Tag Archives: Annette Dixon

Portland collects: nailing down the story

Pablo Picasso, "Blind Minotaur, Guided through a Starry Night by Marie-Therese with a Pigeon)," 1934-35 from the Suite Vollard, 1930-37. Aquatint, drypoint, and engraving with scraping, edition of 250, Anonymous loan.

By Bob Hicks

Riches of the City: Portland Collects, the 237-work exhibition of art loaned by 83 of the city’s collectors from their private collections, opens Saturday at the Portland Art Museum, and I reviewed it in this morning’s Oregonian. You can read the review online here, but if you pick up a copy of the morning paper, this is one instance where you’re better off seeing it in print. It’s the cover story of the A&E section, and it includes a lot more pictures than the online edition, including photographer Thomas Boyd’s fine portraits of collectors Jordan Schnitzer, Bonnie Serkin and Chris Rauschenberg with some of their art.

Roy DeForest, "Forest Hermit," 1990, Acrylic on canvas with artist-carved frame, Collection of Arlene and Harold Schnitzer.The review stands pretty much on its own, as an overview of what is an overview exhibition. Each of the exhibit’s six areas of concentration makes up its own statement, and each could have been reviewed rigorously on its own, but for most viewers — and for the museum itself — the larger picture is more important.

So instead of listening to me go into more detail about specific works, I thought you might be interested in reading about how the whole package (the newspaper package, not the museum’s, which took a whole lot longer to negotiate and assemble) came together. The process is both complex and routine, and is a good example of what an amazing structure the modern newspaper is, for all its historical failings and current flailings. Keep in mind, this is an ordinary story that could be planned, not the unexpected emergency that sends journalists into deep scramble mode. Someday someone will write the story of how news of today’s Egyptian crisis reached the world. It’ll read like an unusually fascinating operating manual to a great big complex machine that’s constantly being retooled and reinvented while it’s operating full steam ahead.

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The canvas goes blank: Farewell to Nathan Oliveira and Beth Van Hoesen

Nathan Oliveira, "Nineteen Twenty-Nine," oil on canvas, 1961. Smithsonian American Art Museum/Gift of S.C. Johnson & Son, Inc., 1969.

By Bob Hicks

We’ve arrived at a time when many of the bright figures of 20th century art are slipping away into that final blankness that artists seem to anticipate better than the rest of us. Maybe it’s because artists begin each day with a blank canvas or paper and understand that the void is both an opportunity and an inevitability.

In the past week two fine West Coast artists, both based in San Francisco but well-known in Portland art circles, have died. Nathan Oliveira, who died last Saturday, was 81. Beth Van Hoesen, who died on Tuesday, was 84.

Beth Van Hoesen, "Boris," aquatint, etching, and dryprint, 1981.Both were figurative artists, although in very different ways and with very different outlooks and techniques. Oliveira, who is represented in Portland by Elizabeth Leach Gallery, was primarily a painter and sculptor (he also produced a lot of very good prints) and he was very much a modernist, an artist who explored the psychological dark corners. Van Hoesen was primarily a printmaker and an observer of the small wonders of life, a meticulous craftswoman and traditionalist whose skills and approach harked back to the likes of Durer. You can read Van Hoesen’s obituary here.

Continue reading The canvas goes blank: Farewell to Nathan Oliveira and Beth Van Hoesen

Putting the art in the scatter: Escher, Ainu, PNCA, beads

It’s a big weekend in Portland art. Not only are most of the city’s commercial galleries showing new stuff after their First Thursday and First Friday openings, but the Portland Art Museum also has a couple of big openings on Saturday, and another opens Saturday in the pavilion of the Japanese Garden. The Scatter brain trust will be busy making the rounds.

In the meantime, here’s our (just invented) Friday Scatter Rotogravure:



PNCA at 100, at the Portland Art Museum: The museum kicks off this centennial celebration of the Pacific Northwest College of Art, which for most of its lifetime was connected to the museum and was known as the Museum Art School. Now it’s on its own and bursting with ambition. This show goes back to the beginning with works by the likes of Anna B. Crocker and Harry Wentz, and includes Northwest icons such as Louis Bunce, Michele Russo, Lucinda Parker, George Johanson, Paul Missal and Jay Backstrand, all of whom have had close connections to the art school. Pictured here is Parker’s 1980 acrylic on canvas Feast of Stephen, a museum purchase from the Helen Thurston Ayer Fund.

This show, curated by Bruce Guenther, hangs around until Sept. 13.

M.C. Escher, Encounter, 1944. Collection Dr. & Mrs. Robery W. LearyM.C. ESCHER at the Portland Art Museum: Truly an artist for the Age of Engineering — a draftsman for the dreamers, a dreamer for the draftsmen. On Saturday the museum opens Virtual Worlds: M.C. Escher and Paradox, and somehow that’s got us us humming a tune from The Pirates of Penzance:

A paradox?
A parodox,
A most ingenious paradox!
We’ve quips and quibbles heard in flocks,
But none to beat this paradox!

The Escher Equation continues through Sept. 13 at the museum. Pictured is Escher’s 1944 lithograph Encounter, from the collection of Dr. and Mrs. Robert W. Leary.

This show, curated by Annette Dixon, hangs around until Sept. 13, too.


Ainu group, 1902 or 1904/Wikimedia Commons

PARALLEL WORLDS at the Japanese Garden: Subtitled Art of the Ainu of Hokkaido and Native Americans of the Pacific Northwest, this appealing-looking show brings together traditional ceremonial robes and other woven pieces by northern Japan’s Ainu ethnic group and the more familiar work of Tlingit and other artists from Alaska and British Columbia.

The Ainu story is intriguing: It’s a native nation from Japan’s northern islands, with a little spillover to main land Siberia, that has struggled to maintain its own identity: Only recently has Japan reversed a decades-long policy of forced assimilation.

The photo above isn’t from the exhibit. It was taken in 1902 or 1904, and was printed in the book Ainu: Spirit of a Northern People. It’s from Wikmedia Commons.

The exhibit, curated by Diane Durston, is in the Garden Pavilion through June 28.


Columbia Plateau beaded bag, ca. 1900-20. Coll. Arlene and Harold SchnitzerGIFTS OF HONOR at the Portland Art Museum: This very good show has been up since the end of last August in the museum’s Marge Riley Education Gallery, which straddles the museum’s two buildings, but it ends June 30, and you should try to catch it before it disappears.

Assembled from the collection of Arlene and Harold Schnitzer and subtitled Beaded Bags From the Columbia River Plateau, it’s a terrific sampling of 35 bags, ranging in age from about 1900 to about 1960. The one shown here is circa 1900-1920, and is made of glass beads, hide, wool, cotton cloth and cotton string.

The quality and variety of work in this show, which is curated by Anna Strankman, is immensely pleasing.


This is, of course, only a taste of what’s out there to be seen in the city’s galleries and museums. And we haven’t even mentioned its theaters and concert halls. On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, for instance, Oregon Ballet Theatre performs its season-ending show of Jerome Robbins and Christopher Wheeldon at Keller Auditorium. Go forth, fellow Scatterers, and multiply across the face of the city.