Openings: STRAIGHT OUTTA PORTLAND @ Stephanie Chefas Projects
Portland's burgeoning art scene was put in the spotlight last Friday when Stephanie Chefas Projects debuted STRAIGHT OUTTA PORTLAND, an exhibit dedicated solely to featuring local talent. Chefas opted to select a handful of artists and simply let them do their thing. The result was a spectacular example of the city's artistic movement being more about the natural aesthetic of a given artist flowing in harmony with the next while completely retaining its individuality.
The show was as rich and diverse as one would expect given the broad array of talent on board. Peter Gronquist's Pay the Cost, Be the Boss was probably the winner of the "downright grossest thing I've seen that I can't take my eyes off" award. A machine gun made out of what looked like scrotum flesh, pubic hair and 24 karat gold, Gronquist's sculpture transcended descriptors like "bizarre" to exist in a category all its own. Perhaps equally transfixing (though far less controversial) was Zach Erickson's Animation Collage, a stream-of-consciousness short film made almost entirely out of random cut-outs the artist found while digging through the bins at thrift stores.
Naturally, some pieces in the show still served as magnificent declarations of the city's essence. For example, Brin Levinson's The Reflection Bridge captured the spirit of Portland as a wet, frequently gloomy city in the best way imaginable through his striking depiction of the Burnside Bridge that crosses the Willamette River. Likewise, Mako Miyamoto's Satoyama features a lumberjack in a Wookie mask conjuring up the perfect blend of Northwest woodsman pride and unfettered artistic weirdness. And while Stephanie Buer's brilliant works were based on actual abandoned lots in Detroit, their industrial auras fit right at home within the confines of Portland's city limits.
Rounding out the show were locally crafted cocktails, beers, slices of pizza, and of course some locally made donuts. Guests imbibed and noshed while circling back to each piece, finding something they didn't notice before. Portland was represented in spades as not merely a city with its own art scene but a city that hosts amazing artists on the national stage.
STRAIGHT OUTTA PORTLAND is on view through Feb 29th at Stephanie Chefas Projects, 305 SE 3rd Ave. #202, Portland, OR 97214, www.stephaniechefas.com