There are many spaces to enter into Emily Counts’ current series Form Factor on view at Nationale. An abundance and diversity of patterning, vibrant color choices, textures, and unusual forms, make this work an ever-unfolding visual playground.
Remastered, composed of multiple stacked ceramic forms, reveals Counts’ ability to manipulate her materials in such a way that elements made from the same stuff appear completely different from one another in weight, shape, and texture. At the very top of the work sits a rectangular cube that, because it is only attached to the form below on one side, appears to be flying off of the sculpture. Its placement, as well as the soft pale green hue and uneven lined texture, gives it a nearly weightless quality. It appears as light and delicious as a marshmallow.
Remastered, as with many of Counts’ sculptures, feels like a life force. With each element making up the entirety of the organism, it holds the presence of a living thing. At its base are an array of small ceramic objects, each one different in shape, texture, and color. They peek out from beneath the large blue and red perforated rounded form, which sits under a shiny brown thick pancake shaped piece. Nearly at the top of the sculpture rests a rock shaped object painted to resemble the patterning of Counts’ childhood living room rug.
Initially, the work appears to be precarious, as if the bottom pieces which seem so small and fragile are being crushed by the weighted stack above them, but it is actually these small works that together have the strength to hold up the heavier parts. Similar to the piece at the top of Remastered, the bottom elements, which are surrounded by negative space, give the work an unexpected levity. It is this confluence of solidity and lightness that circles back to the idea of a living form. As with the human body, gravity equals presence, and lightness implies the ability to move freely. We can imagine Remastered continuing to grow and evolve, and with Counts behind the curtain making the magic happen, who knows what is possible.
Nationale is thrilled to be part of Art Passport PDX, a new initiative by Portland artist/writer, Jennifer Rabin to get people into galleries and demystify the art buying process. We have put together a collection of work all under $1000 on our website (under COLLECTING). See you tomorrow night for the launch party at Blue Sky Gallery (6–8p.m.)!
Loved re-reading Emily Counts' artist notes for her current exhibition Form Factor. Throughout the month, we will share some of her influences and inspirations for this new series, starting with Isamu Noguchi and his playgrounds. Enjoy!
Join NXT LVL (pronounced NEXT LEVEL) for the after party for Stand With Native Nations - National Solidarity Gathering *OREGON* on Friday, March 10th (9 p.m.–2 a.m.) at Jade Club (315 SE 3rd Ave.)! This rad event features: DJ Kathy Foster of the Thermals, Gila River Monster, DJ Dirty Red, with Live Performance by Burial Ground Sound, Fish Martinez & Kunu Dittmer.
Proceeds benefit the Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women, Water Protector Legal Collective & Portland Menstrual Society. $5-$20 sliding scale (cash only at the door).
Over the years we’ve had many friends and visitors to Nationale tell us that they are interested in starting an art collection but are unsure of how to start, what to buy, and if they have enough funds to be an art collector. These conversations and THIS insightful article by Jennifer Rabin on collecting local artists (gotta love the headline: "skip the second latte (or fourth beer) and buy a fucking painting"), led us to our inaugural Young Collector Event last week.
Current collectors, budding collectors, and artists, gathered for a lively evening in the gallery featuring work by over 20 artists. This one night salon style installation was meant to provide a survey of the breadth and depth of the work we show at Nationale, and to set the stage for the evenings' conversation.
May (Nationale Owner/Director) started the conversation off by sharing her art collecting journey. She also brought the first piece she ever purchased and the most recent work she collected. Coincidentally, both pieces were purchased from coffee shops, which is a great tip for those collecting on a budget, as many coffee shops show wonderful emerging artists with work available at an affordable price point. Perhaps the main takeaway from May’s story was that art collecting is deeply personal for her. She buys from a very intuitive place; when she has an emotional or even physical reaction to a piece, she knows she must take it home.
