06 May 2010

[pdx liff] Great Art At Powell's Books

2405.There's great art to be found at Powell's Books.

Of course, any gentle reader who's been there knows this, and you might thing I'm referring to the Hallward Gallery on the top floor. And you'd be right in the main, though, sometimes, some of the stuff up there, my 15-year-old nephew could do …

I kid! I kid!

Anyway! Like I said, you'd be right about the great art you can see regularly in the Pearl Room. But fun and great art is frequently where you find it, not on a schedule, not in a gallery. The bright side of that is that suddenly, you're at an art show, and it's very delightful and inspiring.

In the center aisle of the Blue Room (enter from NW 10th and Burnside, turn left and go up the ramp just by the cashiers). The end caps show off featured literature, new stuff, good things. I usually let my eyes play over them – you can spot trends by watching these shelves, I've found. And, then, just by chance, I looked up.

That, my friends, is one groovy hand.

My favorite illustrators create illustrations from which the confidence and command of the media are clearly there. For instance, the comic strip Maakies, by the excellent Tony Millionaire, is always funny, and sometimes disturbing. But the obvious skill with which the cartoonist commands every element of the drawing means I can't not look.

And while this is hardly a panel of Maakies, I can't not look at this. Doing chalk on blackboard or black paper, or any pastel-work, has my respect: me and pastels still do not et along very well. But that hand is beautiful! Whoever drew that hand had confidence and command of the medium, and for me that's the meat in any work of art. It elevates the artwork to the memorable stage with me.

This next one is pretty good too …

Not as moving as the other one, but still very good. The last one is of a very high standard:

Sure, it's art done in the service of selling more books, so maybe you don't notice. But I look up, and I admire the skill involved, and I'm enchanted just a bit.

Everyone should look up more often. You don't know what you'll find yourself in. It might be something wonderful, something that lifts you for a few minutes from the mundane to the "aha!".

Although you do start from a slightly higher plane in Powell's Books.

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