"Ain't it great?"

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That was Jeffry Mitchell's review of his own show at the opening on Thursday at James Harris Gallery, and it wasn't weird—because, yeah, it is.

"It has all of my concerns in one place," he rambled, his excitement spilling through the infamous gap in his front teeth, which is always showing, because he is always either smiling or talking or open-mouthed in some manner of wonder. "It's like my oldness coming together with my experience."

There's a single shelf running around three walls of the gallery's main room, ­and the shelf is lined with a riotous, close-­quarters, retail-y lineup of 59 honey-colored, green, white, brown, chrome, and aqua ceramic vases. During the opening, people kept inexplicably picking up the vases in their arms and carting them to an empty white pedestal in the middle of the room. Turns out this pedestal was put there so that someone considering buying a vase or three—there is a discount for plural—could set their desired objects down and look at them from all sides and in combinations. It's pedestal as fashion runway and checkout stand; the transactions are part of the installation without being ironic or didactic. Do I want to sell art? Yes I do! (Note: Being self-conscious but not obnoxious is Mitchell's superpower.)

This show has it on the micro and macro levels: The transparency of the retail only enhances the mystery of the symbolically coded/loaded vases and the reticence of the skeletal color drawings of flowers hanging on the fourth wall, facing the vases. (There are 13 drawings; the one in the center is so light that it virtually disappears.)

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Each thick vase "is a little world," somebody said. They are shaped like burly forearms and hands with stigmata openings, or feet (Philip Guston), or lined tin cans (co-made with Matthew Cox; Mitchell is an eternal collaborator, e.g., his video made with Tivon Rice involving shaving cream dripped on a lit transparent surface at the Henry Art Gallery), or fat pots studded with eagles and rabbits and bears. Drawings on their surfaces depict sparkling sunsets and frogs and bunting and elephants. Catholicism pops up; like Mitchell's glimmering, naked-bulb-lit Sphinx installation at the Portland Art Museum's Contemporary Northwest Art Awards last summer, this show's undercurrent is indeterminate, insistent worship under the biggest possible tent, with Latin and dirty double-entendres and a spectrum of styles from meadow-hippie to glam. The number 23—the one numerologists say connects everything—appeared on every pot I turned over in my hands, which is a bifurcated pleasure: They're brawny, but plainly delicate.

It wasn't at all in a vulgar way that everyone wanted one and that by the end of the night, the gallery had sold forty works of art. recommended