Tag Archives: Elizabeth Leach Gallery

It’s First Thursday tonight. Walk the walk.

Mary Ellen Mark, Ward 81, Oregon State Hospital, Salem, Oregon, 1976  11x14” Vintage Silver Gelatin; Blue Sky Gallery.

By Bob Hicks

Most Portland galleries open their new shows on the first Thursday of each month, and have a little party to go along with it: They stay open, usually, from 6 to 9 in the evening on First Thursdays. This is a big deal for galleries in the Pearl/Northwest and downtown, but it’s far from the only game in town.

Jeffry Mitchell Untitled (foot vase) 2011, 10"x10"6" glazed ceramic; Pulliam Gallery.A bunch of Eastside galleries have First Friday openings instead. The renegades on Northeast Alberta opt for Last Thursdays, upsetting the applecart of neighborhood decorum in the process (although it’s not generally the gallery owners who relieve themselves drunkenly on the neighbors’ lawns). And a lot of places — the museums and college galleries, for instance — go serenely on their own schedules. Disjecta, the North Portland art center, is waiting until Saturday to open its quirky-looking show of folded miniatures, Portland Paper City.

But First Thursday includes most of the big mainstream galleries: It’s the art walk that gets the most horn-tooting. And as the guy who has sex only one time a year says excitedly, Tonight’s the night! Mr. Scatter put together a quick guide to some of the First Thursday highlights for this morning’s Oregonian; you can see it online here.

Kris Hargis, "The Fifth," 2010. Drawing: oil, conte, colored pencil, grease pencil on paper, 20.5 x 16.5 inches. Froelick Gallery. There’s more than this to it, but isn’t there always? Elizabeth Leach Gallery, for instance, holds over Matt McCormick’s historically potent video installation and photo show The Great Northwest from last month, and Bullseye Gallery does the same with Mark Zirpel’s Queries in Glass, an exhibit that merges aesthetics with the gadgetizing of 18th century and Victorian men of science.

Speaking of the Age of Reason, you don’t need to rush out to the galleries tonight unless you really enjoy the scene. The shows will be up all month. If you’re going to look, pick a time when you can see the art without being elbowed aside by the crowds. If you want to buy — well, the earlier the better. And remember that a lot of galleries let their buying customers see the stuff a night before the official opening. That’s why, sometimes, even if you’re there on First Thursday and see a piece you really like, it already has a little red dot beside it. If you think you might want to buy, ask if you can get in early. Next month, that is.



  • Mary Ellen Mark, “Ward 81, Oregon State Hospital, Salem, Oregon,” 1976. 11×14” Vintage Silver Gelatin; Blue Sky Gallery.
  • Jeffry Mitchell, Untitled (foot vase) 2011, 10″ x10″ x 6″; glazed ceramic; Pulliam Gallery.
  • Kris Hargis, “The Fifth,” 2010. Drawing: oil, conte, colored pencil, grease pencil on paper, 20.5 x 16.5 inches. Froelick Gallery.

Happy Valentine’s Day. It’s an art.

Cy Twombly, Untitled, 2007, from Blooming, A Scattering of Blossoms & Other Things, Acrylic on panel, The Broad Art Foundation, Santa Monica. © Cy Twombly. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery

Ah, the red. Ah, the passion. Ah, the flowers.

Like love itself, Saint Valentine, as it turns out, is something of a mystery. Way back when, in ancient Rome, several martyred saints were named Valentine, or Valentinus. And whichever individual or composite of them emerged to eventually become the Saint Valentine seems always to have been floating in the realm of myth. One early writer, Jacobus de Voragine, refers to the saint in his book Legenda Aurea as a fellow who was beheaded because he wouldn’t deny Christ in front of Emperor Claudius — in the year 280, almost a thousand years before Voragine’s book became a sensation of the High Middle Ages. This Valentine is revered for having restored the sight and hearing to his jailer’s daughter before getting his head lopped off.

Michele Rainier, "Anatomically Exaggerated Sock Monkeys," Beet Gallery, PortlandHow did Valentine become linked with chubby cherubs and love arrows, let alone chocolate and Champagne?

Again, no one’s quite sure, least of all Mr. Scatter, even after long and laborious research of, well, several minutes in an obscure repository of arcane information called Wikipedia. The Nuremberg Chronicle of 1493, referring to possibly the same Valentinus as Voragine, suggests he was beheaded because he’d been caught marrying Christian couples at a time when Claudius II was busy persecuting pretty much any Christian his soldiers ran across. The act of marrying people, of bringing lovers together, might be the seed of the legend. Others suggest that the sentiment of the tradition was pretty much invented by Geoffrey Chaucer and his crowd in the process of mythologizing chivalry and medieval romance, and others yet argue that what Claudius and Chaucer might have begun, those frisky Victorians grabbed by the lacy undergarments and made wholly their own. Exactly when FTD and the nursery industry of America entered the picture is not fully explained.

