A u g u s t   2 0 0 3

David Eckard plays violin badly in a good way.
Critical i

We can be heroes
Wagner, Finneran
& the Modern Zoo
by Jeff Jahn

t's an intense and pregnant time in Portland; we have the Biennial and the Modern Zoo, which I'll cover in depth this month. Still, between those supposed polar opposites, something is missing.

It's a nagging feeling that probably comes from institutions benefiting more from these shows than the artists do. So, yes, it is exciting but I'm missing the mood one gets from David Bowie's "Heroes."

Let me explain.

In "Heroes," Bowie's voice is cracking and the band seems to be playing in some sort of giant tube with all sorts of reverb.

But somehow his urgent beyond-lust, almost wounded and bleeding voice holds the whole thing together. He makes his point with his delivery and it's an individual – not a group – that cuts through the din.

Save for a few exceptions, I don't find that convincing, vigorous delivery in abundance in Portland. But that deadly seriousness and edge is setting in amongst the general pile of artists here – possibly because of the lack of more distinctive statements at the Zoo and Biennial.


There are some very serious contenders in Portland, but a majority of them can't be found at the Zoo or the Biennial. Truthfully, I can count the most "actualized" serious players on my fingers; they are not satisfied and most have changed their work recently. I might add that they generally don't like to be lumped together in ways of the Zoo and other big group shows.

Instead, for the most part I only find that seriousness in fits and starts, which haven't displayed the all-important follow through yet. You cannot be serious part of the time and then cute and apologetic at others. The exciting thing is there is more and more movement toward bigger statements. These things do not happen overnight.

Picasso's "Cock of the Liberation."

To date, though, few young artists have really tried to articulate what their work is about – despite the fact that many do have some sort of theoretical background.

So where are the big statements? David Eckard made one at the Art Gym and, to a lesser degree, at the Zoo … others like Bruce Conkle, Malia Jensen and Matthew Picton also have the goods.

I think Tom Cramer's upcoming show will turn some heads. He finally gets to show his depth and scope in ways that will take people aback.

So let's set the bar a bit higher.

For example, artists like Alberto Giacometti, Richard Serra and Picasso were not trying to be heroes. Yet, by their truculence, each achieved heroic work.

Picasso, aside from his misogyny, refused to surrender Paris to the Nazis. He painted one of my favorite paintings at its liberation, "The Cock of the Liberation." I like when people take a stand against prevailing winds.

Yet sticking to their own way (even if it lead to an early grave) gave people like Modigliani, Basquiat and Eva Hesse a kind of legitimacy that their overall seriousness indicated all along. All were rife with contradictions but they "owned" their contradictions.

Karin Davie's "Distraction," at the Seattle Art Museum.

Instead of distinctiveness many avoid "direction" by using crutches like silliness, fetishizing failure or celebrating a general feeling of being lost – a very late-'80s-early-'90s sentiment.

Portland has no monopoly on this malaise, and people like Kenny Sharf, Julian Schnabel, Inigo Manglano-Ovalle and Jaume Plensa (who has titles like "Am I?", "Life?" and "Who?") lack this rudder as well. These artists are somewhat eternally lost, which may be comforting to other lost people with money to burn, but for me they are tedious. It is basically Warhol-lite. Warhol himself was never as comfortable as Schnabel was, and that edge makes all the difference.

Having the edge means knowing yourself. One should take stock of personality traits, including those all-important strengths and faults. The trick is to never grow comfortable and take either for granted.

I miss that Kandinsky-Gauguin-Pollock-Gordon Matta-Clark urgency in art today. Still there are a few who most definitely know who they are: Karin Davie, Barnaby Furnas, Carroll Dunham, Richard Serra, Elizabeth Peyton, Tom Sachs, Ellsworth Kelly, Marcel Dzama, James Turrell, Yek and William Pope.L. I have met about half of these people and have to say all are fully formed personalities; they do not need their art to prop up their self-esteem.

I certainly prefer the artist as a symbol of individual freedom … Bowie's "Heroes" kinda says it all: a lone voice that is so desperate in its delivery that it's powerful – despite the fact that the band playing behind him seems to be in some sort of sonic haze of bewilderment and comfort. It is probably one of the greatest love songs of all time. I guess I just prefer to love art, not "tolerate" art. So, what is satisfying?

Elise Wagner
Laura Russo Gallery

Elise Wagner's "Memory in Transit" at Laura Russo.

