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April 19th, 2006 RICHARD SPEER | Visual Arts
 

Drips And Splatters

Backspace scores a hit with action-painting duo.

     
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If gonzo artist Ralph Steadman were a Gen-Y Portlander instead of a 59-year-old Brit, chances are he'd be making work like Justin Gorman and Caleb Freese's collaborations in the Backspace annex. Gorman and Freese deliver dynamic silkscreens, combining design elements, photographs, drawing and action painting, synthesized with invigorating spurts, splatters and drips. The artists (who have shown before in the Everett Station Lofts, Portland's most vital petri dish for emerging talents), will soon be contributing work to an upcoming issue of Portland Modern. Complementing the silkscreens, a video loop shot by Gorman shows Freese action-painting on a plexiglass lightbox, shooting arcs of black ink out of a squirt bottle. The team's splashy expressions contrast with their dry, subdued wit. One of the silkscreens is titled Trucks, street lamps, and going reverse in a Taco bell parking lot. Their First Thursday show card promised "Live nude models appear at 2 am," while their website, squadup.net, offers Web surfers a quid pro quo: "Support our art, and I'll share my girlfriend." Technically accomplished, winningly sassy, this is a duo to watch. 115 NW 5th Ave., 248-2900. Closes May 3.

At Broderick, Vanessa Calvert takes the encaustic medium in welcome new directions. Her photographic collages of Portland cityscapes and still lifes are pieced together, then immersed in beeswax. The subject matter may be prosaic—the exterior of Schumacher Furs on Southwest 10th Avenue, a shopping cart outside a Tigard Target store—but the photos are laid out such that they warp the imagery, imbuing these commonplace scenes with a sinister Lynchian undertone. 814 SW 1st Ave., 224-4020. Closes April 29.

Local tattoo artists such as Dan Gilsdorf and Peter Archer have demonstrated the affinities between the ancient artform and today's graphic-design-influenced fine art. Archer is showing his tempera/ink/acrylic panels at Chambers, where his works portray figurative subject matter (goldfish, squid and other Asian-inspired imagery) rendered in intuitive compositions. With distinctions between pop culture and high art all but obsolete, these works make for a jazzy synergy, although one wishes the colors were more highly saturated. 207 SW Pine St., No. 102, 227-9398. Closes May 13.

 
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