Tag Archives: art

Visual Wednesday: First Thursday in September


Fortunately, First Thursday this past week fell on another pleasantly mild weather day in Portland. Next month I anticipate excessive amounts of overflowing puddles and zippered waterproof raincoats to be worn in true Oregon form. No umbrellas allowed. We shall see once the tumultuous fall weather arrives.

Weather aside, First Thursday was refreshing for other reasons. My highlight was the exclusive show at the Daily in the Pearl District featuring George Perrou. A prolific artist in Portland and the larger area, Perrou’s paintings are featured in the Daily as part of a collaboration with Amy Caplan of Caplan Art Designs based in Portland, Oregon. In the space, Caplan displays various Perrou paintings in his unique style that lends a vibrant mood to the Daily space.

Each canvas boasts flatly painted backgrounds, and compositions of high-contrast lines and shapes. Subjects range from purely abstract, while other paintings are abstractions of otherworldly landscapes. Watch this video for an in-depth look at the artist’s process.

Perrou refers to his “Retro Modern” style as derived from a range of influences such as mid-century industrial design palettes (think green ovens and pink toasters) and productions by Hanna-Barbera cartoons, as well as artists like Joan Miro, Wassily Kandinsky, and Alexander Calder. While he doesn’t operate on the same theoretical basis as the aforementioned artists, it is refreshing to view paintings that echo the lighthearted approach of the painter George Perrou.

The following images are a side by side comparison of Four Flowers by George Perrou (left image source) and Catalan Landscape (The Hunter) by Joan Miro (right image source). George Perrou’s paintings will be on view for the next few weeks of September at the Daily located here. Give the paintings a look and brave the puddles if the weather is soggy because it is worth it.


On another note, I plan to review a different event in the Portland area next month in an effort to switch it up a little. Presently, it’s a question to review the ever-quirky, and mostly low-brow art event Last Thursday off Alberta Avenue, or the east side’s First Friday event.

Any recommendations for another art event in the area?


IMG_1817Greetings readers!

I will post my monthly review of First Thursday for August later tonight or tomorrow. Posting later than usual is good, trust me, because I am fine tuning the content to be top-notch! I am excited to share my experience with you soon.

Did you go to First Thursday last week? Please don’t hesitate to share your review and thoughts too. Let’s have a conversation.

For now, enjoy this provoking quote by Pablo Picasso. “Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.”

Another post coming soon!


Visual Wednesday: After Postmodernism in the “Seven Ages of Buildings” Series

Tower Reflection

What Comes After Post-Modernism?

To discuss current buildings and structures, is to consider architecture in terms of the question, “What comes after post-modernism?” Perhaps, when discussing those structures that are recently built or still in process, is to discuss the now. Comparing contemporary buildings and structures to Shakespeare’s line, “At first, the infant. Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms”, these new buildings are as fresh to the world as newborn infants. Recent and in progress buildings are in a period of architectural beginnings, and their futures are unforeseeable.

As I see it, there are two upfront limitations to talking about such fresh, infancy stage buildings. The first limitation is a lack of perspective.

Jumping into a conversation on current architecture is a good reminder that we are living in current times as well. So, there may not be an adequate perspective yet. Further, architectural discussions in art history typically hinge upon a process of distinguishing the characteristics of a movement (or style) from previous movements and noting new conventions. This could be problematic when attempting to analyze a current architectural style, because we aren’t removed from the present. Neither do we have the perspective allotted us, as we do when discussing older forms of architecture.

The second limitation is based on the trend away from labeling. Simply put, many academics and architects alike don’t care to label or name specific styles in contemporary architecture. It is problematic, so it is avoided.

Contemporary architecture discussion requires little to no labeling, at this point in time. In my experience, post-modernism is one of the last movements discussed in an art historical context. It seems the buildings of today are simply part of contemporary architecture. Surely, current buildings are contemporary architecture, but is a label necessary? I argue that it is too soon to name the current style, and that maybe labels aren’t worthwhile anyway. (I don’t think I am alone in this assertion, so perhaps I am stating more of a consensus than an argument. See this article.)

On to buildings and structures of today.

