It’s First Thursday: can you see your art?

Storm Tharp, Bokashi, 2011 softground print, edition of 12. 30" x 22"/PDX Contemporary ArtBokashi, Storm Tharp/PDX Contemporary Art

By Bob Hicks

This evening is First Thursday, Portland’s monthly movable feast of gallery-hopping, and Mr. Scatter published this guide in this morning’s Oregonian. Lots of options, and as usual it’s just part of the picture: a lot of gallery openings and other art events aren’t included.

Well, it’s a big town. You can list all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but you can’t list all of the people all of the time. And that’s probably a very good thing: no sense exploding your brain with too much information.

Hiroshige, from "100 Views of Edo," Wikimedia CommonsSo of the 40 zillion or so images we might show you, we’ve chosen just one: Storm Tharp’s Bokashi, above, a 2011 softground print in an edition of 12 in the group show Oomph at PDX Contemporary Art. And we’re showing this one not just because we like it but also because it comes with a small but intriguing art-history connection, as PDX’s Jane Beebe points out. “One can see the influence of Japanese prints and masks in the trajectory of Storm’s artistic thought and work,” she writes, and then adds: “also I think it is interesting that Bokashi can refer to swipe….. the swipe of the eyes in the print.” She passes along as evidence this image (from One Hundred Famous Views of Edo)  by the legendary 19th century Japanese printmaker Hiroshige, along with this explanation from Wikipedia:

Bokashi  is a technique used in Japanese woodblock printmaking. It achieves a variation in lightness and darkness (value) of a single color by hand applying a gradation of ink to a moistened wooden printing block, rather than inking the block uniformly. This hand-application had to be repeated for each sheet of paper that was printed.

The best-known examples of bokashi are the shadings of a color often used by Hiroshige on landscape prints to depict the sky at the top of the print.

Most of the galleries participating in First Thursday are open from 6 to 8 or 9 p.m. Put on your walking shoes. And remember two things. First, most of the shows will be up all month, so don’t worry about hitting all of them (or any of them, for that matter) tonight. Second, a lot of other good exhibits aren’t taking part in First Thursday at all. Weekend jaunts are good.


  • Storm Tharp, “Bokashi,” 2011 softground print, edition of 12. 30″ x 22″/PDX Contemporary Art.
  • Hiroshige, from “One Hundred Famous Views of Edo,” Wikimedia Commons.