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Eadweard Muybridge, Plate 700 from Animal Locomotion, 1887, collotype at Charles Hartman Fine Art

Coming off of a better-than-average month of photography in the city, summer’s dog days aren’t a particularly rewarding time for photo enthusiasts in Portland. Next month’s Wild Beauty at the art museum should be a pretty big deal, particularly with a visit from historian/curator Martha Sandweiss on October 22. (Don’t bother searching for the lecture or exhibition on PAM’s website. Their Upcoming Exhibition page yields “no records.”) For the next 30 or so days, however, Portlanders will just have to get their photo fix tapas-style: a nibble here, a taste there, wishing they could just get on with a full course already.

Charles Hartman‘s collection of vintage Muybridge collotypes from Animal Locomotion is a notable exception, however. Muybridge’s motion studies are perfect 19th century endnotes, with their deconstruction of natural phenomena into mechanical processes, slippage of the still photograph away from autonomy and toward motion pictures, the dandyish gentleman’s wager of the series’ origin, and the silly exuberance of the later images in the guise of scientific inquiry. (“Hello, Governor Stanford? Could you please send over two naked handmaidens, one baboon, and a crippled child for tomorrow’s shoot?”)
Charles A. Hartman Fine Art, 134 NW 8th, Tues-Sat, through Aug 30

Of the two Blue Sky shows this month, I’m most looking forward to the work of Toronto-born, Kiev-dwelling photojournalist Donald Weber. He’s showing work from two series: Bastard Eden, which profiles the people living in the woods and abandoned apartment buildings—against strict orders—in the Exclusion Zone that surrounds Chernobyl, as well as The Underclass and Its Bosses, a portrait of Dneprodzerzhinsk, where the fall of Socialism “created a moral vacuum” that enabled rampant criminality, corruption, and violence.

Additionally, Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine (of TV’s ER and CSI!) exhibits his Boda Boda series, which depicts the bicycle delivery men of Uganda. Their dilapidated bikes are used to haul enormous loads, but aside from this curious exoticism, I’m not really seeing the strength of this work so far. Based on the jpegs, it seems that Mwine’s photographs don’t actually tell us anything about the boda boda men (in a journalistic sense), nor do they possess the arresting visual strength of, say, Pieter Hugo. (Perhaps it’s not a totally fair comparison, but it’s entirely inevitable, and not altogether unfounded.)
Blue Sky Gallery, 122 NW 8th, Tues-Sun, through Aug 31.

The lionization and mythology of the 1970s New York underground scene is perpetuated in Bande à Part at Augen Gallery. The traveling exhibition features photos of NY’s creme de la cool, as seen by Billy Name, Marcia Resnick, et al. Perhaps I was born at the precisely wrong time, or more likely, I’m just in the wrong phase of my adult life to get even remotely excited about mediocre photographs of Basquiat, Warhol, Reed, and the rest of the Nico-through-Blondie years.
Augen Gallery, 716 NW Davis, Tues-Sat, through Aug 28.

Chicagoan Ryan Zoghlin exhibits work from his NIMBY series at Newspace this month. Said photographs “focus on the eerie margin where suburban and industrial areas meet.” Not to single out Zoghlin here, but jesus christ, can we come up with some new themes to exploit and explore, please? The collective work of Robert Adams, Lewis Baltz, Joel Sternfeld, Stephen Shore, and their Nü Landscape contemporaries ranks among the best unofficial photographic movements of the 20th century, but I’d be more than tickled not to see another bland, rehashed, large-format color photograph of a parking lot, generic warehouse, airport, suburban home, dirtbike track, unbuilt neighborhood, or abandoned shopping center until at least 2013.
Newspace, 1632 SE 10th, Mon-Sun, through Aug 31.

QPCA’s group show, Urbania, continues through the end of the month with the complex photo-constructions of Gerald Slota. Using every tool at his disposal except Photoshop, Slota de- and re-constructs nearly indecipherable scenes of post-human realities. Using copy negatives, collage, negative deterioration, re-photographing of images in situ and other manipulative techniques, Slota creates some of the most digital-looking analog photos I’ve ever seen.
Quality Pictures, 916 NW Hoyt, Tues-Sat, through Aug 30.



  1. So negative! Seems you are a little burned out when it comes to looking at images. Your comments are personal and rather unnecessary. Maybe it’s time to learn how to fix motorcycles.


  2. Sorry “Bill.” Perhaps the following will be more satisfactory:

    “This month, every photograph exhibited in Portland will be equally captivating in aesthetic and conceptual harmony. There is no measure of quality, sophistication, beauty, or other artistic merit by which we may evaluate said photographs. Should you be so arrogant as to devise an informed opinion about any work of art, please remember to stifle it in the name of Arts Promotion. (Similarly, be sure to tell your friends and family that every horrible movie is quite good, and that the cold, mushy lasagna you paid $16 for last night was delicious.) Should you diverge from the prescribed program of Enthusiastic Criticism, prepare to be described as an art-hater and a personal attacker. No attention will be paid to the amount of genuine, considered enthusiasms and critical reflections that you may have penned in the past; in the era of Support Us or Shut Up, there is no room for anything less than rote cheerleading. Remember–we have gallery owners who already do plenty of writing in their monthly press releases. Please don’t begin to think that your opinions are more worthy than cheerful boosterism.

    Additionally: I once said that my former classmate was not as skilled with a Leica as was Henri Cartier Bresson. I apologize for that, and for any other value judgment I may have made in the past. Hopefully this period of burnout will pass so that I may join you in the boundless pleasures of gutless writing and unopinionated art-viewing.”

    With apologies,
    Chas Bowie

  3. Well, after all it’s called “That’s a Negative” for a reason. I actually think the critiques are pretty balanced, and I welcome the hard edge in comparison to most art reviews in WW or Oregonian which are almost entirely favorable.

    Keep it up. My only suggestion is to expand the monthly review to make it more inclusive of all shows in town, coffee shops, warehouses, etc. What about Camerawork, e.g.? or PNCA?

  4. Balanced, Maybe? Though, I can’t say that by reading the critiques, Chas even went to all these exhibits he writes about. However Balanced that can be.

  5. Chas – keep up the good work! don’t forget to see my excellent show @ 12X16 gallery…

  6. These are previews of exhibitions. They were written before the shows opened (although not posted immediately). Nowhere do they pretend to be anything but previews; it’s a feature I’ve run every month since the blog began.

    I am bogged down in print deadlines and preparations for a class I’m teaching, so reviews of shows in Portland, Seattle, and San Francisco, are currently bottlenecked.

  7. Previews? what, did ya review the images from your iphone? That’s like telling friends about your experience at Disney World after reading the brochure…

    • Do you seriously not understand the difference between a “preview” and a “review?” I’ll give you a hint: It’s made explicit in the verb tense from the following line of the preview.

      “Of the two Blue Sky shows this month, I’m most looking forward to the work of…”

      Get it now, jackass?

  8. Lazyass,

    I get it, you are reviewing previews. Thanks for the utterly useless information. For such an opinionated blog one would think you would at least have experienced the exhibitions. Preview, review or whatever you want to call it. Your efforts to understand the art/artist is just weak especially for one who lays down such strong personal opinions.


    Jackass (Bill)

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