View a quick slide show of recent stunning buildings completed since 2009.

Current buildings are amalgamations of all architectural forms before them. Many architects try to incorporate newness in terms of materials, building processes, and thoughtful designs. Plus, a lot more, that is too lengthy to cover in a single post.


An interesting example of a contemporary building is the Sky City building that broke ground in China about one week ago. Set to be constructed in 10 months time, it is scheduled to be done in 2014. It will be the tallest building in the world at 838 meters, and an entire 10 stories taller than the current tallest building, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. See full details.

Adding to the complex conversation about contemporary buildings and structures, the following video highlights a number of architects’ opinions regarding the reason they chose architecture as a profession and the biggest challenge facing architecture today from MOCA tv.

While a contemporary discussion of buildings and structures has some limits concerning perspective and labeling difficulties, there is a lot we are able to consider. Surely, the place in history of today’s buildings and structures is unknowable, but there certainly are a prolific amount of buildings and structures that belong to what I will loosely call contemporary architecture.

Photo Source: 1. Absolute World in Mississauga, Ontario from Flickr 2. Sky City in China from Radio City


Visual Wednesday: Infancy in the “Seven Ages of Buildings” Series

Okay folks, apologies for the tardiness of this post. Please recall last week’s introduction to a mini series on buildings and structures through time, based loosely upon one of my favorite poems, “All the World’s a Stage” by William Shakespeare.

While the following  excerpt from the poem should include my musing on present day structures and buildings, “At first, the infant. Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms”, I am finding it more of a challenge than I originally assumed. Expect this sort of post next Wednesday! To start this discussion in the present and continue the series to the far off past requires at the very least some prefacing. Continue reading


Fig. 1: William Mulready, Seven Ages of Man, Oil on canvas, 1838. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Seven_ages_of_man.jpg

A favorite William Shakespeare poem of mine, “All the World’s a Stage”, is from the play, As You Like It. Based on inspiration from this poem, I will begin a new series next week with seven installments. I have been mulling over buildings and structures built through history, and will loosely translate the the seven ages of man, from infancy to old age, as a parallel to buildings and structures through time.

Beginning next week , the first post will cover a contemporary structure as the first stage of infancy. From infancy I will discuss increasingly older buildings continuing along the stages of childhood, the lover, the soldier, the justice, old age, and extreme old age. There will be a few visual Wednesday breaks in this mini series for the first Thursday review and a few other surprises I have in store. I am truly thrilled to offer seven posts purely on buildings ans structures as the topic.

While I do have an outline in mind, I am open to suggestions on specific buildings for each stage. Readers are welcome to submit ideas by leaving a comment.

Until next week, enjoy this classic poem.

All the World’s a Stage by William Shakespeare

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first, the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms.
And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon’s mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slipper’d pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side,
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

Visual Wednesday: A Wooden Mallet


Photo Source: Mittlerbros.com

July’s First Thursday Review & a Wooden Mallet

First Thursday fell on a holiday this month, so I didn’t attend the event. I did, however take advantage of an early free admittance on Wednesday at the Museum of Contemporary Craft (MoCC). Last month I wrote about the bowl at the MoCC, so this month I will share another highlight of an exhibit that I viewed more intentionally.

On this first Wednesday, I interacted with Soundforge by metalsmith Gabriel Craig, in partnership with composer Michael Remson. Soundforge was first realized in Houston, Texas and now Portland, Oregon at the MoCC through September 21, 2013.

The piece includes 16 wooden hand-carved mallets in a variety of shapes and sizes. The mallets are arranged vertically along an invisible horizontal line, with a white outline of each mallet’s uniques shape and a grey painted wall for a background. Each mallet is supported at the intersection of the head and handle by two nails. The rest of the piece includes hundreds of vertically strung hand-forged metal pieces that Craig refers to as keys. Three stands generously spread throughout the room organize the hundreds of hand-forged metal keys. The stands and keys are similar to vertically oriented xylophones. Further, there are a number of important interactive components that include multimedia, performance by musicians, and an invitation for all viewers to play the instrument as well.

