Emmet Gowin , Debris Flow at the Northern Base of Mount St. Helens, Looking South, 1983.
Emmet Gowin (American, born 1941), Debris Flow at the Northern Base of Mount St. Helens, Looking South, 1983, gelatin silver print, © Emmet Gowin, Courtesy of Pace/MacGill, New York.
View the Online Exhibition

Volcano!

Mount St. Helens in Art

Feb 8, 2020 – Jan 3, 2021

Main Building, Floor 1

Museum From Home

To commemorate the 40th anniversary of the great eruption of Mount St. Helens in 1980, the Portland Art Museum is proud to present an exhibition that examines artists’ responses to the awesome beauty and power of the volcano. From pre-contact Native American objects to contemporary paintings, drawings, and photographs, the show will trace the mountain’s changing image and significance for local peoples. Native Americans used the substance of the volcano—mainly basalt and obsidian—to create objects of great beauty and utility. While Mount St. Helens featured in their creation stories, no depictions of the volcano in the visual arts are known before the mid-1840s, when explorers Henry James Warre and Paul Kane traveled through the area. As luck would have it, their visits coincided with the volcano’s last eruptive period and they recorded the venting of steam and ash on the north side, presaging its destruction on May 18, 1980.

Beginning about 1870, when the volcano was quiet once again, Portland’s leading landscape artists celebrated the picturesque beauty of the nearly symmetrical cone rising from the surrounding landscape. The exhibition includes fine examples created for Pacific Northwest homes by Eliza Barchus, Grace Russell Fountain, Clyde Leon Keller, William Samuel Parrott, Cleveland Rockwell, and James Everett Stuart, as well as paintings by artists such as Albert Bierstadt who were visiting the area from the East Coast. Interestingly, paintings of Mount St. Helens were historically rare compared with the numerous images of Mount Hood—but that would change in 1980.

Volcanic eruptions have long been depicted by artists because they are the most visually spectacular manifestations of nature’s awesome power. Earthquakes, fires, and hurricanes can affect much larger areas, but few are as breathtakingly beautiful. Pacific Northwest artists who witnessed the eruption in 1980 were compelled to express their experience of nature at its most violent. Henk Pander recorded the visual wonder in numerous watercolors and a large oil painting that normally hangs in City Hall. George Johanson adopted the erupting volcano in subsequent depictions of himself and made it virtually a symbol of the city in his many timeless depictions of Portland. Lucinda Parker also took up the subject and endowed it with her distinctive painterly energy; the exhibition will include a large painting that Parker recently completed. Barbara Noah and Ryan Molenkamp, both from Seattle, explored the event as reflection of our emotions and states of mind when confronted with an overwhelming event.

As soon as the smoke cleared, ceramic and glass artists gathered the abundant ash—which was 67 percent silica—to use in their works. The exhibition will include Paul Marioni’s Mount St. Helens Vase, which he blew from pure ash the day after the eruption.

Photography was the perfect medium for depicting the eruption’s radical transformation of the landscape. Emmet Gowin, Frank Gohlke, Marilyn Bridges, and other photographers concentrated on the savage beauty that resulted from the destruction. Gowin, Gohlke, and later Buzzy Sullivan returned year after year to show the landscape’s evolution. Along with Diane Cook and Len Jenshel, they have depicted the amazing rebounding of nature.

In more recent years, artists have sought to depict the instability of the mountain and our knowledge that another eruption could happen at any time. Cameron Martin’s Remission, an 11-foot-wide painting expressing this instability in purely visual terms, will close the exhibition.

As the region commemorates the 40th anniversary of the volcano’s eruption, the Museum is partnering with the Mount St. Helens Institute on a series of programs, tours, and in-gallery experiences throughout the run of the exhibition.

For those who remember the eruption of 1980 and for those who know only its legacy, the exhibition will bring to life one of the most momentous days in the history of the Pacific Northwest, and artists’ responses to one short period in the epic cycles of volcanic destruction and regeneration at Mount St. Helens.

Curated by Dawson Carr, Ph.D., The Janet and Richard Geary Curator of European Art.

