In May the Elizabeth Leach Gallery will present PICA: Celebrating 20 Years, Reflecting on the First Decade, an exhibition honoring the 20th anniversary of the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art. The exhibition celebrates the dynamic vision of Kristy Edmunds, PICA's founder. Edmund's programming for PICA included regional, national and international artists, some with established reputations, yet most still emerging at the time. The 21 artists on view in our exhibition, selected from the impressive roster of artists who exhibited, performed or were in residency at PICA during the first decade, reflect the depth, breadth and vibrancy of PICA's programming. As Edmunds has said, the programming involved both tremendous risk taking and a great deal of trust.
PICA was formed in 1995, as a catalyst for providing encouragement and support for experimentation in both the visual and performing arts. Edmunds, along with other art professionals in the area including Elizabeth Leach, sought to create space for the presentation of contemporary interdisciplinary art programs that united nationally known artists with existing local talent. Whether it be Malia Jensen’s sculpture, Beaver Story, first shown at PICA and now sited in the lobby of Wieden + Kennedy, or the internationally exhibited photographic weavings and video installations of Dinh Q. Lê, PICA has succeeded in its goal to foster a dynamic global conversation while nurturing the artists of our region.
Kristy Edmunds is the Executive & Artistic Director - Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA, and is the Scholar in Residence for the Pew Center for Art & Heritage in Philadelphia.
On May 6th at 5 pm Elizabeth Leach Gallery will host a conversation with Kristy Edmunds and Kristan Kennedy, Visual Art Curator at PICA.
Francis Alÿs (b. 1959) is a Belgian-born, Mexico-based artist. As one of the foremost artists of his generation, he has produced a complex and diverse body of work that includes video, painting, performance, drawing, and photography. His art addresses political and social issues of conflict and community engaging with the everyday. Alÿs’ work can be found in public collections worldwide, including the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art (Kanazawa, Japan), Art Institute of Chicago (Chicago, IL), Hammer Museum (Los Angeles, CA), Museum of Modern Art (New York, NY) and Tate Gallery (London, England).
Erika Blumenfeld (b.1971) approaches her multidisciplinary work like an ecological archivist, concerned with a range of subjects, including atmospheric phenomena, bioluminescent organisms, wildfires, and the natural night sky. Working with scientists and research institutions, the artist investigates the simple beauty and the complex predicament of our environment and ecology. Blumenfeld’s work is in the permanent collections of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery (Buffalo, NY), Houston Museum of Fine Arts (Houston, TX) and Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (Scottsdale, AZ).
Marta Maria Perez Bravo (b. 1959), born in Havana, Cuba, uses her body as a vessel to express her cultural and religious perspective in her small format black and white photos. She is deeply connected to her cultural and religious background and her photographs attempt to express her spiritual path, documenting her progress in an abstract, somewhat dream-like, style. Bravo’s work has been exhibited in many museums including San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (San Francisco, CA), Museum of Contemporary Art (Brisbane, Australia), Alejandro Otero Museum of Visual Arts (Caracas, Venezuela), Miami Art Museum (Miami, FL), and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Los Angeles, CA).
Roland Brener (1942 - 2006) was a South African-born sculptor and educator who lived and worked in Canada. Brener found inspiration from the world around him - popular culture, social and political issues, technology, art, music, literature, film; he could weave aspects of these into his work resulting in unique and unexpected forms. In the 1980s his work developed a more playful individuality as he began to incorporate consumer items, most often toys, and experiment with kinetic sculpture driven by electronic motors or computers. In his later work he began to use the computer as a design tool to produce fantastical distortions of everyday images and objects which were then fabricated in wood or synthetic materials. Brener’s work can be found in major collections across Canada, including the National Gallery of Canada, Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Vancouver Art Gallery. In 1988, he represented Canada at the Venice Biennale.
Tseng Kwong Chi (1950 - 1990) was a Hong Kong-born American photographer and is internationally known for his series Expeditionary Self-Portrait Series or East Meets West. In over 100 images, he poses in front of iconic architecture as his developed persona, a Chinese “Ambiguous Ambassador.” The work explores tourist photography in a playful juxtaposition of truth, fiction and identity. Tseng’s photographs are included in major museum collections including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (New York, NY), Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Los Angeles, CA), San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (San Francisco, CA) and the Walker Art Center (Minneapolis, MN).
