We were thrilled to see our current exhibition by Sarah Mikenis in print this week in The Willamette Week (The Five Art Openings We're Most Excited to See This Week, Shannon Gormley, July 4).
Nationale proudly presents a flash exhibition of Emily Counts’s newest work, as well as a special musical event: Party Store performs with Super Mode!
Super Mode is an interactive sound sculpture by Emily Counts recently shown as part of Sonic Arcade at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York City. It consists of a walnut wood box topped with ceramic objects that trigger individual sound samples when pressed downward. Illuminated windows in Super Mode allow the user to view the interior mechanics and wiring of this piece. Programming and circuitry design by Andy Myers and sound samples by Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe.
Emily Counts was born in Seattle, WA, where she currently lives and works. She studied at the Hochschule der Kunste in Berlin and the California College of the Arts, where she received her BFA. Her work has been exhibited in Portland, OR, at Nationale, Carl & Sloan, and Disject; in New York at the Museum of Arts and Design; in Tokyo at Eitoeiko and Gallery Lara; and in California at the Torrance Art Museum, Garboushian Gallery, and Mark Moore Gallery. Counts was an artist in residence creating work for associated solo exhibitions at Raid Projects in Los Angeles and Plane Space in New York. She has received grants from the Oregon Arts Commission, the Regional Arts & Culture Council, and The Ford Family Foundation. She is a member of SOIL Gallery in Seattle, WA, and is represented by Nationale in Portland, OR. / IG @emilyraecounts
Party Store is a lo-fi ambient project by Seattle musician Josh Machniak.
On view: April 21–April 22, 2018
Opening reception: Saturday, April 21 (6–8 p.m.) with a 20 mins performance at 7 p.m.
Jake Manning takes us into his creative world, for insight into his first solo show at Nationale, Guests of Space.
Paul Maziar: In The Myth, the guy with boots seems to disappear/into the weight and powder of the birthday cake. Given the spacey background (nothingness) it's both hilarious and bleak, right? How might tragicomedy figure in your work?
Jake Manning: I’ve always had a dry sense of humor, even a little twisted. I think I’m dealing with serious subject-matter, but it’s kind of hard for me to fully express that sort of thing. Humor, using cartoon imagery, myths, fairytales — those things are a vehicle for me. For instance, it used to be that when a country had been invaded, they would save vital cultural information by storing it away in fairytales. Fairytales are also full of promise, the ugly can become beautiful, the frog can become a prince.
PM: I wonder about time-travel in your practice: going back to the earlier periods of your youth while you’re painting.
JM: For these paintings, I’ve been going into a certain mode. I’m prone to periods of preoccupation — when I was young it was sports, playing basketball, spending hours on end at the gym. I’m slow to process whole periods of my life, like ten years behind or something. So I’ll begin to process that period of time, and search for meaning in my life. Like, “I do all that for nothing?”
In my early-twenties I started watching films, kind of obsessively — multiple films a day, etc. When I started painting, I’d been absorbed in film this way for over ten years. I started asking myself “what am I really doing here?” Feeling like I needed to figure something out, I started painting. Almost immediately, I realized that I was processing all these films from that specific period of my life. I would go through all of my favorite movies, scene by scene and take photos of my favorite scenes. I didn’t think about why they stuck out to me, I just took them. I started doing all these paintings of particular scenes, and it was eery to me because these scenes were so telling the story of where I was in my life during those exact moments. For example, at that time I was feeling pretty isolated, and like I needed to be something that I wasn’t. Through that process, I was able to access things that I’m not able to in ordinary day-to-day life. Intuitively, I’d been selecting imagery that aligned with deeper things I’d been experiencing. Trusting intuition had become super important to me.
PM: This makes me want to ask about the Butterfly Man — a leitmotif in your paintings, and also the gnome-like figure that recurs. You had said something in the studio about a figure that grants admission to the past, a kind of spirit of the past. Is painting those forms a way to summon these deep subjects and memories?
