This weekend is your last chance to immerse yourself in the lumber room’s exhibition, Interior Margins, featuring an intergenerational group of some of the Northwest’s most skilled women artists. Originally conceived during an eight-hour dinner party consisting of some of the artists, Lumber Room founder Sarah Miller Meigs, and Reed College Cooley Gallery curator Stephanie Snyder (one of our 50 Most Influential Portlanders), this is arguably the most thoughtful exhibition of the region’s art in a very long time.
The abstract work filling the lumber rooms beautiful loft space is uniformly strong and evocative, though sweeping in its range. There’s the seeming weightlessness of Victoria Haven’s spare Oracle photographs of geometric sculptures made by linking nail heads with rubber bands, where the pure white wall disappears in the photos, leaving only the crisp black lines of the bands and nails and the blurred black lines of their shadows as they seem to float and fold in on themselves. Then across the room is the deceptive denseness of Blair Saxon-Hill’s installation of burlap that has been coated in dry plaster and concrete and then draped on a wooden block leaning against the wall. Titled What that Entails, and What Comes After, the varying shades of gray and softly sifted concrete powder clinging to the burlap give it the appearance of the hides of office buildings that have been skinned, tanned, hung, and scraped by some stalker of skyscrapers. There’s the brightness of Judy Cook’s Chord 1 and Chord 2, like the abstraction of a crossword puzzle, to the darkness of Kristan Kennedy’s E.G.S.O.E.Y.S., where ink and gesso on linen pull you in and coat you like the swirling iridescence of an oil slick.
At last week’s talk, a couple of the artists, who have also been volunteering to staff the exhibition, described watching the art transform over the course of the day as the light streaming through the Lumber Room’s grand windows changed. We only wish we had a day to sit and watch quietly.