Monthly Archives: November 2010

It Takes a Village, Literally!

Behind the Scenes of the Jenny Holzer Projection event
by Vanessa Nesvig, PMA Coordinator of Special Projects

I have had the privilege to work on the logistics for the Jenny Holzer event that is coming up on Tuesday, December 7. I have learned so much about what an event like this involves and now know so many more people in our fair from city of Portland.

It was way back in March that Jenny Holzer, the famous artist currently known for her projections on buildings around the world, told our Director of Education Dana Baldwin, that yes, she would be able to give a lecture here and would do a projection for us. Wow! We were blown away, and as it turns out, we are the smallest city she has ever shown in. We felt honored. Next, we needed approval the City.

In September we started full steam ahead with the logistics. A site visit with Kevin Thomas from the Portland Public Services Department, taught us that there isn’t enough power at the Congress Square electrical box for the 6,000 watt projector bulb needed, so we would have to rent a three-phase generator. Kevin graciously said that he would personally unwire the three street lamps in Congress Square, for both the night of the rehearsal and the night of the projection, so the lights would not compete with the projection. Next, I learned that the generator might run at a decibel level that is too loud for this part of the city, but my fears were quelled when Marge Schmuckel, Zoning Administrator, gave us the OK as long as decibel level was below 55 after 9 p.m.

We then had a site visit from Gilles Gingras from FX Productions, Montreal, who will be running the actual projection. He had the final say of where we would put the U-Haul van that houses the projector. Once that was determined, we worked with Ted Musgrave, Special Activities Coordinator, to fine tune our permit for Parks and Recreation.  At this point, we realized that it would be best to close that section of Congress Street from Forest to High Streets for the night of the projection. This involved approval from Marge for the street closing and some permit modifications. 

Dana Baldwin worked on all the permits and insurance that were required by the Holzer studio for text rights, liability insurance, and press releases. All the surrounding businesses were notified and seem very enthusiastic. 

For the nights of, we will have “all hands on deck.” Security will cover our street barricades and facilities will assist with the projection along with Headlight Audio Visual. Education and Public Relations will assist with the lecture and reception and Visitor Services will cover the book signing. That is just about all of us—Our Village!

To see some of Jenny Holzers, visit

Matthew Barney’s The Cremaster Cycle

By Jon Courtney
Screenings Programmer, SPACE Gallery

I wont pretend that Ive actually seen Matthew Barneys entire Cremaster Cycle, relatively few people have, but thats largely why SPACE Gallery has been excited to work with the Portland Museum of Art to bring The Cycle to Portland. Outside of a run at Bostons Kendall Square Cinema this past summer, this will be only the second screening of the The Cycle in New England. Distributors claim the films will never be made available for mass home video distribution to preserve their artistic value (a 30-minute excerpt from Cremaster 3, filmed in the Guggenheim Museum, was released under the title The Order and 20 limited sets of DVDs in original packaging were sold at $100,000+ prices.) The screenings at the PMA will be a rare, yet comparatively affordable way of accessing the work.

Over nine years in the making, spanning from 1994 to 2002, the five Cremaster films have gained a near-cult status and vaulted Barney from former high school football player and male clothing model to art world icon. If you search for reviews of the films, youll find opinions that range from dismissive charges of self-indulgence to high praise that ranks the films among the most ambitious and creative exercises in the history of avant garde film. Barney claims his opus is meant to be seen as part of a sculptural practice which exists outside the films in a body of sculpture, books, installations, and musical compositions. Appearances by author Norman Mailer, sculptor Richard Serra, Bond girl Ursula Andress, and paraplegic athlete Aimee Mullins as well as references to Henry Houdini, the freemasons, Gary Gilmore, and a host of other characters, locations and visual symbols are woven into Barneys epic. Ill say from having seen Cremaster 5 several years ago in New York and The Order that Barney may employ the best portrayal of dream logic on celluloid as any contemporary director outside of possibly David Lynch or Alejandro Jodorowsky.

If youd like to read more from people who have seen the Cycle, Ill refer you to a pair of complementary reviews in The Portland Phoenix by Annie Larmon and Christopher Gray. Theres a trailer from I Die Daily , a documentary about the making of The Cremaster Cycle which will give you a taste of the visual scope of The Cycle and some of Barneys thoughts about the inspirations for the films. Likewise, exploring The Cremaster Cycle website also yields synopses, stills, and video trailers for the exploring. Its unlikely that The Cremaster Cycle will screen again in the area any time soon, if youre curious, you may want to catch the first block of films, Cremaster 1 & 2 on Thursday night and see if they appeal to you. If so, there will be options to see the rest of the Cycle on Friday and Saturday evenings or on Sunday. Those who are committed in their resolve to see the nearly seven-hour full Cycle (as it is likely best intended) may want to opt for a hearty brunch and some stretching before settling in for the 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday run. At $20 for a five-film pass, this may be one of the most affordable opportunities to access this storied work of art. In a synchronistic twist, Sunday also happens to be the birthday of Barney’s wife Björk, the eccentric Icelandic singer, so well be featuring her music during film breaks that day.

The Cremaster Cycle will run Thursday, November 18 through Sunday, November 21 at Movies at the Museum. Click here to purchase tickets.

Making Art in the Great Hall!

By Julia Einstein
Coordinator of Youth and Family Programs

On Saturday, November 20, the Great Hall of the Museum will be transformed into a space to make art! You are invited to drop into the Museum anytime between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. and help us create an oversized modern work of art!

Together with Portland-based artist Carl Haase, you’ll build a giant sculpture using his method of stacking packages. He will bring everything you need—from custom-made forms to colorful design tools—and he is looking forward to celebrating the creativity of kids.

Part of the fun is participating in the artist’s creative process. It presents a unique opportunity to view his work with a fresh perspective when you visit the exhibition False Documents & Other Illusions (4th floor). Describing himself as “an industrial design historian of sorts,” Carl is a printmaker who is interested in the products we use everyday. He is really interested in how they are packaged. You’ll see that his art is an investigation of the designs behind what keeps our coffee hot and our bubblegum fresh!

(Image: Carl Haase, Crumpled 01-04, screenprint and chine colle. Lent by the artist.)

Stacked & Packed: Art for Families is on Saturday, November 20, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Free with Museum admission. All children must be accompanied by an adult.