Tuesday, March 15, 2011


... you'll not be surprised to hear, is wet and cold. But we have felt warmly welcomed, despite the weather. Our friends picked us up at the airport yesterday afternoon and we went with them, in the evening, to a lecture at Reed College on Hieronymus Bosch by the Harvard scholar Joseph Koerner. Like many of us, I suspect, I have always been fascinated by this artist's unbridled imagination and by the enigma of his paintings. And while I greatly respected the depth of Koerner's knowledge and his study of The Garden of Earthly Delights...

... I found myself missing what most intrigues me about the painting--its sheer exuberance, its astounding diversity of image, its seemingly endless delight in the naughtiness of our species, its extraordinary painterly attention to detail. I myself am less interested in what it might have to say--forever debatable and forever moot--than its passionately painted surfaces and figures, its obsessive, visionary, in-your-face, damnable audacity.

Today, we slept unusually long, probably thanks to the heavy drapes in our hotel room. We are used to waking with the light. A leisurely cup of coffee in our room before venturing out, first, to breakfast at Mother's--something of a Portland landmark, we are led to believe. Then on, on foot, to the Pearl district, where we wandered in and of showers to find only a handful of the many galleries in that area; and, on foot again, through sometimes driving wind and rain, to the Portland Art Museum.

The knees were beginning to whine a bit at this point, but we took in the current show called "Portland Collects," with a diversion into the Asian art galleries where we enjoyed an exhibition of Buddhist art and, particularly, some modern Japanese scroll paintings. We had not known that this tradition survived into the twentieth century, and were impressed by the way the artists managed to blend the traditional with the new.

Taking pity on the aching joints, we left the museum earlier than we had intended and scurried back to the hotel, where we are now "resting comfortably"... In a little while, it's out to dinner with friends.

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