Red76 at Laurelhurst Theater, 2735 E. Burnside, 232-5511, 8 pm, $6
Does anybody remember that notion of the artist as a lone man (never a woman in this case) of passion and letters, his back turned to bourgeois society, working through his tormented genius to produce objects and images signifying a singular vision? I remember this idea of the artist-as-a-brilliant-island, but only through the popular imagination. By the time I was born, Linda Nochlin had already asked why there had been no great women artists, and a good chunk of the Boys' Club had started scattering pieces of colored felt on museum floors as if too say, "You want a heroic genius, keep looking." So now that it's been established that great artists definitely don't have to be guys, grandiose, or ingenious, the last myth surrounding the Great Modern Artist is being picked away: the Lone Wolf.
There is a new wave, or at least an unusually large ripple, spreading through the art world in the form of the artist collective. Fresh out of school, usually in their twenties, more and more artists are banding together, picking out cool rock star names, and either making artwork collaboratively, or creating DIY communities and networks that neatly sidestep the traditional gallery-museum trajectory. Portland boasts a slew of art collectives, like Charm Bracelet, Collective Jyrk, Pacific Switchboard, and Red76. On March 13, at the Laurelhurst Theater, Red76 hosts dozens of international art groups at I've Got an Answer/I've Got an Anthem: The International Arts Group Exposition. Art gangs from Stockholm, New York, Chicago, London, and Portland will be taking over the theater to screen films, give slide shows, pass out zines, and talk about the benefits of communal creation in general. For more information, check out
www.Red76.com. CHAS BOWIE
Blood and Guts Forever
Marylhurst Art Gym, 17600 Pacific Hwy, 699-6243, through April 4
This week's Arts Rodeo "Winner of the Week" Awards go to Terri Hopkins of the Art Gym at Marylhurst University, and Brad Adkins of Charm Bracelet for Blood and Guts Forever, a group exhibition that runs though April 4. In a splendidly unselfish gesture, Hopkins turned over the Art Gym's curator duties to Adkins, an artist and organizer of countless DIY projects, although never of anything as institutional as Blood and Guts. The title of the show refers not to chainsaw slasher flicks, but to the promissory idealism of childhood friendships, though the nearly-violent pain that sometimes accompanies intimacy has not been lost on any of the participating artists.
Melody Owen's closet installation, "Almost Everything About You Makes Me Happy," deals most directly with the inevitable pains of love. Thirty or so miniature cacti dot the floor of Owen's closet. When viewers enter the chamber, bubbles begin to float down from above head level, only to reach their untimely end on the pricks of unforgiving cactus thorns. Watching the delicate, perfectly formed bubbles waft unsuspectingly towards their violent end conjures up dozens of possible metaphors. Are the sympathetic viewers the harmless bubbles, and the cacti painful relations? Or is everyone a bubble, and the thorns the sticky world we live in? My favorite part was watching the rare tenacious bubble land on a cactus and hold its own, intact without popping, as if only to prove that it could.
Kristan Kennedy contributes a seductive and somber selection of ink drawings, arranged like snapshots on a wall of family photos. Each teary, dripping drawing profiles youthful silhouettes, either alone or in pairs. Despite their relative closeness to each other, the silhouetted figures never seem to make meaningful connections, either remaining isolated and withdrawn, or separated by a thicket of inky brushstrokes.
Natascha Snellman presents a reworked version of "Who Was I Last Night?," a series of color photos and hand-penciled wall text that features her grandmother and great-aunt dressed in Iggy Pop t-shirts and red leather gloves, posing together in front of a blank wall. The blow of the photographs becomes more powerful when you learn that the aunt has Alzheimer's and didn't remember the photo shoot when she saw the resulting prints. The visible bond and companionship of the two sisters combined with loss and memory makes for a tender and haunting double portrait.
Not all the work in Blood and Guts Forever is so gloomy--some of it is joyous and exuberant, and bits of it are downright sappy. But like a meaningful friendship, it is ultimately tender, surprising, and sincere. CHAS BOWIE