Jeff Jahn – Wikipedia

American curator

Jeff Jahn

Born 1970 (age 51–52)
Nationality American
Known for
  • Curator
  • critic
  • blogger
  • installation art
  • photography

Jeff Jahn (born 1970) is a curator, art critic, artist, historian, blogger and composer based in Portland, Oregon, United States. He coined the phrase declaring Portland “the capital of conscience for the United States,” in a Portland Tribune op-ed piece,[1] which was then reiterated in The Wall Street Journal.[2]

Jahn’s cultural activities in Portland frequently receive attention outside the region from media outlets such as CNN, Art in America,[3]The Art Newspaper, The Wall Street Journal, and ARTnews. Described in the press as “outspoken and provocative”,[4] and curatorially as, “a clarion call for Portland’s new guard of serious artists—the ones creating a dialog that exceeds the bounds of so-called regional art.”[5] He originally took up art criticism when then-Modern Painters editor Karen Wright asked him to contribute to the then-London based magazine in the late 1990s. In 2005, he co-founded PORT, a noted visual art blog.

He also lectures on art history or critiques at Portland Art Museum,[6]University of Oregon, Pacific Northwest College of Art, Portland State University, Oregon College of Art and Craft and Lewis & Clark College. In 2010 he was a juror for the Andy Warhol Art Writing Grants.[7] as well as the 2016 Precipice Fund Awards.[8] From 2002-2008 Jahn served as a board member of the Portland Art Museum’s Contemporary Art Council and was elected to the vice president’s post for a three-year term from 2005 to 2008. In 2006, he launched the visual arts non-profit Organism, which has hosted the work of artists Jarrett Mitchell[9]Pipilotti Rist, Yoram Wolberger, Weppler & Mahovsky and Hank Willis Thomas. In 2008, he shut down Organism as the scope of his projects fell increasingly outside of its more narrow mission of living artists. One of Jahn’s most memorable curatorial projects was a scholarly conference and exhibition[10] dedicated to the work of Donald Judd with Robert Storr as keynote speaker at the University of Oregon’s Portland campus. In April 2016 Jahn co-curated Habitats as an extension of his new media art interests [11] for the What Is? Media Conference at the University of Oregon, featuring Lynn Hershman-Leeson, Agatha Haines and Brenna Murphy among many other noted new media artists as well as virtual reality and other large scale installation works.


As a curator, Jahn has been behind exhibitions like: “Play” (2002),[12] “The Best Coast” (2003), “Symbiont Synthetic” (2003), “Fresh Trouble” (2005), “Model Behavior” (2007),[13] “Volume” (2008)[14] and Donald Judd (2010). Jahn’s art has been exhibited in the United States and Germany. Since 2007, his photography,[15][16] and spatial installations have received increasing attention. One solo show Eutrophication took place at Pacific Northwest College of Art’s Manuel Izquierdo Sculpture Gallery in April 2008. His most recent solo show Vection at the New American Art Union presented installation art and photography and was picked by the Huntington Post as a top show on the West Coast.[17] Jahn’s installation work was selected for the 10th Northwest Biennial at the Tacoma Art Museum where it was noted by numerous critics. One Seattle critic, Jen Graves, described the work as, “a faux forest canopy made of jagged pieces of plywood that create a small, localized environment of green-tinted shadows where you can hide out to think.”[18]

Publications, reviews and interviews[edit]

Jahn has been published, reviewed and or interviewed in, Art in America, Art News, CNN,[19]Modern Painters, The Wall Street Journal, Art Critical, NYArts, Clear Cut Press, The Oregonian, Oregon Public Broadcasting,[20]Portland Tribune, Portland Mercury, Willamette Week, The Stranger and Diesel music magazine. As publisher and chief critic of PORT, he prompted Stuart Horodner to state, “In the ecology of Portland he is an important independent player….He’s calling for a level of seriousness.”[21] His critical writings and photos for Northwest Drizzle and PORT are detailed documentation of the developments in the Portland art scene.

On September 5, 2002, The Oregonian said, “…Jahn’s laser focus on the present moment emphasizes one important thing about him: He’s the voice of right now.”[22] On December 20, 2006 Richard Speer stated, “Jeff Jahn has the smarts to mount quirky conceptual shows by nationally known artists…”[23] The Seattle Post-Intelligencer described “Fresh Trouble” (which included China’s Cao Fei) as “impressive.”[24]


  1. ^ Jahn, Jeff, Portland Tribune“Archived copy”. Archived from the original on 2013-02-22. Retrieved 2012-11-09.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link), January 12th 2012.
  2. ^ Plagens, Peter. Our Next Art Capital: Portland?, The Wall Street Journal, May 2nd, 2012.
  3. ^ Plagens, Peter. Report From the Blogosphere: The New Grass Roots, Art in America , November 2007.
  4. ^ ULTRA
  5. ^ Henderson, Harvest, The Oregonian, May 16th, 2003.
  6. ^ PAM Artist Talks, May 13, 2010.
  7. ^ Warhol Art Writing Grants Archived 2010-12-04 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ “Archived copy” (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2017-03-15. Retrieved 2017-03-14.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  9. ^ Gallivan, Joseph, Portland Tribune December 2006.
  10. ^ Vondersmith, Jason, Portland Tribune [1] Archived 2010-04-20 at the Wayback Machine April 15, 2010
  11. ^ “| What is Media?”.
  12. ^ Bancud, Michaela. Game plan: Local arts champion Jeff Jahn assembles a show that focuses on our innate need to play. Archived 2007-09-26 at the Wayback Machine The Portland Tribune, September 6, 2002.
  13. ^ Speer, Richard. Organism’s sophomore show impresses with restraint. Archived 2007-10-19 at the Wayback Machine Willamette Week, September 12, 2007
  14. ^ Motley, John. [2] Portland Mercury, September 4, 2008
  15. ^ Art News (review of and image from Zeitgeist at Pulliam Deffenbaugh gallery) September 2008
  16. ^ Portland Visual Chronicle Archived 2011-07-27 at the Wayback Machine September 2008
  17. ^ Jeff Jahn’s Vection at NAAU gallery Archived 2010-07-19 at the Wayback Machine
  18. ^ Jen Graves The Stranger, January 24th 2012
  19. ^ Brown, Aaron. [3] CNN, September 28, 2004
  20. ^ Think Out Loud. The Region’s Art. Archived 2012-04-02 at the Wayback Machine Oregon Public Broadcasting, August 8, 2008
  21. ^ Row, D.K. The Oregonian, September 5, 2002.
  22. ^ Row, David. The Oregonian, September 5, 2002.
  23. ^ Speer, Richard. Willamette Week, December 20, 2006 “Archived copy”. Archived from the original on 2008-07-20. Retrieved 2008-03-15.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link).
  24. ^ Hackett, Regina. Wake up, Seattle. Portland’s art world is gaining on you.[permanent dead link]Seattle Post-Intelligencer, October 10, 2005.

External links[edit]