It's easy for me to get into a rut visiting the same galleries every month. Last week, I had an experience that made me want to break out of all my routines: Someone invited me to a dance performance that I would never have sought out on my own. It was a small company I'd never heard of, and my expectations were very, very low.
Turns out, the performance was inspired—far better than many I've seen from the biggest and most respected dance companies in town. It reminded me that we often give short shrift to the unknown, the out-of-the-way, the dark horses.
So this week, my top five visual art recommendations are for shows at venues I have never been to (or, in some cases, even heard of) before. A lot of them aren't even galleries. Many of the shows involve artists—some emerging, others well-known—bringing art into places you wouldn't expect to find it.
Let's drive a few miles outside the Pearl. You never know when something new will surprise and delight you.
1. Annexation & Assimilation: East 82nd Ave
Jade/APANO Multicultural Space, 8114 SE Division St., 503-545-0480. Through Nov. 17.
Artist Sabina Haque has spent the year as an artist-in-residence with the Portland Archives & Records Center. Combining large-scale video projections, poster installations and oral histories, Haque uses her bold and graphic style to tell the stories of how the cultural and demographic landscape east of 82nd Avenue has changed over the last century. Filling an 8,000-square-foot space with creative commentary, Haque draws our attention to a part of town we often ignore. Call ahead for a tour.
2. Quantum Paintings
Eastside Exchange Building, 123 NE 3rd Ave., 503-334-8624. Through Dec. 31.
What appear to be four large-scale paintings of vastly different landscapes—verdant fields to vistas of brown rock—are, in fact, artist Justin Auld's experiment in unpredictability. Auld begins each piece by throwing a paint-soaked rag at the canvas. "This is the quantum experience," he says, "allowing chance, movement and time to intersect to lay the groundwork for the imagery." From there, the landscapes emerge, and the final meditative compositions belie their chaotic beginnings.
The 4th Dimension Recovery Center, 3807 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., 971-703-4623. Nov. 4-Jan 5.
Multidisciplinary artist Jeff Sheridan creates highly textured and intricately detailed paintings on panel that echo both micro and macro forms in nature. The same image looks, at once, like a planet as seen from space and a single-cell organism viewed under a microscope. He is showing his new body of work at a center that serves young people who are in drug and alcohol recovery. It's a reminder that art sales, accolades and press coverage are great for an artist, but true success comes from making even the smallest difference in someone's day.
4. New Works/Obras Nuevas
One Grand Gallery, 1000 E Burnside St., 971-266-4919. Nov. 4-26.
Ivan Salcido creates sculptures, paintings and installations from found, recycled and cast-off materials, transforming everyday functional objects by giving them new purpose. "From the rugged deserts and urban landscape of El Paso, Texas, to the majestic and fertile terrain of the Pacific Northwest, the diversity of cultures, topography, textures and shapes of the world continuously influence me," says Salcido.
5. Aesthetic Dysfunction
Ford Gallery, 2505 SE 11th Ave., 503-449-3305.
Nov. 5-Dec 3.
Artist Karen Wippich layers newspaper clippings with black and white photographs and bold blocks of painted color, creating collages that have the effect of propaganda images from an alternate dystopian reality. She plays with scale, making compositions in which '50s-era businessmen can loom Godzilla-like over crowds of people all looking up in wonder.