Portland Fall Visual Arts Picks

Christopher Russell

How would you photograph the end of the world? Christopher Russell takes up that question in a new series of altered photographs, Dissonance, Coincidence & Errant Gradations of Light. Using a cheap camera lens, he does something we're told never to do: With his camera as his eye, he looks directly into the sun. The resulting images capture sprays of spookily brilliant overexposure. As if these images weren't ominous enough already, Russell subsequently subjects them to a battery of physical batterings to further distress the prints. He scratches them with sharp objects, folds them into sections and sometimes hurls them onto the ground and stomps on them. It leads to a sooty, ragged appearance—the way a photograph might look after a nuclear explosion.

Elizabeth Leach Gallery, 417 NW 9th Ave., 224-0521, www.elizabethleach.com. Sept. 4-27.

Abigail Anne Newbold

Surviving in the wilderness isn't just for mountain men and far-right apocalyptics anymore—it's for artists, too. At least if you ask Abigail Anne Newbold, that is. In her ongoing project, Living Through Making, she imagines how art, craft and survivalism might morph into a new brand of survivalism. She's calling her new show a combined "exhibition and backcountry instructional retreat." Before you start imagining crafters weaving baskets to gather berries in the wild, realize that Newbold is quite serious about combining the time-honored processes of traditional craft with modern materials. For her, it's not just about survival in nature, but about living self-sufficiently in any environment. The show, Borderlander's Outfitter, is organized by Sarah Margolis-Pineo, a curator at the Museum of Contemporary Craft, and incorporates additional artwork the locally based Signal Fire art collective.

Philip Feldman Gallery, Pacific Northwest College of Art, 1241 NW Johnson St., pnca.edu. Sept. 4-Oct. 24.

Amjad Faur

Amjad Faur's work, presented here in a show called Sun Kings, doesn't hit you over the head, but a political message resonates nonetheless. The photographer, based in Olympia, Wash., has a cultural heritage stemming from two regions that have known their shares of political turmoil: Ireland and Palestine. In ways that are pictorially subtle but full of embedded symbolism, his photographic still-lifes reference the crossroads of these cultures. He uses a large-format camera and stages elaborate sets, placing his subjects within them. He also doesn't digitally enhance his work, so what you see is what you get.

PDX Contemporary Art, 925 NW Flanders St., 222-0063, www.pdxcontemporaryart.com. Nov. 4-29.

Gregory Grenon

There are few painters in the Pacific Northwest whose artwork has the caché of Gregory Grenon's. Walk into the Heathman Hotel, Hotel Lucia, Portland Art Museum or a palatial West Hills home, and you'll see his work hanging alongside Picassos and Warhols. Grenon mostly paints portraits of girls and women, deploying a unique technique of reverse-painting on glass in colors that are so bold they verge on garish. The women's expressions are often vulnerable, quizzical or downright fierce, lending an uncanny and even haunting air.

Laura Russo Gallery, 805 NW 21st Ave., 226-2754, www.laurarusso.com. Nov. 6-29.

Francine Fleischer

When most people encounter a sinkhole, they run the other way. But New York-based photographer Francine Fleischer heads straight to the center of the action. In her evocative series, Swim, she has photographed a sinkhole in Mexico that has filled with water over the centuries and is used as a swimming spot. She shoots from the rim of the hole, capturing images of the bathers below, bodies afloat in inky water. The simplicity of the compositions and the dramatic lighting lend a luminous, painterly quality. The light seems especially eerie when you learn that, according to Fleischer, this particular sinkhole was used for human sacrifices back in Mayan times.

Blue Sky Gallery, 112 NW 8th Ave., www.blueskygallery.com. Dec. 3-28.

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