10 shows in Portland area museums and galleries to stretch the mind and eyes in 2022

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I’m looking forward to getting out and stretching my eyes as the days get longer. A lineup of group shows of emerging and established artists and exhibitions of miniature work that will demand focused attention should do the trick. Here are 10 shows in Portland area museums and galleries to stretch the mind and eyes in 2022.

A close-up of a bronze sculpture on a white table

Hilda Morris’ “Wind Form” (1970), a cast bronze maquette.Courtesy Russo Lee Gallery

“Early Northwest Masters: A Survey”

The legacy Portland gallery Russo Lee opens the new year with a survey of foundational Pacific Northwest modernist artists. The show includes work by Northwest School artists Carl Morris and his wife, Hilda Morris, whose forthright, rugged sculptures are still eye-catching today. (See her “Ring of Time” from 1967 fronting the Standard Plaza in downtown Portland). Also included are sculptors Manuel Izquierdo and James Lee Hansen and collage artists Paul Horiuchi and Eunice Parsons.

Jan. 6-29, Russo Lee Gallery, 805 N.W. 21st Ave., russoleegallery.com or 503-226-2754

A close-up of a colorful tapestry depicting a woman's form

– Aruni Dharmakirthi’s quilted tapestry, “Moon God Alchemizing” (2021).Image courtesy of the Artist and Nationale

Aruni Dharmakirthi, Laura Camila Medina and Olivia Nevins-Carbins: “Portals”

I’m imagining this show as something like a perfume. Softly floral top notes, bright middle notes, and a base that reminds you that pretty things are often also smart. Sri Lankan born artist Aruni Dharmakirthi creates layered hanging textiles of curvy geometric shapes that depict gods and goddesses or characters that might appear in slightly morphed retellings of traditional tales. Laura Camila Medina, who was born in Bogotá, Colombia, and grew up in Florida, recollects her childhood in cheeky video work that, in this instance, juxtaposes virtual reality with soft sculpture. And San Francisco artist Olivia Nevins-Carbins’ dense drawings and paintings look like filigreed textile designs even when she’s not painting on fabric.

Jan. 7-Feb. 13, Nationale, 15 S.E. 22nd Ave., nationale.us

Flat, rectangular pieces of wood and paper are shown scattered across a table

– Work by D.E. May and the materials that went into making it will be on view as part of an archival project.Photo courtesy PDX Contemporary Art

D.E. May

In January, curator Linda Tesner and other gallery staff will begin sorting through the materials, files and ephemera left by the late Oregon artist Dan May. The project will be on view in the Quonset hut where they’ll be working, on-site at PDX Contemporary Art’s new location in industrial Northwest Portland. Finished work by the stalwartly local artist—May was born in Salem, where he lived and worked until his death in 2019—will be on rotating display in the space, giving visitors the opportunity to see both the raw materials of May’s creative efforts and how these resolved into his absorbing, small-scale work.

Jan. 11-ongoing, PDX Contemporary Art, 1825B N.W. Vaughn St., pdxcontemporaryart.com or 503-222-0063

A black-and-white photo shows a log cabin in the snow

One of two Steiner Cabins that was part of the Bailey’s Mountain Cabins Resort north of Zigzag, Oregon.Photo courtesy of Mt. Hood Cultural Center and Museum

“Swedish Cabins: The Legacy of Henry Steiner and Fogelbo”

The original concept of the log cabin came from Sweden, and, in the early 20th century, it was picked up with gusto by German immigrant Henry Steiner, who built nearly 100 cabins near Mount Hood. Most of those were intended for use as vacation homes, but one—the only Steiner log house listed on the National Register of Historic Places—is just 5 miles outside of Portland. Renamed “Fogelbo” by its current owner (a take on fågelbo, or “bird’s nest” in Swedish), the structure was commissioned by another immigrant, a Swede, who recognized home in the log and stone buildings. This exhibition explores how log cabin construction came to the United States and highlights Steiner’s artistry and craftsmanship. Notable are his use of hyper locally sourced stone and timber, his handmade furniture, and the ingenious way he incorporated “character” logs and naturally curved branches into the interior and exterior design of these charmingly rustic buildings.

Jan. 17-June 5, Nordic Northwest, 8800 S.W. Oleson Road, nordicnorthwest.org or 503-977-0275

This black-and-beige weaving shows a group of people raising their fists

– Aiyana Monae McClinton’s weaving “In This Skin [Raising Fists]” (2020)Photo: Mario Gallucci

“Black Lives Matter Artist Grant Exhibition”

In August 2020, Oregon philanthropist Jordan Schnitzer committed $150,000 to fund artists whose work gives voice to “social justice efforts in response to systemic racism.” The three university museums that Schnitzer supports—at the University of Oregon, Washington State University and Portland State University—were tasked with selecting 20 artists each and presenting exhibitions of their work. The Portland State University show features a thrilling diversity both of work and of new and established artists. This includes Aiyana Monae McClinton, who creates searing loom-woven textiles; Christine Miller, a multi-disciplinary conceptual artist; Sharita Towne, a research-based video artist and printmaker; J’reyesha Brannon, whose fringed soccer scarves communicate a pointed message; and Julia Bond, a designer whose ongoing “Otherly” project includes a magnificent—by which I mean larger than life—puffer coat in striations of black, brown and toffee, an explicit reference to skin tones of people who have historically been “othered.”

