Going to the galleries always comforts me, either by providing a distraction to current events or a response to them. I expect these five shows to help steel us for the upcoming inauguration. Some will do so by reminding us of the beauty that is everywhere for the taking, while others will reassure us that in the face of so much violence, jingoism and hate, we all care about the uncertain future of our humanity.
Metro: Scenes From an Urban Stage
Inspired by the photojournalism in Life magazine, photographer Stan Raucher brings us a series of black-and-white photographs that he took in subway trains and metro stations all over the world. The subway car acts as a frame inside of which the glorious differences and similarities of the human experience reveal themselves to us. Blue Sky Gallery, 122 NW 8th Ave., 503-225-0210. Jan. 5-29.
Artist Emily Wobb feels betrayed by her patriotism and deep love of country, and has responded by making a body of work about "American identity as spectacle." It isn't clear from the press release what form the exhibition will be taking, but Wobb is co-founder of Bronco Gallery—an exhibition space in the back of a Ford Bronco that tailgates all over town—so regardless of what medium she's working in, I already know I want to see it. Duplex, 219 NW Couch St., 503-719-6517. Jan. 5-27.
It's hard to get me riled up about landscape paintings, but I am excited about Victoria Adams' quiet realist compositions that focus on the play of light over water and sky. Post-election, there is something deep inside of me that pines for the order of the natural world, and Adams' large-scale paintings confer its rightness, beauty and comfort. Elizabeth Leach Gallery, 417 NW 9th Ave., 503-224-0521. Jan. 5-28.
Eric West's series of large-scale photographs of Burmese cities show us a country that has long been hidden from the rest of the word. His technicolor vignettes of urban life offer glimpses of traditional markets and temples, but they also document a place on the cusp of Western influence. One heartbreaking image tells the story more succinctly than anything else might: a billboard for a Samsung phone written in Burmese with the word "Selfie" on it. Blue Sky Gallery, 122 NW 8th Ave., 503-225-0210. Jan. 5-29.
Artists Kerry Davis and Anna Daedalus cast photograms and objects into concrete to create new relics of our hyper-violent culture in ruin. Two 3-D "hoodie totems" stand guard over the exhibition—a traditional and sacred form that invokes the memory of Trayvon Martin, whose death has become a symbol of the deep failings of this country. Roll-Up Photo Studio and Gallery, 1715 SE Spokane St., 503-267-5835. Through Jan. 29.