JM: Kind of. I tell little stories in my paintings. I’ll start intuitively, and imagery will spring up that I don’t really care all that much about, so I’ll paint or scrape over it, repaint, etc. Here’s the interesting thing. Say I start a painting and I’ll want it to be a certain thing — the Butterfly Man is a good example. I’ll begin, and come to a point where it’s just not working for whatever reason. So I’ll get rid of it, painting and repainting… but eventually, I’ll come back to that initial imagery, but in a totally different form that’s more in line with what I’m trying to do aesthetically, in the language of painting. It’s interesting to me that that happens. I’ll also sometimes feel guilty about staying in the past so much.
PM: Why guilt?
JM: I think it’s because of all those sayings, you know: “don’t look back,” or “get over it,” etc. But I think there are things to be worked through from the past. Sometimes, I’m just trying to figure out why I’m so pissed off.
PM: So is that one reason you might invoke happy things from childhood, like the boots that you loved wearing as a kid?
JM: Yeah, I’m always trying to keep a balance. If I start to go too dark, I’ll lean on what’s funny. Or cutesy.
PM: What about your huge pink painting with the pony, Trojan Horse?
JM: The paint in that one is applied very gently, with dry brush, and I used marble dust, which is this powdery substance. It’s like I was applying makeup. It created a haze, a kind of softness to it. It’s the same sort of haze as going back in time, and also learning to trust intuition. It’s a hazy process, especially at the beginning. I sort of equate that with digging around in the past, to try and figure things out. It really is when the body comes into the process: learning to trust if something resonates with you, by creating a dialogue with your body.
PM: Sometimes people will call for representational art, something that’s more obviously from life. But sometimes, I can see life in certain pieces of abstract art, just as readily as a human form or a face. The super abstract element of that painting — there’s so much life in that. In such a way that it’s almost an experience unto itself.
JM: That’s what I want to. During my BFA, I was painting pretty abstract. It was the first time I was able to work out of a studio, with a lot of space. I knew that I was just going to use a LOT of paint, and I was going to use my body. I wanted to depict space, without the illusion of veils of paint.
It’s embarrassing to say, for some reason, but going to see the Rothko paintings at the museum was one of the most moving experiences. I wanted to hate Rothko — there was that huge exhibit in town and everyone was like “oh, yeah, I went and cried…” But my friend and I went to see the show, and ended up staring at one of his all-black paintings. I locked into the surface of the painting, and all of a sudden it started to move. I was seeing purple and white emerging out of the back of it — it was so trippy. I realized later that it was probably just because it’s a huge black painting and my eyes were adjusting to the darkness. But I felt tricked by that a little bit. At the time, I wanted it to be something else…
PM: Did you cry? [laughter]
JM: I didn’t cry, but we stood there for half an hour just staring at that one painting. During my BFA, I wanted to make these space paintings. I was telling myself that I didn’t want to create an illusion — I wanted the paint to be thick and loose and messy.
PM: It’s funny then, that this show is called Guests of Space. Because it’s that space you were working with before — or at least similar — but now with all these figures and forms, landscapes: your “guests.”
JM: Yep. But I think there’s still a part of me that wants to do these large paintings that are more like an experience. Washes of pink light and stuff like that. But I’m also not quite there yet, and I feel like there’s too much imagery floating around in my head. I was a TV kid. My sister says that I would just often be found just sitting, staring at the TV. My mom says that she walked in once to find me kissing the TV. I was really into it. I feel like I have to work through all that imagery.
PM: I think it’s a great idea to obey your mind in that way. Your body, too. It seems like you’re really in touch with yourself and psychic needs.
JM: Painting helps with that.
PM: I gotta get painting then. To get back, why do you like to go rooting around in the past?
JM: With painting, I think I always feel like I’m trying to get to a place where I connect with people. I’m always running that through. Dealing with emotion through painting has been really interesting to me — it has really anchored my life in a way. It definitely helped me process difficult things. When I went under hypnosis, it was such an interesting experience because I was lucid. The most profound experiences prior to that were more psychedelic. Those experiences were profound but also kind of scary, dealing with lots of primal imagery like serpents and stuff like that. To this day, snakes are a primal fear for me. I grew up close to a lake in Texas with snakes all around. So, I’d gone to get hypnotized to try and quit smoking, and it ended up being, basically, a trip through the past where I revisited certain unnerving events. In hypnosis I was able to enter these kinds of moments and calm my child self down. That’s where the butterfly comes in. It’s like a symbol, it represents a journey to a particular time in my life, like the ghost from christmas past.
