Venison Picks: Best of 2016

Contemporary Art from Saudi Arabia, presents San Francisco’s first exhibition of contemporary art from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This timely, cross-generational survey of artists working at the center of the Islamic world.

Featured artists include: Sarah Abu Abdallah, Ahaad Alamoudi, Njoud Alanbari, Ahmad Angawi, Dana Awartani, Ayman Yossri Daydban, Manal Al Dowayan, Abdulnasser Gharem, Ajlan Gharem, Masameer, Nugamshi, Shaweesh, Rashed Al Shashai, Dhafer Al Shehri, and Telfaz 11.

Amber’s Statment:
I happened upon this show over the summer and was pleasantly surprised. Too often are we steeping in our own cultural dialog, ignorant to the creativity and conversations happening beyond our boarders. This show was the most exciting exhibition I experienced this year. I will not forget the work I saw there anytime soon. Nor will I stop following the many artist who exhibited in this show. I’m so excited to see how their work developes and I hope to see their work again soon.

Amber’s Statement:
​The Levity, The Gravity get my second pick for the year for pure uniqueness. While I wasn’t wowed visually by the art, that was NOT the purpose of this show. It’s was about our tactile relationship with art and how that relationship was taken away as to perserve work. In This exhibition we were lead through the works by Georgina Kleege, who told us how to experience the work tactility. It was so great to be in a gallery space and feel the work.

Show Statement:
Prior to the mid-1800s, tactile interaction was routine for visitors experiencing collections of art, and touch permeated accounts of aesthetic appreciation. As museums of art evolved into conduits for civic education, deferential models of visitor behavior were introduced that entrenched norms forbidding touch. Though originally entangled in nineteenth century politics of gender, race and class control, these norms transcended their archaic roots, morphing into securitised ‘Hands off!’ policies in gallery settings, and social taboos self-censoring the touching of artworks. The repercussions include tactile amnesia within art historical accounts, and a loss of language to discuss tactile aesthetics. While touch tours for the blind provide a partial exception, such encounters have been treated as exclusive, personal experiences – as protocols to meet baseline access obligations – rather than valued for their contributions to public haptic discourse.

The Levity, The Gravity opens with a performative essay by Fayen d’Evie that foregrounds touch as a generative concept, capable of reframing art historical narratives and opening space for critical and speculative enquiry. Georgina Kleege will then lead a touch tour of four works from the collection of Kadist Art Foundation that engage with the politics of space: Jompet Kuswidananto, Third Realm, 2011; Juan Capistran, From a Whisper to a Scream, 2005; Adrian Wong, Untitled (Grate I/II: Shan Mei Playground/ Grand Fortune Mansion), 2012; and Daniel Joseph Martinez, A meditation on the possibility… of romantic love or where you goin’ with that gun in your hand, Bobby Seale and Huey Newton discuss the relationship between expressionism and social reality in Hitler’s painting, 2005.

Danielle Schlunegger’s Picks

Ryan Pierce
​Dusk is the Mouth of Night
Elizabeth Leach Gallery  Portland, OR
June 2 – July 16th, 2016“In Dusk is the Mouth of Night, Ryan Pierce continues his on going series Terra Incognita, which looks to the historical links between natural history exploration and conquest. Several of the paintings use still-life objects to evoke stories from the Golden Age of Exploration (and exploitation). For example the Stanley Falls (2016) image portrays rubber, ivory and a dangling snake preying on a trapped fish. These objects hint at the controversial life of Henry Morton Stanley, the famed explorer of Africa who later aided King Leopold’s Belgian Colony in the Congo, a brutal slave state masquerading as an emancipation movement.​​Several of the paintings in Dusk is the Mouth of Night, depict museum interiors destroyed, or perhaps liberated, by the storms of climate change. We learn to regard museums as reverent spaces for the absorption of

culture, but many Western museums are comprised of stolen and recontextualised artifacts. In these imagined scenarios, floods and fallen branches have opened these hallowed spaces to the elements. Rather than being damaged, the works within have become animated and infused with mysterious energy. Ryan Pierce received his MFA from California College of the Arts in 2007, and a BFA from Oregon College of Art and Craft in 2003. His work has been shown nationally and internationally, including solo shows Sad Gods at Elizabeth Leach Gallery (Portland, OR), Postcards from Paradise at Nine Gallery (Portland, OR) and Night Music, Babel at Lademoen unstnerverksteder (Trondheim, Norway). His work has also been shown in group exhibitions such as Summer Field Studies at The Henry Art Gallery (Seattle, WA), The Shape of the Problem at Elizabeth Leach Gallery (Portland, OR) and Aspect/Ratio at Irvine Contemporary (Washington DC). This work was created with the support of The Joan Mitchell Foundation’s Center in New Orleans and the Caldera artists residency.

