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May 23rd, 2007 RICHARD SPEER | Visual Arts
 

Mao Meets Anime

Highlights from the waning merry month of May.

     
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To paraphrase Alfred, Lord Tennyson: Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky, the flying cloud, the frosty light—the month is dying in the night. So before the month of May evaporates, be sure to check out Karen Ehlers' luscious oils on panel and Jan Cavecche's inventively composed works on paper at Blackfish (420 NW 9th Ave., 234-2634. Closes May 26). Dinh Q. Lê's woven photo tapestries and Platoon-meets-Apocalypse Now digital video are standouts at Elizabeth Leach (417 NW 9th Ave., 224-0521. Closes June 23). At Lawrence, Barry Mack's Clash is perhaps the abstract painter's masterwork, with its splatters and geometries counterposed, its blooming and weeping turquoise squares evoking the ages of man (903 NW Davis St., 228-1776. Closes May 31). Michael L. Wilson hits his stride at Rake with Before the Inside, To the One and Coming Back, in which the painter bisects elegantly flat picture planes, throwing visceral shapes into a kind of chromatic contrast suggesting light and shadow (325 NW 6th Ave., 750-0754. Closes May 26).

Musical talent often runs in bloodlines, but it's harder to come up with families in which visual-arts talent is passed down. This month at the ad hoc Warren Family Art Salon we see works by artists related to prominent Portland grande dame Nani Warren and her late husband, entrepreneur Robert C. Warren. Highlights of the show, organized by Nani's daughter Wendy, include Catherine Warren's floral-influenced semi-abstractions; Greg Misarti's close-up photographic studies of urban decay; Peter Gronquist's quirky, heavily varnished oils on panel; Nell Warren's water-based mixed media; David McGraw's geometric abstraction; and Lacey Brown's figure studies of dancers in motion. Particular standouts are Lillian Kingery's delicate ink filigrees and Wendy Burden's (the widow of Macheesmo Mouse kingpin Tiger Warren) potent reimagining of the still life via pop art and anime. Burden's Mao and L.A. Dunny presents the iconic Communist as sculpted by Frank Kozik, wearing Mickey Mouse ears and chomping on a stogie. Bookending Mao are flowers in small vases, with Dunny, the popular Japanese figurine, standing defiantly between them. The artist's Buddha and Dunny continues the series, which falls into a witty strain of post-ironic kitsch built around recontextualizing historic figures and genres. This tactic owes much to the pop tradition but fast-forwards from the 1960s to contemporary Gen-Y obsessions. Burden's winky approach is ripe for further exploration (120 NW 13th Ave. Closes May 31).

 
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