From Roll Hardy and Lillian Pitt to Kara Walker and Romare Bearden, November's art scene swings into heavy action with tonight's First Thursday openings. But as much variety and provocation as the monthly gallery walk promises, a lot of Portland art fans are also in serious hurry-up-and-wait mode.
As in hurry up and wait for Nov. 25, when the Portland Art Museum opens the latest in its series of single-masterworks shows, this one focusing on Titian's 1530s portrait "La Bella." Freshly spruced up in her Italian hometown of Florence, she's on a short, three-museum American tour and will hang around Portland through Jan. 29. Why does this painting matter? Because, almost a half-millennium later, there aren't very many Titians left to go around. And because Tiziano Vecellio, as he was more formally known, manipulated color like nobody's business.
Still others may be hurrying up and waiting for the museum's Nov. 19 unveiling of seven decades' worth of works on paper by Manuel Izquierdo, the Spanish-born artist who adopted Portland as a young man and spent most of his life here as a leading artist and teacher. He died in 2009. The show continues through March 4. 1219 S.W. Park Ave.,portlandartmuseum.org.
Meanwhile, galleries across the city have receptions tonight featuring (mostly) new exhibitions for the First Thursday walk. We're highlighting several good November bets below, including a few that don't open tonight: Shows participating in the gallery walk are marked FT. Most participating galleries are open from 5 or 6 p.m. to 8 or 9 p.m. for First Thursday. For more complete listings, hurry up and wait for Friday's A&E.
Augen Gallery. Romare Bearden, who died in 1988, grew up near the center of the Harlem Renaissance and became one of America's leading collagists as well as a musician of note: His song "Sea Breeze" became a jazz standard recorded by Billy Eckstine and Dizzy Gillespie. Kara Walker's provocative silhouette art, with its satiric jabs at the borders of racial and sexual attitudes, shot her to international prominence in the 1990s. "American Prints: A Southern Perspective" shows their art and works by four other African American artists -- Radcliffe Bailey, Kerry James Marshall and Gee's Bend quilters Mary Lee Bendolph and Loretta Pettway. Also at Augen, Portland artist Jim Riswold's new show, "The War to End All Wars That Didn't End Wars," looks back at World War I with his familiarly fine-honed, advertising-style political punch. 716 N.W. Davis St., through Nov. 26, FT. augengallery.com
Quintana Galleries. Quintana, the city's leading commercial space for Native American and indigenous art, launches its holiday group show with an impressive lineup including Wasco/Yakama/Warm Springs artist Lillian Pitt; Tsimshian Alaska carver David Boxley; Coast Salish artists Andy and Shaun Peterson; Kwakwaka'wakw carvers Bill Henderson, Mervin Child and John Livingston from Vancouver Island; and Chinook artist Greg Robinson. 124 N.W. Ninth Ave., through Dec. 31, FT. quintanagalleries.com
Laura Russo Gallery. Portland painter Roll Hardy makes art about human beings and their social compacts, mostly by not painting human beings at all but instead painting the environments they create -- industrial spaces, meeting places, abandoned buildings, junkyards both purposeful and accidental. He seems to be developing the sort of merciless reportorial eye that Henk Pander is known for. Also at Russo: new works by accomplished abstract ceramicist Geoffrey Pagen. 805 N.W. 21st Ave., through Nov. 26, FT. laurarusso.com
Portland Japanese Garden. The gracious garden in Washington Park is often overlooked as an art venue, but from time to time it presents exhibitions in its pavilion that demand to be seen. "Mottainai: The Fabric of Life" might turn out to be one of them. Subtitled "Lessons in Frugality From Traditional Japan," it seems to fit both Portland's DIY ethos and our economically truncated global times. Assembled from private collections in Brooklyn and Kyoto, it contains folk textiles from the Meiji period, 1868-1912, that are primary examples of making beauty out of very little, often patchwork style. "Mottainai" means "waste nothing." 611 S.W. Kingston Ave., Friday through Nov. 27. Japanesegarden.com
Froelick Gallery. In his show of brooding oil paintings "Chasing Deer," Miles Cleveland Goodwin creates a series of contemporary art-historical narratives -- cold, wintry fields, inspired by Breugel and other Northern European masters. Goodwin's evocations of life at its frozen ebb also suggest a somewhat closer inspiration, both in time and place: Andrew Wyeth's Maine paintings. In contrast, the oil paintings and etchings in Laurie Danial's "Control Release Control" bubble with life and color, smart and happy collisions of structure and chance. As she says in her artist's statement: "I have come to willingly entertain a level of anxiety and exhilaration that comes from not knowing." 714 N.W. Davis St., through Dec. 10, FT. froelickgallery.com
Briefly: Butters Gallery features Portlander Gilles Foisy's elegantly balanced mixed-media sculptures. 520 N.W. Davis St., through Nov. 26, FT. buttersgallery.com
At Blackfish Gallery, fine veteran Portland painter Paul Missal shares space with Yoonchee Choi, who in her new show "Madcap Graphs" has added Sumi ink to her dynamic mix. 420 N.W. Ninth Ave., through Nov. 26, FT. blackfish.com
In a series of finely illustrative watercolors, Rachel Davis' show "Hometown" at Charles A. Hartman Fine Art reflects on growth and transformation in China. 134 N.W. Eighth Ave., through Nov. 26, FT. hartmanfineart.net
"Object Poems" at 23 Sandy Gallery gathers national and international by more than 30 artist/poets whose work in one way or another fuses the two disciplines. 623 N.E. 23rd Ave., Friday through Nov. 26. 23sandy.com
Photography: The invaluable Blue Sky features three compelling visions this month. Russian expatriate Andrej Krementschouk goes home and feels out of place. Portlander Fritz Liedtke celebrates the beauty of freckles. And Japan's Takeshi Shikama shows some astonishing forest photos printed on handmade gampi paper. 122 N.W. Eighth Ave., through Nov. 27, FT.blueskygallery.org
At The Independent, Portland artist Randy Moe reaches back to a roll of film he shot in 1979 for a dozen portraits of players on the city's then-emerging punk rock scene. 530 N.W. 12th Ave., through Dec. 3, FT. lovelake.org/the_independent.htm
News photographers, unsurprisingly, are some of the best in the business, and this month I Witness features images of the great American West by gifted Seattle Times shooter Alan Berner. 1028 S.E. Water Ave., Suite 50; Friday through Dec. 23. nwcenterforphotography.com
Artist and curator T.J. Norris has brought together work by 20 national and international photographers at Black Box Gallery exploring contemporary approaches to the nude. 811 E. Burnside St., Suite 212; opening reception 5-8:30 p.m. Friday, through Nov. 22. blackboxgallery.com
At Newspace Center for Photography, photographer Bobby Abrahamson and writer Lisa Wells have teamed up on "The 45th Parallel: Rural Life on the Edge of the Urban Millennium," a look at the struggles of small-town life across Oregon. 1632 S.E. 10th Ave., opening reception 6-9 p.m. Friday, through Nov. 27. newspacephoto.org