Shōkadō Shōjō, calligraphy; Tawaraya Sōtatsu, painting; Waka Poem by Kakinomoto no Hitomaro, One of the Thirty-Six Poetic Immortals, early 17th century
Shōkadō Shōjō (Japanese, 1584–1639), calligraphy; Tawaraya Sōtatsu (Japanese, died 1643), painting, Waka Poem by Kakinomoto no Hitomaro, One of the Thirty-Six Poetic Immortals, early 17th century, shikishi mounted as a hanging scroll, ink on gold- and silver-decorated paper. Courtesy of Mary and Cheney Cowles, L2017.67.4
Yosa Buson, Thatched Retreat on Cold Mountain (detail), early to mid-1770s
Yosa Buson (Japanese, 1716–1783), Thatched Retreat on Cold Mountain (detail), early to mid-1770s, hanging scroll, ink and color on silk. Courtesy of Mary and Cheney Cowles, L2017.67.39

Poetic Imagination in Japanese Art

Selections from the Collection of Mary and Cheney Cowles

OCT 13, 2018 – JAN 13, 2019

Poetry lies at the heart of Japanese culture. Since ancient times, artists in Japan have expressed the most profound emotions and the most nuanced responses to the human condition in verse. The ability to turn a phrase has been a mark of social status, a way to woo a lover, and a means to express shared heritage and values. The more than one hundred works in this exhibition illuminate how poetry—in both Japanese and Chinese—has taken visual form in Japan. Drawn from one of the finest private collections in North America, the paintings and calligraphy in Poetic Imagination span from the eighth through the twentieth century and represent courtly, Buddhist, and literati spheres of artistic activity. Most of them are unveiled to the public for the first time here.

Among the highlights of the exhibition are:

  • An extremely rare fragment of a Buddhist sutra written in silver on indigo paper, created at Tōdaiji Temple (mid-8th century)
  • A delicate ink drawing of an imagined encounter between two ancient poets, made during the Kamakura period (1185–1333)
  • A dramatic portrayal of Chinese Daoist immortal Fei Zhangfang summoning his dragon, by Sesson (1504–1589?)
  • A pair of hauntingly evocative landscapes of the Eight Views of Xiao and Xiang by Iwasa Matabei (1578–1650)
  • A poem-painting collaboration by Shōkadō Shōjō (1584–1639) and Tawaraya Sōtatsu (died 1643), two geniuses of the early 17th century
  • Thatched Retreat on Cold Mountain, a painted tribute to the joys of reclusion, by Yosa Buson (1716–1783)
  • A whimsical exploration of tea, wine, books, ghost stories, and other obsessions of the artist Tomioka Tessai (1836–1924)

Poetic Imagination in Japanese Art is accompanied by a catalogue presenting new research by an international group of distinguished scholars. Lively and diverse public and school programs will be presented in conjunction with the exhibition, including a lecture by curator Maribeth Graybill; a public symposium and scholars’ day in December 2018; and a variety of educational programs.

Organized by the Portland Art Museum. Curated by Maribeth Graybill, Ph.D., The Arlene and Harold Schnitzer Curator of Asian Art, with Jeannie Kenmotsu, Ph.D., Japan Foundation Assistant Curator of Japanese Art, and Sangah Kim, Cowles Curatorial Fellow in Asian Art.

Supported in part by Mary and Cheney Cowles, The Japan Foundation, the Asian Art Council of the Portland Art Museum, The E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, the Donald Jenkins Fund for Visiting Scholars, Christie’s, Portland Ikebana International Chapter 47, Japan-America Society of Oregon, the Mildred Schnitzer Memorial Fund, The Metropolitan Center for Far Eastern Art Studies, W.L.S. Spencer Foundation, Exhibition Series Sponsors.

Japan Foundation logo Christie's Portland Ikebana International Chapter 47

Oct
14
Sun
Opening Lecture: Finding the Poetic in Japanese Visual Art
Oct 14 @ 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Opening Lecture: Finding the Poetic in Japanese Visual Art

MARIBETH GRAYBILL, PH.D.
THE ARLENE AND HAROLD SCHNITZER CURATOR OF ASIAN ART

Drawing on the works in Poetic Imagination in Japanese Art, exhibition curator Maribeth Graybill explores the many ways poetry has taken visual form in Japan, from the eighth century to the present. When calligraphy is a quotation of a particular verse, how does the brushwork impact our response to the text? Why is imaginary poet portraiture an important genre in Japan? And how do landscape paintings reflect poetic traditions—and invite our poetic response?

