Let art take you away

Ahh spring. That time when a young man’s fancy turns to thoughts of … art? Portland is known for its plethora of art galleries and museums. If you’re going to have a lot of time on your hands this spring break, how about getting in touch with some local art? Many great venues all around the PSU area are hosting new and unique exhibits. All of these shows occur during spring break. Why not check some out?

The most obvious place to start the journey for artistic enlightenment is the big kahuna of art in the area, the Portland Art Museum. This venue is chock-full of high-profile art, with the largest showing space in the city.

The Portland Art Museum’s current flagship exhibit is the Ottoman art collection called “Empire of the Sultans.” This show includes a variety of manuscripts and everyday objects decorated in the traditional Muslim style. Empire of the Sultans gives the public a look at the cultural, ritualistic society of the Muslims of the Middle Ages.

“The Chameleon of Hamburg: Works on Paper by Horst Janssen” is another exhibit on display at the Portland Art Museum. The works featured show Janssen’s delicate and sensitive perceptions of nature. In daily life, Janssen portrayed a very aggressive and hot-tempered man, which was the opposite of his true self. The man’s true sensitivity and vulnerability is shown in this collection the art museum has amassed.

Portland Art Museum literature states, “From the study of the transitory in still life and landscape, to the exploration of mortality and sexuality through portraits and figures, there is something beautiful and disquieting in all of his subjects.”Like the “Sultans” exhibit, the separate Persian collection takes cultural artifacts such as ceramics, textiles, leaves of calligraphy and miniature paintings, and educates the public on the major emphases of their culture. The rich narrative history of Iran and the impact of Islam on the arts show through in this collection of ninth to 19th-century artifacts.

In addition to these high-profile exhibits, the museum has four permanent galleries for your pleasure. The European, American, Silver and Contemporary galleries offer something different for the interested art connoisseur.

The Portland Art Museum is located at 1219 S.W. Park Ave., and is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Students and seniors pay $6 for admission, and adults pay $7.50.

Next stop on the Portland art spring break road trip is the Augen Gallery, on 817 S.W. Second Ave. Currently on display there is an exhibit by local artist Brian Friedman. Friedman’s works are encaustic – that is, they are painted with wax and pigment. These paintings are large, minimalist works. From 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday you can catch Friedman’s color-filled works at the Augen Gallery.

Also featured there is Royal Nebeker’s “Watercolors and Monoprints” exhibit, which consists of many paintings of flowers and couples (perfect for spring). Roger Kukes shows some work as well, with his “Alice In Wonderland”-like “Recent Drawings and Watercolors.”

If you get hungry during your art quest, don’t let a meal stop the artistic enjoyment! The restaurant Torrefazione Italia (1140 N.W. Everett) is hosting an intriguing exhibit by Melissa Gerr. “Unclaimed Baggage” is a showing of black-and-white travel photos mounted on authentic vintage suitcases. An interesting and artistic way to enjoy lunch.

On Park Avenue, the First Congregational Church displays some art inspired by the Bible. Arlene Larion’s “Psalm Series” shows at the church Sunday through Friday 9 a.m. to noon. This exhibit is based off of the Old Testament book of Psalms, which are many songs and praisen by David.

After church, more art can be found at the First Avenue Gallery. There, Devin Bernard, Rob Hooper and Vanessa Julian all present their individual works. Bernard shows an array of acrylic paintings, while Hooper’s canvasses encompass many different aspects of the art. Julian’s work recreates personal stories in her bright paintings. This free show runs from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Joshua Daniel Nusbaum is giving people a new look at the mythological figure Narcissus in his Fleck Gallery exhibit “Narcissus, Towards a Discovery of Self.” Every painting is an abstract look at Narcissus, showing not a man in love with himself, but a man in love with the idea of “true beauty.” This solo exhibit is Nusbaum’s first art show, and it runs now through March 28. The only catch is, you have to make an appointment to get a glimpse of a new Narcissus.

If you get tired of paintings, the Photographic Image Gallery provides moments captured from real life. Right now this gallery is displaying two very interesting exhibits: Deborah Wian Whitehouse’s “Saturday Night” and Shannon Brinkman’s “Any Given Moment in New Orleans.” Whitehouse’s photography explores the myths and mysteries of weekend nights. Brinkman uses black and sepia-toned prints to detail the romance of New Orleans street performers. See these collections Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Of course, there are many, many more paintings and venues around the downtown area (let’s not even think about the metro area). However, these are just a few exhibits to feed the spring hunger for art. If this doesn’t satisfy you, ask around at these galleries to find out what other exhibits are good that aren’t mentioned here. Do what you want this spring break, and if that includes art, then you’re all set.