September 1st, 2011 12:00 pm | by RICHARD SPEER Arts & Books | Posted In: Visual Arts

First Thursday Preview

What's opening in downtown galleries tonight.

ronnie_stephenscottsmithRonnie by Stephen Scott Smith at Breeze Block Gallery
WW art critic Richard Speer previews tonight's First Thursday openings.

Stephen Scott Smith

In Burlap 2B, conceptual artist Stephen Scott Smith reflects on his young adulthood in the 1980s. His suite of drawings captures the era’s strange melange of military-industrial machismo (witness his depiction of Ronald Reagan), look-the-other-way attitude toward HIV/AIDS (see again Ronald Reagan) and pop-culture explosion (a droll portrayal of a grizzly bear wearing the Madonna-inspired phrase “Boy Toy”). Smith is a talented visual thinker with a sense of humor and a penchant for self-referential work. By looking back on his childhood, he examines the childhood of Generation X as that generation heads uneasily into middle age. Breeze Block Gallery, 323 NW 6th Ave., 318-6228, Closes Oct. 1.

Carrie Iverson

Carrie Iverson tackles highly personal subject matter in Correspondence. Her father, a philosopher, is suffering from a kind of progressive memory loss that makes it difficult to remember words. “He can visualize an object,” Iverson remarks, “but he can’t remember its name.” In the show, she creates sculptures, handmade books and kilnformed glass objects that reference experiences important to her father. The show’s overarching theme is the breakdown of connections between language, objects and memory. This has the makings of a thoughtful, poignant and courageous show. Bullseye Gallery, 300 NW 13th Ave., 227-0222, Closes Nov. 19.

Happy Hour by Grace Weston at Augen Gallery
Grace Weston
Grace Weston constructs meticulous miniature stage sets, which she populates with action figures and props. Then she photographs the sets, resulting in vignettes that come across initially as cutesy and whimsical but upon further viewing betray psychological complexities, a sense of mystery, and at times downright poignance. The works in Angles of Incidents also address gender polarities, romance, and the mixture of terror and nostalgia with which Northwesterners look back on the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens. Augen Gallery, 716 NW Davis St., 546-5056, Closes Oct. 1.

Kristen Miller
Like thin-skinned leaves, the works in Kristen Miller’s Memento have delicate, crepe-like textures and seem as if a light wind could blow them away. Miller sews beads into tissue paper to create these beautiful, intricate compositions, which whisper with a quiet elegance. PDX Contemporary Art, 925 NW Flanders St., 222-0063, Closes Oct. 1.

For Assemblage, curator Leo Michelson has gathered together pieces by 21 artists, all of whom work in assemblage. Michelson’s interest in the medium dates to the 1960s, when he was fascinated by the assemblages of the late Joseph Cornell. The current exhibition showcases a wide variety of approaches to assemblage by artists from across the Pacific Northwest. Annie Meyer Artwork Gallery, 120 NW 9th Ave., Suite 102, 224-3150, Closes Sept. 30.
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