Go here for Speer's cover piece on the what went wrong with Portland's art scene over the past 13 years,.
Julia Fenton's Devices and Desires
(Mark Woolley Gallery, April 2003)
Visually extravagant with pink feathers and over-the-top sculptures, this show was also deeply thoughtful in its critique of the splendors and indignities of the human body. Like many of Mark Woolley's shows, Devices and Desires was not a huge commercial success, but Woolley has always put art and ideas before profits, and the art community is richer for it.
Symbiont/Synthetic, curated by Jeff Jahn
(Core Sample, October 2003)
Prolific artist, writer, editor and curator Jeff Jahn outdid himself when he put together this flashy yet substantive 18-artist show. The highlight was Matthew Picton's glass-bead and cake-sprinkle sculpture, which hung from the ceiling by Slinkys. Yes, Slinkys. Jahn continues to edit the online arts digest Port, one of the Northwest's most reliably zippy and controversial blogs.
Mark Zirpel's Celestial/Terrestrial
(Bullseye Gallery, December 2004)
In Bullseye's dark, vaguely spooky upstairs gallery, gonzo artist Mark Zirpel offered a mad-scientist take on the music of the spheres and the waxing and waning of the moon. Like so many shows at Bullseye, Zirpel's fantasia showed just how versatile and relevant glass is as a contemporary art medium.
Scott Wayne Indiana
(Residence Gallery, April 2005)
With oil paints, shellac and coffee grounds, Scott Wayne Indiana conjured brilliant contemporary updates of abstract expressionism. Notably, it was not his paintings, but his Portland Horse Project that garnered him his greatest acclaim. These miniature horses, attached to early-1900s metal rings, can still be found on streets around the city.
Adam Bailey's Lineage of Harmonic Abstraction
(Portland Art Center, July 2006)
You felt like you'd wandered onto the set of Barbarella when you walked through the eerily glowing salt pillars and multicolored banners of this haunting installation. To complete the futuristic ambience, Bailey composed a seductive soundscape with tones so deep, you felt them in your bones and blood.
Dorothy Goode's In Homage to the Graffiti I Didn't See in Manhattan
(Butters Gallery, May 2008)
This massive, virtuosic grid of 75 egg-tempera and ink paintings filled Butters Gallery's sunlit east wall with colors and gestures alternately bold and delicate, lyrical and whimsical. (Disclosure: I met Goode one year after writing about this stunning installation. The summer of the following year, we became romantically involved, after which I never wrote about her in WW again, until this blurb. We have now been together nearly five years—and yes, her paintings still kick ass.)
(Disjecta, March 2010)
Cris Moss curated this jaw-dropping group show, which featured Shelby Davis and Crystal Schenk's life-sized replica of an 18-wheeler, made of two-by-fours and drywall. Another highlight was Marne Lucas and Bruce Conkle's fanciful chandelier, cobbled together from a tanning bed, geodes, moss and coconuts. Lucas and Conkle, operating under the moniker Eco-Baroque, have become pioneers in the eco-art movement, which extends far beyond the Pacific Northwest.
(Portland Art Museum, September 2011)
Sorensen's idylls of mountains, waterfalls, rivers, and crystals the size of boulders conjure a vision one hobbit short of Lord of the Rings. His fantastical landscape in Portland Art Museum's APEX series, entitled Tabernacle, remains one of the most impressive paintings I've ever seen at PAM.
Paul Dahlquist Retrospective
(Cock Gallery, April 2012)
Beloved photographer (and Walt Whitman look-alike) Paul Dahlquist has been taking pictures in Portland and around the world for decades. He's particularly renowned for his nudes and racy portraits of couples (and threesomes, foursomes, and more-somes) in flagrante delicto. When I interviewed Dahlquist for a 2008 feature, he summed up his philosophy of life with a quote I would gladly have inscribed on my tombstone: "Eye candy is my favorite drug—and I love to O.D.!"
(Laura Russo, May 2012)
Gleaming gold and silver leaf, intricately carved paintings on mahogany and ponderosa pine, psychedelia-flavored wood burnings and drawings influenced by folk art and Keith Haring. These elements came together in a tour de force by one of the Northwest's most popular artists. Cramer has since left Laura Russo, citing creative differences, but will have a solo show at his new gallery, Augen, in November.