Portland Japanese Garden has been a destination for those who seek to experience world class Japanese art and culture in an immaculate garden setting since 2008. In 2022, the Garden will exhibit artworks exploring the exquisite range of Japanese craftsmanship from historic objects to contemporary design, as well as illuminating the origins of some of the familiar plants found around our yards. This year will also introduce the Japan Institute’s inaugural Artist in Residency program. So, mark your calendars as we share some sneak-peaks into what to expect in the upcoming year.
The Tanabe Gallery is honored to host an exhibition of Portland resident, Peter Shinbach’s fine art bamboo collection. Showcasing his newest acquisitions, this latest exhibition includes work by some of the most revered names in Japanese bamboo art: Maeda Chikubosai I, Kibe Seiho, and Honda Syoryu. Bamboo represents a millennia-old cultural symbol for vitality, suppleness, and resilience. In Japan and other Asian cultures, it is valued for its strength and rapid growth, making it a critical natural material for building homes, designing furniture, and crafting accessories. This display will feature both functional bamboo forms such as baskets and ikebana vessels, as well as more sculptural pieces from the contemporary masters who push the creative envelope of the art form.
Once immensely popular across Japan, netsuke (pronounced nets-keh), small accessories fashioned from wood, ivory, or porcelain, blurred the lines between function and art in their heyday. Fashion and Fantasy will showcase the fascinating world of these miniature Japanese carvings traditionally used to secure small pouches to men’s pocketless kimonos. Drawing on a recent gift from The Netsuke Collection of James R. Coonan, Denise C. Bates and Lurline C. Menzies, this exhibition presents a glimpse into this little-known art form from pre-modern Japan. Each netsuke is highly detailed, imaginatively depicting people and animals from everyday life as well as folktales and fables. As you stroll across the manicured landscapes of Portland Japanese Garden, discover the whimsical world of these miniature fashion statements.
Gifts from Japan illuminates the unique stories of many plants that are widely grown throughout the world that originated in Japan. Each artwork presents a window into the Japanese and Japanese American experience, following Japan’s export of its rich horticultural history, including peonies, lilies, wisteria, camellias, and irises, as well as roles played by the immigrant families who cultivated public and private gardens. The exhibition invites visitors into an immersive journey of evolving cultures, horticultural technologies, and botanical art from the turn of the 20th century to contemporary times. The show features a collaborative collection of richly captured botanical illustrations from The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens (CA), the Botanical Artists Guild of Southern California (CA), and guest botanical artists from Japan.
Portland Japanese Garden is delighted to welcome internationally acclaimed artist Jun Kaneko (b. 1942 -). Kaneko, recently honored with the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Sculpture Center, has made major contributions to the field of sculptural art on a global scale, exploring the relationships between art, nature, and people with their bold scale and placement. Garden of Resonance will showcase works spanning this celebrated artist’s career ranging from large, outdoor installations to his earlier paintings and other works on paper. Juxtaposed alongside the stunning foliage of the Pacific Northwest, creating a backdrop of constantly changing color and texture, this exhibition will offer a transformative experience to visitors of all types, while bringing out the best of what makes our own Japanese garden truly special.
Artist-in-Residence: Rui Sasaki
Rui Sasaki is one of Japan’s most cutting-edge contemporary artists whose works have consistently delighted global audiences with numerous international accolades including the Corning Museum of Glass’ Rakow Commission (2019) as well as the Grand Prix at the Toyama International Glass Art Exhibition (2021). Working primarily with glass, Sasaki’s immersive works capture ephemeral interplays in nature such as those between the rain and sun, or winds and leaves, making for a truly multi-sensory experience.
Her previous research work at Portland Japanese Garden (seen in photo to the right) was a testament to Sasaki’s mastery at, according to The New York Times, “activating her installations,” through her meticulous studies of how viewers interact with and experience with the otherwise static glass pieces. Sasaki will be the Japan Institute’s inaugural artist in residency in the summer of 2022, and will create site-specific works and installations inspired by her immersion in the natural beauty of Portland Japanese Garden.