Friday, October 5, 2012

Our Trip to the Portland Art Museum


On Tuesday Eric and I decided to do something a little different on his day off.  I had wanted to visit the Portland Art Museum for a couple of weeks and so off we went.  Being from the Pasadena area of California, I will admit that I am a little spoiled.  We have the wonderful Norton Simon Museum which, although not large, has an incredibly versatile and impressive collection.  We also have the LACMA, the MOCA, and the Getty, but the Norton Simon is my favorite. Happily, there were sections of the Portland Art Museum that reminded me very much of the Norton Simon.

Not knowing our way around, we actually ended up in the areas with modern and contemporary art first.  I will admit, that this style is not my favorite.  As a Humanities major at BYU-Provo I had many art history classes on different styles and periods and after all of them, I still enjoy the Impressionists the most (Renoir above all) as well as older, classical styles.  I love bright colors, creative uses of light and light sources, and differences in textures, like metal, lace, velvet, and flesh.

Here are some of my favorites from our visit: (I highly encourage you to click on the pictures to see them in larger sizes...)
I love portraits like this one:  "Madame de Pompadour."

One of Monet's many water lily paintings is exhibited there.

Wonderful textures of the different fruits, petals, containers, and the marble counter.

One of my absolute favorites of the day "Nature's Fan," which shows either a young mother or sister fanning a cherubic child with a handful of leaves.  This picture does not do it justice, because the way the artist shows the flesh and veins on the hands and feet is just exquisite.

This was another one I really liked, which shows a Spartan woman giving her son a shield before he leaves.  I could see myself choosing this one to write about in a college class.  You can see the mother's worry, trying to be brave as she sends her oldest off to war.  Perhaps she is already a widow.  There is a lot of subtext to this piece.

And it was thrilling to see a very famous Renoir piece in person. 
 Once in a while a modern piece will captivate me.  Both Eric and I were amazed at this sculpture called "The Dishwasher."  My first glance at it was coming down a flight of stairs and, thinking we were alone, I was about to say something to him.  Then I saw this man sitting down out of the corner of my eye and, convinced he was real, stayed silent.  We were both dumbfounded as we approached and realized it was a sculpture.  It is incredibly life-like...
I don't know what the piece weighs, but you can feel the weight, the tiredness, and the hours of exhaustive physical labor in the subject's posture and expression.

I was most impressed with his hands.  Looking at this photo alone, would you ever guess that this is not a real person?

Here are some other modern pieces that we really liked:
Made from a collection of tiles, this mosaic-type piece shows the atom bomb in mid-explosion.

When you approach it, you see the tiles are sometimes ears, skulls in different positions, dominoes, brick walls, etc.  A very interesting, thought-provoking piece.

Impressive in its realism, this painting shows wonderful details in shadow, reflection, perspective, and even the oil stains on the pavement. You feel like you are looking through a window into the past.

Again, it was the details that I liked about this sculpture.

A hat?  A spine?  No, a stack of figures in crouched positions one on top of the other.  It is odd, but you can't stop looking at it...

I just loved the use of color in this piece.

One of my favorites of the modern pieces, a self-portrait of the artist.  We are forced to make eye-contact him, and that is what I like about it.

And, of course, there are the pieces that just create a series of questions, such as "what is art?"

This one showed the sun going down repeatedly, while playing audio from "Apocalypse Now." 
Of course, art itself, in any form is supposed to make you reflect and feel and remember it.  I would say that all of the pieces above were successful in doing that, so much so that days later, I am still thinking about them.

We had a lovely day, the weather was absolutely perfect--although windy--and we concluded our Portland trip with a late lunch at Jake's Grill.  I'm looking forward to another trip to the museum and a chance to revisit what we saw and ponder them again in person.

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