Stephanie Snyder

  • picks November 11, 2013

    Fernanda D’Agostino

    Portland-based artist Fernanda D’Agostino’s retrospective “The Method of Loci” is a feast of sensory experience and symbolic power. The exhibition’s title references the ancient art of encoding knowledge in imagined architectural space. D’Agostino embodies this dematerialized practice, transforming the interior of the gallery into a labyrinth of darkened chambers and corridors that house interrelated video and sculptures from the 1980s to the present. A brooding, introspective mood pervades in works that explore the presence and cultivation of memory in relation to the artist’s life and to

  • picks October 05, 2013

    Jesse Sugarmann

    California-based artist Jesse Sugarmann’s recent work reimagines the barren, gridded expanses of California City, a planned community built on forty square miles of the Mojave Desert in the 1960s. The city was constructed in response to an anticipated branch of the California Aqueduct, but like so many failed utopias the water never reached the area, and California City now exists as a crumbling site of fifteen thousand inhabitants. For Sugarmann, whose work has long investigated the masculine sensuality of American automobile culture, the city epitomizes the fantastical—and brutal—nature of

  • picks August 30, 2013

    Isaac Layman

    Seattle-based artist Isaac Layman titled his exhibition of recent photographs “Funeral,” suggesting that the quiescent images of objects and spaces in his home are concerned with loss and absence. Funerals honor departure through rituals of remembrance; Layman’s works contemplate the sites and remains of daily life’s most ritualized activities, such as cooking and grooming. In one work, Untitled, 2013, Layman fills our field of vision with an oily piece of aluminum foil bearing traces—shards of pink flesh and diamonds of skin—of the salmon that it had just sheltered in the oven. Like a

  • picks June 25, 2013

    Johan Thurfjell

    Swedish artist Johan Thurfjell is a master of visual deceptions so subtle and charming that they fill his multimedia installations with gusts of poetic longing and reverie. Like the slow progression of a solitary day, the exhibition “From Here” unfolds within three interconnected rooms that guide the viewer from the daylight of the gallery’s entrance to the twilight of its concluding space. The latter is lit only by the aura of dim lights anchored behind a suite of works on paper, whose images are created solely by the gentle application of varnish. Titled with the time of day captured in each

  • picks May 07, 2013

    Carrie Mae Weems

    The likeness of Portland, Oregon native Carrie Mae Weems is often at the center of her work. This spectacular retrospective, aptly taking place in her hometown, reveals the diverse ways in which Weems combines photography’s documentary, portrait, and pictorial traditions in dramatic multi-image serial narratives exploring history, family, community, and place. For instance, in the “Kitchen Table Series,” 1990, Weems casts herself as a woman who begins and ends a romantic relationship, then weathers its dissolution in the company of friends and family, and, in the last few images of the twenty-part

  • picks December 14, 2012

    Stephen Hayes

    Stephen Hayes’s most recent landscape paintings of rural Oregon possess a psychedelic quality that is firmly rooted in painterly traditions but also reflects the garishness of contemporary life in the era of the off-brand discount store and the ink-jet printer. Like masterful colorists of the nineteenth century—Monet and van Gogh come to mind in particular—Hayes represents the reassuring hues of everyday life in discordant terms, shocking and, at times, disturbing the senses.

    The pastoral scenes found in Hayes’s current exhibition, “In Valley,” are peppered with electric juxtapositions of color,

  • picks September 15, 2012

    Alex Cecchetti

    Alex Cecchetti’s “relay performance” Summer Is Not the Prize of Winter, 2012, is a deeply satisfying meditation on the nature of existence and the capacity of language, image, and object to embody life’s most essential concerns. The Paris-based artist conducts this philosophical investigation through an interactive monologue with a group of participants in the gallery—one performance a day for the first eleven days of the exhibition. Cecchetti began by conducting three performances, which established the work’s narrative arc, and then he handed the process over to local artists and writers. Each

  • picks July 02, 2012

    Betty Feves

    In Plate with Five Figures, 1960, the interior of a rounded shallow vessel contains a group of totemic human figures, each possessing distinctive gestural markings.

  • picks June 15, 2012

    Bobbi Woods

    Los Angeles–based artist Bobbi Woods’s most recent works on paper possess the muted sheen of an old mirror or a weathered scrap of industrial metal. Akin to the eighteenth-century Claude glass (a small black mirror often used by painters to create picturesque abstractions of landscapes), the surfaces of these compelling works reflect and transform their surroundings into ghostly, lugubrious visions.

    The works’ skins are, in fact, chrome, and close inspection reveals that the enamel paint has been sprayed on American film posters—often on their flip sides, with the letters registering in reverse,

  • interviews April 16, 2012

    Daniel Duford

    Daniel Duford is a Portland, Oregon–based artist and writer. His latest ceramics, which he discusses below, are featured in the exhibition “Portland2012: A Biennial of Contemporary Art,” presented by Disjecta and curated by Prudence F. Roberts. Duford’s work is on view through May 19 at the White Box.

    WHEN I MOVED TO PORTLAND from New Mexico in the late 1990s, I was creating sculptural clay vessels and drawings. The vessels referenced Northwest Coast feast bowls and burial canoes, earth architecture, and geology. The surfaces looked ripped, charred, and occasionally fleshy. In New Mexico, the

  • picks March 07, 2012

    Joe Thurston

    Portland artist Joe Thurston’s recent freestanding floor sculptures have familiar proportions, resembling cargo crates, sarcophagi, or homemade luggage. The character of each “container”—as Thurston calls them—is different; each object reads as something created to enclose, transport, shelter, or perhaps imprison something else. The resonant indexicality of the works’ geometries suggests histories of exchange. And in fact the accompanying text reveals that the works contain objects we cannot see, such as eyeglasses, letters, and older paintings by the artist. These objects emerge as specters of

  • picks March 21, 2011

    “Between My Head and My Hand There is Always the Face of Death.”

