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January 24th, 2007 RICHARD SPEER | Visual Arts
 

Band-aids, Mao and Dirty Hippies

Wrapping up an eclectic month in visual arts.

     
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Media glut notwithstanding, Storm Tharp's spectacularly overrated show at PDX isn't the only show up this wintry month. Other notables include Biennial alum K.C. Madsen's crumpled-paper sculptures at Broderick. The pieces are novel but have grown predictable over the years. Madsen needs to evolve, or she risks losing the art community's interest. 814 SW 1st Ave., 224-4020. Closes Jan. 30.

Photographer Jim Riswold is obsessed with figurines of dictators, having had his way with Hitler, Napoleon and now Mao Zedong at Augen. Riswold has placed Mao atop miniature replicas of classic modern chairs. With their sumptuous red backgrounds, the photos are iconic, ironic and just plain weird. One of this town's quirkiest visual minds, Riswold proves in this outing that he's finally crossed the Rubicon and gone full-out batty. We like that. 817 SW 2nd Ave., 224-8182. Closes Jan. 24.

Well-known painter Willy Heeks' seductive, meandering pastiches at Elizabeth Leach show a gift for improvisation colliding with contemporary neuroses. Endeavoring to be all things to all people, becoming nothing to no one, they are perfect expressions of incertitude: Michelle Ross without the yarn. 417 NW 9th Ave., 224-0521. Closes Feb. 24.

At Butters, Annette Davidek's innovative florals sear into the eye with unexpected color combinations: blood-orange and turquoise—yum! Elsewhere in the group show, Elise Wagner's Swift Descent may be the closest she's come to an encaustic masterwork. The piece is bisected by curlicued lines, one half drab and vaguely representational, the other abounding with nebulae swirling atop a gridded plane. This study in dichotomization and contrast suggests greater thematic reach than the artist shows in her more typically amorphous panels. 520 NW Davis St., 248-9378. Closes Jan. 27.

We really like Lucia Johnson's hula-hooping monkeys at Backspace. 'Nuff said. (115 NW 5th Ave., 248-2900. Closes Jan. 30.) At Rake's group show, Kristina Bell DiTullo uses an unusual medium, Band-Aids, to comment on the machinations of psychological healing. DiTullo is a therapist, so she knows something about the subject matter—an identification apparent in these elegant, minimalist études. (325 NW 6th Ave., 750-0754. Closes Jan. 27.) New York photographer Elizabeth Weinberg travels the country with rock bands, documenting their tours. Her photos at Sugar temper band-on-the-run vérité with studied technical finesse. Highlights include her portraits of pasty-faced rocker Ben Kweller and the always hippie-licious Devendra Banhart. (625 NW Everett St., #108, 425-9628. Closes Jan. 30.)

—RICHARD SPEER.

 
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