only shades of gray: 28 metal disks redefine the essence of
David Lynch and 28 Days of Gray
like to walk around; it's the best way to take the pulse of civilization
like taking the city's temperature, visually.
When I'm walking around Portland the visual scene
unfolds before me at a completely human pace that's totally different
than being in a car. So basically, this is what I've seen and
heard in the galleries, movie houses and on the street.
A grayer shade of pale
28 Days of Gray
Tom McCall Waterfront Park (in the bowl)
Throughout Portland's notoriously gray winter, a
team called Artclub (Laura Domela, Ellen Goldschmidt, Allen Kinast,
Karen Lynn and Kari Djuve) will have an outdoor installation in
place along the Willamette River. The temporary RACC-funded work
consists of 28 metal disks on nine-foot-high poles, each with
its own specially named designer shade of gray. A genesis for
the idea stems from the Inuit culture's 50 words for snow, and
asks how many shades of gray we Portlanders can define.
disks look and feel quite temporary and make the ever-changing
sky seem more permanent than the steel poles. This inversion undermines
the conceptual heft somewhat but it could be fixed with more monumentality.
Although the idea is a bit too clever and tries a little too hard
to be amusing, it works for civic art. In fact, it works a lot
better than Judy Pfaff's ODS building installation. Maybe a permanent
version will find a home in one of the new Pearl District construction
What really works great, though, is Artclub's daily
Web-poll asking us to vote for the shade of gray that best approximates
our view of the heavens. Artclub even has T-shirts and mugs for
I like how scrappy these Portland artists are. They
don't get too precious I can appreciate that. And I want
the T-shirt called Ennui, the perfect gift for the Baudelaire
reader in your clique (www.domela.com/artclub/).
Lynch: exploring scarily familiar themes.
One of the recent visual events I had looked forward
to was David Lynch's newest movie, "Mulholland Drive."
Venue-wise, I saw it at Northwest Portland's venerable
old Cinema 21, a great choice. Seeing it in a vintage theater
is much different than seeing it in the pristine Fox Tower, but
I'll get into that later.
My take after seeing "Mulholland Drive":
I think Lynch's complex, fragmented storytelling and rather frayed
plot strings fit the post 9-11 world real well. I get the impression
mainstream America got closer to Lynch's aesthetics, not the other
In many ways "Mulholland Drive" is a refinement
of so many of Lynch's favorite themes: demonic control, troubled
relationships based on control and obsession, references to classic
Hollywood, and the descent of doomed characters into a fate that
we already had visited earlier in the film.
Lynch's "Mulholland Drive": doomed characters,
In this movie Lynch's vision gelled in a way that
other films, like "Fire Walk With Me" and "Lost
In "Mulholland Drive" the dissonance somehow
rings true to life as if the relationship between the two
main characters, Betty and Rita, literally did go to hell. Whereas
in "Lost Highway," Bill Pullman's character seems willed
into his scary situation by the director himself.
That's the thing about movies, we judge them in
terms of believability. And with "Mulholland Drive,"
Lynch kinda hijacked my reality.
The Cinema 21 venue was perfect, because when the
movie finished and the lights came on, I turned around and felt
as if I was still in the movie.
The grand old theater's garish red velvet and ancient
seats filled with exasperated moviegoers made me feel like I was
about to star in my own David Lynch flick as if a bunch
of albino cowboys might come out and sing me a Roy Orbison song.
Saved by sushi?
fact, after leaving the theater, all the drunken revelers coming
out of Muu Muu's restaurant next door and the Gypsy club across
the street took on a certain demonic aspect. The coup de gras
occurred when a friend and I decided to go to a sushi place kitty-corner
from Cinema 21. It has big windows and you can see the street
as you eat.
Suddenly a young fellow and his date stopped and
the young man garishly put his face and mouth to the glass. I
just sort of made a mental note: "Hi there, demon boy."
Eventually I think the unagi and the wasabi I was eating finally
broke Lynch's spell.
What an adventure, eh?