Tag Archives: TJ Norris

We’re No. 1 with a dart! (pass it along)

Actually, it’s a multiply shared No. 1, a sort of pay-it-forward No. 1, a chain-letter pat on the back that feels nice and warm and fuzzy.

From somewhere out of the blue (OK, it was from our cyberspace friend Rose City Reader, the literary omnivore who in the real world hangs out just a few blocks away) comes to Art Scatter the Premios Dardo Award.

It’s not the Nobel, it’s not an Oscar or even a Pulitzer. But neither is it a Bernie Madoff-style Ponzi scheme. No money changes hands (isn’t that just life in the blogosphere, though?). The Premios Dardo robs no one of their dignity or life savings. It’s simply a way of saying, we like what you do, and we’d like you to tell us whose work you admire on the Web. Fair enough. A lot of wheezing takes place on the Net, and one good way to get to the fresh air is to listen to recommendations from people you trust.

We haven’t been able to track down where the Premios Dardo Awards began or who’s behind them, but it really doesn’t matter. By this point it’s a crazy quilt stretched loosely across the globe, and we’re happy to add our few stitches to the pattern. (As near as our feeble translating abilities can figure out, by the way, “Premios Dardo” means roughly “Top Dart.”)

Here are the rules:

1) Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person that has granted the award and his or her blog link.

2) Pass the award to another 15 blogs that are worthy of this acknowledgment.

3) Remember to contact each of them to let them know they have been chosen for this award.

So, here goes. Here’s our pick of 15, listed in that boring-but-still-useful old alphabetical order. If you haven’t already, give ’em a look. You might find some new friends:

Bunny With an Art Blog

Charles Noble’s Daily Observations

Culture Shock

Dave Allen’s Pampelmoose

Dramma per Musica

Little Red Bike Cafe

Mark Russell’s CulturePulp

Mead Hunter’s Blogorrhea


Portland Architecture

Portland Spaces/Burnside Blog

Reading Copy Book Blog


Third Angle Music Blog

TJ Norris

Art Scatter gets meta in McMinnville

A couple of weekends ago, we drove down to Linfield College in McMinnville, Ore., from Portland to see a little show curated by TJ Norris, ‘.meta’, at the college art gallery, which is one medium-sized room. I wasn’t sure what I was looking at. When I got back to Portland, I didn’t talk to anyone about the show because I didn’t know how to talk about it. Which means I didn’t post about it because I definitely had no idea how to write about it.

It’s very possible that I still don’t or that I’m dead wrong, and yet I’ve been worrying the exhibition off and on since then, a little like a stubborn granule of food caught between my molars. Well, maybe not so irritating as that.

The food metaphor isn’t entirely out of place, though. Norris’s notes for the exhibition start this way: “Over the past three years I’ve developed exhibitions from digested bits and pieces of found ideas.” [emphasis added] Digested. Bits and pieces. Digested by whom? By Norris, which is important to remember, I think, because ‘.meta’ asks us to do a little digesting of our own. I return to the notes:

“As a group exhibition of work, diverse artists were sought, who each confront the stoicism of incomplete thoughts or the sly double entendre of the head on. Here exists this sense of longing, of awkward limbo, like a deer caught in headlights. In ‘.meta’ you will find work that is wry, socially political and even somewhat ambiguous at first. Perhaps an offering of clues musing about why we exist in the universe at all, complete with our mortal faults.”

This is where I headed down the “wrong” path, I think. I started trying to read the eleven artworks in the show as specific examples of artmaking that thinks about the origins of things, including itself, which is the implication of “meta”. This isn’t new. A lot of the most significant art made in the 20th century commented on itself, its origins, the meaning of art, and maybe the meaning of Everything. (By “most significant” I simply mean: central to the ideas of people who make, think and write about art. Art analysts.)
Continue reading Art Scatter gets meta in McMinnville

Caution: Artists at work

Our 19th century conception of the Artist (or Poet or Actor) still stands, mostly intact, a testament to the enduring power of Romanticism. You know by now that I’m no Romantic, right? (Though I can be a sentimental old fool and sometimes the symptoms are the same.) But the Romantic idea of the “studio” or “workshop” or “rehearsal hall” is one that I’ve kept, the idea of the place where the drama of creation occurs, and I start to snort a little even as I type “drama of creation” because, come on, who am I kidding? What does that even mean?

