Tag Archives: PDX Contemporary Art

It’s First Thursday: can you see your art?

Storm Tharp, Bokashi, 2011 softground print, edition of 12. 30" x 22"/PDX Contemporary ArtBokashi, Storm Tharp/PDX Contemporary Art

By Bob Hicks

This evening is First Thursday, Portland’s monthly movable feast of gallery-hopping, and Mr. Scatter published this guide in this morning’s Oregonian. Lots of options, and as usual it’s just part of the picture: a lot of gallery openings and other art events aren’t included.

Well, it’s a big town. You can list all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but you can’t list all of the people all of the time. And that’s probably a very good thing: no sense exploding your brain with too much information.

Hiroshige, from "100 Views of Edo," Wikimedia CommonsSo of the 40 zillion or so images we might show you, we’ve chosen just one: Storm Tharp’s Bokashi, above, a 2011 softground print in an edition of 12 in the group show Oomph at PDX Contemporary Art. And we’re showing this one not just because we like it but also because it comes with a small but intriguing art-history connection, as PDX’s Jane Beebe points out. “One can see the influence of Japanese prints and masks in the trajectory of Storm’s artistic thought and work,” she writes, and then adds: “also I think it is interesting that Bokashi can refer to swipe….. the swipe of the eyes in the print.” She passes along as evidence this image (from One Hundred Famous Views of Edo)  by the legendary 19th century Japanese printmaker Hiroshige, along with this explanation from Wikipedia:

Bokashi  is a technique used in Japanese woodblock printmaking. It achieves a variation in lightness and darkness (value) of a single color by hand applying a gradation of ink to a moistened wooden printing block, rather than inking the block uniformly. This hand-application had to be repeated for each sheet of paper that was printed.

The best-known examples of bokashi are the shadings of a color often used by Hiroshige on landscape prints to depict the sky at the top of the print.

Most of the galleries participating in First Thursday are open from 6 to 8 or 9 p.m. Put on your walking shoes. And remember two things. First, most of the shows will be up all month, so don’t worry about hitting all of them (or any of them, for that matter) tonight. Second, a lot of other good exhibits aren’t taking part in First Thursday at all. Weekend jaunts are good.


  • Storm Tharp, “Bokashi,” 2011 softground print, edition of 12. 30″ x 22″/PDX Contemporary Art.
  • Hiroshige, from “One Hundred Famous Views of Edo,” Wikimedia Commons.

Warhol and Van Sant: peas in a pod?

By Bob Hicks

Larry Fong, curator of American and regional art at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art in Eugene, has assembled a provocative and aesthetically stimulating exhibition that brings together Pop icon Andy Warhol and Portland movie director Gus Van Sant through the unlikely lens of the Polaroid camera, a populist aim-and-shoot wonder that both used prolifically.

Gus Van Sant, "boys," 2010 digital pigment print, edition of 5 16.5" x 11.5". PDX Contemporary ArtI review the exhibit, One Step Big Shot, in this morning’s Oregonian. The show is smartly conceived and well-executed, and it looks good in the gallery, coming up with some creative design responses to the museum’s problematically long and narrow main display space.

Gus Van Sant, "boy and girl mystery," 2010 digital pigment print, edition of 5, 46" x 37". PDX Contemporary ArtOne draw: A big-screen version of Warhol’s infamous 1964 film Blow Job, which I hadn’t seen in many years.

Caught somewhere between blatant sexuality and demure tease (it’s a landmark in the gay underground movement that exploded into the mainstream after the Stonewall Riots of 1969) the six-minute film plays breathlessly with the ideas of Adonis and Narcissus. Even now it’s a powerful cultural transgression. It was an absolute mind-blower in 1964. One Step Big Shot continues through Sept. 5, and it’s worth the trip to Eugene.

Meanwhile, you have only a week left to catch Cut-ups, a smaller but intriguing related show at Portland’s PDX Contemporary Art. In it, Van Sant explores photographic collage, creating odd and sometimes discombobulating fusions of gender and personality. The two pieces shown here are from Cut-ups. We are all, apparently, one another. Worth catching, and up through Saturday, May 29.



— Gus Van Sant, “boys,” 2010 digital pigment print, edition of 5, 16.5″ x 11.5″. PDX Contemporary Art

— Gus Van Sant, “boy and girl mystery,” 2010 digital pigment print, edition of 5, 46″ x 37″. PDX Contemporary Art