The Portland Art Museum just became a hell of a lot cooler, and it was already pretty good. Corvallis artist, Kurt Fisk, is currently being exhibited, a recognition that has been a long time coming for this local hero. His work is part of a yearlong series of exhibits titled, We.Construct.Marvels.Between.
It’s far from ordinary for an exhibit like WCMBM to be displayed at a predominant institution like the Portland Art Museum. The mainstream art world has a history of showing exclusivity to established artists, while underground artists struggle to find a large audience. Through these exhibits, visiting artistic director, Libby Werbel, and her team intends to build a bridge between these two worlds in an exciting and innovative way.
WE, the first exhibit in this project, features the work of artists with disabilities. “This exhibition is programmed to to create space for critical dialogue around how art world institutions can more thoughtfully integrate the work and perspectives of artists of all abilities,” the museum said in a statement.
These works were selected from six artists involved with different area programs that support disabled artists, Portland’s Public Annex and Albertina Kerr, OSLP from Eugene, and Bruce Burris’ Corvallis program, Outpost 1000.
Fisk is showing excerpts from his over 40-year-long project called “The Monkey Fishes.” To fully explain in words the beauty and insight of this project is a near impossibility, but Libby Werbel, curator of WCMBM comes close: “I couldn’t think of a better example of a ‘life’s work’ to include in WE. His Monkey Fish series is filled with insights on the human experience, expectations of relationships, and the potential of our imaginations. I am a huge fan.”
The 58-year-old artist is displaying work that consists of pen and ink drawings, clay sculptures, and even a short Super-8 film that he made in the ‘70s. This work must be seen, in person, to fully grasp the raw humanity and emotion that Fisk has succeeded in conveying.
WE is taking an important step toward helping us to understand the immense value in the voices of Fisk and his peers. These works of art show us the beauty in our differences, and help us to further embrace our similarities.
By Jay Sharpe