Elise Wagner's "Memory in Transit" at Laura Russo combines intersecting circles that look like renaissance scientifica with an alternate panel of fluffy, almost spontaneous, clouds.

The hasty, unaffected clouds are almost too fresh, like kissing a cousin.

They are contrasted by the circles, which are too planned, like an arranged blue-blooded wedding uniting two great houses. The result is very compelling, just a wonderful fleeting moment with no appointments or obligations.

It brings to mind Romeo and Juliet. The great thing is this painting can unite the star-crossed lovers of two aesthetics so well.

Bean Finneran
PDX Gallery

Finneran at PDX.

Bean Finneran also had a focused and lovely show at PDX. Her forms are simple, direct and elegant. This focused effect was a complete contrast to the aptly named Zoo.

I enjoy the fragility and the fact they are made of aggregate elements. The aggregate effect in art is very much with the emerging 21st-century discourse.

Apparently, Finneran lives in the northern salt marshes of San Francisco Bay. I think she has learned some great lessons about fragility and natural systems by virtue of her location. Each work is almost like a puzzle that I would not dare try to take apart.

The Modern Zoo
Portland (through Aug. 31)

David Eckard's "Miracle Boy" (detail).

As an experiment in the emergent complexities of the Portland art scene, the Modern Zoo is a huge success both for PCAC and the scene.

That said, the quality of this vast, mostly uncurated show goes from sporadically good, like Pete McCracken's display of David Eckard (bluntly titled "Artist"), to the much more common mediocrity that the show's missing plan invites.

Thus, the Zoo as a benchmark in chaos makes any future uncurated or haphazardly curated shows in the city unnecessary.

I cannot say I'll miss it. I guess it is a bit like lighting a controlled fire – the forest will become healthier. In that respect this Zoo is somewhat of a capstone for the large unwieldy mιlange shows that have wandered around the city ... I dislike their focus on the number of participants vs. the actual art.

What do we want?

The city already expects more than the Zoo or the Biennial can, as a whole, deliver. Portland's scene has evolved and with the many excellent shows in the last six months, I think everyone from the Museum, PICA, PCAC and various independent curators (myself included) needs to shut up and reassess their expectations or approach towards the locals.

For instance, after the busy last six months, anything operating as a Portland show that panders purely toward a Portland audience is probably not thinking big enough. Once again, I am calling for a seriousness that is sparse at the Zoo and the Biennial, but there are more notable exceptions at the Zoo, and that alone makes this experiment very important.

Zefery and Co.'s "Beltrunner."

In fact, I think the personal connections this show has facilitated will lead to the tighter shows we now demand.

For a reverse example, one obvious problem is that the Zoo lacks initial punch when you walk into the space. This initial reaction sets the expectations of the viewers and this show squanders that opportunity.

Somebody should have created something to accomplish that effect, but there is still time to fix it.

Keeping that evolutionary/revisionist model in mind, the Modern Zoo has now developed into something very important – a lab of open-ended experiments that's much more satisfying than when it first opened June 14.

Like a rolling stone gathering moss it is fuller now and many of the newly finished additions, like Katherine Bovee and Philippe Blanc's "Under a Pink Sky" as well as C+'s "Bedroom Project," lift the show from a tedious "I'll pat your back if you pat mine" self-celebration ... to one where a few works can be described as provocative installations. That said, the back patting has also reached a level of fury that puts Jerry Lewis telethons to shame and I'll try to navigate away from it.

Despite this, the Portland renaissance is legit. We have a scene that has self-organized to include at least 10 good works out of 100-plus participants; believe me, 10 percent is an enviable number with this sort of model.

Still, most of the successful works in the Zoo are a bit quiet, and thus, I question their nerve. Is there anyone out there willing to ROCK?

The Modern Zoo from 100 feet away

"Administrative Oversight" (detail).

So is this the start of something big from the huge pack of artists in Portland? It certainly has mass, but is this representative of a critical one? Most Zoo participants need to develop a stronger presentation and critical backbone.

An example of "needs more work" is Kate O'Brian's "Administrative Oversight," which consists of lots of stenciled sophomoric phrases on a pink wall. Where is the meaning, other than a general dread of office work? Another installation from the Red 76 "Ministry of Small Things," a pink box where you insert questions and someone inside spews an answer, is similarly cute, pink and a bit Lucille Ball, but that doesn't make it effective art.

