In case you didn't get the memo, this is the summer of Scott Wayne Indiana. First, the artist was featured on KATU TV for installing those damned ubiquitous toy horses around the Pearl District and other parts of Portland. Next, he was the subject of a tedious debate on PortlandArt.net about the merits and demerits of his Elizabeth Taylor piece in Guestroom's group show, Gray Area. Then, on Aug. 5, he curated the one-day group show InClover at Mount Scott Park. The show inspired all manner of elitist comments from insufferable bloggers who couldn't get over the granola-istic temerity of mounting an art show in a public park. In fact, the show was superb, with bracing work from Jacqueline Ehlis, Blinglab, Paige Saez and Harvest Henderson, plus an eye-catching collaboration between TJ Norris and Abi Spring. Finally, Indiana installed Waiting Room on the ceiling of the Portland Art Center: a bravura riot of 39 axes frozen mid-chop, artfully lit to allow each ax to cast multiple shadows. The artist claims the piece is "about breaking through to the next level," which strikes our ears as a coy, Pollyanna spin on a fearsome, aggressive work. Indiana's strongest gift is as a gestural painter, but he has stretched his wings this summer as a conceptual artist and curator, and we look forward to seeing what twists his twisted yellow brick road will take next.
Also at Portland Art Center is a striking installation by the ascendant single-monikered artist known as Houston. The Biennial selectee, who is 34 and whose real name is Matt Clark, has lined fancifully painted and laser-cut planks along a wall. Yes, it's a deconstruction of painting that we've seen the likes of before, but something in the precision and exuberance of execution—and the winky "Houston" logo branding some of the planks—lends the work freshness. 32 NW 5th Ave., 236-3322. Closes Sept. 3.
Elsewhere in the Pearl, Liz Harris fills Motel with pink and blue tape, intersecting in energetic patterns that climb the walls and spill onto the floor. 19 NW 5th Ave., Suite C, 222-6699. Closes Aug. 19. And at Everett Station Lofts' Tilt Gallery, Jonathan Leach displays colorful geometric paintings that riff on futuristic cityscapes. 625 NW Everett St., #106, (908) 616-5477. Closes Aug. 26..