Things are a little different this month, because I'm not just recommending art shows for you to see. The Trump administration has announced it is moving forward with its plan to defund the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities (which will save a whopping 0.00625 percent of the budget!). So, given what's happening, I think it's more important than ever to think about all the ways we can engage locally in the arts. I'm giving you three recommendations for shows and two for new arts programs that might be up your alley.
Artist Tara Sellios's subject is the beauty and fragility of death. She starts by creating intricate watercolor compositions of animal skeletons surrounded by clouds of gossamer insects. Then she translates the tableaux into sculptures, using real-life skulls and reconstituted bugs. Finally, she photographs the 3-D still lifes using a large-format camera. The resulting large-scale photographs, on view at the gallery beside the original watercolors, are equally stunning and macabre. Blue Sky Gallery, 122 NW 8th Ave., 503-225-0210. Through April 2.
Artist Adrian Landon Brooks' paintings on panel speak of folklore and pagan times. Gilded suns and crescent moons rise and set throughout his compositions, guiding his animal-human figures. Brooks' use of rounded feminine forms, combined with impossibly perfect geometric patterns, provide the series with rare aesthetic balance. His linework is so precise that it appears to have been painted with a brush the width of a human hair. And in another gesture of balance, this precision is set off by the fact that the panels he uses are often gnarled pieces of wood with knots, nail holes and myriad imperfections. Stephanie Chefas Projects, 305 SE 3rd Ave., Suite 202, 310-990-0702. Through March 31.
The Future the Past
Todd Norsten's predominantly text-based paintings are surprisingly and endearingly funny. Some of the humor comes from the way Norsten plays with language and design, like the piece that says, "S…H…T"—knowing well how the human brain fills things in, or the painting that reads, "(The truth is in the parentheses)". The show looks like it was created by Andy Warhol, if Warhol had been a sign painter in rural Kansas. Adams and Ollman, 209 SW 9th Ave., 503-724-0684. Through March 11.
If you're familiar with the idea of community-supported agriculture, PDX-CSA is a similar model, but for art. It connects art enthusiasts with artists whom they can support directly. Five artists will present artworks in their concept stages to potential collectors like you. Once you select an artist (there are some good ones this year) whose work you like, you get to follow their creative process through the completion of your piece. Commissions range from $150 to $175. It's a great, low-cost way to start an art collection. For more information and to learn about the artists, visit pdx-csa.com. Through April 16.
Art Passport PDX
Have you ever been intimidated by the idea of going to the galleries? Afraid of asking the "wrong" questions? Bummed you don't have enough money to buy anything? If so, this free arts program is designed for you. Pick up a passport book (details on the website), visit eight galleries, collect eight stamps, ask as many questions as you can think of, and get a chance to win a $1,600 credit to spend at the galleries. All that's required is your curiosity and enthusiasm to learn about art. To sign up, and for more information, visit artpassportpdx.com.