Still, there are a few major standouts, like Bovee, Melody Owen, Chandra Bocci and C+. They hold up and need to take it to the next level.

So go see it. There are some truly excellent surprises and more of them in this giant 110,000-square-foot warehouse space than in the overly stewed Biennial. There is definitely room for both shows; they provide nice contrast. Guenther shows the Zoo what professionalism looks like and the Zoo gives the museum a kick to the crotch regarding how adventurous media = a challenging show that doesn't patronize its audience.

Who stands out and why?

Gessert's "Edward Steichen."

For one thing, there is innovative media here. For instance, George Gessert's experiments in plant genetics have yielded a flowering plant of his own design. Talking to this interesting fellow, I was forced to consider this genetic tinkering an art form. In fact, the flower is named after Edward Steichen, one of the fathers of photography.

Steichen was also an early proponent of plant genomics as an art form.

Of course, this ran into some taboo fallouts after the Nazis' efforts came to light and only now has the stigma been overcome by an understanding that genetic manipulation is just another tool for artists.

Still, I find critiquing a flower difficult. It is beautiful and the bluish-purple petal pattern is memorable, but unless this thing opens its mouth and says "FEED ME," I'm going to have trouble evaluating it. Maybe the field is too young, but somehow I get the nagging feeling it's the evaluation that makes something art. Maybe the naming of the plant and its correlation to visual characteristics is a good place to start, but I'm going to have to meditate on this challenge before I decide. I love this sort of problem.

It's comforting that there are other, more traditional categories at the Zoo as well.

Dionysian edginess; the Zoo has it?

Rosson: edgiest of the Zoo.

Keith Rosson is the edgiest and tautest graphically oriented artist in Portland. Thus, when he hits one out of the park (which is often) you do not forget it. He has a great gift for displaying pathos and grim gallows humor.

Yet the "laugh from fear" joke is often based on a very common subject, as evidenced in his "I Give You Five Days." I think most smokers know all about this mis en scène, but here it is horrible, comic and poetic … a graphic novel in one frame. Oh yes, Rosson often shows at Zeitgeist and is legally blind.

Rosson's work gives the Modern Zoo teeth capable of drawing blood in the Dionysian mode. His work has appeared in Thrasher magazine but he needs something higher profile than his excellent show at Powell's to move to the next level.

Ahren Lutz's "Last Supper."

Rhoda London is another pathos trafficker. But while her "The War Room" was good, it lacked immediacy befitting the subject.

Erik Redetzke's "Increase Responsiveness" reminded me of Francis Bacon's "Screaming Popes" meeting Max Beckman's tuxedoed portrait. There is tension there, but it seems a bit forced. This work needs to take a quirkier turn.

Ahren Lutz's "Last Supper," depicting death row inmates with their last meal, is also excellent.

In particular, I like how the space he chose looks an awful lot like the blank institutional spaces in a prison: art by lethal injection. Still, the installation would have been more successful if the paintings had been human-sized, thus more effectively standing in as surrogates for the dead men.

"The Bedroom Project."

Adventures in comfort

OK, I am a firm believer in intellectual hedonism and I very much liked the trend toward "comfort art" at this exhibition.

In fact, the most accomplished and satisfying piece in the entire show is C+'s "The Bedroom Project."

The project is a collaboration by five artists: Jesse Kaminash, Midori Hirose, Jonah Groeneboer, John Vanbeers and Jacob Sharff.

This installation is particularly successful because of the contrast between the curved, ambiently lit gossamer cave walls and the comforting recessed lighting in the immense row of gridded shelving.

This contrast of womb-like lightness next to the grid makes the space inviting and the strewn bedclothes and linens add to the effect greatly. In the grid section, there are intermittent dioramas of people's bedrooms. These dioramas are sweet but a little hard to see and instead I prefer the general effect to the details of this piece. Basically, the dioramas don't take anything away, but don't add anything, either. They need to be tailored to the overall mood.

Similarities to Ernesto Neto?

Maybe some drawings of bedrooms on translucent paper would have achieved a more integrated effect?

Still, the smell of fresh linens and the cozy surroundings transported me to a space that was obviously public but completely intimate.

It was well done and, even without tweaking, I think this stands up. Too bad it is so site-specific; it would wow them down at CCAC or Site Santa Fe.

It's not quite on the level of Ernesto Neto but it differs from him because it is a space shaper instead of a space dweller. The smell element is important in both cases.

