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Art event hits 20 years

Latest lineup brings whalebones, chiffon and Panthers
by: COURTESY OF BLUE SKY GALLERY, Carl de Keyzer’s gulag travelogue of Siberian prison camps is on display at Blue Sky Gallery, including this look at a bread-and-sardine lunch at a camp in the Krasnoyarsk region.

First Thursday in Portland is 20 years old this month.

It may not look that different on the surface (sunshine brings out as many people looking for free pinot or a new friend as are looking for livable art), but it means a lot to the 12 galleries that make up the Portland Art Dealers Association.

At Mark Woolley's home base in the Pearl, he's taking a risk on a final-year painting student at the Pacific Northwest College of Art, Miles Cleveland Goodwin. It will pay off. Goodwin, 26, is a marvelous oil painter who manages to mix classical figuration with surreal narrative in a brew that stays just this side of whimsy.

His show 'Masquerade' contains paintings such as the Bruegelesque 'The Trail of Tears.' Here a drummer leads a masked piper, on twiglike stilts, who looks like he's riding a hobby horse. Part of the horse's body is visible in the background, fading to invisibility at the hindquarters. The ground is a kind of bleached limestone, the sea in the background bristles with shark fins.

Goodwin says he works from visions he gets in his head, then tries to figure out what they mean later, as in dream interpretation.

Another work, 'A Final Song,' he says is more premeditated. It shows a minstrel above a mob of Venice carnival characters, with a Chinese lion in the background, rising above what Goodwin calls 'the black line of humanity.'

So what the hell's going on? Pondering this question, and looking over the lovely surfaces, is a pleasant experience.

First Thursday reception 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Oct. 5; regular hours 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, through Oct. 31, Mark Woolley Gallery, 120 N.W. Ninth Ave., Suite 210, 503-224-5475, www.markwoolley.com

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Belgian photographer Carl de Keyzer visited 35 of the 135 prison camps in Siberia and brings back a treasure trove of documentation.

The inmate population of 970,000 contains many petty criminals but few of the political prisoners the gulags were built for under Stalin. If you're thinking of a career of petty crime in the former Soviet Union, think again.

First Thursday reception 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Oct 5; regular hours noon to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, Blue Sky Gallery, 1231 N.W. Hoyt St., No. 101, 503-225-0210

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Although cultural businesses on the bus mall have a doomed feel to them (especially in Old Town), Rake Gallery is alive and kicking.

October's show is a scoop - photos from the inside of the Black Panther movement (has it been 40 years already?) taken by Eve Crane. And what's more, Crane is Caucasian! 'A rat done bit my sister Nell …'

First Thursday reception 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Oct. 5, regular hours 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, noon to 8 p.m. Saturday, through Oct. 28, Rake Art Gallery, 325 N.W. Sixth Ave. 503-750-0754

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The excellent 'Alaska Now' show continues at Quintana Galleries through the end of October.

Works include the almost comic-book whalebone sculptures of Richard Olanna, including a 'Shaman Spirit Drummer.'

He uses large bones such as vertebrae or ribs, which resemble stone, and decorates them with walrus ivory and black baleen (the plates whales use to sieve the sea).

Aleut carver John Hoover, 87, displays his flat wooden carvings of birds and fish heads. He likes a whimsical title, such as 'Oh Boy It's a Goosta' and 'Puffin Totem,' a $10,000 hinged triptych. What are those chaps smoking up there?

First Thursday reception 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Oct 5 ; regular hours 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, through Oct. 31, Quintana Galleries, 120 N.W. Ninth Ave., 503-223-1729

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Pulliam Deffenbaugh's preference for obsessive, crafty abstraction pays dividends this month with the second Portland show by San Francisco-based Jen Pack.

Pack machine-sews together hundreds of strips of silk chiffon material, which she then stretches over frames. (Honest, they're not at all hippie-ish in real life.)

The pieces sit off the wall and allow for interesting light play between the seams and carefully chosen color variations.

Some material is sparkly, sometimes it has ruptures under stress, and some of the frames are rhombuses or parallelograms - welcome variations, all.

Pack, working on a larger scale than in times past, is hitting her stride. Apparently her studio is filled with washing lines from which hang fabric samples in rainbow sequence. They say her colored threads are well-organized, too.

First Thursday reception, 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., Oct. 5, regular hours 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, through Oct. 28, Pulliam Deffenbaugh Gallery, 929 N.W. Flanders St., 503-228-6665, www.pulliamdeffenbaugh.com

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Next door at PDX there's a new show of paintings by Jacques Flechemuller.

His dogs in silly situations are full-on whimsical at times, but there are more interesting works, too, such as one of a small girl covering her eyes, her other arm extended downward and pointing a gun at a cat sprawled on the ground. Who would not pay to see houseguests confronting that for the first time?

Brad Adkins, your time has come. The little bald guy is the hood ornament of Portland art (conceptualist sculptor, self-taught, from Montana), but he's far too amiable to ever be annoying. Now it's his first big show at a proper gallery. For which he delivers a white neon sign that reads BLACK BOYFRIEND.

'You can change how bright it is!' says Jane Beebe, Fan of Brad and gallery owner.

Adkins also is selling large photos of some balloon ends (more impressive than the objects themselves, but only just) and some other bits and bobs. Once seen, never forgotten.

First Thursday reception, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Oct. 5; regular hours 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, through Oct. 28, PDX Contemporary Art, 925 N.W. Flanders St., 503-222-0063, www.pdxcontemporaryart.com

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