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Welcome to a new type of Gertrude blog post, the Top Ten List. To kick off this series, here's a conglomeration of the random stuff the Gertrude Board is into right now, ranging from the bizarre to the highbrow, and covering all manner of in between. In future posts of this series we'll feature top ten lists from selected writers and artists whose work has appeared in Gertrude, as well as the interesting, creative queers and allies we meet out and about in Portland.


  • Kathy Acker's resurrection → more
  • 20-year-old singer-songwriter Shamir, whose brand of pop music mixes disco, funk, hip hop, and house with undefinable sexuality → more
  • Medicinal honey
  • The Enlightenment and Why It Still Matters by Anthony Pagden → more
  • Printing synthetic DNA using tiny metal beads with endless possibilities
  • The Babadookmore
  • Henryk Górecki's Symphony No. 3more
  • Keeping ducks instead of chickens
  • The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. LeGuin → more
  • The album Tracker by Mark Knopfler → more


Jerry Saltz tore up and burned his MoMA press pass over the recent Björk retrospective there.

There’s been a lot of criticism of the Björk retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art, but I bet the museum right now is really believing that all news is good news. I’m sure everyone wants to see for themselves how bad this show is. MoMA probably has people lined up around the block to scoff, in a similar but different way that crowds flocked to many of their recent exhibitions, such as the Marina Abramovic exhibit several years ago.

Jerry Saltz is known for being cranky. He scatters vitriol like buckshot across the scene. He absolutely makes me laugh sometimes, but I cannot always take him seriously. Beyond Saltz it seems that critics are not questioning Björk’s right to be featured as an artist. The lines between high and low art blurred long ago, particularly if one recounts the scandalous High and Low exhibit at MoMA in 1990. The concern here seems mostly to be terrible curation of the Björk exhibit or perhaps even the show’s aim. As for the curation of the show, if all the bad press is to be believed this one seems like a dud. I haven’t been to the exhibit but it sounds boring. I have the impression that it is a display of Björk music video memorabilia. It doesn’t sound like the sort of interactive, interdisciplinary work that Björk herself would develop.

As for the aim of the show, ostensibly it’s a retrospective or “mid-career survey” or something, and unfortunately it sounds like the most boring sort of retrospective focused on a subject that could be so dynamic. Beyond this, let’s be honest - the show is a potential cash cow for MoMA. A lot of MoMA’s recent exhibitions have been money makers, perhaps purposefully. Saltz writes that, “By now all of these shows feel like the museum trying to boost its numbers, pandering, and at sea,” and says that what he’s really worried about is “MoMA’s further damaging its credibility (with the permission of its trustees), riding on the backs of generations of artists and curators as it makes a suicidal slide into becoming a box-office-driven carnival. Tilda Swinton sleeping in a glass vitrine; Queen Marina staring at smitten viewers in the atrium; the trashy Tim Burton show; last season's gee-whiz Rain Room; and of course, the wrecking ball Diller Scofidio + Renfro is about to swing: All are signs of a deep institutional rot.” I would say yeah, Jerry Saltz, these exhibits are about making money, but this prerogative issues not from MoMA specifically but extends out from a larger institutional and economic framework.

MoMA’s main problem may be that it exists at a nexus of ley lines in the art world and the institution is attempting to balance them all. It is first and foremost an institution of preservation for “Modern” works of art being created by artists working internationally roughly between 1880 and 1960. Founded by the “adamantine ladies” (including John D. Rockefeller’s wife,) the museum at its inception looked to collect relevant contemporary works. Following in this tradition the museum still attempts to follow and foster the development of contemporary art and artist, including acquiring such art. Finally, public relevance is MoMA’s third function, which can be especially difficult to balance at a time when, for generations, art and art consumption has become increasingly academic and less popularized. So yes, MoMA must turn to summer parties and Tim Burton and Tilda Swinton and the popular stars that all of America might recognize to draw patrons to a museum and thereby retain its popularity and populist relevance. And it has to do this to make money in order to conserve the Modern art of its past and to acquire the contemporary art of our present.

If we want a preservationist institution unaffected by the conditions of capitalism we have to nationalize our past, prepare to pay for its conservation with tax dollars. But an institution like this would not be able to simultaneously preserve the past and identify and support present art and artists. In part, we may have to accept these strategies employed by MoMA to get large crowds in the door, but we can also hope that institutions like this engage the public in different ways. In this way, Jerry Saltz may be overreacting. There’s a larger economic problem here that needs to be addressed. And while we can criticize the curator and curation of this Björk retrospective at MoMA, it may be unfair to call out all the shows at MoMA just because it is attempting to resolve itself into an institution of wider appeal to both maintain its economic position as well as its relevance in an era during which visual art revolves in a sphere largely separated academically from popular culture and interest.