    The seven painters in this exhibition pair the erotic beauty of the human form with enclosed or atmospheric spaces that are charged and transformed by the presence of the body––whether depicted wholly or as a collection of fragments. For instance, in Such certainty is beautiful, but uncertainty is more beautiful still, 2009, Kaye Donachie depicts a young female nude standing calmly in a pastel interior that looks like both a drawing studio and an opium den. Layers of thin brushwork evoke the caressing of skin and of canvas. With similar liquidity, Norbert Schwontkowski presents the body as an

  • picks January 21, 2011

    Natan Dvir

    “Eighteen,” 2010, is Israeli photographer Natan Dvir’s most recent documentary series, in which he explores the domestic lives of several eighteen-year-old Arabs—and by extension their families—who live within Israeli borders. Dvir conceived of “Eighteen” as a means of connecting with some of Israel’s most alienated minorities; Muslim, Christian, and Bedouin Arabs make up one-fifth of Israel’s population, and they endure religious and ethnic discrimination. Having been raised to view his Arab neighbors as enemies, Dvir hoped that “Eighteen” would allow him to have authentic experiences with the

  • picks December 11, 2010

    Sandi Slone

    In “The Buxom Eye,” longtime New York–based artist Sandi Slone continues her passionate affair with paint’s kinetic, sensuous qualities, revisiting some of the unusual imagemaking processes she developed in the 1970s. In works such as Leda, 1977, Slone created sumptuous, velvety surfaces by sweeping planes of paint across the canvas using large push brooms. These early works—many of them over ninety inches tall—packed a political, as well as painterly, punch, demonstrating that a humble cleaning tool could serve a female artist’s ambitious devotion to creating beauty.

    Over the years, Slone has

  • picks October 08, 2010

    Charles Atlas

    “Human Being” is the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art’s feast of art offerings curated by Kristan Kennedy as part of the nonprofit organization’s eighth annual Time-Based Art Festival. A disused public high school serves as the locus solus of the exhibitions, among them “Tornado Warning,” an immersive two-room video installation by New York–based artist and longtime Merce Cunningham collaborator Charles Atlas.

    The installation’s back-to-back interiors consist of five-walled “stages” that envelope the viewer within two radically dichotomous sensory experiences. (Atlas describes each room

  • picks September 27, 2010

    Michael Brophy

    In this exhibition of large- and small-scale landscapes, the Portland, Oregon–based painter Michael Brophy continues his study of the Pacific Northwest’s natural environment, both qua nature and as a sometimes disturbing register of human history. Unlike the artist’s previous work, in which he painted landscapes of clear-cut forests and “portraits” of burned-out snags influenced by painters such as Velázquez and Manet, these recent works were made in close consideration of photographic source material collected by the artist, often out the window of his car. Brophy’s latest output conjoins

  • interviews August 28, 2010

    Molly Dilworth

    For one of Manhattan’s largest public art projects to date, Brooklyn-based artist Molly Dilworth was awarded a commission from the New York City Department of Transportation to create a temporary site-specific installation in Times Square designed to “refresh and revive” the streetscape. Dilworth’s work, Cool Water, Hot Island, is a fifty-thousand-square-foot painting that winds through five city blocks. Her project diary can be found on the artist’s Flickr website.

    TIMES SQUARE is a funny place because it’s so coded, iconic, and commercial, and most New Yorkers avoid it unless they work there.

  • picks August 02, 2010

    Storm Tharp

    In the enigmatically titled “Hercules,” Portland-based artist and 2010 Whitney Biennial participant Storm Tharp presents his latest works on paper that run wild through the history of art, literature, and culture. The exhibition features large, deeply psychological portraits of notable and anonymous personages as well as pairs of ethereal, monochromatic washes that perfume the senses. Abstract Painter with Peony (all works 2010), for example, features the delicate hues of a flower’s unfurling petals (set before a stoic likeness of Ad Reinhardt), colors that reappear in the atmospheric monochromes

  • picks July 21, 2010

    Judy Cooke

    Northwest artist Judy Cooke’s most recent sculptural paintings on smooth, grained wood evince a peripatetic expressionism that emanates, in part, from their eccentric shapes, maplike imagery, and translucent, often streaming washes of oil in a palette of light, tertiary hues.

    The works on view reflect Cooke’s practice of responding to found objects and illustrations, as well as her recollections of urban wanderings through architectural spaces in Europe and North Africa. In Back Room in Paris (all works cited, 2010), for example, the artist revisits the delight of navigating a labyrinth of shops

  • picks June 17, 2010

    David Shaner

    In the early 1960s, the late self-described potter David Shaner eschewed the East Coast art world and migrated west to direct the Archie Bray Foundation for the Ceramic Arts in Helena, Montana. He remained at the organization’s helm until 1970, after which he established a studio some hundred miles north of Missoula, in Bigfork. In Montana’s vast and sublime landscape, Shaner spent a lifetime experimenting with indigenous clays and mineral glazes, making work in direct response to the environment.

    In this enthralling exhibition, curator Namita Gupta Wiggers focuses on Shaner’s topographical, “