The Recycled Rain Project 2015

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We are excited to announce that Duplex is again partnering with the Recycled Rain Project. The concept is to expose new and upcoming local artists while highlighting simple ways we can rethink the way we use water.

Local artists created new and original work using collected rainwater as their water supply. A small group of featured artists are headlining the show this year: Felicity FentonKindra CrickDan NessHilary PfeiferShu-Ju Wang, and our very own Lindsay Jordan Kretchun!  The show kicks off May, 9th at 6pm and is on display through June 2015 at the Olympic Mills Building (107 SE Washington St Portland, OR 97214.)

The 2015 Recycled Rain Project is donating 20% of each artwork sale to SOLVE.

Follow the progress on Facebook.

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In the Studio – Jeremy Okai Davis

We caught up with our May artist, Jeremy Okai Davis in his studio space last week to talk a little bit more about painting, old photographs and basketball.

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Duplex: How did you make it to Portland?
Jeremy Okai Davis: My entire upbringing was as a basketball player, my whole family basically played ball, so I followed that path. That was first and foremost for me up until my freshman year in college. I got a partial scholarship to Brevard College right outside Asheville, North Carolina. I just kind of had, not a bad experience, but an eye opening experience that led me to the decision to focus on art. I realized I wasn’t going to be an NBA player and had to make a choice that would actually be sustainable as a career. I always painted or drew so I moved back to Charlotte and went to UNCC to join the art program. I graduated in 2002 and stayed in Charlotte for about six years. I had some shows, but was having a hard time finding an art scene that appealed to me, so I had to kind of make my own way. Similar to what I did when I first got here, I would show in random coffee shops, bars and diners. Really anyone that would let me put my work up. I did that for about five or six years and felt like I exhausted all my opportunities. I had a friend that lived in Portland. I visited once and fell in love with the city, so I made my way out here in 2007.

D: Did you struggle with the athlete versus artist identity?
JOD: I wouldn’t say I struggled with it necessarily. Sports at universities are a whole other world than in high school. There’s no way around that, so that was my only struggle, I had to make the choice and I chose art.

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D: You are obviously drawn to painting; do you work in other mediums?
JOD: When I was a kid I would draw all of the time, with my brother making up our own Transformer and G.I. Joe characters. I just kept it up as we got older. When I was in high school I had a teacher who was really open to letting his students do whatever they wanted. I was intrigued by painting, but really art in general. The idea that you could do anything you wanted to. I just stuck with that idea moving forward. As far as being solely a painter, I’m just really drawn to the medium and the flexibility it provides. I maintain a sketchbook that I draw in but rarely show that work.

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In the Studio – Intisar Abioto

IAInterview-5Intisar Abioto: I’m from Memphis, Tennessee, and I’ve been here for almost five years. I came here with my mom and my four sisters. I was out of college maybe a year, and at first we were going to move to California. But then somehow or another, we didn’t find what we wanted there and we ended up coming here instead. It wasn’t on the perspective of how people are coming here now. We didn’t know anything about this place really beyond that it had a lot of vegan food. My mom is a vegan food artist, so that was a draw. But yeah, that’s how I got here.

Duplex: Did you go to art school or did you go for something else?
IA: Yeah, in terms of school, I had an interesting school experience. I went to a boarding school in Vermont, which was kind of the opposite of Memphis. It was just on a farm, maybe 60 students in my class. And then after that, I went to a historically Black women’s college in Atlanta, Spelman College. I was studying English and Dance and trying to find a dark room. After freshman year, I transferred to Wesleyan University in Connecticut, where I studied also English and Dance. I didn’t go to art school; I went to liberal arts colleges and studied art. I started teaching myself photography when I was 14, so my three things are dance, photography, and writing. This whole visual art world, I didn’t so much learn it from the perspective of school. I just taught myself and read books, and took a few classes. It’s interesting. The way I learned art was both in the home and just learning. My father is a musician and an arts educator. My mom is writer and an attorney. The family is just very focused on civil rights and the history of the people in the African diaspora. In my home, as a child, and also just being around people in the community – dancers, musicians, storytellers, activists. So, I guess my arts practice, as it’s evolved, has been kind of an outpouring of that.

D: Do you see yourself as an arts activist?
IA: You know, I don’t see myself so much as an activist, but I see myself creating work around people and around the history and the present and future of people of the African Diaspora. Committed to that work of our lives and our dreams. So, a lot of my work stems out of that impulse for thriving and surviving. Actually, I want to say thriving, I don’t want to just survive. But I guess because my practices are interdisciplinary I feel like I’ve been working to make my form. Because it wasn’t always something I could go out there and find, seeing, you know, doing.

This is interesting to talk about because generally when people are asking these questions, they are asking me about my photography… but having a dance background where it is about my body… having an interest in writing and stories and myths. It’s really like a mash-up in an adventure that I’m making and you don’t see it out there made for you. It’s not like you can get people to co-sign, and be like, “oh, that’d be great to do.” You kind of have to just keep going a little bit and then through the process whatever person you are, whatever artist you are, becomes more real. Then people will see and then maybe like “oh, that makes sense.”

In terms of my practice, it’s very much about being a body in space. Allowing the information around me to come into my senses and also to craft a story from my body and from my dreams, from listening to the impulse of other people, and culture. The desire for culture or for dreams, not just what’s already available. So, that’s my impulse of like sensing things, this kind of embodied perspective because, this kind of embodied perspective of the photograph which is always some dream, some visual thing, and also a dance, which is also a visual practice. As a photographer, who’s moving around the space, that’s also dance. Sensing who could talk to me, who I could talk to, what the story is. And I’m probably still coming up with my own definition of what’s going on. Read More «In the Studio – Intisar Abioto»

Has he always been an old man, Wailing?

Before you heard any music you saw Charlemagne Palestine’s stuffed animal shrines, their votive candles providing the only light in Yale Union‘s long basilica-esque space. It was dark and eerie with the reflections of people  in the windows and the glittering eyes of the animals. People wandered from shrine to shrine, the children often skipped. Around 9’clock the performance began with Charlemagne toasting, playing, and drinking a couple cognac glasses before moving on to the piano.

I’ve heard my fair share of experimental music, especially on percussion instruments, but I’m no music critic so I’m quoting a friend here to back up my feeling that the work wasn’t the most challenging I’ve had to listen to, which isn’t to say it was bad. “He shares styles of minimalism, but he also carried a rhythm melody for most of it and he stayed fairly on key. Neither was there a lot of dissonance. In many way he resolved his melodic moments.” For me, the stuffed animals and the wailing were the most interesting bits. I also would have enjoyed it better if it had been billed less as a performance and more as an installation.

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As an installation the audience/viewers would have been more free to leave offerings at the shrines while his piano playing and wailing reverberated up and down the hall.  Instead there was a crowd of an audience in the chairs surrounding his piano, and it was obvious that people felt bound to the convention of not leaving in the midst of the performance even while others did just that. When I turned away from the tableau with about ten minutes left I noticed many people still in the hall, roaming the space and lounging about. They seemed to be having an entirely different kind of experience than what was possible by remaining tethered to the performer.

Afterwards I considered the stuffed animals, the votive candles, and the wailing. I wondered if this was a mourning of lost youth, an expunging of childhood demons, or an attempt to recognize the incomprehensible humanity of those youngest among us, skipping among the shrines.

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