Portland isn't really concerned with the difference between highbrow and lowbrow art. Here, it's not unusual to see the pages of a comic book on the white walls of a contemporary gallery. We even have a gallery dedicated to displaying comic book art, Northwest's Sequential Art.
This month, Sequential is showcasing artist Portland-based Leila Del Duca's contributions to SHUTTER. The series, which released new issues through recent Portland transplant Image Comics up until this year, was just as significant for its epic plot as for its detailed art. SHUTTER convincingly created a sprawling, alternate world full of animals, robots and fantasy creatures that are just as sentient as humans, and chronicles the action-packed travels of adventurer Kate Kristopher. A compilation of all 30 issues is due out this month.
September is when the Portland art hits its restart button, and it seems like this year, galleries are interested in giving space to a crop of local artists who operate outside the expectations of contemporary fine art. With the exception of Alison Saar, all of our picks for art-show openings are solo exhibits by Portland artists. Erika Rier's two-dimensional, pattern-heavy scenes are a surreal take on folk art. When he relocated from North Carolina, Jeremy Okai Davis made his name in Portland by meticulously painting colorful, multilayered portraits of partygoers.
Here are the five exhibits we're most excited to see this month—most of which just so happen to be by local artists.
The Art of SHUTTER by Leila Del Duca
SHUTTER follows the action-packed adventures of Kate Kristopher through a vividly conjured, alternate world in which foxes grow mohawks, animatronic cats are sidekicks and minotaurs commute by public transit. Del Duca's strikingly detailed panels range from sparkling, futuristic cities to explosive car chases featuring lions in pinstripe suits to astronauts transferring a starry-blue void. Sequential Art Gallery, 328 NW Broadway, Apt 113, sequentialartgallery.com. Sept. 7-30.
Painter Jeremy Okai Davis' style has hardly changed in the last few years. He paints portraits blurred by large blotches of color in heavily layered, viscous paint. But somehow, his career doesn't feel static. He's gone from painting vibrant scenes of women showing off their tattooed knuckles, smiling as water gets poured on their head (or just generally having a great time not giving a fuck), to sparser, introspective works. His new exhibit will debut paintings of family photos, basketball jerseys and other fragments of Davis' psyche. Gallery 135, 135 NW Park Ave., facebook.com/gallery135. Sept. 7-Oct. 1.
They Were Wrong, So We Drowned
Violet Aveline's paintings depict anything from the Oregon Trail to Poseidon emerging from the sea. There's something nightmarish about her work. The people in her landscapes are rendered with simple shapes and bright colors, but with just enough texture that they seem eerily real. Her work is frequently exhibited on the coffeehouse circuit, and last June, she held an exhibit in a Southeast synthesizer showroom. But They Were Wrong, So We Drowned, an exhibit of new paintings by Aveline, has found its way to Union Knott's white box gallery. If nothing else, the show has a terrifying title. Union Knott, 2726 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., instagram.com/unionknott. Through Sept. 30.
Goddesses & Villains
Each of the illustrations in Erika Rier's Goddesses & Villains seems to exist in its own bizarre universe: Women with eyes for mouths, others who raise a glass of wine while snuggling with a lion or are tied to a chair among women with bird heads and feet. Line drawings that are heavy on patterns and filled in with bright watercolor hues—Rier's works almost look like doodles, except for the fact that they're far too intricate and imaginative to be mindless creations. Multnomah Arts Center, 7688 SW Capitol Hwy., multnomahartscenter.org/events/gallery. Through Oct. 3.
Alison Saar has been winning prestigious artists residencies since the mid '80s. Her career can't really be summed up in a single work. Saar's works tend to reference the African diaspora, but they range from prints to sculptures of just about every medium: clay, coal, cooper and even blown glass. Portland has been lucky enough to host several Alison Saar exhibits over the years. For this show, Saar will exhibit works from her private studio as well as new and old prints. PNCA's 511 Gallery, 511 NW Broadway, pnca.edu. Sept. 7-Oct. 14.