Renewing Time, Caressing the Moment
The ideas for this exhibition came about after a two-week visit to Rome where I studied the history of the Borghese Gardens. Part of the Villa Borghese, these gardens were created during the Roman Baroque. With their themes of pastoralism, hunting quadrants and other types of rural scenery , the landscape itself was part of a grand narrative used by the Cardinal for entertaining international guests. Most interesting to me as an artist was learning that this garden’s design was actually inspired by the paintings of a French artist of that same time, Claude Lorrain.
Today there is an interesting attempt to bring the pastoral into the urban center as Portland’s dense neighborhoods of houses are increasingly hosting miniature farms. From my own back yard, I can hear a cacophony of chickens, and looking next door, can glimpse a dense planting of vegetables and fruit trees. For someone who grew up on the Lower East Side of Manhattan like myself, it makes the city of Portland both enchanting and mysterious and I cannot help but think that these are the landscapes of the city’s aspirations and fantasies.
This work is specifically inspired by walking in my neighborhood. In the spirit of an environmentally conscious flâneur and artist, I have been observing not only the re-emergence of the backyard farm, but the restoration projects undertaken at Reed College Canyon, Crystal Springs Gardens and Westmoreland Creek. Endangered species such as river otters and salmon are now coming back to Westmoreland Creek, and on many streets marsh grasses are planted in an effort help the rivers to filter out toxins. Wildflowers dot the meadowlands in empty lots.
For this series, I use a pastiche of historical images, believing that the unique history of a place constitutes how it is seen today. Historical filigree lines are the ground on which I layer my daily observations and drawings. This dialectic between past and present is just one of several that underpins my work; another is Eastern and Western pictorial tradition, and juxtaposition of painted and printed imagery within each piece--and, of course, the contemporary city of Portland where I live.