To promote a complementary viewer interaction, Craig explains that all notes are in the same key of F minor pentatonic scale. This way the sounds work together, but are arranged in no particular order.

Personally, I truly enjoyed the opportunity to be involved in the work. I found myself curiously experimenting with the various mallets and the percussion sounds of the keys individually and together. Often I held two mallets, randomly striking and tapping keys. I noted the keys sound different depending on where you strike the metal, the middle, edge, top or bottom. A few other people were viewing and engaging with Soundforge while I was there, and I found our playing to be surprisingly cohesive.

Soundforge, according to Craig, highlights a specific moment in the metal forging process, when metal making is accompanied by percussion. His expressed intention to highlight the process, and act of object making is not only an interesting concept, but the intended meaning was well received by myself and other viewers I observed.

Visual Wednesday: What About the Bowl?

Urban bowl.

A post shared by Elya Simukka (@elya365) on

In a previous post reviewing June’s First Thursday event, I promised to personally interact with a bowl from a special project at the Museum of Contemporary Craft (MOCC). The current exhibit, Object Focus: The Bowl is curated by Namita Gupta Wiggers, and lasts until September 21, 2013. This special engagement with a bowl is made possible thanks to the Engage+Use side of the project which, “features contemporary project-based work that investigates the processes of making, using, and living with bowls” according to the exhibit site page. Special thanks to Ayumi Horie and Michael Strand whose organization extends the bowl lending process to both the MOCC and the Multnomah County Library. More information here.

Now, for the details on the 3 levels of involvement in the project, a brief formal description of the borrowed bowl, and lastly how I used the bowl.


Level 1 involvement includes visiting the museum and the ability to view, touch, and handle a variety of bowls on display.

Level 2 involvement in this project is simple too. You may borrow any available bowl for up to one week from the Multnomah County Library or the MOCC. Borrowers assume the cost of the bowl, should the bowl shatter to smithereens or never return to the museum, but it is otherwise free. (There are fines for returning a bowl late or damaging it slightly also.)

Level 3 involvement is simply to share the ways you used a borrowed bowl through words, pictures, or any other preferred expression in the form of a public blog moderated by the museum.

While there are many options in the bowl library, this is the bowl I chose to borrow!


Artist: Kyla Toomey

Title & Date: Button Bowl, 2013

Media: Porcelain, 3″ x 5.5″

Location: Portland, Oregon, USA at the Museum of Contemporary Craft

Formal Description

As a tabletop scale sculpture, this porcelain bowl measures 3″ by 5 1/2″. It is symmetrical when divided by a vertical axis. The interior and exterior share the same creamy, off white glaze.

The exterior is evenly punctuated by small, “nail head” scale circles that recess into the overall volume of the bowl’s exterior. From each small circle, are four lines incised at ninety degrees from one another, in a horizontal and vertical orientation. The lines echo the outward bow of the bowl into the viewer’s space.  The combined circle and line techniques lend a texture similar to upholstery buttons on tufted furniture. It is my guess that this effect is the inspiration for the title, Button Bowl.

Button Bowl‘s interior is quite close to a reverse version of the exterior’s indents and swells, although it is smoother, with no incised lines. This bumpy, but relatively smooth interior serves as a reminder of the use of this sculpture as a utilitarian object as well.

Finally, Button Bowl is glazed over the entire surface, except for the thin line where the ring of porcelain at the base meets the surface it rests upon.

Use of Button Bowl: as vase, human food bowl, and animal watering dish

A friend challenged me to use the bowl every day and use it for everything. I didn’t quite achieve this, but Button Bowl was a happy addition to many of my daily routines. I found it easy to clean, and the shape to be very agreeable to grip and eat from. Ultimately, I used it for eating some delicious homemade salads and soups, a vase for a flower arrangement, and feeding a friend’s kitty cat.

All activities included a thorough washing between each use, of course! I want to give special credit to the two clever kids who came up with the idea to feed Cocoa the cat also, as I would have never thought to do so. For the full food recipes please visit here as well. Today I returned the bowl, in one piece and paid nothing to participate in this amazing art project.

What do you think about this interactive art? Do you plan to borrow a bowl?