Writer, artist, and visual arts enthusiast, Jennifer Rabin, was our guest speaker for the evening. She continued the conversation with Gabi (Nationale’s Assistant Director), sharing her childhood memories of her grandfather’s collection. Jennifer also spoke about her own strategy for collecting, which is to set aside $100 a month towards buying art. Sometimes she spends it on one $100 piece, other times she saves over months to collect something at higher price point. She can do this because many galleries, including Nationale, offer payment plans, easing the financial burden of collecting. Jennifer reminded us of the importance of collecting local artists because it keeps our visual arts community vibrant. With nine galleries closing in Portland last year, it is vitally important that we work together to support our artists and the galleries that show them. Who wants to live in a city with no artists and no galleries?!
The conversation with Jennifer blossomed into a great dialogue with the audience. Among the many thoughtful contributors were: Kirk James, art collector and owner of a local design and branding agency, who spoke about his experience collecting and the importance of visual art in his life; Libby Werbel, curator/founder of Portland Museum of Modern Art, who reflected on how we can bring more people to galleries, especially recent Portland transplants; and Stephanie Chefas, who shared her experience as a fellow gallery owner in Portland.
Thank you to all the artists and friends who attended this inspiring evening! We hope to continue the conversation with more projects and events in the near future. If you are interested in being involved please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, we encourage any budding collectors to sign up for Jennifer Rabin’s innovative new program, Art Passport PDX, which gives you a great excuse to visit eight galleries in Portland (including Nationale) and enter to win $1600 to spend on art. Sign up on their website HERE. Pick up your passport at the launch party on Thursday, March 16 (6–8 p.m.) at Blue Sky Gallery (122 NW 8th Avenue). If you can’t make it to the launch, come by Nationale any day after the 16th to pick up a passport!
Taking a moment to acknowledge our incredible team of women on International Women's Day.
This year's campaign is Be Bold For Change, and well, we've got you covered!
Thank you to Amy Bernstein, Emily Counts, Carson Ellis, Lou Ennis, Gabi Lewton-Leopold, Elizabeth Malaska, Corey Mansfield, and Emma Weber. It is such an honor to work everyday with such beautiful brains! ♥ May
Nationale was proud to be part of Alter Space's Mind Control, an alternative art fair which took place in San Francisco this January. Featuring Elizabeth Malaska's No Man's Land and a bold statement from the gallery artist.
This collaboration was part of the Manifesto Wall—a wall featuring paper statements on the state of the US right now, created by participating galleries and artists from across the country. Shout-out to Quality Gallery in Oakland for their manifesto: Quality is a gallery in a living room because there aren't enough spaces and places to support the visual arts without pressure or money incentive to succeed. Quality loves you.
Nationale is excited to host a special friends & family event in celebration of Jon Raymond's new novel FREEBIRD (Graywolf Press). Join us on Tuesday, March 7 (7 p.m.) for a conversation between Jon and fellow Portland writer, Peter Rock at Nationale.
Jon Raymond in Conversation with Peter Rock
Tuesday, March 7 (7 p.m.)
3360 SE Division St.
Portland, OR 97215
Jon Raymond is the author of Rain Dragon and The Half-Life, a Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2004, and the short-story collection Livability, a Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers selection and winner of the Oregon Book Award. He is also the screenwriter of the film Meek's Cutoff and co-writer of the films Old Joy and Wendy and Lucy, both based on his short fiction, and the film Night Moves. He cowrote the HBO miniseries Mildred Pierce, winner of five Emmy Awards. Raymond's writing has appeared in Tin House, the Village Voice, Bookforum, Artforum, and other publications. He lives in Portland, OR.
Peter Rock has published eight works of fiction, most recently Klickitat. He lives in Portland, OR with his wife and two fierce young daughters, and teaches writing at Reed College. His novel-within-photographs, Spells, will be published by Counterpoint in April. The adaptation of his novel My Abandonment, directed by Debra Granik, will begin filming in Portland this Spring.
With more than 30 contributing artists, "Text means Tissue" is the accompanying publication to Francesca Capone's solo exhibition, currently on view at Nationale. Please join us at Nationale this Sunday, February 26 (3–5p.m.) for the release & reading. Come help us celebrate this extraordinary project and see the show one more time!
Readings by: Francesca Capone, Patricia No, Anahita Jamali Rad, Alayna Rasile Digrindakis, Catie Hannigan, and Molly Schaeffer.
