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Take five: The ever-changing Pearl District, half a decade later.
Critical i

5 years of Critical i
All things must pass
by Jeff Jahn

ell, it has been five great years writing more than 60 somewhat experimental pieces for nwdrizzle.com.

Critical i has accomplished a lot in that time. But now, due to a large number of writing gigs both on the net and in print, I feel it is a time for change.

Critical i (notice the capital on the critical and lowercase on i) has always been a sort of experimental testing ground for what I perceived as a hole in visual-arts coverage in Portland and beyond. It's been a good run and I've received a lot of excellent feedback, both internationally and locally, because of it. I'm grateful and thank you, readers. As a recap, here are a few of my personal favorites:

May 2001: The Pearl District: Urban Pastiche or Incubator of Insight
This was my second article and I suppose it got a lot of attention because I called the district the most expensive ghost town in America. It has changed a lot and has become more than pastiche. Still, it needs some serious signature designs. To date, only the Weiden+Kennedy building can claim any kind of greatness. Well, let me second-guess that: I like PNCA's building as well. Let's hope they find a way to stay there. As for the galleries, things are still progressing and some of the younger galleries need to make certain they don't become too conservative. A mix of adventurous and bankable is the best way. Portland is changing so fast that being too formulaic might hurt the health of what is a young collector scene.

August 2001: Death, pestilence & politics in Portland galleries
I have always liked this Heidi Schwegler review and people should look her up again.

April 2002: Art and threat: untaming humanism

January 2003: Eyeing the Portland art scene: Potential hullabaloo in 2003?
I think we all knew 2003 would be a good art year but it was even better and more infuriating than expected. The funny thing is that 2004 was actually better.

October 2004: Critiquing the critics
I'm still annoyed with much of the so-called art writing out there, but some of these things needed to be said and things are better now. How? Well, nobody is actually shocked when a meaningful or even perceptive review is written here now. Portland reads a lot; why should we put up with irrelevant art writing?

June 2005: A tale of two institutions
All of this needed to be said. Has anyone learned anything? I think PICA has somewhat; in a meeting a month or so ago they made it clear that they understand they have to earn people's trust again.

Overall, I wrote Critical i as a wake-up call and, to a certain degree, I can say the scene has gotten out of its jammies, showered up and is still deciding which belt to wear with the outfit it has chosen. That said, I'm proud of the purposeful polemics in Critical i; no apologies – it was necessary. I have many projects now and you'll be seeing them online and in magazines. I'm even working on my book as well (still).

I think it's time for the big dance and I can't say how indebted I am to my readers, fans, enemies and those rare ones who managed to stay ambivalent. It's been very gratifying work and I must also thank the nwdrizzle editorial staff, Mark and Kathy Anderson (no relation). Without you this couldn't have happened.

It's a cliché, but endings are beginnings as well.

One more time – thank you, readers!

Jeff Jahn,
Critical i

E-mail Jeff at pivotofjade@hotmail.com, don't miss his recent columns, be sure to see his April 2002 essay, Art and Threat: Untaming Humanism., and don't miss the art-blog, PORT.

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