It may seem like the art world depends on gate keeping: deciding what art goes in museums, which songs will get played, who gets the grants. But sometimes, the gates swing in ways we might not have expected. What seems like fringe turns out to be fundamental. This week, we take a look at the evolving standards of who and what is included in the world of art.
Since November 2017, the multi-format experimental art series “We. Construct. Marvels. Between. Monuments.” has introduced a completely unique vibe to the Portland Art Museum. We spoke with “Monuments” artistic director Libby Werbel, who told us her aim was to interrogate how curation works and expand the definition of museum-worthy art. The fifth and final installment in the series might be the largest-ever retrospective in an American museum on the work of Sun Ra — the Afrofuturist musician, artist and philosopher. “The Earth Expedition of Sun Ra” was conceived in partnership with Portland’s activism-oriented arts platform Deep Under Ground (DUG). We walked through the exhibition with DUG member Bethlehem Daniel, who shared her take on the changing nature of insider art. The show is on view until Jan. 27.
The Space Lady Touches Down in Portland - 21:24
Some street performers earn recognition by virtue of sheer tenacity — their presence on the very same corner, day after day. Others, like the inimitable Space Lady, hone their craft so masterfully that they also become celebrated artists in their own right. If you spent time in San Francisco’s Castro District or in Boston during the ‘70s, you might remember her: the woman with long, wavy hair topped by a Viking helmet, alternately wielding an accordion and a Casio keyboard. The Space Lady, whose real name is Susan Schneider, is one of the rare buskers who has transitioned to recording her music and touring. Schneider, still on the road at 70, recently visited Oregon to open for the Sun Ra Arkestra as part of the Portland Art Museum’s “We. Construct. Marvels. Between. Monuments.” series. We hope she’ll be back soon.
Now Serving: Next-Level Drag - 35:41
Drawing upon the hallowed traditions of ball culture and the unceasing pursuit of realness, three of the Northwest’s most ambitious drag performers are hard at “werk” exploring gender through drag-based art. Anthony Hudson (known onstage as drag-clown Carla Rossi) uses the medium to navigate mainstream pop culture as a half-Native American, half-Caucasian, queer person. Hudson will stage his multimedia piece “Looking for Tiger Lily” at Pacific University on Feb. 21. We also talk with Seattle-based dance artist Jody Keuhner, who doubles down on drag, masquerading as a man who is, in turn, masquerading as the queen Cherdonna Shinatra. She will stage her new show, “DITCH,” at Seattle’s Frye Museum later this month. Finally, we revisit the work of Kaj-Anne Pepper (drag alias Pepper Pepper) — former member of drag troupe Sissyboy, host of “Critical Mascara” at PICA, and mastermind behind the 2017 solo show “DIVA Practice.” Pepper now hosts a lip-sync improv game, “Drag Queen Tag Team,” at Alberta Street Pub every second Tuesday of the month.