Last month I saw two outstanding exhibits that couldn't have been more different at the Portland Art Museum. Painter Mark Rothko (1903-1970) received his early art education at Portland's Museum Art School. His distinctive stacked blocks of "floating, saturated color and transcendent calm" are minimalist and all about color relationships. Many of the paintings seem to hum with a deep spirituality. (His work inspired the construction of the Rothko Chapel in Houston, which I had the good fortune to visit a couple years ago.) Upstairs at PAM was an exhibit of John Frame's work
that, in contrast to Rothko's, was sculptural, detailed, and imbued
with deep and confusing meanings. I found Rothko's work direct,
accessible and calming while Frame's work seemed complicated and left me
feeling unsettled, even though I did like being challenged by it. Dinner at Higgins Restaurant just a couple blocks away from PAM was the perfect ending to a perfect afternoon and you can bet the conversation was lively!
"White Center" by Mark Rothko
When I got home I decided to play around with Rothko's style ("Playing With Rothko"). Pastelist Jala Pfaff has done a
series of pastel paintings in a stacked color block style reminiscent of his work; here's an example.She's very prolific, as you can see from the photo of her studio!