Laurie Danial, David Eckard and Ellen George are not the freshest faces in the Portland art scene. They're not exactly old school, either. All three have impressive midcareer shows this month, products of tenacity buoyed by neither novelty nor the rose coloring of a final retrospective.
Their work is united by sensitivity to elusive spatial patterns, anatomical flux and a willingness to face the demons of our inorganic times. All three are fleetingly conceptual and abstract at first but glaringly obvious upon further consideration, a dichotomy that keeps them interesting.
In Sensing Place, Ellen George breathes a spacious, colorful spirit into her dangling forms, recalling her early years in Texas. Pieces like Collection of Perfect Moments are sensually draped on the crisp white walls of PDX Contemporary Art like a lei of orchids. In Cotton, it's as if a high wind has caught a pack of gulls as they drift into the pure white cumulus above.
David Eckard has long been one of Portland's most consistent artists, merging media in a broad, supple way. He asks himself as many questions as he poses to his audience, all the while remaining poker-faced. Deployment, his 20-year retrospective, showcases many of his sculptural objects, some never seen, and others used in performance-based works such as Scribe (2003), Float (2006) and his latest, Â©ardiff (2011), which was also presented at this year's TBA Festival. The White Box Gallery at the University of Oregon-Portland presents both beguiling works on paper, and video such as L'Homme du Fleuve (2005) and Patter (2009). Here he dabbles with an irrational documentary-style balance of mischief and pomp, showing off the poignant innards of his own process.
Laurie Danial has been underestimated for years. Her new work, under the moniker Control Release Control, is as stunting as it is stunning. Danial's style has shifted and tightened since her last solo show over three years ago. Gone are the looser, chaotic drips, replaced by solid forms that have been broken and toyed with. Print work like Scope and Open Close makes impressive use of the vestiges of gaming culture and architectural rendering. She has also upped the scale of the work Between a Rock and a Hunk, a formidable diptych in oils measuring 7 1/2 feet long. Aside from its natural forms, slabs and frills, it is the hidden message that permeates the subliminal world of this big, bold beauty.
SEE IT: Ellen George's Sensing Place at PDX Contemporary Art, 925 NW Flanders St., 222-0063, closes Nov. 26. David Eckard's Deployment at the White Box Gallery at the University of Oregon-Portland, 24 NW 1st Ave., 412-3689, closes Nov. 12. Laurie Danial's Control Release Control at Froelick Gallery, 714 NW Davis St., 222-1142, closes Dec. 17.