Biennial gets grip on art scene
An arts biennial is a big deal to a community, and in the case of the Disjecta Contemporary Art Center's Portland2019 Biennial it's a big deal to a lot of communities.
Long in the making, Portland2019 examines, through art, why people move to, live and create in the Rose City. The exhibition explores the nuances of site, multifaceted histories and cultural evolution, while taking a rigorous approach to sociopolitical commentary.
"It's not immigrated-themed, it's really something important for us to talk about various communities that have been in Portland and we don't hear their voices," said Ashley Stull Meyers, who has worked with fellow Portlander Yaelle S. Amir and Elisheba Johnson of Seattle as curators. "We're interested in the origin of the state and how many communities come to be here (even recently). We wanted to champion their perspective about the state of Oregon."
It's Disjecta's fifth biennial, a survey of visual and performing artists' works, dating back to 2010, that takes stock of Oregon's advancing contemporary art landscape.
It opens Saturday, Aug. 24, and goes through Nov. 3, at Disjecta, 8271 N. Interstate Ave.
The curators evaluated works from about 300 artists, made about 50 studio visits and finalized the lineup of 18 projects.
"These are artists you should be paying attention to," Johnson said.
Portland artists involved include: Demian DineYazhi with R.I.S.E.; Dru Donovan; the Harriet Tubman Center for Expanded Curatorial Practice; Sabina Haque; Anthony Hudson; Garrick Imatani; Ruben Marrufo; Jess Perlitz; Vanessa Renwick; Sara Siestreem; Sharita Towne with Black Life Experiential Research Group; Lou Watson; Lynn Yarne. Other artists taking part are Natalie Ball (Chiloquin), Adam Bateman (Ashland), Jovencio de la Paz (Eugene), Ka'ila Farrell-Smith (Modoc Point) and Colin Ives (Eugene).
The artists will exhibit sculpture, paintings and more, as well as film, video and performance art. There'll also be many public programs associated with Portland2019.
Some of the highlights:
• A well-known Portland performing artist, Hudson plays drag clown Carla Rossi, who will lead a walking tour of locations on and around Southwest Harvey Milk Street, colloquially known as "Vaseline Alley." It's formerly Southwest Stark Street in downtown. Said Meyers: "They renamed it Harvey Milk Street (after the gay rights activist) as a nod to the queer community." It'll take place 6:15 p.m. Oct. 19.
• Watson, originally from the United Kingdom, has tracked traffic in the Kenton area, where Disjecta is located. "It's a really cool investigation of land," Johnson said. Watson and collaborators will perform a live musical score of Kenton commuter traffic along North Interstate Avenue, 10 a.m. Sept. 7.
• Marrufo, who hails from Mexicali, Baja California, Mexico, just across the U.S./Mexico border, moved here to work with the Pacific Northwest College of Art. He's a filmmaker.
• Towne and the think tank Black Life Experiential Research Group (BLERG) will share their knowledge through transmedia.
• Yarne, who's of Chinese-Japanese descent, examines her family's many generations in Oregon.
• Haque "is really interested in 82nd Avenue and the histories of annexations and how it has affected communities and, in particular, communities of color," Johnson said. Her "Illuminating Voices: Activating Orchards of 82nd" live projections and performance will be at 7 p.m. Oct. 5 at Orchards of 82nd, 8118 S.E. Division St.
An opening reception will be from 6-9 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 24. Biennial exhibition hours are noon-5 p.m. Fridays-Sundays, Aug. 25-Nov. 3. It's free and open to the public. For more: www.disjecta.org.
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