Colorful collage made of cut paper, using curved lines and circular, two-dimensional, geometric shapes to invigorate a stripped, layered, cacophonous sense of motion and sound. Bright yellows, cool blacks, and subtle accents of red and blue enwrap this piece in boldness and warmth.

Along These Lines

The Alberta Abbey is pleased to present Along These Lines, a group exhibit, featuring a diverse collection of multidisciplinary creatives whose work investigates the common theme of line. Curated by the Pacific Northwest College of Arts (PNCA) Hallie Ford School of Graduate Studies (HFSGS) Curatorial Fellow, Ilsa Payne, and Creative Writing Fellow, Justin Duyao, this exhibit will run from April 8 to May 27, 2021.

Artists participating in the show include Alexa Grambush, Ashley Couch, Clara Collins, Diana Oropeza, Elizabeth Arzani, Erin Bodfish, Jen Bacon, Kara Cassidy Hall, Krista Gregory, Lara Higgins, ocean, Perry Chandler, Sandra Rubin, Sarah Abbott, Sarah Rakin, Sarah Rushford, Sky Wilson, Tanner Lind and Tyler Goodwin.

The lines that traditionally delineate the creative genres of the art world are challenged as both visual artists and creative writers come together to explore the notion of the “line” as both expression and concept, within individual and collaborative works of art. 

Among the works featured in the show, some trouble the lines that divide ecological realms, while others capture the essence of fragmented lines of communication, historical and personal timelines that converge, and guidelines that unlock enlightened states of being. Through a broad range of media including poetry, painting, drawing, photography, sculptural and video installation, each artist and writer brings forward their unique interpretations of the concept of line — how they can divide, connect, separate and harmonize.

About the Venue

The 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that operates the Abbey was created in 2015 to sustainably address the need for affordable arts space in the city of Portland. We utilize the building’s 23,000 sqft by offering below-market workspace to artists and arts organizations, affordable event rental spaces, and signature programming that is responsive to the desires of our neighbors and the city’s arts community.

MISSION:

To nurture the arts in NE Portland by providing affordable education, gallery, studio, and performance space to community members of all ages.

VISION:

We envision a local arts ecosystem where community members of all demographics can thrive.

An amorphous cloud of color and movement made up of various brushstrokes, including dabbed lines of purposeful drops of paint and more subtle, curved lines that weave and meander around, over, and with each other. The piece is sparse, the color choices bold and earthy.

Love Letter to Alexa Grambush

An amorphous cloud of color and movement made up of various brushstrokes, including dabbed lines of purposeful drops of paint and more subtle, curved lines that weave and meander around, over, and with each other. The piece is sparse, the color choices bold and earthy.
Alexa Grambush, Revive, Arise!, 2018. Watercolor and Pencil (140lb. cold pressed watercolor paper). 18 x 24 inches. Courtesy of Alexa Grambush.

Standing before one of Alexa Grambush’s paintings, I feel the piece long before I find time to think about it. There is no motioning toward higher meaning, no abstraction of the obvious, not even hints. There is only movement, color, texture, feeling. 

Any impulse toward understanding dissolves, and I am left only with the freedom and privilege of feeling alongside her. Her self bleeds through her art, in the same moment that she purposefully recedes from it, leaving behind only impressions of her presence. In this recession, she strips her art of arbitrary forms and instead wraps her brush around the poetic.

The 29-year-old Michigan native, now based in Southern California, described most audiences as seeming to search for a “familiarity of something mortal.” She insists that this lust for meaning misses the point. In her work, Grambush tries “to approach the absolutely corporeal and binding experience of being alive and the deeply mysterious nature of being so,” not by capturing or representing what it means to be alive, but by merely creating something that is itself living.

At once, her subjects expand, contract, inhale, exhale. Every brushstroke has a personality; but their vitality begins with their collaboration. She captures all the mythos and mystery of feeling, without strangling it, mummifying it. Her art arrests understanding, just as it releases it. And I couldn’t possibly begin to understand how. 

Justin Duyao sitting at a small wooden table on a beach in the late afternoon. Justin has brown hair, and has his elbow propped on the table with his head resting in his hand. He smiles at the camera.

Announcing Variable West’s Editorial Apprenticeship

Justin Duyao sitting at a small wooden table on a beach in the late afternoon. Justin has brown hair, and has his elbow propped on the table with his head resting in his hand. He smiles at the camera.

We are thrilled to announce that Justin Duyao is Variable West’s inaugural Editorial Apprentice for the spring 2021 semester.

Justin is a writer, editor, and student with a BA in English Literature from Harding University. He lives in Portland, Oregon, and is pursing an MA in Critical Studies from the Pacific Northwest College of Art. His interests include studies of consciousness, sociolinguistics, and gender.

The VW Editorial Apprenticeship is a semester-long paid program that allows emerging writers and editors to learn how an online journal works while expanding their art writing practice. In addition to assisting with daily tasks such as website and social media management, apprentices receive reading and writing assignments, participate in discussions, and will take ownership of Variable West’s Love Letters column.

Apprentices receive a stipend of $2,000. This year’s program is made possible through a collaboration with the MA in Critical Studies program at PNCA.