June-July: ‘Urban Growth Boundary’ at Upfor Gallery


‘Constructs’ reviewed in Art Ltd.

“Constructs” at Disjecta Contemporary Art Center
by richard speer
Mar 2015

G.S.R.D. clay earth (for the pathways)
Nathan Green
Installation view
Photo: Evan La Londe, courtesy Disjecta

At 3,500 square feet, with a vaulted, 26-foot-high ceiling, Disjecta’s main exhibition space has both the advantage and liability of formidable scale. Curators often fill it to the gills with monumental work, commensurate with the enormity of the hall. This tactic, if obvious, can prove satisfying, as it did in 2008 when Damien Gilley enlisted artists Gordon Barnes and Shelby Davis to string up a full-sized replica of an Army tank and hang it upside-down from the rafters. More recently, this past autumn Rachel Adams invited Claire Ashley and Bahar Yurukoglu to install mixed-media behemoths resembling gargantuan plush toys, which dwarfed viewers. That installation, “Intimate Horizons,” marked Adams’ debut as Disjecta’s fourth annual curator-in-residence.

Now, for her third and latest outing, entitled “Constructs,” she takes a very different tack in confronting the space’s challenges. Adopting a minimalist stance, the curator has enjoined three artists to address the nonprofit’s walls and the walls only, leaving its vast middle completely bare. It is an inspired approach. Dallas-based artist Nathan Green contributes an abstract mural painting that wraps around a jutting corner; its straight lines and chromatic gradations painstakingly achieved via specially prepared paint rollers. The work has a distinctly Op Art flavor, mixed with evocations of Sol LeWitt and early Frank Stella. It agreeably boggles the eye without dominating the room’s overall gestalt. From afar, Mexico City-based Pablo Rasgado’s piece looks like a stripe painting but is revealed on closer inspection as disparate pieces of wallpaper and peeled paint, excavated from buildings he has visited around the world. Each thin vertical component has unique nuances of texture and color that contrast richly with one another. A Springfield, Oregon-based artist delivers the show’s one true bravura moment. Laura Vandenburgh’s wall sculptures of meticulously cut paper variously resemble webs, nets, and the warped Penrose diagrams that show how black holes distort space-time. Dazzlingly complex and immaculately pieced together, they deliver a genuine “Wow!”

In tandem, the artists’ works are dense in visual impact and direct the eye around the space with authority. Adams heightens the aggregate impact by leaving a large portion of the north wall blank. This absence feels perfectly placed; rather than seeming empty or unfinished, the visual hole contextualizes the entire exhibition’s counterintuitive take on “filling space.” This is a curator who understands that in a great hall—as with a glass of superlative wine—it is best not to fill to the brim.


Constructs: three person show at Disjecta

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work supported by a 2015 Career Opportunity Grant from the Oregon Arts Commission and the Ford Family Foundation


Constructs: Nathan Green (Dallas), Pablo Rasgado (Mexico City), Laura Vandenburgh

Disjecta, Portland, OR

Curated by Rachel Adams

The wall is far from a neutral zone. -Brian O’Doherty, Inside the White Cube

Constructs begins with the wall. Through the varied artistic processes of Nathan Green, Pablo Rasgado and Laura Vandenburgh, the wall becomes a forum for experimentation that highlights the architecture of gallery space. Neutrality within the gallery has long been a point of contention and exploration by artists throughout the last century. These artists include William Anastasi and his West Wall, Dwan Mail Gallery from 1967—an almost to scale painting of the gallery wall, complete with air vents and wall sockets. In his 2003 works Changing Space and Self Destructing Wall, Jeppe Hein altered the gallery space with movable, self-destructing walls. The artists included in Constructs further this tradition of engaging the wall as surface, object, and partner in the making of their work.

Constructs addresses the interactions between scale, architecture, and the body specifically within the Disjecta exhibition space. Laura Vandenburgh’s netlike constructions reference each other in pattern and color, exploring the specific relationship between wall and floor. They expand, contract, and breathe—allowing abstracted visual fields to materialize through the reflection and refraction of color. Nathan Green adopts the wall as his canvas, employing blurred roller technique to explore pattern and geometry on an expanded scale. Green’s painting technique is affecting—it instigates tension between the wall and the remainder of the space, and challenges the very intent of the architecture. His wall paintings cross the influences of Modernist painters such as Sol LeWitt and Frank Stella with patterns found in Op-Art, labyrinths and textiles. Pablo Rasgado mines the historical significance of structures by collecting various wall fragments on his international travels. Each artifact carries its own history that is then adapted through the artist’s own interaction with the site. His new work for Constructs is a collaged mural of the substrates he has excavated from walls throughout the world.

The examination and deconstruction of the wall and the creation of new work are intimately tied in this exhibition. The empty gallery is an elastic space, one that is in a continual state of flux. Constructs examines and adds to this flux through each artist’s site-specific work. The artists come together to build a “new” space that is the unification of painting, sculpture and architecture.

Program: PDF

Curator Rachel Adams and artist Pablo Rasgado discuss Constructs on Oregon Public Radio’s Think Out Loud  (January 19, 2015)

Hyperallergic reviews “Constructs” (February 18, 2015)


Rachel Adams is an independent curator and writer based in Austin. From 2010 to 2013, she was the Associate Curator of Exhibitions and Public Programs at The Contemporary Austin, curating a number of exhibitions and video projects, including exhibitions with Seher Shah, Amie Siegel and Ragnar Kjartansson. Prior to moving to Texas, Adams lived in San Francisco and Chicago, curating at Queens Nails Projects and David Cunningham Projects in San Francisco and co-directing Lloyd Dobler Gallery in Chicago from 2006-2008. Her writing has been included in Artforum.com, Arts + Culture Texas, Art Practical, Modern Painters, and Texas Architect. Adams holds an MA in Exhibition and Museum Studies from the San Francisco Art Institute and a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. More on the CiR program can be found here.



Wolkenschauen: group show in Germany


(‘to observe clouds’)

curated by Michael Jank
September 2014




Kunstverein Passau, St. Anna Kapelle:
September 18 – October 12, 2014

Grosse Rathausgalerie im Rathaus der Stadt Landshut and Neue Galerie im Gotischen Stadel auf der Muhleninsel:
October 17 – November 9, 2014

Just as artists at the beginning of the 19th century began to study clouds with a scientific gaze, so artists today, possibly as a result of perceived climate change, have become more intensely preoccupied by questions that play out in the sky above us. Demonstrated by the gaze directed upwards – mostly absent any landscape, in most various techniques, such as painting, printmaking, photography, video, sculpture, and conceptual art.

Landshuter Zeitung Wolkenschauen[1]

The participating artists are:

University of Oregon grants awarded

studioMay14In support of studio work in this year, I have received three recent research awards from the university:

2014 Fund For Faculty Excellence Award

AAA Jerry & Gunilla Finrow Research Award 2014/15

2014 UO Provost’s Creative Arts Fellowship