Each week, our regional Cliff Notes columnists Christopher Alam, Sharon Arnold, Demian DinéYazhi’, and Angella d’Avignon pick the most exciting events and exhibitions on the West Coast. BUT this week we had a scheduling conflict, so VW founder Amelia Rina is popping in with some picks from Oregon.
Carolyn Hazel Drake and Rachael Zur: At Home with the Dead
Hanson Howard Gallery, Ashland, OR
July 7 to August 8
This is a terrific artist pairing. Both Drake’s and Zur’s work feels like its tapping into some kind of ancient messaging through complementary but very different aesthetics. Drake’s mixed media pieces look like assembled collections of archeological treasures and mundane family heirlooms raised to precious status based on their personal history. Zur’s work look like they’ve probably already cast a spell on you. They’re full of playful — or maybe puckish — gem tones and so loaded with archetypical symbols — hands, vases, arches, chairs — it’s hard not to feel enchanted.
Reflection: Do you ever feel like an object is more familiar than it should be? Like, if you’re encountering it for the first time but it feels like something you’ve known forever?
SIC TRANSIT GLORIA MUNDI (select works by raul j mendez 2008-2023)
Oranj Studio, Portland, OR
April 16 to June 30
This pick is particularly exciting for me because I found it by browsing event listings posted on Variable West! Allow me a brief moment of self congratulation, it’s pretty cool when you make a thing and it actually works!
Besides boosting my ego, I’m excited about this whole situation on multiple levels. First, mendez’s paintings are excellently weird and I want to look at them for a long time. Any painting with a goat in it makes me think of Marc Chagall, and mendez has a similar vibe but in a much more industrial-capitalist society way. Second, mendez’s story is fascinating and I want to know more. He’s Venezuelan, graduated from PNCA in 1997, lives in Portland, and supports his art practice by working as a 767 pilot for a shipping company. TELL ME MORE. Third, I wasn’t aware of Oranj Studio before this week, and I love their model of an art gallery + hair salon hybrid space.
Reflection: What are some ways or places we can sneak more art into everyday experiences?