Purchase tickets
Public Tour: Poetic Imagination
Oct 14 @ 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Public Tour: Poetic Imagination

Explore the Museum with a docent skilled in bringing art to life.

Public tours depart from the Park Avenue entrance.

Tours are free for members or with Museum admission, and free for children age 17 and younger.

Presented in conjunction with the special exhibition Poetic Imagination in Japanese Art: Selections from the Collection of Mary and Cheney Cowles.

Oct
18
Thu
Evening for Educators: Poetic Imagination in Japanese Art
Oct 18 @ 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Evening for Educators: Poetic Imagination in Japanese Art @ Sunken Ballroom, Mark Building

Poetry lies at the heart of Japanese culture. Since ancient times, artists in Japan have expressed the most profound emotions and the most nuanced responses to the human condition in verse. The ability to turn a phrase has been a mark of social status, a way to woo a lover, and a means to express shared heritage and values. The more than one hundred works in the exhibition Poetic Imagination in Japanese Art illuminate how poetry—in both Japanese and Chinese—has taken visual form in Japan. The paintings and calligraphy in Poetic Imagination span from the eighth through the twentieth century and represent courtly, Buddhist, and literati spheres of artistic activity. Most of them are unveiled to the public for the first time here. Join us for a presentation by Maribeth Graybill, Ph.D., The Arlene and Harold Schnitzer Curator of Asian Art followed by an interactive workshop on writing haiku in response to works in the exhibition.

Reserve tickets
Oct
19
Fri
Japanese Poetry, Art & Culture Weekend
Oct 19 @ 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Japanese Poetry, Art & Culture Weekend

Spark your own poetic imagination by going deeper into some of the themes, materials, and creative processes represented in the exhibition. This occasional weekend series will feature a variety of calligraphy and ikebana demonstrations, music performances, poetry reading and writing opportunities, artmaking, and even the chance to sample Japanese small bites and sweets from local makers.

October 19, 5–8 p.m.
October  20, 11 a.m.–3 p.m.

November 16, 5–8 p.m.
November  17, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.

January 11, 5–8 p.m.
January 12, 11 a.m.–3 p.m.

Presented in conjunction with the special exhibition Poetic Imagination in Japanese Art: Selections from the Collection of Mary and Cheney Cowles.

Oct
20
Sat
Japanese Poetry, Art & Culture Weekend
Oct 20 @ 11:00 am – 3:00 pm
Japanese Poetry, Art & Culture Weekend

Spark your own poetic imagination by going deeper into some of the themes, materials, and creative processes represented in the exhibition. This occasional weekend series will feature a variety of calligraphy and ikebana demonstrations, music performances, poetry reading and writing opportunities, artmaking, and even the chance to sample Japanese small bites and sweets from local makers.

October 19, 5–8 p.m.
October 20, 11 a.m.–3 p.m.

November 16, 5–8 p.m.
November 17, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.

January 11, 5–8 p.m.
January 12, 11 a.m.–3 p.m.

Presented in conjunction with the special exhibition Poetic Imagination in Japanese Art: Selections from the Collection of Mary and Cheney Cowles.

Public Tour: Poetic Imagination
Oct 20 @ 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Public Tour: Poetic Imagination

Explore the Museum with a docent skilled in bringing art to life.

Public tours depart from the Park Avenue entrance.

Tours are free for members or with Museum admission, and free for children age 17 and younger.

Presented in conjunction with the special exhibition Poetic Imagination in Japanese Art: Selections from the Collection of Mary and Cheney Cowles.

Oct
30
Tue
Public Tour: Poetic Imagination
Oct 30 @ 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
Public Tour: Poetic Imagination

Explore the Museum with a docent skilled in bringing art to life.

Public tours depart from the Park Avenue entrance.

Tours are free for members or with Museum admission, and free for children age 17 and younger.

Presented in conjunction with the special exhibition Poetic Imagination in Japanese Art: Selections from the Collection of Mary and Cheney Cowles.

