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Ok, many have cabin fever with the family and or loved ones and have already had their fill of holiday shopping (I detest it). The clear antidotes are some art exhibitions that allow one to stroll and contemplate while getting far awy from the house or stores. Here are my picks: AWyeth_On-The-Edge.jpg
Andrew Wyeth, On The Edge (2001)

The Wyeths: Three Generations at the Portland Art Museum feels more like a family gathering than a museum survey of the Wyeths… because that is exactly what it is. It is a good thing. Whether you love Andrew Wyeth’s bone ghostly landscapes or his masterful wisps of existential hair in hardscrabble Americana or not this exhibition extols a waspy New England generational presence, like a Thanksgiving Day rendezvous with all the familial dramas, humor and warmth simmering underneath. That said, I am an unrepentant Andrew Wyeth fan despite the work never really being couth in Greenbergian… then Artforum circles (a sign he was on to something) and I also grew up appreciating N.C Wyeth’s illustrations. All of which contributed to a more fluid appreciation of visual culture that doesnt put artificial barriers up between graphic art and Art. As a family, the Wyeths cover the whole spectrum… but Andrew Wyeth is the great one and the reason there is a traveling exhibition of his family’s work. There’s a vitality in this filial arrangement. Patriarch N.C. Wyeth has a fantastical bent, Andrew’s world is haunted and Jamie brings humor and nature’s animus. True, this a lot of waspishness here in a time when all white male Newenglanders are reviled as a kind of LLBean clad Brahman class in the US socio-political landscape but I am a firm believer that no one be they Mexican, Jew, Irish, Italian, Nordic or Hmong should have to apologize for what they are and what their culture brings to the table. There are some truly marvelous works, especially the large Andrew Wyeths that are not behind glass, several N.C. Wyeth oil paintings that became book illustrations and a witty conclusion with Jamie Wyeth, whose painting of empty adirondak chairs sums it all up.

The Wyeths: Three Generations | October 7 – January 28, 2018
Portland Art Museum
1219 SW Park Ave

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Bill Will, House of Mirrors

It is a great time to reflect on the state of the USA at the moment. To that end perhaps no Portland artist illustrates the risks that have always been present than Bill Will. Will is one of Portland’s biggest trickster satirist installation artists and in times like these what could be more appropriate than a lil art sideeye? Funhouse at the Hoffman Gallery is just what we need, a reminder of just how wrong we have always been as a nation. The entire menagerie of installations themselves form a funhouse with a specific route of whirling twirling theatricality that the viewer completes as a participant… predictably ending in a gift shop.

Funhouse | September 10 – December 10
Ronna and Eric Hoffman Gallery of Contemporary Art
Lewis & Clark College

0615 S.W. Palatine Hill Road

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photo: Yamazaki Kenji

What could be a better antidote to holiday shopping and being cooped up with relatives for days? … a quick trip to Japan, sure. Well, the Portland Japanese Garden is one of our premier cultural gems and the latest exhibition Mirrors of the Mind: The Noh Masks of Ohtsuki Kokun is perhaps the ultimate exploration of sophisticated mask creation. Noh masks are incredibly subtle as they are meant to be animated by the slightest turn transforming mild into sly and the demonic into loyal or honorable in the hands of a capable actor. This gives Noh masks an otherworldly aspect that draws viewers into a kind of phantasmagorical understanding/experience of why and how faces convey complex meaning through manipulation of light and posture. Master mask maker Ohtsuki Kokun elevates what in the USA has been thought of as merely an entertaining past time into something more sublime and hard to pin down. Certainly these mask reflects on a place of shadow where humanity dwells and communicates… masks can reveal the ghost in the machine. On top of that the Garden in Fall is simply outstanding.

Mirrors of the Mind: The Noh Masks of Ohtsuki Kokun | October 14 – December 3rd
Portland Japanese Garden
611 SW Kingston Ave
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