at Nationale are imbued with isolation and collective unease. Shadowy figures and vignettes of daily life are displayed in capricious colorways, further expanding on the tensions relating to time, space, and creative practice. Although the semi-monochromatic paintings and ink drawings on display may not outwardly appear optimistic, hope is palpable throughout. Matheson's creative practice attentively examines the dualistic nature that is severely apparent in the present day.

Nationale, 15 SE 22nd, February 18–March 27

The Quick: Diedrick Brackens & D'Angelo Lovell Williams

The Quick by Diedrick Brackens & D'Angelo Lovell Williams and curated by Ashley Stull Meyers features new works that center "home"—landscapes, households, or other familiar and formative environments as dynamic places of inspiration. The show title references the inner tender and vulnerable part of a plant. Metaphors for building love, companionship, and intimacy are explored throughout this exhibition. Brackens and Lovell Williams and Black caregivers, farmers, and writers come together in distant conversation. A profoundly personal narrative is analyzed and displayed through weavings, photographs, and sculptural objects.

lumber room, 419 NW 9th, opening April 2


Ashley Gifford is an art historian, writer, and creative. She is the Founder & Editor-in-Chief of Art & About—a publication and resource for art in Portland and The Greater Pacific Northwest.