Nov
1
Thu
Baby Morning: Poetic Imagination
Nov 1 @ 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Baby Morning: Poetic Imagination

We welcome babies and their caregivers beginning at 10 a.m. The first tour begins at roughly 10:30 a.m., or when we have a large enough group ready to go. The second tour begins at 11 a.m. Baby Morning’s home base remains open until noon with toys, games, and books, providing a welcoming, accommodating space free of worries. Caregivers are also welcome to leave belongings here while on the tour. Carriers are recommended while in the galleries, but not required.

 Session 1  Session 2
Nov
3
Sat
Public Tour: Poetic Imagination
Nov 3 @ 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Public Tour: Poetic Imagination

Explore the Museum with a docent skilled in bringing art to life.

Public tours depart from the Park Avenue entrance.

Tours are free for members or with Museum admission, and free for children age 17 and younger.

Presented in conjunction with the special exhibition Poetic Imagination in Japanese Art: Selections from the Collection of Mary and Cheney Cowles.

Nov
14
Wed
Midday Art Break: Poetic Imagination
Nov 14 @ 12:30 pm – 1:30 pm
Midday Art Break: Poetic Imagination

Take a break from your workday and join a curator, museum educator, artist, or local scholar for a 45-minute talk in the galleries.

This month, Maribeth Graybill, PhD, The Arlene and Harold Schnitzer Curator of Asian Art, will discuss the special exhibition Poetic Imagination in Japanese Art: Selections from the Collection of Mary and Cheney Cowles.

Space is limited. Advance tickets recommended. Program departs from the Main Entrance Lobby.

Purchase tickets
Nov
16
Fri
Japanese Poetry, Art & Culture Weekend
Nov 16 @ 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Japanese Poetry, Art & Culture Weekend

Spark your own poetic imagination by going deeper into some of the themes, materials, and creative processes represented in the exhibition. This occasional weekend series will feature a variety of calligraphy and ikebana demonstrations, music performances, poetry reading and writing opportunities, artmaking, and even the chance to sample Japanese small bites and sweets from local makers.

October 19, 5–8 p.m.
October 20, 11 a.m.–3 p.m.

November 16, 5–8 p.m.
November 17, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.

January 11, 5–8 p.m.
January 12, 11 a.m.–3 p.m.

Presented in conjunction with the special exhibition Poetic Imagination in Japanese Art: Selections from the Collection of Mary and Cheney Cowles.

Nov
17
Sat
Japanese Poetry, Art & Culture Weekend
Nov 17 @ 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Japanese Poetry, Art & Culture Weekend

Spark your own poetic imagination by going deeper into some of the themes, materials, and creative processes represented in the exhibition. This occasional weekend series will feature a variety of calligraphy and ikebana demonstrations, music performances, poetry reading and writing opportunities, artmaking, and even the chance to sample Japanese small bites and sweets from local makers.

October 19, 5–8 p.m.
October 20, 11 a.m.–3 p.m.

November 16, 5–8 p.m.
November 17, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.

January 11, 5–8 p.m.
January 12, 11 a.m.–3 p.m.

Presented in conjunction with the special exhibition Poetic Imagination in Japanese Art: Selections from the Collection of Mary and Cheney Cowles.

Miller Family Free Day: Poetic Imagination In Japanese Art
Nov 17 @ 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Miller Family Free Day: Poetic Imagination In Japanese Art

The Museum celebrates a community free day as part of its Japanese Poetry, Art, & Culture Weekend Series. Spend some time going deeper into some of the themes, materials, and creative processes represented in Poetic Imagination in Japanese Art. The day will feature a variety of calligraphy and ikebana demonstrations, music performances, poetry reading and writing opportunities, artmaking, and even the chance to sample Japanese small bites and sweets from local makers.

Family programs are generously supported in part by Sharon L. Miller and Family, the Gordon D. Sondland and Katherine J. Durant Foundation, the Lamb Baldwin Foundation, and the Joseph E. Weston Public Foundation.

Nov
20
Tue
Art & Conversation: Poetic Imagination
Nov 20 @ 9:15 am – 11:30 am
Art & Conversation: Poetic Imagination

Join us the third Tuesday of every month for coffee followed by a lecture or film screening. Coffee at 9:15 a.m. in the Fields Ballroom, Mark Building; lecture at 10:15 a.m. in the Whitsell Auditorium, Main Building. This month, Maribeth Graybill, PhD, The Arlene and Harold Schnitzer Curator of Asian Art, will discuss the special exhibition Poetic Imagination in Japanese Art: Selections from the Collection of Mary and Cheney Cowles.

