Here are some of Portland’s visual highlights for January and February (see performing arts and music highlights):
Photo by Jake Richardson
Jan. 12-March 3
Disjecta, 8371 N. Interstate Ave.
Chris Fraser creates installations that are extremely hard to describe but very pleasurable to experience, mostly because they traffic in light. “In Passing” is actually a huge camera obscura that creates room-sized abstract art from streaks of refracted light. Disjecta, in Portland’s Kenton neighborhood, is a rough-and-tumble space excellent for this purpose.
“We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live”
Jan. 24-April 27
Museum of Contemporary Craft, 724 N.W. Davis St.
This exhibition features the work of the nine winners of the prestigious Hallie Ford Fellowships in the Visual Arts, mid-career Oregon artists with substantial reputations. The work was chosen through the lens of an essay by Joan Didion, which provides the title, and it includes video and digital photography, oil painting, drawing, sculpture, ceramics and knitting.
A Broad and Expansive Sky--Ancient Rome from Roaming, 2006. Digital chromogenic print, 73 x 61 in. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York. (c) Carrie Mae Weems.
Carrie Mae Weems
Feb. 2-May 19
Portland Art Museum, 1219 S.W. Park Ave.
Weems was born in Portland in 1953, leaving after high school to pursue a dance career in San Francisco but soon beginning to take photographs and become a photographer and filmmaker. Her work focuses on gender and race issues in the culture in smart, often humorous ways. This exhibition features both photographs and videos from throughout Weems’ career.
“First Hand: Civil War Era Drawings from the Becker Collection”
Feb. 5-April 20
Cooley Gallery at Reed College, 3203 S.E. Woodstock Blvd.
The Becker collection at Boston College was assembled by illustrator Joseph Becker and includes both his own work and that of other artists who ventured to the battlefields of the Civil War to record what they saw, a powerful and seldom-seen record of the war years. The Cooley Gallery on the campus of Reed College is an intimate space, perfect for drawings and smaller scale work.
First Thursday and First Friday gallery walks
Jan. 3-4 and Feb. 7-8
The easiest and best way to plug into Portland’s visual arts scene is by ambling through its two main gallery walks. First Thursday takes place on the west side of the Willamette River and features most of the city’s mainline galleries (Elizabeth Leach, Froelich Gallery, PDX Contemporary, etc.) along with a batch of more experimental places. First Friday occurs on the east side of the Willamette, where the art tends to get edgier and the prices lower.