Bookmaking Metropolitan Museums

Portland Museum of Art

January 8, 2020

We flew into Portland and made out way to the Portland Museum of Art to see several things: one was a show of work by Hank Willis Thomas (American, born 1976) addressing the visual systems that perpetuate inequality and bias – with new and old images comparing the 50s and today as well as unusual uses of materials to make his point.  We also visited their new building, saw their contemporary collection and a show in that building called Being Present, about another contemporary space in Portland, from 1972 to 1987, the Portland Center for the Visual Arts (PCVA) . 

The show of work by Hank Willis Thomas was a diverse collection of photographs like the ones above and some that raided old graphic archives from magazines like Ebony, and from magazine advertisements where that overtly tried to bring black people into a scene hoping it looked natural. It wasn’t always natural. And remembering the times, the 60s, I’m sure people seeing these ads found them unusual.

Thomas made use of graphics – prison stripes and the Stars & Stripes to make modern day tapestries. Looks of different ideas and ways to display graphics by an artist that has stayed closed to his theme.

We had lunch around the corner from this museum, in a Lebanese restaurant, where we finished the text in the book that we made of unique drawings of Steuart – he signed a few that he’d missed, and we like to number it, and tell our travel story from the airport to downtown via public transport, a stop for Steuart to get a haircut at Shane’s Remedy Social Club and Barbershop, ( Shane let us leave our suitcases so we didn’t have to drag them around – on our very first trip to the Northwest.

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