This series is free for adults 62 and over and includes Museum admission.

Art & Conversation is made possible through the Marguerite and Harry Kendall Education Fund.

Nov
25
Sun
Public Tour: Poetic Imagination
Nov 25 @ 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Public Tour: Poetic Imagination

Explore the Museum with a docent skilled in bringing art to life.

Public tours depart from the Park Avenue entrance.

Tours are free for members or with Museum admission, and free for children age 17 and younger.

Presented in conjunction with the special exhibition Poetic Imagination in Japanese Art: Selections from the Collection of Mary and Cheney Cowles.

Dec
7
Fri
Symposium: Poetic Imagination – Keynote
Dec 7 @ 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Symposium: Poetic Imagination – Keynote

The Mildred Schnitzer Annual Asian Art Program for 2018

December 7, 6:30 p.m. — Keynote Lecture
December 8, 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m

Named in honor of the founder of the Asian Art Council, the Mildred Schnitzer Annual Asian Art Lecture will celebrate its 20th anniversary with a symposium focused on the historical, literary, and artistic themes presented in the special exhibition, Poetic Imagination in Japanese Art: Selections from the Collection of Mary and Cheney Cowles. An international team of scholars who contributed to the exhibition catalogue will be on hand to discuss their areas of expertise.

Tickets (available soon) for Portland Art Museum members are $10 and include both days.

Supported in part by the Metropolitan Center for Far Eastern Art Studies.

Dec
8
Sat
Symposium: Poetic Imagination in Japanese Art
Dec 8 @ 9:00 am – 4:30 pm
Symposium: Poetic Imagination in Japanese Art

The Mildred Schnitzer Annual Asian Art Program for 2018

December 7, 6:30 p.m. — Keynote Lecture
December 8, 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m

Named in honor of the founder of the Asian Art Council, the Mildred Schnitzer Annual Asian Art Lecture will celebrate its 20th anniversary with a symposium focused on the historical, literary, and artistic themes presented in the special exhibition, Poetic Imagination in Japanese Art: Selections from the Collection of Mary and Cheney Cowles. An international team of scholars who contributed to the exhibition catalogue will be on hand to discuss their areas of expertise.

Tickets (available soon) for Portland Art Museum members are $10 and include both days.

Supported in part by the Metropolitan Center for Far Eastern Art Studies.

Jan
11
Fri
Japanese Poetry, Art & Culture Weekend
Jan 11 @ 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Japanese Poetry, Art & Culture Weekend

Spark your own poetic imagination by going deeper into some of the themes, materials, and creative processes represented in the exhibition. This occasional weekend series will feature a variety of calligraphy and ikebana demonstrations, music performances, poetry reading and writing opportunities, artmaking, and even the chance to sample Japanese small bites and sweets from local makers.

October 19, 5–8 p.m.
October 20, 11 a.m.–3 p.m.

November 16, 5–8 p.m.
November 17, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.

January 11, 5–8 p.m.
January 12, 11 a.m.–3 p.m.

Presented in conjunction with the special exhibition Poetic Imagination in Japanese Art: Selections from the Collection of Mary and Cheney Cowles.

Jan
12
Sat
Japanese Poetry, Art & Culture Weekend
Jan 12 @ 11:00 am – 3:00 pm
Japanese Poetry, Art & Culture Weekend

Spark your own poetic imagination by going deeper into some of the themes, materials, and creative processes represented in the exhibition. This occasional weekend series will feature a variety of calligraphy and ikebana demonstrations, music performances, poetry reading and writing opportunities, artmaking, and even the chance to sample Japanese small bites and sweets from local makers.

October 19, 5–8 p.m.
October 20, 11 a.m.–3 p.m.

November 16, 5–8 p.m.
November 17, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.

January 11, 5–8 p.m.
January 12, 11 a.m.–3 p.m.

Presented in conjunction with the special exhibition Poetic Imagination in Japanese Art: Selections from the Collection of Mary and Cheney Cowles.