Tag Archives: Portland Art Museum

Poetic Imagination in Japanese Art

Poetic Imagination in Japanese Art

I forget where I heard this but I heard the Portland Art Museum has a $5 after 5pm special every Friday! Not that the regular ticket is that expensive but its a good way to get out into downtown and experience some culture on the cheap. It was Christmas too so I really wanted to get downtown among the hustle and bustle to see what was going on plus whatever was on exhibit at the museum.

They change their stuff around pretty frequently which is nice but also makes the $5 ticket price a real bargain when you consider it. It was only a few months ago that I saw the Shape of Speed exhibit here. I didn’t know what was happening when I arrived so I was pleasantly surprised when they had a special showing called Poetic Imagination in Japanese Art.

They have several different areas that highlight different types of art in Japan as it evolved over time. Its a style of art that you know it when you see it. Just like their tattoo style. What this exhibit did highlight were different areas where the art was used for different purposes. One was simply writing in large characters which is still practiced today and takes a special hand to complete. The flow with the brush is pretty cool to watch.

They had another section of landscapes. Lots of imagery and symbolic meaning with the landscapes that where chosen. Mostly in that muted and limited color palate but still no less amazing to see. Another big area was landscapes with poetry. Poetry was very big in Japanese culture back in the day. More so here then in any other culture from around the same time period that I know of. These poets would come up with some beautiful stuff so to go along with the words often it was done on a painting.

You can’t see everything in one visit but at that price, who cares. Its a reason to come back the following Friday to continue checking out what the museum has to offer. That Friday I saw all the special exhibit with time to spare so I headed upstairs to the second level. Here I finished out the left section of the museum but still haven’t made it over to the modern art building. One day….

A giant orchid outside the museum.

On my way out I saw a posted notice that the museum is seeking approval to expand the museum. It’s great to see the Portland Art Museum isn’t suffering from a lack of funding. I think only good can come from having and appreciating more art. Whatever form that takes the world can use more of it.

Knowing that there are cheap tickets every Friday I am going to have to make this a regular stop for myself. I figure at least once a quarter would be worth it. Checkout what’s on special and get downtown for an evening out. Thinks are a little busy right now but maybe come February I can get back for another quick visit on a Friday afternoon.

The Shape of Speed

So as most typical natives I don’t really play tourist in my own town. I love visiting art museums but the majority of those that I have been to have been while traveling. Seattle Art Museum, Denver Art Museum, High Museum of Art in Atlanta, National Gallery of Art, National Portrait Gallery, and Le Louvre.

Kristina proposed seeing the exhibit The Shape of Speed: Streamlined Automobiles and Motorcycles at the Portland Art Museum. A special exhibition featuring 19 rare streamlined automobiles and motorcycles from the 1930 to 1942. Sunday was the last day of the show and she knows I like cars. I was so excited when she said the museum. I have wanted to go here since I moved but just never found the time to make it. I was excited to see the cars but also the art on the wall.

We meet early for brunch at a cafe she found in downtown called Bijou Cafe. We got there rather early on her advice because by 10am brunch places get pretty packed. This early we were able to walk right in and get a table.

After a quick bite to eat we walked down to the museum to check things out. Being the last day it was rather busy but that’s ok. The first floor is where all the cars were. Lots of classically designed cars with sweeping curves and big personalities. All the cars were “production” cars near as I could tell. Such a great variety of manufacturers and designs. Also some innovated design elements like early electronic systems and umbrella’s in the door. Another thing I noticed with most of the cars is they where built with travel in mind. Mostly to store all the luggage one was to have when traveling back in the 30’s and early 40’s.

Next we went to the second level to check out some of the art on the wall. Honestly we didn’t get to deep into it. We saw a couple of rooms but that was it. We sat and enjoyed a couple of paintings, discussing the finer details of the works like civilized art critics. I do think most discussions of art are opinions wrapped as knowledge. Some good stuff here but some weird stuff as well. Couldn’t find an over all theme to the collection but still a worthy group.

A great exhibit and I was happy to hear Kristina recommend it. It was thoughtful, cultural and something we both could enjoy. The food was good which doesn’t hurt either. Honestly the highlight of the day for me was seeing her face when I gave her some flowers at the end of the day.