Xiaoze Xie, Library of Congress (Music Division M1060)  , 2009 oil on canvas 24" x 42" , Elizabeth Leach Gallery, PortlandHow we got here is a puzzle, and yet, here we are, at the Valentine’s Day of modern times, with all of its traditions, temptations and demands. Not, all in all, a bad place to be, unless like a dope you forget all about it and schedule a poker game with the boys instead.

To help you celebrate, we here at Art Scatter World Headquarters are offering a quick virtual tour of some of Portland’s museums and galleries with an eye for artworks that resonate with the holiday. We’ve also thrown in a guest artwork, not available for viewing in the flesh. Details are below.

As our waitron says, Enjoy. And have a lovely day.

Jacopo Bassano, "Saint Valentine Baptizing Saint Lucilla," 1500s. Wikimedia Commons.


  • Cy Twombly, Untitled, 2007, from Blooming, A Scattering of Blossoms & Other Things, Acrylic on panel, The Broad Art Foundation, Santa Monica. © Cy Twombly. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery. It’s part of a small but significant showing of recent works by the legendary contemporary painter on view through May 16 at the Portland Art Museum.
  • Michele Rainier, “Anatomically Exaggerated Sock Monkeys.” It’s part of a group show, “Erotica — Be My (Naughty) Valentine,” at Beet Gallery, Portland, through Feb. 27.
  • Xiaoze Xie, “Library of Congress (Music Division M1060),” 2009 oil on canvas 24″ x 42″. This passion of the book is part of the group show “Re-Present,” at Elizabeth Leach Gallery, Portland, through March 27.
  • Jacopo Bassano, “Saint Valentine Baptizing Saint Lucilla,” 1500s. Wikimedia Commons. Note the chubby winged babes bestowing their approval. This one’s not in Portland, folks.

Al Souza: The Puzzler’s Dilemma

I’m just trying to do this jig-saw puzzle
Before it rains anymore

– M. Jagger / K. Richards “Jigsaw Puzzle”

Ours is a family of re-puzzlers. Last holiday our sons, both in their mid-twenties, spent two days working through our old puzzles, beginning with the extra large-piece “Masters of the Universe,” a “battle royal” featuring He-Man and two dozen other trademarked Mattel heroes of the day (circa 1983). From there they moved to “G.I. Joe Battles Cobra Command,” four puzzles that, when completed, can be interlocked to form a large mural depicting all-out war on land and sea and in the air. These boys have always been deliberate, methodical re-puzzlers. As youngsters they would build them, tear them down and build again. As adults they are also deliberate about seeming disengaged; they are handling memories, after all, not puzzle pieces.

My wife and I joined them on the adult puzzles, some we’ve had since the late 1960s, when we were first married and a bottle of wine and a good puzzle were an evening’s entertainment: “Fisherman’s Wharf,” in Monterey, California, the way it looked when we lived there; “Five-Clawed Dragon,” a detail from an embroidered Chinese Imperial robe; and “St. George and the Dragon,” a photograph of a statuette owned by a Bavarian duke who lived during the time of Shakespeare.

Oh, we’ve had other, one-time puzzles, more than I’d want to count, but these are the ones we’ve kept and re-puzzled time and again. Life is like a jigsaw puzzle, I’ve thought. Not like a box of chocolates. The puzzle worked over and completed, and then un-puzzled and tossed back into its box, is the seven ages of man – the first youthful stammering returning to reclaim incoherence from the modest settled principles an adult pieces together once, maybe twice, in a life.

So I was curious to see Al Souza’s sculptural jigsaw puzzle collages showing at Elizabeth Leach Gallery this month. He uses commercial puzzles gathered from thrift stores and on E-bay, and some that acquaintances around the country find and assemble for him. He layers and juxtaposes parts of the puzzles in large scale works such as “Italian Dressing” (72” X 72”, above), creating an explosion of slick images and bright colors that are the hallmark of commercial puzzles. Animals, clocks, landscapes, famous paintings and buildings, loopy holiday ribbon candy, toys and sports memorabilia – jumbled together in odd, surprising ways.
Continue reading Al Souza: The Puzzler’s Dilemma