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Portland is hotter than a furnace (ok technically not) but still in a city where air conditioning can be rare in even finer homes heat challenges Portlanders. Frankly we arent used to being cooped up and with the unusually wintery Winter we had Portlanders are starting to feel like tatertots that have gone from the freezer to the frying pan. Here are three solid bets to feed you eyes and mind.

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Jennifer Steinkamp’s Orbit at PAM (photo Jeff Jahn)

The top of most peoples list should be the Portland Art Museum and their current Jennifer Steinkamp exhibition is a long overdue look at a pioneer of computer generated art. She’s a favorite of mine melding computer generated graphics and architectural recolonization as art. We saw her Jimmy Carter piece last year (her most important work) and though the selection of pieces here are’nt as cutting as her political or disease related works (who can tell the difference these days), being more non still lives and some related to teachers it constitutes a major multi-media show at PAM. A step in the right direction. True, having at least one work projected in non gallery spaces would have been even smarter but perhaps there is room for that once PAM sorts out its Rothko Pavilion expansion in the future? What’s more, this Steinkamp show guarantees that this year’s Converge 45 at least has one worthwhile anchor exhibition (last year was a planning phase, becoming more like a contemporary art version of a talk radio show… all of which sounded very dated after the last election). All that said Steinkamp does some pretty timeless stuff for being involved in new media and one piece Judy Crook is a poetic homage to a beloved color theory teacher. Art isn’t all glitz and opaque curatorial hedging, the best of it is profoundly related to growing through life and as an artist who has rehabilitated the still life through new media Steinkamp is a must see. Yes, an interview is on the way. .

Jennifer Steinkamp
July 8 – September 17
Portland Art Museum
1219 SW Park Ave

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Kabuki: A Revolution in Color and Design at Portland Japanese Garden (Photo Tyler Quinn)

Another great choice for beating the heat is the recently renovated Japanese Garden, everyone should see the new Cultural Village expansion by Kengo Kuma. Its always a bit cooler up there and the garden has always put on the best craft oriented exhibitions in Portland like the current Kabuki: A Revolution in Color and Design carries on the tradition. It is a good time to see the exhibition, new architecture and the garden. itself. Honestly, for Portlanders there is nothing cooler than visiting Japan for a quick day trip without leaving the city.

Kabuki: A Revolution in Color and Design | July 29 – September 3
Portland Japanese Garden
611 SW Kingston Ave

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Grisha Bruskin’s Alefbet (photo Jeff Jahn)

With temperatures on Portland’s streets sising in more ways than one it is a great time for Oregon’s Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education to reemerge on Portland’s Park Blocks. Presented as as a counter to hate crimes international art star Grisha Bruskin’s Alefbet (the Alphabet of Memory) comes to us from Russia and is a stunning and mysterious tapestry that everyone should see. In fact the piece was orginally the Russian pavilion’s offering at the Venice Biennale.
Alefbet | June 11- October 1, 2017
Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education
724 NW Park