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February 21st, 2007 RICHARD SPEER | Visual Arts
 

The Preeminents

Old-guard sculptors come out of hiding—and kick ass.

     
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Before the show closes, be sure to see The Preeminents, one of the best shows Mark Woolley has ever mounted in his eponymous gallery. It's ungracious to say that the show is too tightly crowded—so was Tutankhamen's tomb, after all—because the sculptures crowding the space are a mother lode of treasures by old-school Portland masters ranging in age from their late 60s to early 90s. Surprisingly—or perhaps unsurprisingly—these guys are at the top of their games. James Lee Hansen, Robert Hess, Tom Hardy and Bruce West pack the elegant rectangular space with visual panache. West's works are the show's most stunning: tectonic, stonelike, alternately matte and preternaturally polished. Woolley often champions edgy, youngish artists; here he presents the classics, to brilliant effect. 128 NE Russell St., 224-5475. Closes Feb. 24.

Picture Ping Pong at Quality Pictures looks, feels and quacks like a Los Angeles show. Curated by Elizabeth Huey, it features work culled from 16 artists' MySpace pages. The mixed-media works exude a marvelously trite Gen-Y insouciance: graphic design- and drawing-influenced and shamelessly autobiographical. Emmanuelle Pidoux's obligatory ink drawing of a deer sets the tone, as does Matthew Rodriguez's No, No, No, No I Love You More, with its heart-shaped candies, construction-paper rainbows, and Mr. Potato Head imagery. This is Jerry Saltzian "termite art" at its best—which is to say, at its worst. 916 NW Hoyt St., 227-5060.

Painter Barry Mack is on a careerlong quest to visually depict transcendental moments: Joan of Arc-caliber epiphanies that were the stock and trade of painters such as Caravaggio, Rembrandt and Tanner. In his current show at Lawrence, Mack presents acrylic paintings that riff on the relationship between macrocosm and microcosm, geologic and nebular flow, in a manner that recalls David Geiser and Matt Lamb. In works such as the oozy, crackly Genesis, Mack exults in surface effects, while in Heartbreak he swirls irridescent aqua, creating nifty interference shifts. Mack is less successful in pieces such as Collaboration, which introduce explicitly geometric elements, which seem incongruous atop his magmatic fields. 903 NW Davis St., 228-1776. Closes Feb. 28.

—RICHARD SPEER.

 
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