One of the "comfy" C+ members, Midori Hirosi, also had a solo installation. Her soft sculptures, reminiscent of big mittens and fuzzy slippers, were wonderfully tactile. The "Tumble in the Grass" piece could be improved if it somehow felt inviting. Still, it did achieve its effect; maybe combining the soft sculptures with the tumble would have ignited even more adventures in arty comfort.

Brendan Clenaghen's "Peek a Boo Pink."

Brendan Clenaghen's works look smart. He is a purveyor of psychological comforts and desires, which could be agitators as well.

I suppose his superior craftsmanship is what makes Hirosi's "Tumble" piece look a little undercooked and unfinished in comparison.

Yet the work is at times a bit too methodical. Despite this, Clenaghen's "Peek a Boo Pink" is enticing and I like how its little pink balls pop off the surface, threatening to invade space.

That tension is good but one grows weary of it after seeing four or more of them, since each has the same gimmick.

Eventually each of Clenaghen's works will have to become more individually memorable if he is to pull off a signature piece that will get him a shot at national acclaim. From a distance, his shows lack punch and that will hurt if he doesn't address it. He is one of the brightest players in town but needs to add more moves to round out his game.

Another comfort piece is a video installation called "The Snug" by Emily Henderson and Molly Roth. Their room is outfitted with nice white linen sheets and one had to take their shoes off, like in a James Turrell piece. The very pink video cast a nice glow on the whole place. Eventually we see that it is an out-of-focus rose. OK, I need something more here, but the contemplative Zen mood is a definite plus. Maybe if the space were actually more snug I could cuddle up to this?

Chandra Bocci's "Genesis, Gummi Big Bang."

The undervalued power of charm and grace

Predictably, Chandra Bocci's "Genesis, Gummy Big Bang," consisting of fragrant gummy bears and worms, takes top honors in this category.

In many ways, I see this piece as Bocci learning a few tricks from Matthew Picton and Bruce Conkle.

Bocci adds seductively sweet fragrance ala Conkle and the translucence of Picton to give this work serious visual heft. Conceptually it is a bit light other than as her typical critique/celebration of consumer culture, emphasizing the sugary and waxy over something more visually nutritional like Breugel's intense morality plays. Still, by virtue of its inventiveness, her work has many parallels to Hieronymus Bosch, whose apocalypse scenes were anything but sweet.

Klee's "The Golden Fish," a masterpiece in charm.

Maybe that is her point; maybe by treating such material as light we fail to see its aggregate seriousness and potential for compounded mass culture apocalypse?

In the end, I think we have to see Bocci as we see Paul Klee: an inventive virtuoso whose wit and delivery redeem capricious dalliances with charm.

Bocci's Best Coast piece, "Swarm," showed her darker, more poetic side; this is her seductive and charming side.

In the end, the sheer success of how it looks and smells makes this exciting and something new from her.

Owen's "Cling" (detail).

Another charmer is Melody Owen's "Cling," with its two rings of suspended hummingbird feeders. It traffics in similar territory but is more stoic than the Bocci.

The two rings of attractive sweetness probably are an analog for a couple, and one could ask if they are attracting other potential mates by virtue of being a couple?

Nineteenth-century painting considered birds as a sign of infidelity or liaisons; does Owen suggest the same?

On the other hand, is "Cling" the fear of such temptations?

Cecilia Halinan's "Cake" painting and seat traffics in similar territory, but lacks the excitement of Bocci and Owen's work. Maybe if the cake was more than a painting, which its thick pink impasto seems to suggest, then I could enjoy this more. Instead, it looks like a lesser Jules Olitski knockoff.

Geharter's "100 handmade wax figurines coming out of a hole in the wall."

Conversely, Camille Geharter's "100 handmade wax figurines coming out of a hole in the wall" is visually very nice but somehow lacks the conceptual rigor to explain this installation. Yes, it is vaguely surreal and I suppose it is craft-oriented, but I need more.

Still, it looked cool.

Please develop this further; right now it is just a conversation piece and I really hope it is not a comment on the art scene emerging from a hole in the wall.

Bovee and Blanc's "Under a Pink Sky."

Clinical conceptual

Bovee and Blanc's "Under a Pink Sky" wins praise in this area, since its clinical nature avoids becoming an exercise in tired postmodern alienation. Instead, it is an interactive information center.

