Monday, June 22, 2009

Got Yer Culture Right Here

Picture from Maryhill Museum website - the parking lot was chock-full on Sat.

The awesome thing about living here is that there is always something awesome happening. Two nights ago, we went into the Columbia River Gorge to Stonehenge near Maryhill, Washington. Portland Actors Ensemble performed King Lear out there last night. Spoiler alert: When Goneril and Regan kicked him out into the stormy heath, we could totally relate. Although the skies were blue and sunny, the wind was really strong, and it was darned chilly. What a fun setting, especially as the sun set.

The whole place was jam packed with people sitting in little chairs or standing. Some intrepid boys even climbed up on those shorter stone pillars and sat - great view, but I'll bet their butts were pretty cold.

Lear teaches an important lesson in parenting. Never trust your children, no matter how much they say they love you, and don't give them all your stuff before you're dead because you'll wind up wandering in the wilderness.

On Sunday, poor Professor X had tons of grading left to do, so Super Son and I went to the Portland Art Museum for the Escher exhibition. Escher is one of his favorite artists, and the curator was giving a lecture.

Last summer, as we'd traveled to the east coast, we'd been frustrated that there were virtually no Escher prints on exhibition in at the art museums in Chicago, Philadelphia or DC. I'd mentioned our disappointment to one of the information desk people at the National Gallery of Art. She explained the works were very delicate, and kept in archival storage.

She then told me that we could just schedule an appointment to see them!!

Which we did.

Much goodness in here!

Super Son and I visited the archivist, where he was instructed how to handle the prints, and we spent a few very fun hours looking at dozens of them. He wore white cotton gloves, and carefully lifted each piece of art out of the storage boxes. Most of the art either depicted impossible realities or morphing creatures. It was heavily influenced by symmetry and geometric patterns. We learned an important lesson: it pays off to whine complain communicate. We'd never have had this opportunity if I hadn't spoken to the nice info desk lady.

The Portland Art Museum exhibition included some very different types of pieces. To be sure, it had plenty of the iconic works like Night and Day, Ascending and Descending and Metamorphosis III. And we saw the wood blocks created to produce several of the prints on display. The exhibition gave us a better understanding of Escher’s printmaking process, but it also exposed us to some more realistic images.

This was probably my favorite:

Can you believe this was created from a woodcut? That blows me away.

Although we're about to embark upon a long road trip around the country, I feel really blessed to live where I do. There's always something beautiful here.


Sprite's Keeper said...

You will have to believe me when I tell you how absolutely jealous I am of you right now.

phd in yogurtry said...

That woodcut is amazing. There's a Stonehenge mock up near here, a small town called Hunt, Texas.

Kathy Amen said...

Not only good culture, but I'll bet it's not going to be 100+ degrees every day this week! Like it is some places I know 8-(

Bee said...

Ok, now I've got something for your European Tour 2010. You've got to go to the Escher Museum in Den Haag. My husband was living just down the street from it for two years, and it is one of the only museums that my kids actually LIKED.

The Lear/Stonehenge combo sounds like so much fun. Have you been to the real Stonehenge? Cause it's not far from me. (Uh, Summer 2010?)

Bee said...

And also: I love the title to this one . . . you've been very prolific today!

Was it the smoked salmon?

kyooty said...

Thats so very awesome, what a terrific thing to find and see.

momiji said...

Love posts like this. We all live different places, so when someone goes somewhere interesting and then tells about it, it is almost like visiting the place you're far away from. Cool.
What I love about living in Paris is that it is a historical place with so much to see and discover, and besides there is always something going on, always something to go to, to learn, to see. This is great

Fantastic Forrest said...

Sprite's Keeper - thanks! :)

phd in yogurtry - but it's only 60% of the size of the real Stonehenge! I thought everything was BIGGER in Texas. Tee hee. Reminds me of
this clip - have you seen it?

Kathy Amen - poor girl. No, it rarely gets that hot here.

Bee - We are SO there. You know that JaPRA has just moved there too, right? We did visit Stonehenge in January 2006 and froze our noses off. I've never been so cold in my life. Perhaps a revisit in summer 2010 is in order. But I rank Austen sites and some other things we didn't get to first! And yes, smoked salmon is a highly inspirational food. All that fish oil gets my brain running smoothly.

kyooty - I think so too. :)

momiji - you're so right. And Paris is definitely one of those places where there is always something wonderful to see and do. We LOVED your city.

La Belette Rouge said...

LOL!! I love your spoiler alert. And, Portland is such a great and culture rich town. No need for any yogurt for you, all that creamy and delicious culture you are eating up.

Erin said...

Awesome trip! I LOVE the woodcut. You're a good road tripper.

Michele Renee said...

I love these kinds of munoments. And Lewis and Clark went down the Columbia, correct? I would love to see that Stonehenge over looking the Columbia. What a site that must be. Where'd the stone come from and how'd he get it there?

Fantastic Forrest said...

La Belette Rouge - I was very proud of that. Thanks for sharing the joke. :)

Erin - just wait for next month. The road trip hall of fame beckons.

Michele Renee - yes, indeed, LnC traveled that way. But Stonehenge in Maryhill is much more recent, constructed of concrete. Sorry to burst your bubble. :)

Michele Renee said...

No, I knew that Stonehenge is more recent (built after WWI). I was switching subjects to L and C (I am obssessed with their journey right now).

Lisa said...

Whoa. I love this post. And that woodcut is amazing.

Just a Plane Ride Away said...

Oh my, the Escher Museum is a must! Allow at least two or three hours. Y'all come, we go. And I'll take you for drinks and nibbles in the Plein after.

Here's my Den Haag museum post from Feb 2008 to whet the old appetite.