First Thursday Preview

The robins are chirping, the taxman is lurking, Girl Scout cookies have arrived, and it's First Thursday once again. Let's peek into the old visual arts mailbag and see what March has in store.

It looks like a good month to be a fan of photography, with some of the old guard showing off their chops at the formidable silver-gelatin standbys, SK Josefsberg Studio and Blue Sky Gallery. Local photographer Stu Levy, who exhibits at Josefsberg this month, apprenticed with some of the modern masters of photography--Eliot Porter, Minor White, and even Patron Saint Ansel Adams. This heritage is evident in Levy's landscape photographs, which will be on view, but the prints to keep your eyes open for are his bug's eye, meta-this and meta-that Grid Portraits that pick up where David Hockney and Chuck Close leave off.

Blue Sky is hosting an exhibit by the grand dame of arthropod melodrama, Barbara Norfleet, who is best known for creating heroic and allegorical tableaux that comment on the nature of human society, but are staged entirely by dried harlequin beetles and cicadas. Blue Sky won't be showing any of the Technicolor insect stills, but will instead display a black-and-white series focused on Norfleet's grandchildren and family heritage. It sounds kind of iffy to me, but Norfleet is an exceptionally skilled photographer, and if I let Lee Friedlander off the hook for doing it, I guess I should extend her the same courtesy.

Terrell James is one of the best abstract painters in Texas today, and Froelick Gallery will be showing a recent set of canvases inspired by a trip to see the prehistoric cave paintings in Rouffignac, France. James' muted color palette, and thin, brushy marks convey a balance of form, color, and light that silence me every time I encounter her work.

It's a busy month for Cris Moss, who is opening a solo exhibit in Elizabeth Leach Gallery's project space. The show promises two videos, one projected, the other on a super-cool flat screen, and something about German motorworks. Over at Pacific Northwest College of Art, Moss is hosting donut shop seven, the latest in his series of independently curated showcases of contemporary art. This installment of donut shop includes work by Bently Spang, whose mixed-media installation, "Techno Powow" received a lot of attention a year or two ago for blending pop culture iconography and Native American tradition. Frantiska + Tim Gilman, a young collaborative team from Prague who write and curate in addition to making art, will also exhibit.

I always get a charge when PICA changes its exhibitions out, and we're getting close to that time again. If you missed Luca Buvoli's Flying (which barely got off the ground), you have no excuse, because it's been up forever. In its stead comes a ten-year survey of work by Chicago-based Tony Tasset. A few years ago, you couldn't open an American art magazine without seeing a hilarious photo of the fringed-out Tasset doing his Neil Young impression with the goofiest "dude I'm rocking now" grin on his face. The PICA show should be a good chance to see what that shot was all about and get turned on to this artist that Chicago and New York seem to love to tears. CHAS BOWIE

Stu Levy at SK Josefsberg Studio, 403 NW Eleventh Ave, March 6- April 12

Barbara Norfleet at Blue Sky Gallery, 1231 NW Hoyt, March 6-29

Terrell James at Froelick Gallery, 817 SW Second Ave, March 4-29

donut shop seven at PNCA, 1241 NW Johnson, March 6-April 23

Tony Tasset at PICA, 219 NW 12th, March 12-April 19