With a Clear Mind: You Can Move With the Truth at The Lumber Room
The Lumber Room is giving Portlanders an exciting opportunity this weekend to see the work of internationally recognized artists outside of a museum context. In its closing weekend, With a Clear Mind: You Can Move With the Truth is a group exhibition showcasing six well-known contemporary artists from the Miller Meigs Collection. Pieces by Tacita Dean, Sol LeWitt, Agnes Martin, Chadwick Rantanen, Dorthea Rockburne, and Lynne Woods Turner strive to represent the simplistic through line, shape and space. Located next to Elizabeth Leach in the Pearl District, the size and versatility of the Lumber Room makes it a perfect venue to host this carefully curated exhibition.
Upon entering the gallery, visitors are greeted by Tacita Dean’s Still Life, a16mm video projection from 2009. It is interesting to see Dean’s work in such small scale, as my previous exposure to her work was FILM, a massive video installation piece that overtook the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern in London in 2011-2012. Still Life pays homage to late painter Giorgio Morandi, who used pencil markings to outline his compositions before creating them. Dean produced Still Life after photographing Morandi’s sketches at his studio in Bologna, Italy and rendered them into a continuous loop in black and white. The result is a captivating little piece that is strangely soothing. The visible projector produces a sound reminiscent of those heard on a sleep machine. As a viewer I was mesmerized by the subtle movement and change of the markings, and couldn’t help but linger a little longer than I should have. Dean’s piece serves as an intriguing gateway to the rest of the show.
Upstairs in the main gallery space are pieces from Lynne Woods Turner, Dorthea Rockburne, Agnes Martin, and Chadwick Rantanen. Though barely visible, my eyes were first drawn to LA based Rantanen’s mixed media piece Loop (Sweet Bambi). This piece responds well to the space by utilizing the gallery’s beams as its installation point. This decision created a defined outline in the middle of the room and served as a catalyst to break up the space.
(left) Lynne Woods Turner, Twenty-One Untitled Drawings, 2013(Right) Dorothea Rockburne, Indication of Installation, Hartford, 1973
Along the walls are Lynne Woods Turner’s Twenty-one untitled drawings. Using pencil and colored paper, the drawings explore line, texture, and the tranquility of geometric shape in a small 3x3 inch scale. In the series, the thickness and contrast of line changes slightly, and the shapes continually morph themselves into something else. These works take up two of the Lumber Room’s walls, while 30 framed screenprints by Agnes Martin are stacked in two rows on a wall of their own. On a Clear Day was created in 1973 and is a collection of grids in their simplest form. The boxes vary in number and size and took me back to the school days when we had to draw grids in math and science classes. The subtle changes in Martin’s and Turner’s series have a similar meditative quality to them as Dean’s video projection. It is easy for the viewer to digest this visual information, which I believe is part of this exhibitions purpose.
Tacita Dean, Still Life, 2009 via
A highlight in the upstairs space are two works from Dorothea Rockburne, Indication of Installation: Hartford, and Indication of Installation, Circle. The drawings are the only pieces in the show where color has a larger presence. Opaque dark blue shapes interact with those that are transparent, resulting in strong minimalist compositions.
Taking over the back gallery, Sol LeWitt’s Wall Drawing #109, originally from 1971, has been redone by Nobuto Suga, Lynne Woods Turner, Storm Tharp and Lumber Room founder Sarah Miller Meigs. This site-specific drawing uses 10,000 seemingly random lines to alter the perception of one’s environment. By following instructions from the artist, meticulous markings are carefully and precisely constructed, over lapping each other diagonally. The labor intensive nature of this piece carries the themes of meditation and repetition seen throughout the show, relating back to the exhibition’s title and tying it up nicely.
With the caliber of the artists involved and the impressive exhibition space, With a Clear Mind: You Can Move With the Truth is a must see. Instead of saying you saw an Agnes Martin in New York, or a Sol LeWitt in LA, head down to the Pearl and see them right here in Portland before it’s too late.
More info about the Lumber Room and its programming at www.lumberroom.com.