Thank you to all the contributors: Alexandra Barlow, Anna-Sophie Berger, Jen Bervin, Amaranth Borsuk, Tess Brown-Lavoie, Charity Coleman, Corina Copp, Elizabeth Crawford, Alayna Rasile Digrindakis, Ricki Dwyer, Catie Hannigan, Marwa Helal, Emily Hunt, Lucy Ives, Rin Johnson, Mariette Lamson, Sophia Le Fraga, Monica McClure, Helen Mirra, Katy Mongeau, Kristen Mueller, Vi Khi Nao, Patricia No, Antonia Pinter, Anahita Jamali Rad, Emmalea Russo, Molly Schaeffer, Martha Tuttle, Rachel Valinsky, Cecilia Vicuña, Rosmarie Waldrop, Tali Weinberg, and Laura A. Warman.
Gallery artists Amy Bernstein and Carson Ellis are honored to be included in the ACLU of Oregon's Art Auction at their Liberty Dinner this Friday, February 24th. For more info on the Liberty Dinner, please follow THIS LINK. And for those attending, be sure to raise those paddles to support a more than worthy cause: civil liberties!
Artist, writer, and textile designer, Francesca Capone shares her thoughts on her solo show at Nationale, Text means Tissue.
Gabi Lewton-Leopold: This new body of work (exhibition and book) Text means Tissue, your 2015 project Writing in Threads, and 2012 publication Weaving Language all explore the relationship between weaving/textiles and language. When did this conversation between two seemingly disparate forms begin for you?
Francesca Capone: I started experimenting with weaving and writing during my time on the Jacquard loom at RISD. I began exploring how the repeat function of the loom could affect the metrics of the poems I was writing, and my framework for working in this way began. In 2009, I started interning and studio assisting for Jen Bervin, who has worked with text and textiles for many years, and whose thinking deeply influenced me. The more I reflect upon this question though, the more I start to convince myself that it's actually ingrained in me, as well. In the house I grew up in, my great-grandmother's ruby pink embroidered Italian alphabet sampler takes a prominent space in the kitchen. My mother makes fine leather gloves for a living—gloves, this particular garment that clothe the hands, which are so deeply emotive of language. I've found that expression through textile is actually a part of my family history, though I came to it on my own.
GLL: The two most recent projects, Writing in Threads and Text means Tissue involved many collaborators—for the former, writers responded to your work and with this current series, writers responded to the question you posed about the connection between textile, language, the body, and femininity. I imagine that weaving in the studio is a solitary exercise and that making a publication with many contributors is a welcome counter. Can you talk about why collaboration is important to you?
FC: That's very true. I don't want to be a lone weaver speaking only to herself. In my experience, the best art happens in the push-pull of dialogue. I want to know what other people think, how they feel, I want to feel challenged, comforted, and inspired. I want to make work that is generous, and share the opportunities I have to create platforms for the work of others, not just my own. Collaboration always makes things more interesting, and the more I involve my community, the better the work is. I feel so fortunate to know so many talented artists and writers, and being in conversation with them drives the work I do on my loom.
GLL: Looking back at your weavings from Writing in Threads (shown at 99c Plus Gallery in NYC), it seems that you've moved towards a more focused, pared down direction in both form and color. In Text means Tissue, you take the form of the written page as a starting point to develop your imagery. How do you see the weavings from these two series as connecting and diverging from one another?
FC: I made two weavings inspired by the aesthetics of the written page in 2012 while I was at the Haystack residency, and then put those ideas aside until most recently. These two weavings were a jumping off point for my formal choices in Text means Tissue. In 2014, while I was working on Writing in Threads, I focused on generating a wide variety of woven forms, fibers and colors, since those weavings would then be "translated" by different writers. I tried to create aesthetic diversity for the written outcomes. So the work didn't really evolve in the way that the Text means Tissue work did, because I was always trying to make something completely different every time. With Text means Tissue, the intent was to create weavings with a similar process to how I might sit down to write something. I wanted to create the experience of being in front of an empty page, with just my mind, and whatever was passing through it. It's quite a meditative task. I'd start weaving a blank substrate (usually in a white, black, or ivory yarn—neutral or "blank" colors), and wait to see what passed through my mind, and then record it in the weaving. One formal objective I kept in mind while weaving was empathy, creating spaces for the eyes and mind to rest. The back and forth of the lines that appear in this work is inspired by boustrophedon, which is the form that western writing took before there were spaces and lines as we now know them—this occurred in Ancient Greek, among some other languages. Boustrophedon means "as the ox turns," and it is a natural conceptual and formal fit for the movement of a woven line.