Nan Curtis (b. 1966) is a multidisciplinary artist and curator living in Portland, OR. Her recent photographic work explores ideas about home, place, family, childhood and social relationships. Curtis has exhibited nationally and internationally including DiverseWorks (Houston, TX), Bellevue Art Museum (Bellevue, WA), Tacoma Art Museum (Tacoma, WA), Consolidated Works (Seattle, WA), and the Melbourne Art Center (Melbourne, Australia).
Harrell Fletcher (b. 1967) received his BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute and his MFA from California College of the Arts. He studied organic farming at UCSC and went on to work on a variety of small Community Supported Agriculture farms, which impacted his work as an artist. Since the early 1900s Fletcher has produced a variety of socially engaged collaborative and interdisciplinary projects. His work has been shown at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (San Francisco, CA), Seattle Art Museum (Seattle, WA), Tate Modern (London, England) and he participated in the 2004 Whitney Biennial (Whitney Museum of American Art , New York, NY).
MK Guth’s (b. 1963) multidisciplinary work frequently possesses an element of audience participation at its heart. She often appropriates archetypal characters and stories from fables and mythology in order to examine contemporary issues and concerns. In 2012, Guth had a solo exhibition when nothing else subsists, smell and taste remain, at the Art Gym at Marylhurst University (Marylhurst, OR). In this exhibition, she created a series of “performative dinners”. By incorporating a social component into her installation, she focused on the memories triggered and the cross generational connections forged during the dining experience. Guth was featured in the 2008 Whitney Biennial (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY) and has exhibited at institutions including the Boise Art Museum (Boise, ID), A Gentil Carioca (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), Melbourne International Arts Festival (Melbourne, Australia), Nottdance Festival (Nottingham, UK), Swiss Institute (New York, NY), and the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (San Francisco, CA). Guth is represented by the Elizabeth Leach Gallery, and lives and works in Portland, OR.
Carol Hepper (b. 1953) is widely known for her use sophisticated use of non-traditional materials to produce sinuous sculpture and drawings, work that brought her national attention in the late 1980s. As her work evolved she began to combine natural materials with manufactured parts and fittings: moving the work from willow branches and animal hides to copper pipes and large scale metal sculpture. Her work is included in several public collections, including a copper sculpture in the collection of the Portland Art Museum (Portland, OR), Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (New York, NY), Walker Art Center (Minneapolis, MN) and the Museum of Contemporary Art (Chicago, IL).
Jim Hodges (b. 1957) known for his broad range of multimedia work, explores themes of fragility, temporality, love and death, employing a highly original and poetic vocabulary. His work often begins with humble materials, or ready-made objects, that are transformed and infused with emotion and poignancy. Hodges’ work acts as evocative reminders of the universal human experiences of longing and loss. Hodges' work has been shown extensively nationally and internationally, and in 2013-14, was the subject of a mid-career retrospective that traveled from the Dallas Museum of Art (Dallas, TX), to the Walker Art Center (Minneapolis, MN), and the Institute of Contemporary Art (Boston, MA) before concluding at the Hammer Museum (Los Angeles, CA).
Ryoji Ikeda (b. 1966) is a Japanese artist and composer creating audiovisual installations and performances. His electronic minimalist compositions span the microscopic to the infinite, the inaudible to the earsplitting; Ikeda’s audiovisuals explore this spectral world of information addressing the physical properties of the smallest units of encoded attributes in our culture. His work has been exhibited worldwide including DHC/ART (Montreal, Canada), Hamburger Bahnhof (Berlin, Germany), Gallery Koyanagi (Tokyo, Japan) and the Park Avenue Armory (New York, NY).
Malia Jensen (b. 1966) combines intensely seductive materials with a dark sense of humor. Metaphorically rich, and at times perplexing, Jensen uses quintessentially human traits, such as desire, greed, lust, and a need to reveal the funny brutality and beauty of our daily lives. Her work has been exhibited at PICA, Melbourne International Arts Festival (Melbourne, Australia), and New Museum (New York, NY), among many others. Jensen is represented in Portland by the Elizabeth Leach Gallery.
Anish Kapoor (b. 1954) an Indian-born British artist and one of the most influential and highly-acclaimed sculptors of his generation, became known for his site-specific public sculptures that are both adventures in form and feats of engineering. These abstract sculptures are made from steel, fiberglass or stone, and more recently, reflective mirror-like materials. The artist's exploration of shape, color and line are echoed in his works on paper, which have been an integral aspect of his practice from the start. Most often Kapoor's aim is to engage the viewer, to provoke a reaction through the simplicity and beauty of his work. Kapoor has had solo exhibitions in international venues including the Museum of Contemporary Art (Sydney, Australia), National Gallery of Modern Art (New Delhi, India), Institute of Contemporary Art (Boston, MA), Tate Modern (London, England) and in 1990, he represented Britain at the 44th Venice Biennale, for which he was awarded the Premio Duemila.