This artist team also gets points for convincingly reconfiguring a very badly stuccoed corporate room with a rollercoaster of blue graphic hills and a pink sky.

On one side of the room a sparse, feathery curtain of pink bars floats, giving scale to the room. It also keeps things from feeling purely graphic and cold, since it sways with the foot traffic and air currents in the room.

There are also two computers; one has a program that randomly picks photos stored online. What is interesting is how the model chosen (a semi-pro Nikon model) produces a certain demographic of photos depicting upper-middleclass children and scenes along with some very professional shots. The artists explained how it would eventually randomize the camera makes and models. Right now, the pink sky is the canopy for an upper-middleclass theater. Still, it's fascinating.

Musical station

The second computer terminal is a musical interface where a trackball allows the participant to create some blips and sounds … this needs a few more parameters and sounds to make it more of a serious instrument.

What is exciting is the expectancy this room creates. The pink sky indicates a responsive future, not some alienated postmodern fog.

I also liked the Pete McCracken installation, "Artist," which consists of David Eckard allegedly living in this space for the duration of the show. Of course, he isn't actually living in there full time. Does that diminish his artist cred?

Not really.

What I really liked is how people had scrawled messages on the windows and Eckard had started to play violin (badly). Ooooh, a Jack Benny reference; now that is truly sadistic! Whips, chains and farm implements are unpleasant in such an expected way, whereas violin takes about five years to play in any tolerable fashion. Eckard is not even close to year five. The subtext is that eventually the annoying sounds will turn to sweet melody. Nice touch! Did Eckard or McCracken think of that part?

As a baby Dickson probably looked like baby David Hasselhof, shown here.

Andrew Dickson did a project photographing people who are told or think they look like "Famous People."

I'm sure it is an interesting psychological study during the process, but the final Polaroids are a bit unsatisfying … or maybe that is the point; celebs are pretty dull.

Someday everyone will have to realize fame is dull, and second-hand fame is a kinda sadistic back-handed compliment that lacks even that dullness.

Then again, I like to tell people I look like Jeff Goldblum because I once got someone to shoot the milk they were drinking out their nose when I said it.

I think Dickson, who is very bright and droll, made an insightful film about people deceiving themselves. The partial self-denial, partial self-importance is so common, but nobody ever discusses it. The film should be like a series of honest but delusional screen tests. We shall see when the film is finished?

Star and Snellman shake another one down.

Another team, Natasha Snellman and Cynthia Star, created an interactive project called "New Friend." They were trolling about the place dressed in matching pinstriped blazers that made them seem like a couple of real-estate agents who also did Robert Palmer videos. OK, that's good.

Although they were really overly insistent that I go through their "New Friend" interview process, I declined. They did not want to take "no" for an answer.

… So why, O great trier of new things that remind one of Robert Palmer, did you not subject yourself to this very clinical friendliness, you ask?

Basically, it was a time issue and the fact that I had already infiltrated their office, which once probably was the domain of some mid-level manager. In it, I found their "friend" questionnaires, where you fill out your sign and choose between the Loch Ness monster or a giraffe, etc. Cute …

I also found Star's credit card number (which I put under some other materials … geez, be more careful) and a map. It seemed to me like Lucy's "psychiatric advice" from the Peanuts cartoons; a clinification for something one naturally goes about getting. In this case, friendship.

In fact, the two were quite zealous about getting me in the hot seat, but I felt no real desire to take part in an exercise of dominance (not dissimilar to a job interview) and subjugation in the guise of friendship and art.

Rock'n ... terrible...

The two also had individual projects. Snellman created a similarly cute and very controlling "Meditate Here" outline to sit in and Star's "30 foot earthworm" was quirky if a tad underdeveloped. Those individual projects were more inviting but came off as private tangents and obsessions that had little appeal for me. I think Star's paintings in the Biennial are more open-ended and interesting.

In the end as two conceptual artist-atrixes, this team needed stronger presentation and their ideas seemed too cute, just like my Robert Palmer video fixation.

No way I'm not gonna claim that Robert Palmer/'80s music weakness is art. To compare, Dickson's "Famous" project revealed a lot more about the participants, and that level of revelation makes it more successful.

Bowie's untitiled '70s fetish freakout.

Hip to be hip?

OK, there was lots of hip work, but was it original? No. Did it get anyone laid? Maybe. OK, I can't fault that; it does add some energy to the place. I mean, did the Biennial really get anyone laid?

