Critics’ Picks

View of “Teeth and Consequence,” 2018.

View of “Teeth and Consequence,” 2018.


“Teeth and Consequence”

Private Places
2400 NE Holladay Street
July 15–September 13, 2018

Like a room in a dream or a film set, this gallery consists of a door-less, three-walled space, tucked into the rustic studio complex of Portland-based artist Bobbi Woods, the show’s co-organizer. It’s a fittingly transparent environment for “Teeth and Consequence,” a group exhibition of work by queer, trans, and nonbinary artists who test different forms of physical and emotional embodiment through the patterns, processes, and reception of their art.

Across various corners and edges of the gallery’s baby-pink walls, artist and co-organizer Christopher Russell layers irregular shapes of handmade wallpaper. Since 2003, Russell has borrowed the stylized nature forms of Arts and Crafts wallpapers by William Morris and other period designers. He appropriates these designs, re-creating them from the text of his impassioned and often violent stories. Every finial, arc, and petal of the designs are composed of tiny words colored and shaped to form floral repetitions. The ink in works on paper, such as Honeysuckle and Peacock Feathers, both 2011, blooms into patterns reminiscent of garden plans. Hung on one swath of wallpaper, a small glass bas-relief by Heidi Schwegler, titled End of Things, 2018, resembles a black mirror undulating from an ominous presence within.

The internal burn of Russell’s subjugated language is complemented by M. Page Greene’s group of prismatic and visceral paintings, such as To Be a Body, 2017, and Pink Ribbon, 2016, their grainy surfaces cohering into tangled limbs. A similar vibrancy enlivens the encrusted collages of Los Angeles–based collaborators sweaterqueens, as well as the smoother surface of Zac’s Haunted House, 2015, a gorgeously strange HTML novel by Dennis Cooper, which viewers can scroll through on a laptop positioned on a transparent chair in the middle of the paint-stained floor.