Tag Archives: Lee Kelly

‘It’s not about me, it’s about the region’

Lee Kelly in his studio at Leland Iron Works, outside Oregon City. Michael J. Burns.

By Bob Hicks

The best way to see the art of Lee Kelly, if you’re not lucky enough to visit his studio and expansive sculpture garden near Oregon City, is to hop on the bus or your bike or just start hoofing it around Portland. The city and its suburbs are speckled with his large public pieces, which have gone a long way toward defining a Pacific Northwest vision of a place where the natural and the man-made can coexist in harmonic creative tension.

Lee Kelly, Arlie, 1978, steel, at Portland Art Museum. Museum Purchase: Helen Thurston Ayer Fund, © Lee KellyOf course, taking the grand tour can be a bit strenuous. So before you pull out your official Lee Kelly art-hop map (the Portland Art Museum has handily created one, in easy-fold form, which will guide you to 31 sculptures in the greater Portland area and down the Willamette Valley as far as Eugene) head on down to the museum to take in the crackerjack retrospective of Kelly’s work that opened Saturday and continues through January 9.

Since Kelly’s been an active artist for more than 50 years, that’s a lot of retro to inspect. (The museum has also published a lavish and fitting catalog to accompany and expand on the exhibition.) But it’s a fascinating time trip, reaching all the way back to the heady days of abstract expressionism. Curator Bruce Guenther defines those brash young painting days as the first of three key periods in Kelly’s career, followed by his busy years of making large metal public work and a latter, reflective period — in Guenther’s words, “the post-public Kelly,” during which he’s created “not monuments, but personal landscapes.”

Continue reading ‘It’s not about me, it’s about the region’

If it’s Tuesday, this must be art season

By Bob Hicks

Hard to believe, but here it is late September and already Portland’s fall arts season is in full swing. Somehow things snuck up on Mr. Scatter (he knows he should say “sneaked up,” except he prefers the ancient and slightly disreputable “snuck”), and now he must do some serious catching up.

Some cool-looking things he sees on the near horizon:

Grand Master Seiichi Tanaka of San Francisco Taiko DojoTAIKO UNLEASHED and ROMP STOMP BOOM! A little bit of modern-music history storms the Newmark Theatre stage Saturday and Sunday when Grand Master Seiichi Tanaka and San Francisco Taiko Dojo join Portland Taiko for PT’s fall concerts. In American taiko circles, this is a little like having Scott Joplin, W.C. Handy and Jelly Roll Morton dropping by a modern jazz club for a jam: just how cool can these original stick-swinging cats be?

In a sense, Tanaka is the father of North American taiko (the contemporary, ensemble approach to the ancient Japanese drumming traces only to 1959 in Japan), and over the years since the young postwar immigrant founded it in 1968, San Francisco Taiko Dojo has gained near-legendary status. Stylistically and inspirationally, Tanaka and his group have been key players in the extraordinary spread of modern taiko across North America.

The players of Portland Taiko, one of America’s handful of professional ensembles, are no slouches, either. (Mr. Scatter likes Portland Taiko so much, he’s on its board.) Wear your raincoats: this could be a tsunami of sound. 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 2, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 3; shorter family matinee Romp Stomp Boom! at 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 2.

Continue reading If it’s Tuesday, this must be art season

Wednesday hot links: Get yer fresh dogs on Rye!

All right, so Mr. Scatter’s been doing this no-meat thing long enough now that veggie franks have actually started to taste good.

At least, if they’re slathered with enough mustard/relish/barbecue sauce/onions/sauerkraut/melted cheese.

And, no, no-meat doesn’t mean no fish or shellfish, or even the very occasional chicken thigh, or (once in a couple of blue moons) a blessed slice of crisp bacon.

Yes, I embrace the vegetable kingdom. No, I’m not fanatic.

Still, most of my links these days are of the virtual variety, a few of which I freely share with you:


To Move, To Breathe, To Speak. Michele Russo, 1960PNCA at 100: Two good pieces on the new exhibit at the Portland Art Museum celebrating a century of the Pacific Northwest College of Art, which began life as the Museum Art School. A few quibbles, a lot of insights and an impressive parade of names from Oregonian arts writers D.K. Row, here, and Barry Johnson, here. Read ’em both and you’ll want to rush right down to see the show yourself. I haven’t yet. I will soon. And if your reflexes are slow, don’t worry: The exhibit stays up until Sept. 13.