GLL: I love the material choices in these works. You go from super natural fiber, non-dyed cotton to very "futuristic" appearing materials—reflective thread, metallic cord, and Mylar. How did you come to combine these materials in your work?
FC: Material choices are a kind of vocabulary. Weaving can have a misconception of being an antiquated craft, but it's really just like any other medium—there's always new ways to reinvent it, and make it feel relevant for today. Through my commercial work in the textile industry, I'm exposed to the newest innovations in fibers as part of my day to day. Weaving with the materials that have come on the market more recently makes me feel connected to this moment in time. I especially love mixing old and new, and finding ways to integrate the futuristic stuff with other fibers that are tried and true, like wool and cotton. Our culture is all about new new new, but really it's impossible for all objects to be new—the new objects just layer onto the old, and I find this strange and fascinating.
GLL: You have a chair in the exhibition that is a collaboration between you and furniture designer, LikeMindedObjects. For me, this piece is a reminder that textiles are often functional. Do you often make functional weavings? How do you think textiles change when given these different contexts and purposes?
FC: Though I have designed functional textiles, the chair is really the first that I've handwoven. There's something really special about it I think—and it was palpable through the whole process. My interest in making the chair was purely conceptual. I wanted to create a situation where the idea of a textile supporting a body was conveyed quite literally, since a big part of the show was exploring ways that textiles have supported the lives of women. I felt really connected to women's history as I was weaving it. I was reminded of women in antiquity, and I was humbled by the consideration that before the industrial revolution, there was a cotton industry of women in America who hand wove fabric for sheets, clothing, dresses, pants—everything. I wove fabric on an enormous AVL loom during a residency at A-Z West in Andrea Zittel's weaving studio, accompanied by two other weavers, Ricki Dwyer and Elena Yu. It took me three full workdays of non-stop weaving to make the fabric for the chair. I used a flyshuttle to efficiently weave 60 inches from selvedge to selvedge, a swinging the shuttle for every pick. Nowadays, nearly all fabrics are made by mechanical looms. It's easy to disregard labor when something is machine-made, making textile objects feel disposable, not at all precious. In contrast, it feels really special to sit in the chair, since it was woven with the same amount of care, time, and thoughtfulness as the weavings on the wall. I really hope that people feel connected to Elsie (LikeMindedObjects) and I when they sit on the chair, and I hope they feel supported.
GLL: The notion of design and functional objects also reminds me of your day job as a textile designer at a large sportswear company. Can you talk about how these worlds collide in your daily life and studio practice?
FC: My studio practice and my commercial work are pretty separate, most of the time. As I mentioned before however, my awareness of contemporary material culture is heightened because of my commercial work, and this undoubtedly influences my palette of yarn choices. My studio practice is driven by my personal experience, my relationships with other poets and artists, and my conceptual interests in language and textile. In contrast, my commercial work really has nothing to do with me as an individual, aside from harnessing my ability to research, my taste in textile, and my technical knowledge—it's more about the consumer that I am designing for. It's almost like using two completely separate parts of my brain, and as time passes, it's become much easier for me to switch gears. I think the way that I use my hands really helps define my studio practice—I touch every thread of every weaving that I make and I push type around in InDesign to carefully make the book—it is all very slow-going, a lot of thoughtfulness and time goes into it. My commercial work takes great focus, but it happens in a fast paced, collaborative design environment, and then the fabrics are all machine made, so the processes and outcomes are significantly different. I think there's a lot to be learned from trying to distinguish this space between art and design, personal work and commercial work, and I find opportunities for intersections to be challenging and exciting. I think that is why the chair is my favorite piece in the show, it raises a lot of questions in this arena.
GLL: This may sound a bit off topic, but I'm so curious about how you organize your time! You are so insanely productive and driven, working in many different arenas—weaving studio, book designing, writing, and working a demanding day job. How do you stay focused?
