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October 4th, 2006 RICHARD SPEER | Visual Arts
 

A Fine Affair

AFFAIR @ The Jupiter Hotel provides some stellar room service.

     
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The third time was a charm for the annual AFFAIR @ the Jupiter Hotel (Sept. 29-Oct. 1), Portland's premier contemporary-art fair. Operating like a well-oiled machine, the AFFAIR filled more than 30 rooms at the retro-chic Jupiter Hotel with art in many media from across the country. May the gods bless organizers Stuart Horodner and Laurel Gitlen for continuing to mount this labor of love, which fosters a sense of civic pride while mixing it up with a diverse lot of out-of-town gallerists and artists. PICA and the Cascade AIDS Project could learn a thing or two from the AFFAIR about mounting art events that exude vitality rather than pretentiousness or torpor.

Local galleries held their own in comparison with out-of-town venues. Hometown highlights included Yoshi Kitai's metallic-paint-on-paper works at Pulliam Deffenbaugh; Nancy Lorenz's glittering, raindrop-like resin on silver leaf at PDX; and Bryan Schellinger's crisscrossing patterns at Quality Pictures, a gallery set to debut Dec. 7 at 916 NW Hoyt St. The Elizabeth Leach Gallery featured a scrumptious metallic ceramic pillow by Malia Jensen and the best bathroom installation at the AFFAIR: an immersive cocoon of shiny mylar, punctuated by hypnotic video pieces by Matt McCormick.

Among the out-of-town galleries, arts collective Golden Blizzard (Atlanta) proved the most welcoming, its eight artists drawing on paper in round-robin fashion, offering visitors cocktails while members explained their collaborative process. Roberta Bayley's photos of the Ramones circa 1976 stood out at Modern Culture (New York City), while Claude Zervas' zigzagging green fluorescent sculpture gave extra oomph to the offerings of the James Harris Gallery (Seattle). James Gobel's acrylic-and-felt portraits of creepy bearded men at Heather Marx Gallery (San Francisco) numbered among the fair's most memorable works, as did Laura Turner's photographs of a tacky tourist cabin that time forgot at Art Palace (Austin, Texas). But perhaps the AFFAIR's wittiest, most irreverent offerings were Walter Robinson's bare-breasted Minnie Mouse figurines, dripping with glittery epoxy resin and posed like stop-motion stills. The piece, offered by the Catharine Clark Gallery (San Francisco), would have been at home at Art Basel Miami Beach or The Armory in New York but looked very comfortable indeed—and sold for five figures—here in good old Portland, Ore.


Check out affair-jupiterhotel.com for more information.
 
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