PM: Why do you think that the snake has always been such a prominent symbol?
JM: I think it’s a really primal thing that appears to be negative, but that needs to be confronted. It’s a transformative kind of thing. I think that’s what's supposed to happen, but doing that is a different story.
PM: So you believe that fears should be faced, dealt with.
JM: Yes, for me it is important to try and face my fears, but I always have to remind myself to be patient and gentle and use the tools that I have worked on with my therapist — otherwise it is easy for me to feel overwhelmed.
PM: I’ve been feeling like the times we’re living in really require us to be doing that. I mean, I’ve been feeling that pull in my creative practice. Do you feel that engagement in purely aesthetic exercises is sometimes being replaced by a concern… or work that engages with what’s happening to people, and making connections to that?
JM: It’s a real cut-the-bullshit kind of time. During recent times of social upheavals, I’ve reflected in my studio, asking myself “what the hell am I doing?” I’ve been stern with myself about my work, kind of saying “in order to make art during this intense time, I’d better be honest and serious about what I’m doing.” There’s no posturing during this time. Brutal honesty, raw. That’s why I’ve been working this way, representationally. Get it all out. In a way, it’s what we have to do.
We were thrilled to see (and read!) this in-depth, The Creative Chronicle interview with gallery artist Emily Counts. Counts talks about her creative process, the crossover between her art practice and her jewelry line, St Eloy, and the importance of community. She also presents her latest piece, a sound & light sculpture which will be part of Sonic Arcade: Shaping Space with Sound at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York this fall .
With their bright and attention grabbing colors, Arrington de Dionyso’s paintings command the room and demand full attention. His largest, and most populated painting, Untitled II, depicts a Hieronymus Bosch like gathering of fantastical looking humans and animals.
Each of the elements in this painting have an extra-ordinary quality to it; a woman with wings sits casually on the shoulders of a tiger, snakes slither through the limbs of several sleeping humans and dragon-like winged reptiles fly through the jet black background. Though the clash of human and animal is often one depicted as one ending in violence, de Dionyso reverses this narrative to create something that is much more calm and serene. The figures in his scene are coexisting together; they have learned to create a community where, despite their obvious differences, man and creature can cohabitate within the same space.
This is emphasized further by the dark and barren background which forces the viewer to focus solely on the figures in the foreground, and thus brings out the vibrant secondary colors prominent throughout his paintings. De Dionyso’s works have no obvious center. Each figure is treated with a carefulness and an equality of detail such that no character becomes more prominent over the others. The equality of imagery ultimately presents itself to create a sense of an egalitarian utopia within the small world that de Dionyso creates. —Sarah Isenberg
Nationale is pleased to now carry Disjecta's The Portland2016 Reader and Catalog, a beautiful publication which is presented in an etched case and features gallery artist Amy Bernstein (in conversation with Emily Bernstein and Julia Calabrese).
Established in 2010, the Portland Biennial is a major survey of Oregon artists who are defining and advancing the state’s contemporary arts landscape. Building upon the success of its predecessors, the Portland2016 Biennial was a two-month celebration of the here and now that showcased 34 artists at 25 partner venues in 13 communities across the state – the largest and most comprehensive exhibition of Oregon art ever. It was curated by Michelle Grabner
Artists included: Avantika Bawa, Carla Bengtson, David Bithell, Pat Boas, Mike Bray, Bruce Burris, Julia Calabrese & Emily Bernstein, Cherry & Lucic, David Eckard, Tannaz Farsi, Jack Featherly, Howard Fonda, Julie Green, Midori Hirose, Jessica Jackson Hutchins, Colin Kippen, Anya Kivarkis, Michael Lazarus, Charlene Liu, Giles Lyon, Ellen Mcfadden, Whitney Minthorn, Donald Morgan, Brenna Murphy, Julia Oldham, Rebecca Peel, Lisa Radon, Jon Raymond, Jack Ryan & Chi Wang, Heidi Schwegler, Rick Silva, Storm Tharp, Weird Fiction, and Ryan Woodring.
