Katharine Morales previews "Of Other Spaces" (Glass Quarterly)

Michael Endo + Emily Nachison
Of Other Spaces
February 29 - April 28, 2012
Bullseye Gallery

Michel Foucault outlined a theory of history which places the emphasis of human experience not on the passage of time but on our physical place and the spaces around us. In Foucault’s 1967 lecture “Of Other Spaces,” he talked about how the world hovers and bounces between spaces either “sacred or profane,” and “protected or exposed.” There are “urban places and rural places” and cosmologically speaking, “celestial” versus “terrestrial.” What does this mean for two mixed media artists collaborating in the same space? Bullseye Gallery in Portland, Oregon has the answer in the form of a duo exhibition presenting the work of up-and-coming collaborating duo Michael Endo and Emily Nachison. Their exhibition, which opens this evening, is named for Foucault’s posthumously published lecture of the same name. The pair’s work “explores mythmaking through the accumulation of meaning and history,” according to Endo’s website. The artists will be available to discuss the influence of this philosophy among other things at the Bullseye Gallery Artists Talk Sunday, April 15th at 2 pm (entry is free, but reservations are required for attendance).

Endo and Nachison work in a variety of mediums from oil on linen, wool felt and yarn, cast glass and the kiln formed glass for which Bullseye Gallery is known. Both artists are based in Portland, and were awarded the Regional Arts and Culture Council Grant from the city just last year. In addition, they each earned their Master’s Degree from Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan, Endo in painting and Nachison in fibers. However, the similarities end with their imagery. Much of Nachison’s work plays with dreamy and quirky worlds, reminiscent of spending summer hours in your best friend’s backyard playing “Little House on the Prairie.” Every bit as realistic as real life, and sometimes more so, the boring parts are omitted on a whim, and small embellishments added to suit the scene. Toadstools created out of drippy, bright red glass as in Deliquesce can be seen alongside larger than life glass sculpture, Fairytale Trees. The twin trees sprout spindly November branches sparsely adorned with glowing white orbs teetering in the fragile tops. The effect is sad and precious, like a child’s missing tooth or a single lost mitten.

In contrast, Endo often creates landscapes and still life in conventional mediums based on unconventional subject matter. His gallery on the Cranbrook Academy of Art website depicts two haunting scenes, the first of which comes across like a portrait – it shows an abandoned mattress in a swamp. The second are hunters celebrating their kill in a dusky forest – the kill of a man. For Of Other Spaces, he works with kiln formed glass in minimal and spooky tones, as in the black and white Telegraph and Olympic. The Bullseye Gallery News categorizes this work as a, “reference [to] spaces that are on the outskirts or in the margins of our built world.”

How these artists will marry their seemingly disparate aesthetic worlds remains to be seen by Portlanders with gallery access. It seems the Foucault theory of Heterotopia – places within society that simultaneously mirror and invert the known ethos — is a natural and thoughtful through line for their work. This video on the Bullseye Gallery website gives insight into the real life imagery that provided much of the inspiration for the exhibition. Fairy tales blend with the all too real world, black ink is etched into smooth glass, and the viewer is left to wonder, is this dark? is this hopeful? and where am I? Foucault answers, “From the standpoint of the mirror…I see myself where I am not.”

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February 29, 2012