By Joseph Gallivan
VALERIE SAVARIE: ALTERED BOOK SCULPTURE
White Bird Gallery, Cannon Beach. Nov 2, 2019 – Jan 6, 2020
Colorado-based artist Valerie Savarie cuts, carves and stitches books into new forms, adding character and suggesting new stories. Rather like James Allen of Portland, she cuts into the text, revealing fresh patterns and forms. Beautiful faces, angels, demons, birds – all leap from the text amid its destruction, hinting at both a preliterate and a postliterate world. Each piece hangs on the wall in basic book form, like a painting, but transformed into a sculpture. You can’t do this with a Kindle.
JEFF LEAKE AND WILLIAM KENDALL: NEW WORK
Gallery 114, Portland. Nov 7 – Dec 1
Long before the Rorschach test, philosopher David Hume talked about how people see shapes in random and natural patterns, revealing more about themselves than about the world. Jeff Leake is interested in symbols and how they differ from spontaneous behavior. He paints surreal landscapes on cloud-shaped canvases. William Kendall meshes traditional design principles with the raw energy of graffiti. His “ghosting method” allows images to arise by chance as he layers his paint. Kendall discovered art making in his 30s and still shows a refreshingly joyful approach.
BEING PRESENT: REVISITING PCVA
Portland Art Museum, Portland. Nov 16, 2019 – Jun 14, 2020
The Portland Center for the Visual Arts (1972-87) was the groovy predecessor to PICA, the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art. Edgy, lo-fi , artist-run and anti-institutional, it brought contemporary art to Portland when it was even hard to find it in the art schools. A museum show about an art gallery is a bit meta. Look for “unfaithful” sculptural objects, spatial interventions, animated videos, tapestries and hand-drawn documentation, all fabricated by the curators themselves, known as Triple Candie.
JOE FEDDERSEN: ECHO
Froelick Gallery, Portland. Dec 3, 2019 – Jan 11, 2020
Electricity towers, canoes, deer, peace signs – they all float together and apart in the world of Joe Federsen. Here his experimental prints pulse with graphic possibilities as he blends the naïf, the Native and the pop pixels of the 21st century. While his stick figures cavort with a Keith Haring–like freedom, grooves and carving marks in the background interfere deliciously with the narrative surface. A member of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, Feddersen formerly taught at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington.
KO KIRK YAMAHIRA: FRACTIONS
Russo Lee Gallery, Portland. Jan 2 – Feb. 1, 2020
Seattle-based artist Ko Kirk Yamahira teases fabric apart until its threads hang limply, setting off all sorts of alarms in the viewer about how his objects stay together. They are like Bridget Riley Op Art paintings but supremely tactile. Wool, denim, cotton… even painter’s canvas comes under the artist’s knife and fingers for a good shredding. These gorgeous works beg to be worn, but cannot be. Look but do not touch.