Wendy Red Star
Tokens, Gold, and Glory
Hap Gallery, Portland, OR
July 14th – August 28th, 2016

“Diverging from the taxidermy tradition of mounting only the deer’s head, Red Star displays just the bodies — “the other part of the missing trophy” — in her sculptures. Instead of heads, Mylar fringe streams from the necks of these golden statues. The artist conveys her view that the entire animal should be appreciated, not prized for simply one part. Red Star simultaneously addresses feminist issues, considering the way women are often esteemed for portions of their bodies rather than their entire being. In these glitzy plastic deer is a sinister message about gold, and about the weight of history embedded in it. No other color implies so much value while connoting so much potential for ruin. Gold is power. Gold is gaudy. Gold is hoarded. Gold is pawned. Gold is an empty promise and a last resort. Red Star has exhibited in the United States and abroad including at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Fondation Cartier pour l’ Art Contemporain, Domaine de Kerguéhennec, Portland Art Museum, Hood Art Museum, St. Louis Art Museum, and the Minneapolis Institute of Art, among others. She served as a visiting lecturer at Yale University, the Figge Art Museum, the Banff Centre, National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, Dartmouth College, CalArts, Flagler College, Fairhaven College, and I.D.E.A. Space in Colorado Springs. In 2015, Red Star was awarded an Emerging Artist Grant from the Joan Mitchell Foundation. In 2016, she participated in Contemporary Native Photographers and the Edward Curtis Legacy at the Portland Art Museum, and recently mounted a solo exhibition as part of the museum’s APEX series. Red Star holds a BFA from Montana State University, Bozeman, and an MFA in sculpture from University of California, Los Angeles. She lives and works in Portland, OR.”

Clare Szydlowski’s Picks:

Open Aperture in Newport, Rhode Island by Frances F. Denny aptly titled Pink Crush. Denny’s candy colored photos reflect the girlhood obsessions of those of us who were children in the late 80s and early 90s. “Sugar Rush” a strange and somewhat absurd photo of roll of pale pink bubble tape was the piece that truly transported me back to my the days when my best friend and I dared each other to cram as much of the powdery sweet stuff into our mouths as we could. Anyone who lived through the days of roller rinks, scrunchies and Lisa Frank will undoubtedly have their own flashback moments seeing these photographs

​Artist Statement:
Pink Crush describes the visual iconography of late 20th-century girlhood, reflecting the ways in which the esthetics of an era shape a developing sense of self. The motifs and colors are reminiscent of Lisa Frank and  other girlie-girl pop obsessions of the 80’s and 90’s. Despite a wariness of the saccharine childlike qualities the subjects convey, the series as a whole betrays a longstanding attraction, and exposes how those girlish fixations can remain both outside and inside of us as grown women.

Josh Hagler’s Picks:

Creature (collection of 50 works by various artists)
Paintings by Leon Golub
Broad Museum, Los Angeles
On view now thru March 19, 2017My urging readers to see this show has almost exclusively to do with the six Leon Golub paintings occupying an entire gallery within the museum exhibition.  Other work is certainly worth seeing, but I happened to view these paintings a couple days after the election, which made them feel more urgent than ever.  Both their scale and rawness (Golub used to scrape off layers of paint with a meat cleaver) perfectly accompany the cruelty in the figures depicted.  I was physically and emotionally distressed by these works in the best of ways.  I’m still grateful to have been confronted by a directness in painting that seems too often excluded from the flippant environment of the art market.Sculptures and installation by Karon Davis
Wilding Cran Gallery, Los Angeles
September 17th – November 12th, 2016

​These plaster sculptures made from casts of friends and family formed a visual elegy in response to the death of Karon Davis’ husband Noah Davis.  None of this was information I had when I stumbled into the gallery by accident on opening night. I found myself unable to hold a conversation with friends and acquaintances because the work was too “distracting”.  Only on my second visit did I gain a better understanding of the facts.  The second gallery space was converted into a simple but haunting hospital waiting room the artist had added just the day before the show was scheduled to open.  In terms of what I most deeply want art to do, it did.

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