Dinh Q. Lê’s (b. 1968) work examines the intersections of Vietnamese and American history and culture. Much of Lê’s best known work, such as the photo weavings, focus on reconciling American images of Vietnam with Lê’s personal experiences. Having relocated back to Vietnam over a decade ago, Lê’s current work reflects his most recent perceptions of daily life and contemporary Vietnamese culture, while continuing to ask the audience to reconsider photography and its use as an artistic medium. In his work, photography is not only an image on paper, but a strongly sculptural and deeply conceptual medium. Lê’s work has been shown at the Museum of Modern Art (New York, NY), the Busan Biennale (Busan, Korea), the Vancouver Biennial (Vancouver, BC) and in a highly acclaimed one-person exhibition at the Asia Society (New York, NY). In July of 2015, he will open a solo exhibition at the Mori Museum in Tokyo, Japan. Lê is represented in Portland by the Elizabeth Leach Gallery.
Shirin Neshat (b. 1957) is an Iranian-born video and installation artist. Her work explores the political and social conditions of Iranian and Muslim life, particularly focusing on women and feminist issues. Neshat’s work has been exhibited at the Venice Biennale (Venice, Italy), the Art Institute of Chicago (Chicago, IL), Whitney Museum of American Art (New York, NY), and the Tate Modern (London, England).
Jean-Michel Othoniel (b.1964) was born in Saint-Étienne, France and lives and works in Paris. His work takes on a variety of forms from drawing to sculpture to video and installation. Othoniel first gained recognition with a series of sculptures made of sulfur, exhibited at Documenta IX in 1992, in Kassel, Germany. Material transformations, rites of passage from one state to another, echo an essential ritual of this artist’s work. His work appears in many collections worldwide including the Museum of Modern Art (New York, NY), Centre Georges Pompidou (Paris, France), and the New Orleans Museum of Art (New Orleans, LA).
Swallow Press (x2) a collaborative made up of artists Kristan Kennedy (Visual Art Curator at PICA) and Topher Sinkinson. The two produced printed artwork as well as subversive public art projects including billboards that exploited the realm between advertising and Dada-ish sentiment. In 1999, the duo was selected for the Oregon Biennial at the Portland Art Museum and their printed ephemera is held in several book collections including the Museum of Modern Art (New York, NY), Dartmouth College (Hanover, NH), and the New York Public Library (New York, NY).
Kate Shepherd’s (b. 1961) unique approach to paintings draw on her training in art and architecture. Applying thread-like lines of oil paint upon highly saturated layers of enamel to joined wood panels. Shepherd’s paintings show a strong sense of resolve invoking a sensitivity of personal association and recollection. Her work can be found in numerous public collections, including the Phillips Collection (Washington, DC), Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, MI), Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Los Angeles, CA) and the Museum of Fine Arts (Boston, MA).
Valeska Soares (b. 1957) works explore mythology, literature and art history. Her work examines the complex relationship between how we perceive, experience and record space and time, and how this plays out in our collective and individual memory. Soares’ work is in public collections such as Centro d’Arte Contemporánea (Malaga, Spain), Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden (Washington, DC), Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Los Angeles, CA), Museu de Arte Moderna (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (New York, NY) and Tate Modern (London, England).
Robert Wilson’s (b. 1941) fine art vision is deeply influenced by his strong theatrical roots. Through his signature use of light and his investigations into the structure of a simple movement, Wilson has continuously articulated the force and originality of his vision. Wilson’s installations have been exhibited in museums and galleries internationally and he has had extensive retrospectives at the Centre Georges Pompidou (Paris, France) and the Museum of Fine Arts (Boston, MA). In 1998, PICA co-commissioned the opera Monsters of Grace by Wilson and composer Philip Glass.
Jin-me Yoon’s (b. 1960) work addresses the social and historical narratives, constructions and representations that surround questions of identity. The Korean-born Canadian artist uses a variety of art historical references and subtle humor to explore how images and the associations her body carries function in a wider context. Yoon’s work has been exhibited extensively, including Argos Centre for Art and Media (Brussels, Belgium), Govett-Brewster Art Gallery (New Plymouth, New Zealand), Videonale (Kunstmuseum Bonn, Germany) and the Vancouver Art Gallery (Vancouver, BC).