Nichols Norman’s “Waiting Room” kicks off a new season of installations at the Portland Building

The Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC) is pleased to announce a line-up of nine new installations by local artists at the Portland Building Installation Space. Over the next twelve months artists representing a wide range of approaches to art making will be featured in 4 week installments. Since 1994 RACC has managed the Installation Space in the Portland Building (located downtown at 1120 SW 5th Avenue) and has presented some of Portland’s best interactive and experimental media installations. At 13’wide by 8′ deep, this modestly sized venue is devoted exclusively to installation art. The space has developed a devout following over the years and competition for a spot on the roster is always spirited.

This year, 71 artists submitted proposals in the Professional Artist category, and 26 artists applied in the Student category. An independent selection panel reviewed all of the proposals, and ultimately selected nine site-specific works that are challenging, topical and diverse.

Portland Building Installation Space—2013/2014 Season Calendar and Project Descriptions:

Nicholas Norman, March 25 – April 19, 2013
Jacob Sorenson, April 29 – May 24, 2013
Patricia Vazquez Gomez & Betty Marin, June 3 – June 28, 2013
Anthony Hudson, July 8 – Aug 2, 2013
Michael Sell, August 12 – September 6, 2013
Paula Rebsom & Grant Hottle, September 16 – October 11, 2013
Ariana Jacob, October 21 – November 15, 2013
Paul Clay and Zachary Krausnick, January 13– February 7, 2014
Joseph Kucinski, February 17 – March 14, 2014

Nicholas Norman (Student – PSU) March 25 – April 19, 2013
Waiting Room – Nicholas Norman’s work, which explores the meanings of places and how we understand them, kicks off the new season of installations at the Portland Building. Nicholas has a particular interest in waiting rooms: “Most of us are familiar with the experience of a waiting room, the uncomfortable seats, the horrible magazines, we know what it is…but what is the difference between a waiting room in an everyday doctor’s office versus a gallery?” Norman will create an artificial waiting room in the Installation Space to explore the difference between a fabrication and a room that is intentionally functional—is a fabricated space really any different if it can serve an identical purpose? Can a waiting room be anything other than a waiting room, or is its true meaning trapped within intention? Norman’s faux waiting room promises uncomfortable seating, dull magazines, a ticking clock, a potted plant, bad (but free) coffee, mediocre landscape paintings and the ubiquitous lost toy underneath the chair. Viewers are encouraged to bring their own interpretation to the installation, in this case however, they will be completely in control of the amount of time they decide to wait.

Jacob Sorenson April 29 – May 24, 2013
A Landscape – “Is Bigfoot real? I hope so. But I’m pessimistic.” This quote from Jacob Sorenson’s proposal might serve as a tagline for his installation. He’ll construct a nature-circus landscape in the space that embodies the human tendency to both ideologically and physically manipulate the environment. To the right picture a silhouette-like sculpture of a majestic tree-line, but with Las Vegas style chase-lights there to help better define the trees. To the left notice a sculpture that sets out to improve upon the beautiful sunset image we all hope for at the end of a day…only maybe with a few extra colors and a repeat cycle so we can enjoy it longer. And finally in the back, slightly obscured by the tree-line, look for that elusive silhouette of Bigfoot rumored to make periodic appearances.

Patricia Vazquez Gomez & Betty Marin (Students – PSU) June 3 – June 28, 2013
Welcome – Welcome is intended to inform and expand the connection between a building that represents the City of Portland and the experiences of some of this city’s newer residents. Grounded in this artist team’s social-practice work serving the immigrant community, and in their own cultural roots, the project will explore the ways in which Spanish speaking immigrants feel both welcome and not welcome in Portland. The physical installation will consist of projected images of those interviewed by the team, and text from participants’ responses presented as a “wallpaper” backdrop. In honor of the exchange of hospitality, a small artesanal souvenir will be offered to visitors to take home.

Anthony Hudson (Student – PNCA) July 8 – Aug 2, 2013
Queering Portlandia – Despite her notoriety and our love for her, Portlandia is irrefutably rooted, by sculptural tradition and in concept, to Euro-centrism. The 35 foot high hammered copper statue that graces the façade of the Portland Building depicts the image of a classical female figure with European features. In that sense she represents only a portion our city’s diverse population. Artist and performer Anthony Hudson, who identifies as a “queer Portlander, a native Oregonian, and a Grand Ronde Indian,” will offer up a series of alternate Portlandias that embody the diversity that exists in Portland today. “Queering is essentially to make something queer, different, to make it anti-oppressive; queering here is to make Portlandia accessible again, giving an underprivileged audience a chance to recreate Portlandia in their own image.” The Installation Space will be transformed into a richly decorated photo booth/performance set complete with a selection of costumes and props and participants will be invited to perform on camera as their own version of Portlandia. In the artist’s words “Queering Portlandia will allow for a multitude of new Portlandias: Portlandia as a person of color, Portlandia as queer, Portlandia as a person with disabilities, Portlandia as a true, living Portlander. Queering Portlandia will demonstrate our community’s commitment to providing visibility, safety and opportunity to all its citizens.”

