CRESTING THE HORIZON
For four decades artist Lee Kelly has filled Portland’s public spaces and private gardens with huge, totemic works of welded steel. But his work has never enjoyed the respect of a retrospective. On October 2 at the Portland Art Museum (and November 4 at Elizabeth Leach Gallery), Kelly will finally arrive, not just in style but in scale. Anchoring a 50-year look at his paintings and sculptures will be Memory 99, his never-before-shown, 10-by-20-foot, COR-TEN-steel Goliath set to dominate the museum’s sculpture court. Like recent mammoth works on display by the late minimalist Sol LeWitt and Spaniard Jaume Plensa, chief curator Bruce Guenther says that Memory will redefine the museum’s space.
"Lee is rare among Northwest sculptors for always working beyond his arm’s length," says Guenther. "He’s pushed the limits of materials, space, and technique to build Big Things that become part of the world."
Kelly shrugs at others’ notions of his grandness; he’s still figuring out how to install the several-ton Memory without marring the museum’s marble floors. "I’m 78," he laughs. "As an artist you get used to your life being an open book."
Make that an open local art history book. Kelly says he learned a "reverence for sculpture" during his ’60s-era studies with Portland State University’s classically inclined Frederic Littman and "how to handle women and drink" from the decidedly modernist Pacific Northwest College of Art teacher Louis Bunce. ("He taught in a wonderful way," he quickly qualifies. "It’s just that a lot of it was in bars.")
Ever-grinning Kelly and his outlook seem ageless. "The times ?have never been a problem," Kelly chuckles. "I’ve never made much money. Bad times are no different than when times are good." —RG
SHOWS TO KNOW
THE ART GYM AT MARYLHURST UNIVERSITY
Sept 14-Oct 27 Album In this group exhibition, a cadre of renowned Oregon painters, sculptors, and photographers cast their collective gaze—at each other. Former PNCA teacher George Johanson, conceptual photographer Marne Lucas, still-life painter Sherrie Wolfe, and multimedia artist Melody Owen are among those depicting their fellow artists. Tue-Sun noon-4. B.P. John Administration Building, Third Floor, 17600 Pacific Hwy, Marylhurst University._503-636-8141
Sept 11-Oct 16 Henk Pander: Mary Alice Paintings At age 72, this Dutch-born and classically trained painter continues to add to a powerful artistic legacy. Having often reveled in the dramatic and, frequently, the dour, here Pander reveals a lighter, brighter touch in a series of paintings of his granddaughter Mary Alice as both subject and inspiration. Fri-Sun noon-6. 8371 N Interstate Ave. 503-913-6884
ELIZABETH LEACH GALLERY
Sept 2-Oct 2 Justine Kurland: This Train Is Bound for Glory Yale-educated photographer Kurland explores the idea of freedom through icons of Western expansion-trains, hobos, hippies, and assorted unbridled spirits that once populated the landscape. Portrayed with a mythic edge in her trademark gritty romanticism, Kurland’s work seems to pose the question: is freedom still an option or merely folklore? Tue-Sat 10:30–5:30 & by appt. 417 NW Ninth Ave. 503-224-0521 —JC