5 pm Tuesday, Sept. 11
Portland Northwest College of Art's Feldman Gallery
was the guiding principal behind the exhibit of the same name curated by Arnold J. Kemp
at PNCA, following a kind of artistic throw-down at a screening of horror flicks last spring at the Clinton Street Theater. Trot around the center of the school and you'll find variations on that theme, from Jenevive Tatiana
's political news photos, surreally grafittoed in sequins, to Kenny Higdon
's whimsical black-and-white video clip of Dia de los Muertos
figures brought to life claymation style in a musical parade, wherein the skeletal protagonists toot horns, shout slogans and bang on drums and other percussion instruments, including their own skulls. The supernatural feel extends beyond Kemp's collection to Regina Silveira's Outgrown (A Map of Tracks and Shadows)
, with its tire treads and tiny silver cars racing across the walls. Upstairs, Paige Saez
's work Pieces
offers a portrait of a blonde bombshell, her limbs stitched together like Frankenstein, lying face down on a white floor and vomiting gold glitter. Natural – well, no. Super? For sure.
5:30 pm,Tuesday, Sept. 11
Portland Institute for Contemporary Art
Melia Donovan's mural The Clandestine Periphery
at PICA isn't immediately apparent; it took a helpful guide to point it out. “It's over here,” she said, gesturing toward a solid white wall. “You have to get really close,” she added, noting our obvious confusion. Sure enough—stand five inches away and you begin to see tiny pinpricks in that wall which, if you zoom in and out by stepping forward and back a couple of paces, begin to form a landscape of people, rocks and animals...like a snapshot of a family vacation in Yosemite. It's modified Braille as art, and it was created by a patient and determined lunatic. For that, we should be grateful.
6:30 pm Tuesday, Sept. 11
calls Portland performance group tEEth
“incomprehensible.” Clearly, the paper should hire some younger critics. At Tuesday's show, when a performer shoved her hands down her throat and wailed agitatedly as she hopped from one foot to the other, the theatrical tension was broken by the infectious giggle of a small child in an aisle seat.
By the time four performers dressed in cabbage suits began sticking their thumbs in one another's eyes and making choo-choo noises, that giggle had become a full-blown squeal of delight. Somebody, at least, understood that this show was funny without stopping to wonder why. Of course, the kid could have been a plant, since tEEth's carnival of the lovely, the grotesque and the absurd erased most boundaries of conventional theater.
But even though it wasn't exactly suitable material for youngsters (especially the abrasively loud score), it did produce the same mixture of wonder, anticipation and anxiety that the circus did when all of us were small. Instead of scary clowns, we got aliens dressed in white unitards marching to the tune of their own gestural language, and a duet that, with its head-in-crotch/foot-on-face partnering conveyed the fumbling grace of real relationships.
Loveliest of all was a mirrored box at center stage, inside which performers folded and unfolded in vibrating, kaleidoscopic shapes. The night ended with the entire cast rolling in a tray of goo at the foot of the stage. It was tempting to wonder how the box worked and what that goo was all about, but it was better to absorb the moment and let the questions unfurl later, when the images replay in dreams.
Images: Regina Silveira's Outgrown, Melia Donovan's The Clandestine Periphery and tEEth courtesy of pica.org.