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August 13th, 2008 RICHARD SPEER | Visual Arts
 

History Versus Nostalgia

Two shows offer differing takes on the swingin’ ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s.

     
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Our endless fascination with celebrity and nostalgia takes center stage in two very different shows this month. First, at Augen’s DeSoto location, Bande à part: New York Underground time-warps back to the Pop era, which sowed the seeds of our current TMZ/Last Night’s Party/Brangelina/Britney madness. Eight photographers who documented the rock-’n’-roll and punk revolutions headline this traveling show, which made stops in Paris, Hong Kong, London, Los Angeles and Tokyo before arriving in Portland. Highlights include Roberta Bayley’s shots of Blondie’s Debbie Harry, the Clash’s Joe Strummer, and an androgyny-chic Iggy Pop circa 1976, looking a little bit like Portland’s Eva Lake circa 2008 (although Lake is oodles more stylish). Anton Perich’s Mick Jagger at Max’s captures the Stones frontman in dewy, pre-shriveled 1972 form, while his 1973 portrait of Yoko Ono, radiant in long hair and furry stole, is the perfect female complement.

Pulliam Deffenbaugh’s Free Love Gods addresses nostalgia from the same general era, but from the perspective of Gen-X and –Y artists looking back with a mixture of longing and campy condescension. Erik Bluhm’s collage of dashiki-clad flower children blurs the line between a smile and a smirk, as does Benjamin Lord’s psychedelic sunburst of a print. Longing for kindergarten in the shag-carpeted ’70s, Ami Tallman scrawls amateurish interiors and architectural details, Rebekah Miles creates ersatz dust jackets for pre-existing books, and Chris Jahncke gives credence to the age-old put-down of contemporary art: “My third-grader could do that!” This show was curated by Anna Fidler, a brilliant artist in her own right, whose felt, crayon and Magic Marker fantasias have made her a standout in Pulliam Deffenbaugh’s stable. Fidler did not curate herself into Free Love Gods, but if she had, none of these artists could have held a candle to her own work, with the possible exception of Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Reed Anderson. His Minorly Happy is a miracle of intricate cutouts, stencil-like pixels, and every color group known to man, woman or beast: earth tones abutting pastels alongside fluorescents in jarring, jubilant coexistence. This show and Augen’s rock reverie prove that nostalgia is the opposite of history: The former is the province of fantasy, the latter of context. In art, fantasy always wins. .


SEE IT:Bande à part at Augen DeSoto, 716 NW Davis St., 546-5056. Closes Aug. 27. Free Love Gods at Pulliam Deffenbaugh, 929 NW Flanders St., 228-6665. Closes Aug. 30.
 
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