Whether you’re new to Portland or haven’t left your home in a while, fall is the perfect time to reacquaint yourself with the multitude of spaces that make up Portland’s effervescent arts ecology. Given that the city has long been home to artists, designers, and all types of creatives, this list could grow quickly. Instead, here’s a partial preview highlighting some upcoming shows that we think are particularly neat. And we’ll explain the galleries a bit as we go along.
Open for nearly three decades, PDX Contemporary Art continues to be one of the oldest and most vibrant commercial gallery spaces in the city. Previously a Pearl District staple, the gallery recently moved to the NW Industrial Area late last year. Exhibits include new works from a celebrated roster of represented artists – whether paintings, prints, sculptures, photographs, textiles or mixed media – alongside emerging regional talent, making the gallery an essential stop at any time of the year.
Currently on view until October 1, water color by Adam Sorensen presents a recent series of chromatic landscapes and algorithmic geometric works by Sorensen. Naturalistic scenes are rendered in mottled rainbows, sherbets, and ombré hues, evoking another world. Confront the complexities of the environment and, inevitably, climate change, trying to make sense of the dichotomy between the foreboding and the sublime in the world around us.
In the following months, look for an exhibition by the Portland-based artist duo Anna Gray + Ryan Wilson-Paulsen, which work as a single artistic entity and often focus on reading, writing, and information-gathering activities. Marie Watt and Kristin Miller will show later in the year. Watt creates sculptures and installations that draw on familiar yet deeply culturally rooted rituals and materials like Indigenous blankets and design principles. Watt is a registered member of the Seneca Indian Nation. Miller is known for selecting materials imbued with the transient nature of living and inanimate objects.
An art gallery, boutique and bookstore, Nationale has been a significant contributor to Bridgetown’s creative sphere since 2008. Highlighting and showcasing emerging and established artists such as Carson Ellis, Emily Counts, Anya Roberts-Toney and Pace Taylor, its hybrid gallery-boutique also presents ceramics, sculptures, soaps and candies that the owner of the boutique, May Barruel, brings back from her native France. The shop’s literature is also on point, showing a wide range: art books, magazines, thoughtful fiction and non-fiction. The gallery also presents tonic poema purveyor of carefully selected music (discs, tapes and digital mixes), printed matter and household objects.
Tanner LindThe abstract paintings of appear until October 2. The exhibition, titled rif, works within the framework of a group exhibition in three parts entitled Directly from the studio, which explores the inspirations and experimentations in his studio. A recent graduate of a Masters in Visual Studies at Pacific Northwest College of Art, Lind’s art practice commemorates change and creates a unique and varied lexicon of repeated brushstrokes, lines and patterns.
Oregon Contemporary has been a Portland staple since the nonprofit found its North Portland home in 2008 — in a previous life it was called Disjecta. Since then, the vast space has hosted numerous exhibitions, conferences and performances. Focused on providing opportunities for contemporary artists, their curatorial-in-residence programs encourage cross-regional, national and international dialogues in the artistic community.
Until October 2, In my little corner is an interactive multimedia installation consisting of a series of vignettes of artist Willie Little’s hometown in North Carolina. An intermedia artist and author, Little’s work documents aspects of rural Southern life as well as issues of social justice, revealing the often untold stories of inner turmoil from the perspective of a rural Black LGBTQIA+ child. Through sculpture, painting, sound installations and recycled memories, In my little corner renders a human-sized model of societal decline in American culture. This is the third and final exhibition in the large-scale Site program, which was created to showcase several Oregon-based artists in the absence of the 2021 Portland Biennale.
Inside the Oregon Contemporary pictured above, you’ll find the relatively new Strange Paradise Gallery—shared with non-profit photography, Photolucent— and two other recently established artist-run membership galleries. Carnation Contemporary and Well Well Projects host open calls, in addition to member and curator shows.
September exhibition of Carnation Contemporary, Nirvanamatopoeia by Matthew Bennett Laurents + Jeremy Le Grand, is a series of collaborative sculpture-based works that examine objectivity and metaphysical philosophy. Good Good Projects’ Smart Objects / Flattened Images The exhibition, curated by Kelda Van Patten, contemplates how the real and the artificial converge through the work of fifty-one lens-based artists from across the country. Both are on view until September 25.
Artist-run gallery Melanie Flood Projects was founded in 2008 in a Brooklyn apartment. Six years later, it moved to southwest Portland, but still retains that apartment gallery feeling. The space has hosted fascinating performances by artists from the west and east coasts: Maria Antelman, Sari Carel and Pacifico Silano among them.
We wanted to draw your attention to this gallery, even though, at this very moment, it is delightfully between exhibits. Archival footage and flash-lit photographs of the natural world by Sarah Meadows Tanglefoot just dropped, as highly anticipated shows from Lyndon Barrios Jr. and Rainen Knecht loom on the horizon.
The Pearl is home to many long-standing galleries and institutions – Adams and Ollman, Blue Sky Gallery and Holding Contemporary, to name a few. These strong artist champions are a vital part of the makeup of the city’s art scene. But perhaps none is more fundamental than the Elizabeth Leach Gallery.
On October 15 and 16, the gallery will celebrate the release of an anniversary publication, Forty years, from the name of the gallery’s mandate. Leach has presented over 800 exhibits and even now, figurative paintings by Jeremy Okai Davis adorn the walls. On view until October 29 a good sport speaks to the complex experiences of Black American athletes — past and present — as they navigate the “sportsmanship.” Pro tip: Next to Leach is the hidden entrance to the Storeroom, a unique contemporary art space, founded in 2010. The current exhibition, front x fourfeatures works by acclaimed artists like Etel Adnan, Lonnie Holley and Bill Traylor, and was drawn from the Miller Meigs Collection which was curated in conversation with Diedrick Brackens, D’Angelo Lovell Williams and Ashley Stull Meyers.
Voracious shoppers of Pioneer Place, don’t overlook the hole in the mall that meets Gallery Go Go “activation space”. Not only does the easily overlooked shop sell local art, its gallery hosts a range of events: fashion shows, workshops and even dance battles. Like anything serious these days, you can stay up to date by following his social media.
The Portland Museum of Art is a cultural mainstay; there is always something to see. The permanent collection houses an extensive collection of Northwest art as well as rotating exhibits. The institution’s next museum-free day is September 17, and it’s a testament to this city’s artistic interests that there’s a presale, with live ticket reservations on September 14.
October sees the openings of two notable exhibits—Dakota Modern: The Art of Oscar Howeone of the most innovative Native American painters of the 20th century, and a site-appropriate installation, They come from the fire by multimedia artist Jeffrey Gibson.
The Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at Portland State University is a cultural and intellectual laboratory that explores ideas relevant to our times through the prism of art. If you’ve been to the PSU Farmer’s Market, you’ve probably walked right by.
This fall and winter, the museum presents The Art of Food: From the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation until December 3. The exhibition aims to examine how communities, relationships, culture, and societal and ethical implications intersect with the universal topic of food. It includes over a hundred works by some of the most prominent artists of the 20th and 21st centuries, including John Baldessari, Enrique Chagoya, Alison Saar, Lorna Simpson and Andy Warhol.