LOG / by Chelsea Snow

What is a Log? Is this a Log? What gives an object its Logness? Are some Logs more important or special than others? These are the primary questions that Portland artist and guerilla florist May Reid-Marr asks in a recent collaborative installation, Log. Inspired by a mysterious piece of wood found in the Summer of 2017 along the shore of Oregon's coast, Log celebrates the strangeness of form without pretense, and questions existence through material interpretations.

Walking into the long narrow expanse of the Furthermore Gallery, we are immediately greeted by Log. Just inside the doorway and elevated on a knee-high box swathed in pink butcher paper, Log sits askance and invites the viewer to ponder the delightful question: what is art? Measuring in with 18" of girth and 12.5" of length, with rounded ends and a rough but uniform surface, Log appears to be an intentional shape and size. But how? And for what purpose? A constellation of small black rocks are lodged into the wood only add to the unanswerable questions about the object's origins.

Log , 2018, May Reid-Marr

Log, 2018, May Reid-Marr

Forensic details about Log have not been explored, such as the type of the age of the wood, or the tools used to create its roughly hewn surface. Log does not seek the Truth in these ways. Leaving those blanks unfilled gives the creative mind license to ruminate about Log in other ways that reveal (or construe) other Truths: color, texture, weight, contents, fidelity, scalability, edibility. 

The butcher paper on which Log sits stretches to the far end of the room, corners rounded on both ends, alluding to Log's own curved extremities. While log sits elevated, the rest of the objects, placed with care along the expanse of paper, rest on the floor. The objects are not labeled or titled, but according to the press release, are made by a group of commissioned artists. This community of objects pays tribute to Log from a variety of different material perspectives. Literal interpretations in the form of paintings and drawings are interspersed with material variations: a mesh bag stuffed with hay, a sewn pillow, a ceramic platter, a skein of yarn, a booklet of haiku, a helium balloon, pieced together bits of leather, a stack of wood slabs, a floral arrangement, a digital video, a mirror, a pot of plants. 

Poop'ed from the sea

The bowels of the earth did hear

Your laxative cry

(from Ode to Log)

Photo by Aaron DeLanty

Photo by Aaron DeLanty

Photo by Celia Armand Smith

Photo by Celia Armand Smith

At the other side of the room, the butcher paper elevates once again, this time placed over a long table, covered in food. Vienna sausages, cheese puffs, Nutter Butters, a loaf of bread, a cake, a cheese ball, pretzel sticks, chocolate straws, tiny pickles. The foods are as thoughtful and log-oriented as the art, and one wonders whether that blurry line even exists. After admiring the impressive spread of Log-inspired foods, the hungry crowd began devouring the snacks, managing to clear nearly half of what is reported to have been a 7-pound cheese Log. A piñata in the shape of Log, was a mise-en-abyme filled with Log-shaped prizes including confetti, poems, cookies and candies, and was eventually destroyed by a man and a small child.

pinata 2
pinata 3

While the work in Log ran seamlessly along the length of the gallery space from the front door to the end of the table, Reid-Marr's aesthetic and design sensibility did not stop there. Surrounding the main gathering space (around the food and beverages) are the walls of a very organized and pink kitchen that she designed and installed the year prior. One might go so far to say that the installation was expertly engineered for this experience, of following a trail of random Log-related memorabilia into the real purpose and meaning of the project: a gathering of friends around a table of food in the kitchen.