Also available on our WEBSHOP!
Emily Counts is exhibiting this summer alongside Ligia Bouton, Kate Clements, Emily Nachison, and Judy Tuwalestiwa in the exhibition Transformations at Bullseye Projects in NW Portland!
From the press release:
Bullseye Projects presents a group exhibition exploring themes of personal, natural, and metaphysical change.Transformations will be on view June 21 – September 30, 2017 and will open in conjunction with BECon 2017, Bullseye Glass Company’s biennial conference.
Mysterious in its creation, common in its application, and utopian in visions of the future, glass is rife with cultural, scientific, and metaphysical meaning. The glass we encounter is largely comprised of sand, soda ash, lime, and metallic oxides. These minerals are combined, melted and then cooled into a myriad of forms. The recipe is millennia old, but retains much of the magic that likely accompanied its first discovery. Sand is transformed into glass; it is a transformation that borders on the alchemical. A common material is made into something new with unique qualities that require a new category of matter: amorphous solid. Artists Ligia Bouton (New Mexico), Kate Clements (Pennsylvania), Emily Counts (Washington), Emily Nachison (Oregon), and Judy Tuwaletstiwa (New Mexico), approach glass from diverse perspectives, but it is transformation – be it through meditations on mortality, adolescence, fantasty, or the spiritual - that draws them to this material and connects their work.
300 NW 13th Avenue
What goes on after an orgy is not something many of us have, or will ever experience. This mysterious scenario is the setting for William Matheson’s painting, After the Orgy. The long, vertical painting focuses the action at the top third of the canvas with two figures crouch together, hands meeting, perhaps in an act of exchange. Lying nearby are two animals, only halfway visible, a coyote or dog, and a ram, only identifiable by one curved horn. A leg also juts out into the frame with a flaccid penis resting on its thigh. An object, a painting palette rendered in various grey hues hovers directly below this scene. The bottom two thirds of the painting is occupied by a field of yellow, like a bleak and hot desert landscape. Towards the bottom of the frame another leg, this time from the calf down emerges. Both legs serve to remind us that more people, although not completely visible, are involved in this story.
After the Orgy is a work interested in framing, in revealing just enough information for a narrative to begin to unfold without telling the full account. The grey painting palette is an outlier in this narrative. Without it the work tells the story of another place and time, perhaps an ancient one in which animals and humans co-exist in a special way. The fantasy of a post-bacchanalia scene is complicated by the palette, which refers back to the very act of painting and the painter himself.
From the gallery desk, Nick Norman’s carved wood sculpture Humanoid Table appears to be just a thin, bright pink neck and bulbous head floating in space. The sculpture’s face emerges from the nothingness—red snakelike tongue slithering out, green ceramic eyes, and ears like chunks of molded shiny pink bubble gum. Each month this seat forces a frame around the work on view, obscuring the majority and focusing on only a fragment. Humanoid Table, like many pieces that have occupied this view in the past, has become that prized visitor who keeps the gallery sitters company. It offers a place for our eyes to wander and find respite from the computer screen, but it also only lets us in on part of the story.
The sculpture takes on new life and meaning when seen in its entirety. No longer just a detached neck and head, Humanoid Table, is exactly that, a table. In fact the only human quality to the piece is the head and neck—the legs have no feet, and the table top is a flat slab. These attributes also make it a very functional object; for this exhibition it’s used to display two small ceramic sculptures also by Norman. Although Humanoid Table is far from human, it does illicit issues surrounding labor and oppression. This is in contrast to Norman's other humanoid sculptures which function as vessels—vases don't imply the same exertion of energy in the way tables do. What would it mean to use this table in your life, to bring it home and eat off of it, or place heavy objects on its back while the eyes stare out blankly? The human quality of Humanoid Table is perhaps most present when we see it as a piece of furniture working hard for its human owners.