Thus, I liked some of the Lab's work, but only "A Day at the Dog Park" by Chris Rhodes and Tom Ghillarducci pulled everything together. Their dog park shook dog figurines back and forth so they could navigate an inclined maze. Really, who can resist a diorama with doggies? Once again, I have to wonder about the conceptual heft, though.

Chas Bowie's untitled installation of photographs on horrible '70s paneling at least had the whole presentation-thing down. The photos have the quiet and stoic look of cigarette ads as well as some nice Western scenes of old '70s cars. Really, can we let the '70s die? I remember them vividly, but I'm not going to subject you to stories about my banana-seated red Schwinn stingray bike!

Damn hipsters … the overall effect of the dime-store frames and '70s subject matter clustered on terrible paneling became something of a tiki totem to me … warding me off from the '70s. Like that fount of wisdom Don Henley sings: "don't look back / you can never look back." Oh well, if you aren't original you might as well become a '70s nostalgia hipster.

Physical conceptualism

The Zoo was rife with work that at least addressed the physical – something Matthew Barney, Richard Serra, Jessica Stockholder, William Pope L. and Mariana Abramovic have brought back to the fore.

Jen Rhoads' "The Drawing Annex."

Red 76's "Ministry Of Small Things" included lots of physical stuff. My favorite was Jen Rhoads' "The Drawing Annex."

Rhoads is an impressive artist and by simply setting up an annex studio space away from her already excellent Project Room 1 space she makes an excellent study of the physical space artists need to work in. Her paper pieces reminiscent of Malevich and Richard Tuttle were evocative, well done and, frankly, a cut above most of the crud many galleries tell us is excellent geometric abstraction.

I know better, you know better, so check her out!

By setting up a studio, Rhoads got right at the crux of physicality: making work. In this case it is very good work.

Red 76 also had an interesting pink box, into which you could feed questions and it would spit out an answer. I remember doing this in fourth grade, which is not necessarily good, but not necessarily bad, either. Still, I needed more than a pink cardboard box.

Duford's physicality in evidence.

Other physical conceptual moments were Basil Childers' "The Long View," which chronicled Chris Swain's swim of the Columbia River. David Eckard's "Miracle Boy" was another well-done installation, highlighting masochism, narcissism and farm implements; once again, he gets points for carrying off a largish installation.

Nearby, Daniel Duford's "Monument to the Overland Dead" had a nice mural but, somehow, the shattered golems looked like leftovers.

In addition, if I didn't know any better, I might mistake Duford's installation and Eckard's as being by the same artist – once again as a curatorial rule, keep somewhat similar artists separate from one another. Sarah Wolf Newland's work was also very well crafted.

But it came off just a tad too focused on craft because everything had such tame, well-behaved coloring.

I also liked Zefery Throwell, Chris Rhodes and Libby Beaman's massive "Belt Runner" contraption painting.


Lastly, Rose McCormick's "Belly" lived up to its name … the black concentric floor circles on white and gray certainly gave the impression of being in the navel of something. The ceiling was nice, too, but the walls did not get anything but lines and suffered. Maybe if the walls became rounded ... that would make the space seem more belly-like.

There was also a sound element that came from things being released from large chunks of ice. There was an occasional "sploink" sound of a sphere being dropped into water or a crash of something liberated from the ice hitting metal that would interrupt the experience.

It was generally cave-like, but needed to emphasize that effect with the walls – especially considering the sound element.

Painting = Snoring

Northwest Abstraction: put a fork in it.

Yes, there were many paintings. But most tended to be dull or so typical that everyone but Lutz and Rosson looked a bit backward-thinking. The Northwest Abstraction show proved why some think the galleries here are dull.

Except for Judy Cooke and James Boulton, all I saw was fourth-generation abstract expressionism, and since I am into the first generation, I find this stuff hard to take seriously. It replaces the risk of the first generation with the dull craft of the local. Blah … I'm serious about abstraction having new life these days, and almost all of this work is too traditional or formulaic to meet my standards.

It's notable that the most curated portion of the Zoo fails so thoroughly. Real curation means comparing and contrasting works. This is just comparing comparable works, which is the Biennial's downfall as well.

Like I say, we've moved beyond that. And that means one-, two- or three-person shows with some depth.

E-mail Jeff at pivotofjade@hotmail.com, don’t miss his recent columns and be sure to see his April 2002 essay, Art and Threat: Untaming Humanism.

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