FC: I think for this show I might have pushed my multitasking to the limit! I was pretty reclusive for about 6 months, so I could get all the weaving and editing done. Really it comes down to awareness of the limited hours in the day, and attempting to divvy it all up into everything you want to do. It's exhausting to burn the candle at both ends, but I've been fortunate in that both ends of the candle are interesting to me, so it feels good. I think the desire to keep making keeps me focused.
Gallery artists Amy Bernstein, Emily Counts, and Elizabeth Malaska all have work in Oregon College of Art and Craft's upcoming Art on the Vine auction supporting student scholarships. The official auction is April 8th, 2017 at the Portland Art Museum, but this coming Sunday, January 29th (2–5pm) there will be a preview party of the work included in the auction at OCAC's Hoffman Gallery. More details can be found HERE. If you can't make it Sunday, no worries! The work will remain on view until February 4th.
Hoffman Gallery, OCAC Campus
8245 SW Barnes Road, Portland 97225
Back in early December, gallery artist Carson Ellis approached me to see if we could help her with an idea she had: she had just finished her family's holiday card and thought the design would make an amazing poster. Since the elections, she'd also been wanting to do a benefit for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Putting the two ideas together, together we produced ONWARD, silk-screened locally here in Portland. The first run sold out in just a few days raising $5600.
The experience of producing Onward with Ellis led to many sleepless nights with fast running thoughts about the state of the world; the madness & challenges of running a small art gallery in Portland, OR; and on a more personal level, what I love most doing: working with inspiring artists whose work is not only beautiful but also thought provoking.
And so with the second printing of Carson's Onward, we launched Le Oui, an offshoot of Nationale. The first batch of prints sold out within a few hours on Inauguration Day, but you can sign up to be on the alert list HERE (leoui--001 will always be an open edition so we can raise more funds for the ACLU).
With Le Oui, our goal is to closely collaborate with established and emerging artists to eventually release limited edition silkscreen prints and donate part of the proceeds to organizations fighting for social justice and equality.
Seattle friends! Check out Migratory Paths, a group exhibition featuring work by gallery artist Emily Counts and curated by Julie Alexander at the Tashiro Kaplan Lofts. The show features four Seattle-based artists whose work is "tactile, object based and engages the viewer’s body." Exhibiting artists include: Emily Counts, Marisa Manso, Tuan Nguyen, Dori Scherer. Gallery hours and more info can be found HERE.
Upcoming hours are:
Open hours: Friday 1/27 and Saturday 1/28 from 12-4pm
Open for the First Thursday Art Walk 2/2, from 6-8pm
Closing reception: Saturday Feb 4th from 12-3pm
Tashiro Kaplan Lofts
300 South Washington
Congratulations to gallery artist Carson Ellis for her recent Caldecott Honor for her amazing book, Du Iz Tak?. The Caldecott is an annual honor awarded by the Association for Library Service to Children, part of the American Library Association, recognizing the "most distinguished" picture books for children. Here's what they had to say about Du Iz Tak?:
A diverse community of anthropomorphic bugs is intrigued by an unfurling sprout. Carson Ellis deftly depicts the mysteries of life in an imaginary, natural world. Through intricate details and the witty humor of a made-up language, “Du Iz Tak?” is a treasure trove of visual and linguistic literacy.
Follow THIS link to read about Carson's fellow honorees and the Caldecott Medal winner. Congrats to all!
We encourage you to turn the TV off today and visit art galleries, museums, libraries, and bookstores at a time when culture & education are so important. Nationale will be open regular hours from noon to 6pm on Friday. On Saturday the gallery will be closed so we can attend and support the Women's March.
Please join gallery artist Elizabeth Malaska and Nationale Assistant Director, Gabi Lewton-Leopold for a PADA panel discussion alongside: Stephanie Chefas, gallerist; Rory ONeal, artist; Michelle Ross, artist and teacher; and Peter Simensky, teacher and artist at Blackfish Gallery. The panel will be discussing important questions surrounding emerging artists in our community, such as: What are the forces shaping the development of Portland's emerging artists? How do arts professionals in Portland negotiate the trick dance between creativity and commerce?
Saturday, January 21, 2017
420 SW 9th Ave
The talk is free and open to the public!