Greet new year with dark fairy tales
FIRST THURSDAY • Photographer Alicia J. Rose steeps stories in severed hearts, salt and kisses
Booker, photographer, accordionist - Alicia J. Rose is the ideal rather than the typical Portland artist, good at not one thing but three.
Rose's new show of sumptuous photographs re-imagines three of the Grimms' fairy tales, with the accent on the grim.
One shows Snow White holding a giant plush heart, presumably not hers. Another shows the woman who wanted to eat her heart out (the royal stepmother), surrounded by drag queens representing seven sins rather than dwarfs. Little Red Riding Hood sits with copious salt running though her fingers, the wolf lurking behind her shoulder.
When she's not booking bands at the Doug Fir Lounge, Rose shoots commercial photography, such as her 'Who's Your Dancer?' series for Oregon Ballet Theatre.
This series, however, she did for herself. It's art.
'I was obsessed with these fairy tales as a child, and when I went back and reread Grimms', I was stuck by how quite a few are remarkably twisted and remarkably poignant,' Rose says. 'They relate to children, ethics, sexuality … '
Modern takes on fairy tales don't go very deep for Rose. 'They are typically all springy and vanilla or overly dark and goth. Maybe I'm somewhere in between.'
She interprets 'Hansel and Gretel' as being about sexual awakening with an undercurrent of sibling incest, and was amused to make her models - a gay man and a lesbian (Jeffrey Poirier and Ericka Heidrick) who are roommates and good friends - kiss each other for the first time.
'These stories are morality tales,' she says. 'I think kids don't learn from smiley-face stories. These seem so much more like real life, and real life is (messed) up. Bad things happen every day.'
The salty Little Red Riding Hood shot is titled 'The Weight of Decision.'
'That one's about superstition - we throw salt over our shoulder when we spill some - and accepted social mores. So what do we do when the pile of salt is beyond our capabilities?'
Rose shot the images over three days in November at author Pennie Lane's farm on Sauvie Island, using her friends as models, with artist Annette Thurston as co-art director and Roslyn Barnfield producing.
The wolf, the queen and the witch (from 'Hansel and Gretel') all are played by Rose's pal Lee Kyle, aka Splendora and also a member of the Gender Fluids.
Much of the time it was wet and cold, but the clouds parted for 'Snow White.' Rose shoots on medium-format film and prints on an enlarger.
Her trademark is the long exposure, up to a minute, which burns in gorgeous skies such as the one in the poisoning section of the Snow White series. She uses a strobe (flash) to capture figures separately, moving them around during the shot.
'It's choreography, emotional choreography,' she says.
Ideally Rose would print the images twice as big and show more of them. 'I'm trying to make an image I can jump into. I want it to feel like I didn't even take a photograph.'
Of 500 shots, Rose was happy with 50 and is showing 20. (More of the photos are at www.flickr.com/photos/aliciajrose/sets ) See it.
First Friday reception 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Jan. 4, regular hours noon to 7 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday, through Jan. 28, Grass Hut Gallery 811 E. Burnside St., 503-445-9924
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Portland-born Chris Haberman has a master's degree in creative writing from Portland State University, and his paintings have wordy elements, with writing scrawled in between the cartoonish faces.
This is messy in a Mission School way, painted on found materials such as doors, signs and planks. It makes you think outside the white cube.
Haberman is quite the mover and shaker, and curates all over town, including inside City Hall.
Artist reception 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Jan. 12; regular hours noon to 6 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, Jan. 3 through Feb. 2, 23 Sandy Gallery, 623 N.E. 23rd Ave., 503-927-4409
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David Jonason is a former magazine illustrator living in Mendocino, Calif., who for the past 10 years has made a living painting interesting buildings in what he calls his 'Cubism Lite' style.
He took a trip to Portland for his wedding anniversary in 2006 and was taken by the city, and he pitched Bella Perla on a show. They went for it, and here it is.
'I usually do buildings from the 1920s to 1940s, or take a theme such as modernism or art deco, residences of the 1950s, or Pasadena bungalows,' he says.
Jonason came back in November 2006 and spent 10 days photographing Portland, then went home to make the paintings.
'Portland doesn't have a lot of great architecture, but it has a nice feeling, the relation to the river, so I ended up doing a lot more scenes than usual.'
His images of Union Station and the Japanese Garden have an outsider's eye for detail. Other influences include architectural-renderer Hugh Ferriss and the works of the Precisionist Painters, including Charles Sheeler and Charles Demuth.
Jonason's usual customers are architects, real estate agents and people interested in preservation. His work often hangs in offices and lobbies.
This is Jonason's first Portland show. He's 58 and says he's done the family and career thing. 'Now I'm just doing what I want to do,' he says. Traveling, painting, having fun.
First Thursday reception 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Jan 3, regular hours 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday, noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, through Jan. 30, Bella Perla, 327 N.W. Ninth Ave., 503-222-1862
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You can't go wrong with a bit of Henk Pander, and the senior Dutchman is back with a fine new wave of dramatic landscapes, still lifes and psychological tableaux - all in watercolor.
Pander's palette is muted and his lines are softer, but there's still the thrill of seeing what he'll pick as his subject matter, whether it be Oregon or Oregonians. He also was in Amsterdam in the summer, which shows.
In addition, there's a show called 'Burned and Bloom,' the ceramic sculptures of J.D. Perkin. He's influenced by yoga and meditation poses, and now he's interested in self-immolating Buddhist monks.
First Thursday reception 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Jan. 3, regular hours 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, through Feb. 2, Laura Russo Gallery, 805 N.W. 21st Ave., 503-226-2754