Eugene Weekly : Visual Art : 1.14.10


The World in Eugene and Portland
Photography brings the Amazon, Paris and the frozen north to Oregon
by Suzi Steffen

One of the richest ecosystems in the world arrives Saturday at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art for a five-month stay.

“Amazonia,” a photographic tour of the Peruvian headwaters of the Amazon, came with J-Schnitz director Jill Hartz when she moved to the UO from the University of Virginia. The 60-photograph exhibit mixes works by National Geographic photographer Sam Abell (Hartz’ original contact) with photos by Danish photographer and guide Torben Ulrik Nissen. 

Two juvenile caimans in the Los Amigos River. Sam Abell.

The photographers decided that they didn’t want to depict animals (or, more usually, insects — the prevalent life form in the jungle) without showing their environment. That means those who go to the show can see flocks of butterflies feeding or drinking from muddy riverbanks, a massive turtle swimming in the swirling waters of the river, capybara amid vegetation and caiman poking only their eyes and snouts above the water.

One of the most striking images from Abell, whose work constitutes about 80 percent of the show, is A black spider monkey. The monkey, backlit in a tree above the photographer, appears in the midst of interlacing branches, a nearly black and white photo shot with color film. Shots of anacondas, moths feeding on scat, butterflies feeding on a spread of dead minnows after a flood, an otter eating a fish and others remind viewers about the true cycle of life — something that Hartz, who curated the show, believes will resonate with the environmentally aware Eugene audience.

To that end, the schedule for the exhibit contains a number of close ties with the UO community. School of Journalism and Communication prof Carol Ann Bassett reads Feb. 17 from her recent book Galàpagos at the Crossroads in the gallery, and the School of Music and Dance gives a Feb. 24 concert that promotional materials say is “nature-inspired,” among other planned events.

The J-Schnitz moved its openings to Saturday nights, and this one’s no different: From 6-9 pm Saturday, Jan. 16, the museum opens “Amazonia” with both photographers on hand to discuss their work. The photographers return at 5:30 pm Wednesday, March 10, at 123 Pacific, to talk about their experiences, but you can read an interview with them on EW! A Blog starting on Friday. Don’t forget to follow (and please contribute to!) #ArtRovers on Twitter during the opening. 

If you’re in Portland anytime soon, you might want to check out some shows there as well. Last weekend, along with former Oregonian art editor Barry Johnson, I toured new shows up in the Pearl galleries. Some recommendations:

“Interiors” at the Froelick Gallery: Gallery owner Charles Froelick kindly sat us down and explained how “Interiors” came about: He met Jeremiah Goodman, an artist who’s painted everything from the rooms of Billy Baldwin to Edward Albee’s loft (in the show) to the dining rooms of famous European designers. Goodman, who’s now 89, agreed to send some works to Portland from his studio in Manhattan, and Froelick then built the show around the “Interiors” theme. The show contains some clever takes on the idea of interiority and is well worth more than one glance. Up through Feb. 27 at the Froelick, 714 NW Davis.

French photographer Céline Clanet’s extraordinary photos of life in the Norwegian village of Máze, above the Arctic Circle, where Sami people herd reindeer, went up recently at Blue Sky Gallery, a nonprofit photography collective. From the misty sun in an all-blue world to the vivid red of reindeer blood against the snow, Clanet’s photos show the challenging, intimate world of the village where she spent many months living with the people, and animals, of the northern tip of the world. Through the end of January at Blue Sky Gallery, 122 NW 8th.

At Elizabeth Leach Gallery, Christopher Rauschenberg’s shots of Paris’ sprawling Marché aux Puces demonstrate his facility with a pocket camera, which he told Johnson and me he would bring out surreptitiously, while the various flea market proprietors were occupied somewhere else. That information lends more delight to the often amusing, always gorgeous images, which seem perfectly composed. Through Jan. 30 at the Elizabeth Leach Gallery, 417 NW 9th.

Feel free to post to Twitter from any of these places, using the hashtag #ArtRovers, and I’ll collect your tweets and Twitpics for a blog post. The world comes to Eugene and Portland through art and photography — will you see it? 










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