LOUISE NEVELSON, OUT OF THE BOX: One of the liveliest, best-written arts blogs in town is Fifty Two Pieces, a site that takes as its starting point artists and artworks in the collection of the Portland Art Museum and follows them wherever its muse travels. Right now the site is concentrating on the great and formidable Louise Nevelson, she of the black boxes. Dig back a few posts and you’ll find a series on Portland sculptor Lee Kelly. You should know this site!


CULTURE JOCK DRIVES TO SEATTLE: … and sees the sights along the way. For anyone who makes that dreary I-5 drive semi-regularly (and don’t a lot of us?) CJ’s tongue-in-cheek record of his recent trip is priceless. Which means you can’t buy it with your Master Card. But you can read it free, here.


HOLDEN CAULFIELD, WON’T YOU PLEASE STAY HOME: For a 90-year-old recluse, J.D. Salinger is a pretty darned public cantankerous cuss. He’s made such a fetish of his desire for privacy and his insistence that his artistic creations are inviolable that by now he’s better known for his churlishness than for the 58-year-old novel, The Catcher in the Rye, that made us aware of his existence in the first place.

rye_catcherMr. Salinger does know the legal profession, and in pursuit of his vaunted rights has made liberal use of it over the years. The New York Times reports here that now he’s suing over copyright infringement — “a ripoff pure and simple,” as his lawyers put it — by the 33-year-old Swedish author of a book titled 60 years Later: Coming Through the Rye.

Now, I’m all for copyright laws and the right of artists to protect their creations. But Salinger has a pretty weird idea of what’s his and what’s out there in the ether to be grabbed and reinterpreted. In Salinger’s mind, John Donne got it wrong: One man is an island entire of itself. Donne, at least, seemed to intuit that life, and art, are about borrowing and sharing and rethinking and creating something new from something old. Salinger thinks they’re immovable ice statues, frozen in time.

According to the Times, Fredrik Colting, the author of 60 Years Later (which revisits Holden Caulfield as an old man of 76), says his novel is a “comment on the uneasy relationship between his imagined version of Mr. Salinger and the Holden Caulfield character: ‘In order to regain control over his own life, which is drawing to a close, “Mr. Salinger” tries repeatedly to kill off Mr. C by various means: a runaway truck; falling construction debris; a lunatic woman with a knife; suicide by drowning and suicide by pills.’

Sounds like Mr. Colting’s caught the contemporary point: Salinger himself is at the center of the Caulfield universe, and putting him there explicitly is a sufficient reinterpretation of and commentary on the original to qualify it as a discrete work.

I do wish, however, that Colting’s defense weren’t sprinkled with this sort of academic obfuscation: “In additional written declarations, Martha Woodmansee, a professor of English at Case Western Reserve University, writes that Mr. Colting’s novel is a work of ‘meta-commentary’ and ‘is thus a complex work, more complex than’ Mr. Salinger’s novel.”


I have a toothache. Leave me alone.

Or I’ll sue.

Those tasty Tuesday hotlinks, well-scattered

While you continue to hone your answers for the “movies that move me” confessional below — more! we want more! (it’s kinda getting a little Bruno Bettelheim-y in there) — we have some refreshing links from home and abroad.

Let the celebrity conduct Maybe this is “only on the BBC” but a new reality show is hoping to bridge the gap between classical music and pop culture by enlisting some UK celebrities, most notably drum’n’bass inventor Goldie. The key moment in the Scotsman’s story: “A giant, shaven-headed fellow with an imperious demeanour, he is dressed in a yellow T-shirt, tracksuit bottoms and trainers. Gold teeth glint from his mouth. Yet the moment he launches into conducting, I – and the entire orchestra – are spellbound.” And now I’m thinking who I’d reallywant to see conduct the Oregon Symphony…

Kindle, the new iPod? Wired speculates on the fate of Amazon’s Kindle e-book reader, which apparently is starting to gain traction in the universe. I’ve briefly pondered its fate before on Scatter, and Wired is rather dismissive. But still…

Art in The Oregonian Because of my professional affiliations and all, I don’t usually do this, but I gladly send you off to four recent visual arts stories by my comrades: Bob Hicks takes on Andy Warhol at the Maryhill Museum, D.K. Row on Portland sculptor/icon Lee Kelly, and Inara Verzemnieks on the 100th Monkey Studio’s mischief art show and on Caldera’s Hello Neighbor street art project.

And now, without further interruption, descend one post and tell us about your movie past!