Connecting Lines through History: Portland Art Museum’s Center for Contemporary Native Art

Sculpture Portland

Recurring Chapters in the Book of Inevitable Outcomes by Brenda Mallory. Image courtesy of the Portland Art Museum.

The Portland Art Museum’s Center for Contemporary Native Art is not a large space, but the curators always manage to squeeze a great deal of work into it, by working in multiple dimensions. This certainly holds true for the current Connecting Lines show, featuring Brenda Mallory (Cherokee Nation) and Luzene Hill (East Band Cherokee). Continue reading

The Octopus Eats its Own Leg

sculpture

Takashi Murakami, Photo: Maria Ponce Berre, © MCA Chicago

According to Japanese folklore, a distressed octopus can chew off an injured leg and a new one will grow in its place.  Regeneration and re-invention are certainly subtexts at Takashi Murakami’s mid-career retrospective at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art, but this sprawling exhibition also shows that while his work has certainly changed in form and focus, Murakami’s body of work, for all its emphatically contemporary, anime-inspired appearance, is, perhaps surprisingly, conscientiously rooted in hundreds of years of traditional Japanese visual culture.   Continue reading

Public Space & Old Tires

Photo credit: City of Chicago

Few cities do public art as well as Chicago.  Place the point of a giant compass at the intersection of State and Madison, and a circle with a radius of about 1,000 yards will encompass works by Calder, Picasso, Dubuffet, Chagall, Miro, Richard Hunt, Jaume Plensa and Anish Kapoor. Through April 2018, a public installation of sculptures by artist Chakaia Booker fills the Boeing Gallery, a comfortably shaded outdoor promenade that runs the length of Chicago’s Millennium Park.  These seven steel and rubber sculptures manage to remain lighthearted and invitingly interactive, though much of Chakaia Booker’s oeuvre is freighted with poignant allusions to race, class, and social mobility.     Continue reading

John Yeon’s Quest for Beauty

John Yeon State Natural Area, photo courtesy Portland Art Museum

I’ve always been fascinated by architecture, as it is both a large scale form of sculpture, and a form of three-dimensional art that is mostly inaccessible to artists that can easily work in other mediums. But even among architects, there are those that take their work to a scale even larger, and begin to shape the landscape, as well as the interior spaces that humans like to inhabit. Continue reading

Tanabe Chikuunsai IV at The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Heaven, Wind (title) Boat-shaped flower basket (description), 2014. 66 x 17.5 x 34.5 cm.

The Gate, a floor-to-ceiling curviling tiger bamboo structure by Tanabe Chikuunsai IV, rises up at The Met, its woven, brown-flecked flaxen limbs both hugging the floor and flying into the heavens.  It’s unlike any of the other ninety works on view at The Met. The flowing entrance spires signal a new era for bamboo design, craft, and sculpture. For one, this bamboo has been recycled ten times and was, for example, in a different configuration of rising braided arms at the Museé Guimet in Paris.   Continue reading

Fitting the Human Within Nature

Umbel Series, by Jenni Ward. Photo by Bill Bishoff, courtesy of UCSC Arboretum.

Nature is inspiration to many artists. But while natural form has inspired generations of artists, today many are finding source material not purely within the plants and animals, the leaves and seeds, flowers and rocks that we think of immediately when we consider the definition of “nature.” More and more commonly, artists are drawn to the juxtaposition between the natural world and the human world. Continue reading