The Portland Japanese Garden presents Bending Nature: Four Bamboo Artists in the Garden
When a warm summer breeze whispers past, you can see it sway and hear it rustle. The wind dances through a bamboo thicket, and it sounds like rain lightly tapping on trees. Bamboo is a mysterious plant, because how can something so strong, straight, and tall be so flexible? As much as it’s mysterious, it’s also extraordinarily useful. Bamboo’s variety of traditional uses range from the edible to the architectural. It can be burned into charcoal, split and woven for fine crafts, or used as a sustainable building material.
For its third and final 2016 Art in the Garden exhibition series, the Portland Japanese Garden presents: Bending Nature: Four Bamboo Artists in the Garden. Two artists from Japan join two Portland-based artists to take bamboo to a whole new level. They have used the mysterious plant – with all its strength and height – to showcase its flexible potential as an art form. The exhibitions of all four artists combine the superb mastery of traditional bamboo basketry with the exuberance of the artistic freedom of contemporary art. Each of the artists attempts to bend nature in new directions, challenging conventional bamboo craft techniques and forms to reflect the close relationship between nature and ourselves. The exhibition gives visitors a rare opportunity to see art situated in three outdoor locations within the iconic Japanese garden.
Portland artist Anne Crumpacker interweaves scale and proportion to create living topographies. Crumpacker has created a unique, large-scale boat made out of bamboo for the Art in the Garden Exhibition. View her artwork on the grass area across from Heavenly Falls. Along with the natural grace and beauty of bamboo, Crumpacker says working with it connects her to the interwoven community of people who have worked with bamboo for thousands of years.
Jiro Yonezawa works with split bamboo, the traditional method of Japanese basket-makers, and is widely known as one of Japan’s finest bamboo artists. He is known for cocoon like weaving and weaving demonstrations. Now back in Japan, Yonezawa lived in Beaverton, Oregon for 18 years. His work bears the mark of both cultures, combining the traditional mastery of techniques learned in Japan and the artistic freedom he found in the United States.
Charissa Brock works and teaches from her studio outside Portland and has been making artwork with natural materials for more than a decade. "When I work, I develop a system for creating a structure. Each of these systems is like a sentence in a paragraph that tells a story - a part of my visual vocabulary,” she said. Look for her art suspended among the trees along the walking path to the Garden just before the admission gate.
Shigeo Kawashima began making large-scale bamboo sculptures in natural and urban settings. Characterized by graceful forms and dramatic surfaces, his art has led to several site commissions. His work on WA (ring) was built on site at the Kennedy Center and took months to construct and install. He’s known for making his art interactive and is inviting guests to the Portland Japanese Garden to help add-to his structure.
Bamboo is known for its unique character as a plant: combining flexibility and strength. Its variety of traditional uses range from the edible to the architectural. Contemporary artists and architects like Kengo Kuma – who designed the buildings for the Garden’s $33.5 million dollar expansion project - have also begun to pay homage to bamboo as a medium.
Bending Nature has been extended through November 6. Entry to exhibition is included with Garden admission.