Meeting People
Various Artists 425 SE Oak St.
Through December

Being one of the three people I know in Portland who didn't do a block for the Charm Bracelet's nearly 500-block Meeting People project, seeing it in completion, I wish I had. If Brad Adkins hasn't told you about it, hundreds of Portland artists, amateurs, and professionals designed their art on 4x4-inch wooden blocks--and they all hang together in the installation.

While I never had low expectations for the final product, it turned out far better than I imagined. There is a perfect balance of both color and black and white photography and painting. One of the photography pieces is a color-saturated blue/green print of a girl's face with flowers in the background. It stands out boldly among the rest of the pieces, yet blends in with the whole as a flash of color.

Some of the most interesting blocks are diorama-style, the art sticking way out from the block. One of my favorite blocks has two mini people each standing on their own giant iceberg. Another block that I love/hate is pink and has volcanic looking structures sticking out of it (or they could be barnacles).

An additional dynamic of the project is the contrast of irony and seriousness. While one block says "future suicide victim" painted in a dramatic font that makes me think the painter isn't kidding, there are two blocks with pornographic photos of hairy asses and another that says, "I'm with stupid." I feel like this is the most important quality of the show--it addresses the serious artist and their sense of humor simultaneously.

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