Still, I respect the place where work takes place, creative work, and I believe it has, um, possibilities that other places don’t have. But usually it was closed to interlopers, especially casual interlopers. Until now. Until blogs! Which are admittedly mediated spaces, of course, unless someone has come up with a “studio cam.” But still.

So here are some artists’ blogs that I’ve found. I hope the artists aren’t creeped out that I occasionally drop in.

Bunny with an Artblog I’m not sure what it is about Hilary Pfeifer’s blog that keeps me coming back, but I do. Some of it is just the random personal stuff. For example, I just discovered that if she played our “movies that move me” game, she would probably choose Matthew Barney’s Cremaster Cycle. But mostly, it’s because of the photographs of the strange creations she’s fashioning in her Studio for a show upcoming at Ogle Gallery in September. It’s called Natural Selection and after watching it blossom the past month or so, I’m definitely hooked.

TJ Norris: Unblogged When I wrote about Norris’s show at the New American Art Union, I found his blog. It’s a great mix of reportage on the Portland art scene, a little news here and there, some excellent links, and some personal events and reflections. Oh. And pictures. Very cool pictures. And enough hints about his work to constitute a peek inside his studio. UPDATE: Broken link fixed!

Craig Thompson’s Learn to Draw blog OK. That’s not its real name. (That would be Doot Doot Garden Blog.) But let’s just say I developed a powerful hankering to create a gigantic new graphic novel, a little like Thompson’s Habibi, which by his recent reckoning has a “couple” of years yet to go. Then I would go to his blog a lot, to watch the drawings unfold, because it’s like a little online classroom. Again, I discovered the blog working on a post a few months ago and bookmarked it then. Habibi looks very cool, by the way, and really, I don’t mind the wait as long as I can get little hints about what it’s going to be like on Thompson’s blog.

OK. Maybe that’s enough for now? But I would like to know what your own favorites are, if you wouldn’t mind sharing?

TJ Norris: signs and no-signs

Let’s say you’ve just gotten back from a weekend in Seattle, taken for the sweetest of reasons (a wedding!), hurried back actually, because you’d waited until the last possible day to see the TJ Norris installation, Infinitus, at the New American Art Union. A long drive, after a couple of long days, which also included a visit to the Olympic Sculpture Park, and that was on your mind as you walked across I-84 from Northeast Portland to the gallery. Because that’s how we often arrive at our art experiences. After long drives. After long days. With other stuff, even other art, on our minds.

You take the Norris video installation lying down, facing upward at two screens suspended from the ceiling, which show different portions of a 71 minute video loop. Actually, those inclined benches are pretty comfortable and they have pillow-like substance at the top where your head goes. You enter the gallery, get your bearings and take a bench. I was alone most of the time on Sunday, the two screens flickering above me. At first they both had automobile imagery going, one of highway traffic shot from above and the other of traffic shot from the side through the diamonds of a chain link fence. So, my pulse still elevated from the walk and the lanes of I-84 on my mind, I immediately began to think of cars, mostly about how boring they were and that this as much as their destructive effects on cities and the environment was good enough reason to seriously limit their use. Seriously. TJ Norris’s installation has nothing to do with that, at least I don’t think so, but “boring” is a good thing to remember, boring as in “mundane.” The installation itself isn’t boring, of course. I found the experience that it offered just the opposite, once my pulse rate slowed and I stopped thinking about cars.

I situated myself on a bench between the two screens, the better to watch both. That was difficult at first, my attention diverted, eyes darting one way then the other. What did I see? I think the most lasting impression is “movement.” Images in motion. Some of them were abstract — tiny lights flickering and fluttering or shapes morphing across the screen. Bubbling emulsions. These passages could last quite a while. The cars, yes, and other “real” objects or places. Long corridors that the camera wanders down. A disco ball. A convex outdoor mirror, the kind they use to help you see around corners sometimes. Shadows of strange objects. Escalator stairs in motion. Buildings and steel “structures.” A close-up of a plant that, as the camera pulls back, is revealed to be behind a barbed wire fence. And speaking of barbed wire, razor wire. Quite a bit of razor wire. This list could go on, but just imagine these things moving along at a good clip though often in long takes, so you can “watch” the motion.

Nothing happens.

Continue reading TJ Norris: signs and no-signs