Today is the LAST DAY to get your Art Passport PDX stamped and turned in to one of the eight participating galleries for your chance to win $1600 to spend on art! We've had such a wonderful time being a part of this innovative program developed by the amazing Jennifer Rabin. Thank you to everyone who has come through our door and engaged in thoughtful and inspiring conversations about art! We look forward to congratulating the big winner!
Gallery artist Emily Counts is part of a summer group show at the new Seattle gallery, Strobel & Sands alongside Royce Allen Hobbs and Jessie Rose Vala opening on June 17!
From the press release:
Strobel & Sands’ second exhibition, Reinterpreting the Object, explores the dynamics of sculpture in relation to the viewer through varying degrees of abstraction, conceptualism and craftsmanship. Many of the works in the exhibition are recognizable or reminiscent of a functional object that has been rendered useless. Emily Counts, Royce Allen Hobbs, and Jessie Rose Vala each present a distinct path to examining the relational and aesthetic nature of sculpture.
Reinterpreting the Object
Emily Counts, Royce Allen Hobbs, and Jessie Rose Vala
June 17 – July 22
Opening Reception: Saturday, June 17, 5-8pm
Strobel & Sands
Corner of 35th Ave W and Emerson St.
Magnolia, Seattle, WA 98199
In June 2007, I installed my first show for Stumptown Downtown. More than 100 exhibitions later and having worked with almost as many artists, it is no understatement to say that this responsibility & privilege has had a strong impact on me. From inspiring me to open Nationale in 2008, to shaping some of the most important relationships in my personal and professional life, this has been quite a journey. While thinking back on this ten year span, one during which the Portland arts ecology has changed so much, I invited ten painters who’ve all had solo exhibitions at the café during that period, including gallery artists Ty Ennis and Jaik Faulk. With The Community—a title borrowed from Jon Raymond’s collection of art writings published last year by Publication Studio—I hope to present a survey of sorts. A glimpse into what it has been like to meet these artists and experience the work they all make, after clocking out at their day job(s), and that they share with this ever changing community. Given the simple assignment to render some kind of bouquet on a 40”x30” piece of unstretched canvas, they all went into their studios to do what they do best: paint.—May Barruel
The exhibition is on view through July 11, 2017 at 128 SW Third Avenue, Portland, OR.
Join us at Nationale this Sunday, May 28 (doors at 5PM, performance at 5:30PM // FREE) for a special performance of Apparatus, the latest work by choreographer Danielle Ross in collaboration with Stephanie Lavon Trotter (voice), Chloe Alexandra Thompson (sound), DB Amorin (video), and performers Claire Barrera, keyon gaskin and Simeon Jacob. Beginning with an exploration into social feedback loops and identity construction, Apparatus is (currently) an attempt at performative mirroring, a vulnerability game, a rant, and a dance about the crossroads of self-through-self’s-eyes and self through the eye of the other.
Apparatus will be performed in its final phase in July 14-16, 2017 at Disjecta.
We know how inspiring our artists are but it's always so lovely to randomly find them mentioned on the internet and to see how much they mean to others, too.
Gallery artist Amy Bernstein featured on AfterAll Studio's #FEELTHISLIST !
Amy photographed in her SE Portland studio by Simon Metcalf earlier on this year (©2017)
Congrats to gallery artist, Carson Ellis on her E.B. White Read-Aloud Award for her children's book, Du Iz Tak? ! This charming tale has received much well-deserved recognition and we're thrilled to add this most recent honor to the list.
Please join us on Wednesday, May 17 (6–7:30 p.m.) for the print release party and closing reception for Annie McLaughlin's solo exhibition, Brushing Out the Brood Mare's Tale. Annie collaborated with Nationale's offshoot project, Le Oui to create a unique, limited edition silkscreen print.
For this piece, we wanted to keep some of the elements from the current series of paintings and also play around with the more abstract images & ideas found in Textures of Paradise, the artist book accompanying the exhibition. As with our other Le Oui releases, 10% of the proceeds from this print will benefit a non-profit organization. Annie has chosen to support the Center for Reproductive Rights. If you can't join us on May 17, you can now pre-order this limited edition print HERE.
