Longtime readers may remember a post from April 2014 about art in downtown Portland. I wrote about statues along 5th and 6th Avenues, the Portland Art Museum, and Kenny Scharf totem poles, among other things.
Last month, I had the pleasure of returning to Portland with Jerry Sacher, and of continuing on to three other cities in Oregon: Salem, Corvallis and Eugene. We discovered that art is prized not only in Portland, but in these other cities as well, proving that the overall culture of Eastern Oregon is very artist-friendly.
Something new we saw this time in Portland is The Grotto, which is the National Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother. Set at the base of a 100-foot cliff and surrounded by fir trees, The Grotto includes a vast botanical garden filled with Catholic statuary and art, a shrine carved into the cliff, a Marian chapel and more.
The space is perfect for quiet meditation. When you wander the paths, you never know when you might come across a statue that will make you take pause. Here are just a few of the beautiful scenes we beheld in The Grotto….
In Salem, the capitol of Oregon, there is a comprehensive, 5-acre museum that preserves over two dozen historical buildings, including a wool factory, a Methodist parsonage (right), and a Presbyterian church. The reason I am including the Willamette Heritage Center in my art round-up is the fact that it includes spaces for local artists and craftspeople to show and sell their wares. We had an especially stimulating conversation with Max Marbles, a bookbinder and repairer with an, pardon the pun, encyclopedic knowledge of art history and techniques. The Heritage Center seemed like it would be a fun place to set up an art studio and store!
After our day in Salem, we traveled to Corvallis, a small, idyllic college town. I have to title this section simply “Corvallis”, because there are so many examples of art to mention. The town was filled with galleries featuring the work of Willamette Valley artists, there were many public pieces on sidewalks (and even in alleys!), and there was an art walk that is part of a monthly series. Plus, the most Twin Peaksy thing happened while we were in Corvallis! While we were walking through Central Park, there was a man on a bench playing a very jazzy saxophone. It sounded a bit like this.
Public pieces include Clever Disguise by Peter Helzer (left), and this ornate water fountain (right) erected in memory of Frank Grove. Below is my favorite piece from the extensive alley art exhibit. I couldn’t find a placard for this amazing metal fly sculpture, but it sure did look cool looking down at us from the wall!
Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art
The final stop in our four-city tour was Eugene, a city that includes both the relatively flat valley and some very dramatic hills. Located on the University of Oregon campus, the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art was one of the highlights of the entire trip. The museum included some fabulous exhibits, including prints from postwar Japan, impressive paper cut-outs by Catalina Delgado Trunk (left), and faux Orthodox icons by trained iconographer Olga Volchkova. The latter works include such irreverent characters as St. Watermelon (right).
What impressed me most, however, was the caliber of big-name works the school was able to procure for its students and visitors to see. I am talking about works by the likes of Auguste Rodin and Raymond Pettibon, and collaborations between Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat. (See below.) I felt really lucky to be in the presence of these priceless masterworks.