Jan. 18-April 30, Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at PSU, 1855 S.W. Broadway, pdx.edu/museum-of-art or 503-725-8013

Two children are shown climbing on a cedar sculpture of a reclining canine figure.

Marie Watt’s sculpture of aromatic cedar, “Companion Species (Underbelly)” (2018).image by Benjamin Benschneider/O

“Hallie Ford Fellows in the Visual Arts 2017-19″

The world has changed a lot since this exhibition of work by 15 Hallie Ford Fellows was conceived in 2019. It opened in the fall of 2020 at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at the University of Oregon, where its run was interrupted by COVID-19 closures. Thus, the show of mostly recent work by the impressive coterie of artists—the fellowships recognize some of the most interesting artists practicing in Oregon today—may feel a bit like a time capsule, which could itself be interesting. The show represents the artists of three fellowship cycles, 2017-2019, whose practices span art forms and mediums.

Jan. 28-March 20, Oregon Center for Contemporary Art, 8371 N. Interstate Ave., oregoncontemporary.org or 503-286-9449

This small figurine is in the shape of a rabbit

Carved netsuke were small, fashionable accessories in 18th and 19th-century Japan.Photo: Heather Hawksford

“Fashion and Fantasy: The Art of Netsuke Carvings”

The “fashion” in the exhibition title refers specifically to men’s fashion, as netsuke (pronounced nets-keh), evolved as a practical solution for carrying things—seals, writing utensils, tobacco—that didn’t tuck neatly into the folds or sleeves of a kimono as Japanese men went about their business. Netsuke, small carved toggles that anchored pouches and small, stacked boxes strung on silken cords, became ever more elaborate until Western dress, with its handy pockets, was adopted in the late 19th century. Arranged thematically, the show will feature pieces of carved ivory, wood, bone, porcelain and stag horn that depict mythological creatures and characters from fables, people engaged in occupations, and animals, including, naturally, tigers, what with 2022 being the year of the tiger.

Feb. 11-April 17, Portland Japanese Garden, 611 S.W. Kingston Ave., japanesegarden.org or 503-223-1321

A close-up of a painting of a woman with monkeys, one resting on her arm, others looking over her shoulders

Frida Kahlo, Self-Portrait with Monkeys, 1943.Photo by Gerardo Suter

“Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, and Mexican Modernism”

This traveling show brings paintings and drawings by the problematic power couple Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera to the Portland Art Museum. Equally of interest, it includes photographs and paintings created by their contemporaries that lend vibrant artistic context to the work of these iconic artists, who were at the forefront of the Mexican modernist movement. More than 50 photographs of the celebrated couple, some by well-known photographers, such as Lola Álvarez Bravo, are also included, as well as more recent photographs by contemporary artists. These depict artifacts of Kahlo’s life—her crutches, her plaster and leather corsets, and her bed at the couple’s Mexico City home, now a museum—homages to an artist whose cultivated self-image and raw art make her feel more contemporary than modern.

Feb. 19-June 5, Portland Art Museum, 1219 S.W. Park Ave., portlandartmuseum.org or 503-226-2811

Two men are shown posing outside a storefront, one standing the other sitting in a wheelchair

“Albina Arts Center,” photo by Intisar AbiotoIntisar Abioto

Intisar Abioto: “Black Exterior, Black Interiors”

In 2013, artist and writer Initisar Abioto began an ongoing project to talk to and photograph Black Portlanders. Her portraits are unguarded. They’re the kinds of snapshot your best friend takes of you on a really good day that catches the essence of you. The Architectural Heritage Center commissioned Abioto for a more prosaic project, to document some of the buildings, businesses and community spaces included in a Multiple Property Documentation form, which itself builds off “Cornerstones of Community: The Buildings of Portland’s African American History,” a research project published in 1995 that the center’s director, Stephanie Whitlock, described as useful, but not very visual. But, the introduction of artist and organization made, the next iteration of both Abioto’s exploration of Black life in Portland and the Architectural Heritage Center’s, is an exhibition of new work by Abioto that pulls back ever so slightly to set people in places. She may select properties from “Cornerstones” for her people-place portraits, but the intention is to let her use the publication and its stories as a jumping off point for her to tell her own story of what she sees in Portland’s historic Black neighborhoods today.

March-May, Architectural Heritage Center, 701 S.E. Grand Ave., visitahc.org or 503-231-7264

A close-up of a woven, embroidered bag with images of people and animals

– “Sally’s Hidden Secret” (1999), a contemporary take on a traditional Wasco sally bag by artist Pat Courtney Gold (Wasco/Tlingit).Courtesy of Maryhill Museum of Art

“Northwest/Southwest: Indigenous Art After 1980″

Maryhill Museum of Art is recognized for its collection of Native American baskets, which was started when its founder, Sam Hill, donated his own collection to his nascent art museum in the Columbia River Gorge at the turn of the 20th century. The museum’s collection of Indigenous art has continued to grow, and since 2010 has expanded to include work by Indigenous contemporary artists, such as Rick Bartow, Will Wilson, and Cara Romero. The museum, which closes for the winter, reopens in March with an exhibition of work drawn from its permanent collection and augmented by pieces from public and private collections of Indigenous contemporary art created over the past 40 years by artists affiliated with Northwest and Southwest tribes.

March 15-Nov. 15, Maryhill Museum of Art, 35 Maryhill Museum Drive, Goldendale, Washington, maryhillmuseum.org or 509-773-3733

Briana Miller, for The Oregonian/OregonLive



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