Annie McLaughlin shares some insights into her second solo show at Nationale, Brushing Out the Brood Mare's Tale.
Gabi Lewton-Leopold: When I look at these paintings, both as separate pieces and as a series, I think of storytelling and folklore. This comes through both in the subject matter that hints at folktales—coyote, rocking chair, smoky chimney—but also in how you use the paintings to tell stories. Often you give the viewer a closely cropped (Fire, Place; Wild Country Chimney in Yellow) or partially concealed view (50% Visibility, 100% Shangri-La), as if to just show one sliver of the larger story. Can you share your thoughts on storytelling and narrative within this series?
Annie McLaughlin: This work is very much about stories and storytelling as subject matter—the way that objects, symbols, spaces, conjure images and meaning within the larger complex narrative of culture and histories. Perhaps there are falsities in the stories, or perhaps the falsities just contribute to our larger understanding of things. This work was specifically about the idea of paradise in America, lots of perspectives and storytellers and folklore come into play within that narrative, some of them problematic, but nevertheless an important piece of context and meaning.
GLL: You took a long solo road trip through the American SW not so long ago. How did that adventure impact your work? Do you see those experiences as shaping this current series?
AM: Yes—that was the larger narrative myth I pulled from here. The folk, the rural, the artist moving to the countryside, the romanticization of rural space or country dwelling that one expects to find. I did a lot of "sifting" to find those tropes. Which is to say they're present, but they aren't the only pieces of the pie. I kind of set out to look at the American West and the craft tradition but ended up relating all of the imagery to "paradise thinking," the oasis, the pastoral haven, and all of the aspects good and bad that come with that.
GLL: I'm curious about your use of texture and patterning, which you explore in all of the paintings. The book that you produced in conjunction with the series also plays with texture and the different references that can emerge within a single painted surface. For example you write in the book, "shaggy carpet or moss or a curly haired canine" followed by a drawing that could be the surface of any of these things.
AM: The texture speaks to different things to me. I think in one way I see it as the texture of the mind's eye, the fuzziness of romantic memory, something that lacks clarity. I also see it as a celebration of paint, or the painter and the painter's role in contributing to the myth of paradise: Arcadian bathers, the exotic, the simple life utopia, and so forth. There's a long tradition in painting with that.
GLL: There's also a lot of play and humor alive in this work. Especially in the rocking horse sculpture, which appears to be all together usable until you get closer and see that it is just one slab of wood, and would be oh-so-painful to ride. I also love the title of that piece: Thank You So Much for the Rocking Horse It Really Means a Lot to Us. What are your thoughts on humor and play within your work? Do you see it as a welcoming entrance point?
AM: Yes! Humor is my favorite tool, I suppose. Especially in discussing history, complex myths, and cultural narratives. The subject matter for those things (especially in America) can be really heavy—humor for me can be a really great entry point in sparking a narrative.
GLL: There's a small painting in the show of a rock that looks a bit like a potato with a little family of smaller rocks nearby. The title, The Brief Moment in the Long Life of a Rock When It Lived in a Garden Belonging to Someone, got me thinking about the absurdity of human ownership over nature. It also conjured the simple fact that the natural world came before us and will outlive us. This painting feels like a comment on the serene domesticity of the majority of work in the show—perhaps a comment on the idea that these worlds we build for ourselves to feel safe and have purpose are actually so fragile and insignificant. What are thoughts on this piece and the title?
AM: I'd say that's pretty solid insight into that painting! I have this amazing favorite rock. It's this kind of pink toned aggregate stone that I found at a river in Southwestern Colorado. I picked it up and brought it into my life then, and as a possession it feels so important to me. But the thing that always comes to mind is how that rock, which I love so much and tend to think of as "mine," is probably the oldest thing in my house (along with my other rocks), and will likely outlive everything I see and know of. To me that painting grounds the work. It serves to remind us that the narrative and cultural meaning is constructed, much like the rock garden, and that in time when everyone and thing is gone, the rock will remain, and however inanimate, will inevitably be the wisest of them all regardless of whether or not there's someone to acknowledge it as such.