Visual Day: Scale and Review of August’s First Thursday

On the subject of my experience at First Thursday this August I have a confession. I didn’t go! Don’t fret, I did visit a number of galleries that participate in the event, just not on First Thursday.

Yes, yes, but Elya how could you write a proper review when I didn’t attend the event? Well, a few things are certain. The event still happened without my attendance, and I also had a different viewing experience by going on another day.

In terms of the First Thursday event, I can guarantee that many galleries were open later than normal, that some offered wine, snacks, or hosted musicians to play live music. Also,the open market on 13th street was filled with the booths of jewelry makers, wood crafters, painters, photographers, and so on. Lastly, there were a lot of people.

Sometimes viewing art shows in this environment is helpful to my viewing experience. I may notice certain art more than I may have when people congregate around it, or I glean an interesting perspective through a nearby conversation for example. This isn’t always the case.

Other times, I am swept up by the movement and general mood of other viewers. I find myself lingering for less time, than if I were in a room filled with fewer people and a more serene environment. Or hunger pangs make the snacks and drinks very appealing. I am distracted.

My two highlights for shows this month are from galleries that live on the same block together. The two spaces are PDX Contemporary Art and the Elizabeth Leach Gallery.

Through August 31st, the work of Kristen Miller, in the show Passing Through, will be on view at PDX contemporary art. Each composition stands alone with an intricate and balanced design. Yet together each piece serves as part of the whole in Kristen Miller larger oeuvre (or the works of a painter, composer, or author regarded collectively, as in, “the complete oeuvre of Mozart”, from dictionary.com). There are framed pieces as well as a paper and beadwork installation mounted on the ceiling.

In an expansive white-walled space, Miller’s relatively small-scale art acts as well placed punctuation in a sparse poem.  The compositions are balanced using a zen-like pallet of black, white, and grey.  The titles of the art seem to recall the physics of our world with names such as “Gravity”, and “Rising and Settling”. The materials include glassine paper, tiny glass beads, thread, and found objects such as fruit wrappers. More information on the show and extra images from the show are here

On view, until September 21st, is Funeral: Photographic Constructions by Isaac Layman at Elizabeth Leach Gallery. These photographic constructions are a combination of large-scale, hyper real images as well as Layman’s selections of everyday materials. The subject matter is everyday objects such as an empty cabinet or empty sink, and the curated pieces are foam board in a white-framed support. Each curated piece or photographic construction is empty and in a state of disuse.

With Funeral as a show title, I consider the content and meaning to be part of a contemplation on the end of life, although the subjects also remind me of the tongue in cheek ready-made art by artists like Marcel Duchamp, causing me to wonder whether there is any intentional humor in this otherwise somber theme. If you visit or have visited this show, what were your thoughts? There are extra images and more information here also.

 

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