Getting Lost at the Portland Art Museum

He writes in this font, she writes in this font. 

I swear time stands still in a museum. Hours feel like minutes and full days simultaneously. Last Saturday, from 2 in the afternoon until closing time, Megan and I got lost in the Portland Art Museum. Another fun date scratched off the winter list, and so much more.

It felt like the world stopped. Nothing outside existed. The opening room changed our universe in an instant with the towering presentation of the Fallen Fruit exhibition. Opulent wallpaper of turquoise, patterned with fruit set the backdrop for a diverse depiction of art related to the PNW. There were tribal pieces neighboring classic, richly colored landscapes and biblical paintings. Like a wheel hub, a cluster of vastly different statues turned people around the room in utter awe of abundant sensation. I have no idea whether we spent ten minutes or an hour staring up at the art, wallpaper, and the way descending light brought the room together — I only know I want to go back.

The current of Fallen Fruit guided us smoothly into a different sort of beauty: Seeing Nature. This room was crowded, people were trying to move through, against the tide of stagnant bodies, without pushing anyone. It was somewhat frantic, a little chaotic. While the room surged with life, the walls were calm, serene, gentle demonstrations of natural beauty. I’ll let Megan tell it from here because this room seemed to speak to her on a metaphysical level. Her eyes glowed the entire time.

Ever since I was little, I connected to art in a way that was indescribable. I wanted to be an artist, that was it. So, every time I am surrounded by the expressions of others, I want to rush home and create something. It's not uncommon for me to be the art museum visitor who is asked politely to keep my distance from the art by the kind, art museum folks (docents?). I simply get lost in the colors, the texture, and the brush strokes. I sort of fall into them. With the Fallen Fruit exhibit I did just that, it seemed as though each piece was selected in a way that felt like home. Having Guy there to experience that with me made it feel even more real because he truly is my home.  It was a collection of manifest destiny and the mysteries of the Pacific NW. I felt like I was finding old works of my great-grandfather’s common pieces that captured Alaska. It was beautiful. 

After Seeing Nature the museum seemed entirely empty. For an unknown time we strolled through the Native American art collection. Megan is tribal (if you didn’t know). Hearing her perspective on the art, its cultural importance, and how forgotten so many customs have become was beautiful. ‘Remarkable’ doesn’t do justice to the fading fact that dozens of tribes lived in harmony with the PNW habitat we all love for hundred and hundred of years.  Where I sit writing this post was undoubtedly unblemished forest only a few generations past. It makes you wonder what could have been here — maybe what should have been here.

We left the museum with an appetite. Figuratively, we were hungry to create something. Literally, our stomachs were grumbling and a stop at Trader Joe's was an absolute necessity. An hour after plundering TJs for a variety of appetizers and wine, Megan and I were planning our next project over potstickers, kale bites, and some two buck chuck.

Megan’s suggestion:  “Let’s make a book.”

Notice, she did not use the adjective ‘write’ that would typically fit square into that sentence. I don’t think Megan likes squares much actually, too rigid and determined. No, Megan wanted to make a book. So we decided to do just that.

Over the next year, Megan and I are collaborating to create a book about Portland from depictions of its people and their perspectives. There are over 600 thousand people living and loving in this city. Each person sees Portland uniquely. We aim to show a composite view of the city by capturing the sights, sounds, and thoughts of its people; from city official to street sleeper.

More to come…