The opening reception of the Disjecta exhibition in Portland included a salon of the works viewed by curator Michelle Grabner. Though these pieces were not selected for the Biennial, Grabner wanted to feature a piece from each artist she considered. Baker City’s Hillery Lay has a piece, right, featured at the salon. (Mika Morton photo)

Twenty-five Oregon venues are hosting artist exhibitions as part of the Portland2016 Biennial, including two La Grande locations.

Art Center East and The Liberty Theatre Foundation will host a joint reception for contemporary artists July 22.

The reception will start at the Liberty Theatre from 6 p.m. to8 p.m., then move to ACE from
7 p.m. to 10 p.m.

The Biennial, curated by Michelle Grabner, was a comprehensive survey of the art being created across the state, according to Disjecta Executive Director Bryan Suereth.

“It’s a very broad brushstroke of Oregon’s artists,” Suereth said. “It borders on insane, actually.”

Suereth said Grabner sorted through 400 to 450 applicants and recommendations, whittling it down to 107 for studio visits. Eventually, Grabner selected 34 artists for the Biennial. The remainder of the artists who were not selected had the option of participating in a salon display of works for Disjecta’s opening reception, which kicked off this statewide exhibition on July 9.

According to Mika Morton, executive director of ACE, Baker City’s Hillery Lay is one of the artists featured at the salon.

La Grande’s reception

The Liberty Theatre, 1010 Adams Ave., will host screenings of three Portland artists’ work.

Ryan Woodring has produced a video loop that stemmed from an initial interest in the way ISIS uses American visual effects techniques in their propaganda and videos.

He then started considering the way Americans think about and portray Eastern traditions.

As a result, Woodring has put together a piece about a scene in “The Exorcist” that takes place in Hatra, Iraq.

“I added blue screens to the video to make it look like it was shot in a studio even though it was filmed on location in Iraq,” he said.

Woodring digitally painted the scene, which required him to hand trace the 50 to 60 people excavating in Hatra.

Julia Calabrese and Emily Bernstein have collaborated on longer comical narratives, which will also be on display.

Calabrese and Bernstein create works for public access television and focus on storytelling, humor and myth.

The screenings will occur as a storefront experience, with the goal of having the images and sounds accessible from the street.

ACE,1006 Penn Ave., has installed pieces by Jack Ryan, Chi Wang and Avantika Bawa.

Ryan and Wang, of Eugene, have produced a collaboration of sound.

“I’m a visual artist with an interest in sound,” Ryan said. “(Wang) is a composer, electronic musician and electronic engineer.”

Ryan said he and Wang met a year ago and saw the potential to learn a lot from each other.

“This is an edited version of the performance we did at the Disjecta opening,” Ryan said. “The sounds in that are generated using audio software and real-time hardware.”

Ryan said he and Wang used beta and theta frequencies, which mimic brain wave frequencies during dream states or high-functioning states.

“We are actually tuning theaudience with these (frequencies), since you can move toward either a dream state or an elevated state of thinking when listening to (them),” Ryan said. “It won’t work on everybody, but it might calm some people down.”

In addition to the sound piece, Ryan has created some visual pieces that will be on display at ACE.

Ryan built some custom cabinets to go with the speakers, as well as other accompanying features.

Bawa, of Portland, works in the concept of space.

“I was questioning how we used mapping, and I wanted to look at how if the points in Google maps were an actual thing that moved instead of a picture on a screen,” Bawa said.

The large orange ball acted as the three-dimensional point, which started in India, then traveled to places like Baltimore, Maryland, and Astoria. The exhibition includes photographs of the ball in motion.

“I wanted to draw attention to the diversity of the landscapes and the people in each location,” Bawa said.

The exhibition actually started on July 9, but the reception is a chance for the public to meet with the artists and Disjecta staff.

Suereth, Ryan and Woodring said they will attend the reception in La Grande. The other artists and Disjecta staff may also be in attendance.

Bawa, who will not be able to attend, said she hopes people don’t overthink her work and enjoy it for what it is.

“It’s a big orange ball in your face,” she laughed.

Live music will be provided by Staci Collins, and light refreshments will be available.

A statewide arts community

Morton and Program Director Darcy Dolge said the Biennial has brought a different style of art with the local community.

“We don’t get a lot of contemporary art,” Morton said.

Dolge said students at Eastern Oregon University might create some modern art, but it is rare to have an exhibit.

Morton said the exhibit is the first step in opening communication among artists across Oregon.

“It’s a big state, and you have to drive several hours to get from one end to the other, but there’s no reason not to work together,” she said.

Morton and Dolge hope events like this will provide more opportunities for local artists to show their work in Portland and other areas of the state.

The Biennial will remain open through Sept. 18. For more information about the artists and venues participating in the Biennial, visit

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