Programming

  • Opening Lecture (recorded)
    Blasts from the Past: Considering Mount St. Helens in Art
    Dawson Carr, Ph.D., The Janet and Richard Geary Curator of European Art
  • 40th Anniversary Live Event (recorded)
    Mount St. Helens: A Landscape Across Time
    Moderated by: Dawson Carr, Ph.D., The Janet and Richard Geary Curator of European Art
    Special Guests:
    Barbara Noah (Seattle Artist)
    Sonja Melander (Science Education Manager, Mount St. Helens Institute)
    Nathan Reynolds (Ecologist and Interim Director of Cultural Resources, Cowlitz Indian Tribe)
    Ray Yurkewycz (Director, Mount St. Helens Institute)

Heart of Portland 2020

Heart of Portland Poster Competition Winners
Congratulations to Portland Public Schools student artists and their teachers! PPS has announced the winners of the 2020 HeART of Portland Showcase Poster Competition and launched the new PPS Visual Arts Virtual Gallery. The competition was a very crowded and impressive field of 61 submissions and the jurying went to two rounds. As award-winning entries, these pieces were selected because they capture the creative spirit and connect meaningfully to the Portland Art Museum exhibition Volcano! Mount St. Helens in Art.

Every spring for the past five years, the Museum has been honored to host the Heart of Portland: A K-12 PPS Arts Showcase—a celebration of student visual and performing artists and their dedicated teachers. While we very much missed seeing your work in person this spring, we are thrilled to see the wonderful virtual gallery and to have this opportunity to say thank you to Portland for supporting arts education through the Arts Tax!

Make Art Inspired by Volcano!

Portland Public Schools art teachers developed two art projects for K-12 students inspired by the exhibition. We’ve adapted them for you to try at home with children–and adults–of all ages. Have fun and share your work with us! @portlandartmuseum #createfromhome

Mount St. Helens Inside

MSHInside is a virtual source for 40th eruptiversary activities, events, and resources from our partner the Mount St. Helens Institute. Explore Mount St. Helens from home with live videos and weekly challenges.

Dec
10
Sat
Frame by Frame: Stop Motion for the Family
Dec 10 @ 10:00 am – 1:00 pm
Frame by Frame: Stop Motion for the Family @ PAM CUT

Two sessions: December 10 and 17

Ages 8+

Artist Instructor: Adina Cohen

$250 – Adults
$100 – Kids 8-17 *Kids must be accompanied by a registered adult

Register now

Learn stop motion animation basics with Adina Cohen (Robot Chicken, Supermansion, Buddy Thunderstruck, MODOK, Anomilisa) using tools and methods that can be recreated at home! What’s special about this 2-session class is that it’s designed for adult family members to work with the kids in their lives to learn and create together.

In this class, Adina will give step-by-step instructions on how to build a basic wire armature, what materials to use, and where to find them. As well as a crash course on the principles of animation and how best to approach them in the stop motion style of animation.

This class will be in 2 parts with an opportunity in the second class to animate your own short scene. Materials will be provided and you’ll be able to take a puppet home to continue practicing!

Adina Cohen is currently working at LAIKA for the upcoming animated film Wildwood. Outside of her professional experience, Adina has created and worked on numerous independent Short Films including her award-winning short, Pirouette, which you can currently check out on her website, adinacohen.com.

Dec
11
Sun
Miller Family Free Day
Dec 11 @ 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Miller Family Free Day @ Portland Art Museum

Enjoy free admission all day in celebration of the Portland Art Museum’s 130th birthday!  Visit special exhibitions Dakota Modern: The Art of Oscar Howe and Jeffrey Gibson’s They Come From Fire and To Name An Other. Free admission tickets can be reserved online beginning Wednesday, December 7th. Tickets will be available for walk-in visitors on Sunday, December 11th.

Check out the Fantastical Fogtown Faire from 11am-4pm in the Stevens Room. Fogtown creators will be there for a screening of Fogtown and other Hapstance film projects as well as a virtual production demonstration, a photo booth, and more!


Annually, 1/3 of all visitors enjoy the Museum for free or receive admission at highly reduced prices.

Since 2008, the Museum’s quarterly Miller Family Free Days have welcomed the community to visit for free and enjoy special exhibitions and programming.

Other options available year-round include free admission for children 17 and under, plus more here: Admission Access Programs

Miller Family Free Days are generously supported by Sharon L. Miller and Family. Museum access programs are generously supported by the Gordon D. Sondland and Katherine J. Durant Foundation, Bank of America, the William H. and Mary L. Bauman Foundation, the Lamb Baldwin Foundation, the Joseph E. Weston Public Foundation of the Oregon Community Foundation, the Pamplin Foundation Endowment for the Arts, Members of the Portland Art Museum, and the Citizens of Portland through the Arts and Education Access Fund.

