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October 29th, 2003 RICHARD SPEER | Visual Arts
 

Processing Change

A follow-up to the Modern Zoo exhibits the art behind art.

     
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Change is in the air at the young Portland Center for the Advancement of Culture, and it's a critical time in the fledgling nonprofit's development. Two new board members have signed on: David Mosher, owner of Art Media, and businessman Val Brown. The Modern Zoo, a free-for-all featuring more than a hundred local artists, garnered critical raves this summer. And a recent donation of $3,500 has allowed PCAC to mount a follow-up to the Modern Zoo, a show called Process, staged in a massive warehouse under the Hawthorne Bridge.

It's a terrific show with lofty goals to match the Holman Building's 24-foot ceilings. Curators commissioned six artists to produce work for the show, then assigned each artist a "documenter" who, in turn, made an artwork about their subject's creative process.

The most successful is the collaboration between Kim Hamblin and Tracy Olson. Hamblin created three multimedia constructions, and Olson, in a fit of bravura accumulationism, gathered every single thing Hamblin used in the creation of the pieces and sealed each item up in beakers, specimen jars and Ziploc bags.

The hundreds of glass containers present an astonishing visual overload. Everything includes the Diet Pepsi can the artist drank from while painting, leather and nails left over from the constructions, receipts for materials--even a blood sample from when the artist accidentally cut her finger with an X-Acto knife.

Animator Suzanne Twining took stop-motion photographs of William Park's painting, Cycles, while the artist worked through countless revisions. Montaging the photographs into a digital film, Twining has captured the step-by-step evolution of a creative work in a manner to which non-artists are rarely privy.

Damali ayo contributes another series commenting on "the tangential discourse of race. " It consists of flat, monochromatic paint on cabinet doors, each hue custom-mixed to match her own skin tone on different areas of her body, while Thomas Moore documents the work with a CD and a hand-made book. You wonder what ayo might produce if she moved beyond race as a theme: Would she have anything to say?

Penicillin Corset is Liz Obert's marbled, raspberry-and-cream-colored corset on a plaster mannequin, a piece that's not particularly satisfying as an artwork. Nor is Amy Honeyman's fold-out book about the corset, which skirts the line between precious and trite.

Zefrey Throwell's paintings of a car crash, by contrast, display impressive range, from expressionism to pointillism and beyond, each work executed with conviction, while Joe Haege's soundscape complements.

Process sets the stage for PCAC's next show, The Language of Symbols, scheduled for March of next year. In the meantime, the organization continues to grow--and to have growing pains. As with every other fledgling work of art, those too are part of the process.


Portland Center for the Advancement of Culture at the Holman Building, 49 SE Clay St., beneath the Hawthorne Bridge, 236-5200. Open noon-8pm Saturdays and Sundays. Closes Nov. 30. Donations.
 
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