Andy Coolquitt at c3:initiative

Posted by on in Visual Art

altAndy Coolquitt’s work is rooted in the physical acts of exploring, scavenging, and collecting. He sifts through discarded objects and finds purpose, merit, and a gritty beauty in materials others have abandoned as trash. Rescuing these objects from their fate of insignificance, Coolquitt offers them a new life. In his exhibitions he uses found, forsaken treasures in various combinations to redefine an architectural space, hoping to encourage new modes of social interaction.

Surprisingly Good Tomes

Posted by on in Read These!

The staff at Gertrude Press doesn’t just make books—we read them, too! Check out what managing editor LeAnna Crawford and treasurer Kelly Arthur have to say about the books they’ve read this year. Read more here...






Love and Country

Posted by on in Gertrude News

Love and Country


Love and Country

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to have coffee with the dynamic writer, filmmaker, and interactive producer Dan Sadowsky.  In his time on this planet, Dan has had many enviable reincarnations career-wise.  For three years he and his wife ran the vegetarian restaurant The Purple Parlor on Mississippi Ave in North Portland.  After that, Dan worked for Mercy Corps in several different positions allowing him to travel the world.  One of Dan’s jobs was to tell the stories of individuals helped by this powerful humanitarian aid agency; in this way he honed his skills as a storyteller.   


Love and Country


A Wild Surmise: New & Selected Poems & Recordings

First, I need to come clean: I am not an impartial reviewer.  I have been admiring Eloise Klein Healy and her work since before I was accepted into the MFA program at the University of Antioch, Los Angeles, and Eloise, if you don’t know, is the founder of this magnificent program (no that is not hyperbole).  I’ll put it all on the table here:  I have placed Eloise on a pedestal—even though that is the last thing she would want.  Eloise is my Sappho.  Her voice is wise, imperfect, lyrical, strong, brutal, kind, but, above all, unflinchingly real.  Read more here


Well, hello again, beloved readers! Here is our second installment of books we love. This month the latest member of our Board, Kelly, reviews We Need to Talk About Kevin – her reader’s journey from doubt to devotion, Leanna chooses a novel about language and mental illness by Oregonian Craig Lancaster, and Art Director J.M. Jansen picks a book where “whores, magicians, monks, millionaires, computer hackers, politicians, and artists intersect in unexpected ways.” Read more here: Read more here






Cannibals, Trout, and Dung

Posted by on in Read These!

Every now and again, the staff here at Gertrude will be blogging about our current favorite reads. This month Liz chose Ann Patchett’s State of Wonder, Tammy picked one of Vonnegut’s best, and Allison went with a book about the mess and madness during the London cholera outbreak of 1854. Read more here







Posted by on in Gertrude News

It’s unusual that I dedicate a blog to a specific Gertrude writer, but this is a great story I wanted to share…

Last year Loren Moreno placed third in our 2011 Chapbook contest. One of his stories was so brilliant that we decided to publish it in Issue 18 (just out!). When I added his name to our internal database of published authors, I saw that Loren had also been published by us before I came on as Fiction Editor a few years ago! 

Loren Moreno

Then the blinded submissions came in for this year's 2012 Fiction Chapbook Content. As we always do, all identifying biographical info is removed from the submissions. Submissions go through two rounds, one with me and one with our slush reader, Allison Tobey, before we hash it out to a final decision.
This year there was not much hashing needed. Without knowing who we were reading, both Allison and I chose the same collection from the large stack of submissions – Loren Moreno!
I am so delighted to announce Loren Moreno as Gertrude's 2012 Chapbook winner. His collection, "Aaron & Keoni," will be out next year - watch for it!


Julie Perini at Place Gallery

Posted by on in Visual Art

alt Place is an art gallery located on the third floor of Pioneer Place Mall, in the heart of downtown PDX. The mall, an unexpected location for a gallery, is filled with your typical, garden-variety stores: Victoria’s Secret, Kate Spade, Apple, and H&M, just to name a few. Galleries containing interesting, thought-provoking contemporary art don’t usually exist alongside these monoliths of consumerism. But this unusual location has some advantages; it piques the curiosity of individuals who would never otherwise set foot inside a gallery. It makes for a much more diverse viewing experience when grandparents, blue-haired teenagers, soccer moms, and curators are all thrown into the same visual arts pot, placed on low heat, simmered and stirred together. The current show at Place features the work of artists BT Livermore & Phillip Bone, Georganne Watters, Heather Zinger, Michael Reinsch, and Julie Perini.


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