The Portland Art Center needed a showstopper to make up for last month's Catacombs, a labyrinth of low-grade performance art that would have undershot expectations even if a high-school drama troupe had put it on. Fortunately, Croatian artist Viktor Popovic supplied the needed showstopper in the form of an untitled, limited-engagement installation that was as seductive as it was arcane. Glowing in the darkness of PAC's cavernous main gallery, the sculptural grouping of elementary-school chairs and fluorescent lights looked like Dan Flavin reincarnated as a fourth-grader. Up close, you saw other seating styles: dining chairs, captain's chairs, stackable plastic chairs à la Design Within Reach. On opening night, Popovic, in town for five weeks for a PICA residency, explained that each of the chairs was lent to him by Portlanders he met during his stay, and that the lenders' energies contributed to the installation's emotional impact. Complementing the piece was Elias Foley's film, with its shifting shapes and shadows, set to an Indian techno-raga beat. It's a pity the show wasn't up longer than three days (Nov. 2, 3 and 4). Maybe people wanted their chairs back. 32 NW 5th Ave., 236-3322.
Concurrent with the Popovic show, two new arts spaces made their debuts. On the third floor, two open studios, Big Art and C.E. Bloom Studios, displayed paintings by Tore Djupedal and Chuck Bloom. Djupedal's works were noteworthy, juxtaposing gestural fluidity with columns of brightly hued paint. Downstairs, adjacent to PAC's entryway, Floating World Comics offered a generous inventory of graphic novels and zines, with a youngish crowd of illustrator/designer types in attendance. Seeing the Goldsmith Blocks Building come to life with fresh spaces reminds one of Cathedral Park Place circa 2003, buzzing with cross-disciplinary dynamism and creative synergy.
And then there are the bathrooms. We'd be remiss if we didn't mention the agreeably cheesy photos lining the hallway to the loo: group portraits of Goldsmith sales executives, taken at Hilton Hotel banquets in the mid- to late-1960s. According to head PAC-man Gavin Shettler, the portraits "were just lying around" when the nonprofit took possession of the building. By displaying them, PAC nods to (and winks at) the space's history. My, my, would you look at these faces and fashions! This was an era when men were men, women were home watching the children (only a handful of women are scattered among the hundreds of male executives) and people of color apparently didn't exist. Sixties Stumptown... Things have certainly changed since then. Haven't they?