This week, First Thursday and First Friday couldn't seem more different. On the eastside, there's an opening reception for a punny exhibit about crows and another that features smiley-faced cassette tapes. In the Pearl, there are solo shows from established Portland artists and sobering large-scale installations.
But that isn't to say the art crawls exist in two entirely different art worlds. Put together, both First Thursday and First Friday create the full spectrum of art in Portland, from scrappy and oddball to glossy and high-concept. Even though each side of the river leans toward a different end of that spectrum, they display art that's equally imaginative.
Here are the gallery openings we're most excited about this week on both sides of the city.
It's possible for speakers of two related languages to understand each other without any prior knowledge. The linguistic phenomenon, called mutual intelligibility, is the inspiration for the works by glass artists Helen Lee and Anna Mlasowsky in Bullseye's new exhibit. The show will also feature Jeffrey Stenbom's Every Year, an enormous grid of glass military tags mounted on a wall. It's gorgeous, but also harrowing: The thousands of glass pieces represent the veterans who commit suicide each year. Bullseye Gallery, 300 NW 13th Ave., bullseyeprojects.com. Opening reception 6-9 pm Thursday, Nov. 2. Through Feb. 3.
The Story Is Not The Story
Though his works are usually 3-D, it'd be reductive to call Ben Bushwell a sculptor. At their most chaotic, the Portland artist's wall hanging structures look like Bushwell was trying to smash a sculpture into a canvas. But his new solo exhibit is totally serene. Unfolded along Upfor Gallery's white walls are dozen of iridescent panels depicting magnified obsidian. The exhibit itself is minimal, but each piece is highly intricate. Bushwell created the panels with up-close photos of the volcanic glass and then scratched texture into a glossy finish over each piece. UPFOR Gallery, 929 NW Flanders St., upforgallery.com. Opening reception 6 pm-9pm Thursday, Nov. 2. Through Dec. 2.
In the many years that he's been displaying his landscapes in Portland galleries, Adam Sorensen has managed to create an idiosyncratic style that never ceases to be striking. Instead of blandly pretty nature scenes, Sorensen reduces landscapes to meditative, simple shapes and vivid colors. His new works that will be displayed at PDX Contemporary Art depict jagged mountains, mushrooms and rivers that are painted in such luminous colors they appear to be glowing. PDX Contemporary Art, 925 NW Flanders St., pdxcontemporaryart.com. Opening reception 6-9 pm Thursday, Nov. 2. Through Dec. 2.
For years, Tripper Dungan has been creating "tape buddies"—small pieces of wood painted to look like cassettes with a smiling mouth between their spool eyes. Now, Dungan is combining his tape buddies into something epic. The first step in a larger project called Outer Space Tape Cult, his new show will be a giant, interactive display that features Dungan's trippy paintings and music. The work is still in progress, but according to Dungan, you'll have to crawl into Laser Dome to fully experience the piece. That seems to indicate something along the lines of Kenny Scharf's Cosmic Cavern or Cildo Meireles' Babel—a visually overwhelming work that surrounds you on all sides, whether literately or sonically. But Dungan's version of the contemporary art convention will include something called "yarn-powered lasers." True Measure Gallery, 3022 E Burnside St., truemeasuregallery.com. Opening reception 6-10 pm Friday, Nov. 3. Through Nov. 30.
Crows are fucking awesome. They're smart, loyal and do cool things like gang up against their enemies and bring gifts to their friends. For Crowvember, AFRU Gallery has invited local artists to "crowlaborate" on works inspired by the underrated species of bird. Collaborations challenge artists in ways even they can't anticipate, and AFRU's last exhibit, Monsters and Kittens, is the right amount of weird—ceramic hearts dangling from strings that resemble veins, gollum-like masks of hairless cats and Frankenstein flower pots. AFRU Gallery, 534 SE Oak St., afrugallery.com. Opening reception 6 pm-midnight Friday, Nov. 3. Through Nov. 26.