Michael Sell August 12 – September 6, 2013
Untitled (Photoswatch installation) – Photographer Michael Sell’s installation explores the point at which fine art intersects with décor, and investigates how the one supports and/or subverts the other. Sell will turn the Installation Space into a floor-to-ceiling grid of color, with the individual colors to be sourced from actual artwork hung inside the Portland Building. The project will function as a site-specific extension of his Photoswatch series that sampled and presented a single rectangular swatch of color from famous photographs—thus collapsing all visual elements and meaning within the photograph into one single color statement. The painted panels on the grid in the Installation Space will reference individual works of art that are hung throughout the building and each grid will be labeled with the title and location of the source work (for example: Purple Fields, 9th Floor). On the floor of the space Sell will place rows of small “sample sized” cans of paint—all mixed to match the grid colors. These will be offered to visitors to take home as souvenirs so they can ponder how much meaning travels home with them.

Paula Rebsom & Grant Hottle September 16 – October 11, 2013
Forecast – This site-specific project marks the first in a series of collaborations between Rebsom and Hottle. It combines painted and sculptural elements to suggest an impossible but thought provoking NW scene. Upon entering the building lobby the viewer will encounter a painted landscape on a stretched canvas that completely covers the front of the installation space. The scene, a typical Pacific Northwest landscape will physically screen off the entry to the space and will appear as a purpose-built covering…with the exception of an odd protrusion in the center of the painting that stretches the canvas (without puncturing it) and pokes out slightly into the lobby, creating an immediate desire to see what lies behind. As the viewer proceeds to the stairs (which offer a view behind the painting) they discover the cause of the protrusion that intrudes on the landscape and ultimately exposes its façade-like quality. The installation cleverly goads us into reconsidering our reflex definitions of “wild” or “natural” and suggests we consider those terms through a more complex lens.

Ariana Jacob October 21 – November 15, 2013
Working Title: As You Make Your Bed, So You Must Lie in It? – Social Practice artist Ariana Jacob has proposed an “artist-in-residence” installation designed to create an intimate, yet public setting where people will discuss thoughts and feelings about being both a single individual citizen as well as an element of the collective entity that is the United States. The space will be set up as a bedroom (an intimate space everyone is familiar with) with the U.S. Constitution printed on the bed spread. The Articles and Amendments to the Constitution will be screen printed on the pillowcases, the walls of the space will be transformed into chalk-boards on which different sections of the Constitution will be written. As the installation progresses the chalkboard text will be collaboratively edited as agreed upon by artist and participants. Jacob, a veteran of several successful conversation-based projects, will keep regularly scheduled hours and will focus the sessions on gaining a better sense of “American identity” by addressing the document that legally and symbolically binds us together as a people.

Paul Clay and Zachary Krausnick January 13– February 7, 2014
Leda and the Swan – This team of I.T. savvy artists will present a fully interactive video interpretation of the classic “Leda and the Swan” story. In the darkened space a real-time digital projection will produce an image on the back wall of the installation space that is responsive to, and directed by, visitors’ body movements. As participants walk up to the opening of the space a projection of a swan will appear on the wall before them—the movements of the swan will mirror the movements of the participant as the viewer widens his/her arms, feathered wings will spread on the projected image, the swan’s feet will step and its neck will crane to match how the viewer orients his/her body. Ultimately the viewer will discover that faster, more violent movements will cause the feathers to fall off to reveal the figure of a woman (Leda). If the participant then returns to slower movements Leda will once again grow new feathers and transform back into the swan. The cycle continues on as long as there are participants willing to move.

Joseph Kucinski February 17 – March 14, 2014
The Tenacity of Change – Kucinski’s project is aimed at capturing a moment of wonderment and curious expectation. The installation will be composed of a custom garage door fit precisely into the space. With the viewer positioned “inside” the garage looking towards the outside, the door itself will be set so that the bottom edge hovers approximately two feet above the floor. A flood of mysterious colored light from under the door illuminates the darkened “garage” space. The piece is designed to create a sense of expectation and wonder as the viewer ponders what might lie ahead in the future if we are bold enough to (figuratively) open the door of the garage and move into the larger world, to look beyond the trepidation the future carries with it and think of it as an opportunity with infinite possibilities

Viewing Hours & Location: 7 am to 6 pm, Monday – Friday. The Portland Building is located at 1120 SW 5th Avenue in downtown Portland. 

For more information on the Portland Building Installation Space series including images, proposals and statements for all the installations since 1994, go to