[WW PICK] 2016 Contemporary Northwest Art Awards
A tilted monolith of concrete, wood, foam and metal greets you in the gallery of Portland Art Museum's biennial awards exhibition for Northwest Art. Work from eight regional artists, in every medium from etched glass to neon, wait for you beyond. The photorealistic drawings of post-apocalyptic scenes by the collaborative duo known as Lead Pencil Studio are a standout, as are the haunting faceless figures, drawn on paper by Samantha Wall, that give the impression that they might dissolve at any moment should you stand in front of them too long. Portland Art Museum, 1219 SW Park Ave., 226-2811. Through May 8.
There is no separation between artist Hayley Barker's creative practice and her spiritual practice in the series The Ambassadors. Her paintings are explorations of the sacred and some of her amorphous unstretched canvases serve as prayer mats, inviting viewers to consider their own relationship to the divine. Before the exhibition begins, Barker will conduct a personal ritual to bless and complete the series, imbuing it with something that will never be seen but will perhaps be felt. Carl & Sloan, 8371 N Interstate Ave., No. 1, 360-608-9746. Through May 29.
Coalesce; Above and Beneath
If you only saw the world from an airplane window at 10,000 feet, it would look a lot like Ann Lindsay's abstract paintings. Using limestone clay on panel, Lindsay captures the tight grids, the swirling circles and the meanderingly wild landscapes that can only be appreciated from above. In contrast, sculptor Joseph Conrad's rough and pitted stone carvings make us feel as though are feet are firmly planted on the ground. Taken together, their work in the two-artist show Coalesce; Above and Beneath gives us the land at opposites. Waterstone Gallery, 124 NW 9th Ave., 226-6196. Through May 29.
Lest we get too uppity in the art world, the Pacific Northwest College of Art gives us an exhibition of work from 100 artists, ages 4 to 18. As part of its youth program, PNCA invited budding artists to produce works on paper that represent their ideas of community. So let's check it out, be happy, and maybe get a couple of autographs. You never know who's going to be a famous artist one day. Hammer Corridor Gallery at PNCA, 511 NW Broadway, 503-226-4391. Through May 31.
Artist Ben Killen Rosenberg started exploring the process of decay as a theme in his work when his mother and uncle were dying. Then in 2014, while walking along the beach, he came upon hundreds of dead birds washed ashore. Those birds—some in gentle repose, others further along in their decomposition—became the subjects of his ink and watercolor series Continuum. Rosenberg asks us to look life and death in the eye and to recognize the beauty in both. Oranj Studio, 0726 SW Gaines St., 719-5338. Through June 30.
Four glass artists present work that combines printmaking techniques with kiln-glass, further pushing the boundaries of both processes. Michelle Murillo explores her ancestry and identity in a standout installation comprised of rows and rows of ghostlike pieces of identification—travel documents, driver's licenses—that are missing the faces of the people to whom they belong. Each was made by screenprinting glass powder and then kiln-firing it, resulting in objects so fragile, they look like they might dissolve if you touched them. Bullseye Projects, 300 NW 13th Ave., 503-227-0222. Through June 18.
The Museum's Ghosts
Photographer Andrés Wertheim uses multiple in-camera exposures to juxtapose museum visitors with the work they have come to see. In Wertheim's imaginings, the subjects of classical paintings and sculptures loom enormous, apparitions back from another century, keeping an eye on the tiny unsuspecting visitors who have no idea they are being watched. The Museum's Ghosts asks us to consider our relationship to art and also to ponder who and what makes up the heart and soul of an art institution: Is it the people who visit or the ones who hang on the walls? Blue Sky Gallery, 122 NW 8th Ave., 503-225-0210. Through May 29.
[WW PICK] Nothing Lasts Forever
Toronto artist Brian Donnelly paints photorealist portraits of disembodied heads against optimistic backgrounds of cloudless baby blue skies. Once completed, he applies corrosive materials, like turpentine or hand sanitizer, to his subjects' faces so that their features melt down the canvas in dripping trails of color. He could easily paint them this way from the start, but in the act of destroying something perfect, his work talks to us about loss, letting go, mortality and the inevitability of time. Stephanie Chefas Projects, 305 SE 3rd Ave., Suite 202, 310-990-0702. Through June 4.
Twin Feather Meditations
When an artist presents a series that is in stark contrast to the type of work he has produced before, it is important to pay attention and be curious about what has caused his practice to mature. Since coming out after a life of being closeted, Emilio Lobato's sharp rectilinear and geometric compositions have given way to the soft, layered monotype prints in Twin Feather Meditations. The incorporation of organic forms and the act of freer mark-making represent a more intuitive way of working for the artist. The feather imagery throughout the series serves as a personal totem for Lobato as he explores a belief in certain Native cosmologies that transgender and homosexual members of a community—so called "two-spirit" people—are highly spiritual beings. Elizabeth Leach Gallery, 417 NW 9th Ave., 224-0521. Through May 28.
On assignment from the Musée Carnavalet in Paris to educate the public about the people who care for the museum's collection, photographer Thomas Bilanges made portraits of each member of its staff. He then photographed each person's favorite work of art in the same style and with similar lighting that he had used for that person's portrait. Displayed side by side as diptychs, it can be difficult to tell which is the commissioned portrait and which is the work of art. And by allowing the style of the sitter's portrait to dictate the style in which the art is photographed, Bilanges sends a clear message that those who care for art are as important as the art itself. Blue Sky Gallery, 122 NW 8th Ave., 503-225-0210. Through May 29.