Jan
7
Sat
Screen Captivated:Intro to “Screenlife” Filmmaking
Jan 7 @ 1:30 pm – 4:30 pm
Screen Captivated:Intro to “Screenlife” Filmmaking @ PAM CUT

Ages 18+

Artist Instructors: Brandon Winters, Laura Houlberg
Cost: $200

Purchase tickets

Learn how to make screenlife films with nothing but a computer and a story! No actors, locations, or bulky equipment required. Screenlife, or screen-based, films have been making waves at major festivals and studios. Feature films like SearchingUnfriended, and Profile are often audience’s introduction to the format, but you can see examples of screenlife in commercialsmusic videos, and even entire TV shows. In a world where social interactions, everyday dramas, and major life events are increasingly happening online, we need a film language to tell these stories. In this course, you’ll learn what makes an effective screenlife film by watching examples of some of the best, discussing the types of new stories that can be told, and starting to craft your own screenlife film. 

Artist Instructor bios:
Brandon Winters is an editor & director in Los Angeles working in documentary and narrative film. He’s integrated screenlife filmmaking into his for-hire work as well as making a couple of short essay films of his own (Minor Presence and Final World). More of his work is available at brandonawinters.com

Laura Houlberg is a Portland-based screenwriter & director currently working in tech. She writes about technology & media and in 2021 won Bertha DocHouse’s film competition for her screen-based documentary, Drawing in the Future.

Jan
21
Sat
POWER UP: They Come From Fire
Jan 21 @ 1:30 pm – 4:30 pm
POWER UP: They Come From Fire

Celebrate LGBTQ2SIA+ youth and allies at the Portland Art Museum! Meet new people. Immerse yourself in powerful art by Jeffrey Gibson and other queer artists. Join a drag workshop with Carla Rossi. Speak your truth at the open mic. Make art, make friends, and have fun!

Middle school, high school, and college-age are all welcome. GSA/QSA advisors and teachers are welcome, too.

Admission is FREE! Refreshments provided.

Register Now

Power Up registration
Sending

All-gender restrooms are located in the first-floor gift shop and on the fourth floor of the main museum building.

Jan
22
Sun
Under the Great Wave: Human Nature in Japanese Landscape Prints
Jan 22 @ 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm

A Lecture by Helen Swift, Japan Foundation Assistant Curator of Japanese Art at the Portland Art Museum

Purchase tickets

The landscape emerged as a major subject for Japanese woodblock prints during the nineteenth century and has remained a significant source of inspiration for artists well into the modern age. Katsushika Hokusai’s (1760–1849 ) fantastic Great Wave and Utagawa Hiroshige’s (1797–1858) evocative rainy vistas have captured the imagination of audiences around the world, but how did they come into being and what did they mean to the people of Japan? Woodblock prints were designed for popular consumption and reflected how people perceived the natural world. A close look at these captivating images reveals a landscape shaped as much by the human imagination as by natural forces. Drawing upon the Museum’s expansive Japanese print collection, this lecture will explore the artistry and human-nature relationship underlying some of Japan’s most iconic artworks.

Helen Swift is the Japan Foundation Assistant Curator of Japanese Art at the Portland Art Museum. Her responsibilities include the research, documentation, and exhibition of the Museum’s Japanese print collection.

Presented in conjunction with the exhibition, Human | Nature: 150 Years of Japanese Landscape Prints. Major support provided by the Japan Foundation. 

Jan
27
Fri
Portland Fine Print Fair: Benefit Preview
Jan 27 @ 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Portland Fine Print Fair: Benefit Preview

Now in its tenth year, the Northwest’s only fine print fair brings together 16 premier print dealers and galleries from North America and Europe. This benefit preview supports the activities and acquisitions of the Department of Prints and Drawings.

Learn more about Portland Fine Print Fair 2023.

Purchase Benefit Preview tickets
Jan
28
Sat
Portland Fine Print Fair
Jan 28 @ 10:00 am – 6:00 pm
Portland Fine Print Fair

Now in its tenth year, the Northwest’s only fine print fair brings together 16 premier print dealers and galleries from North America and Europe. A benefit preview on January 27, 6–9 p.m., supports the activities and acquisitions of the Department of Prints and Drawings.

Learn more about Portland Fine Print Fair 2023.

Jan
29
Sun
Portland Fine Print Fair
Jan 29 @ 11:00 am – 5:00 pm
Portland Fine Print Fair

Now in its tenth year, the Northwest’s only fine print fair brings together 16 premier print dealers and galleries from North America and Europe. A benefit preview on January 27, 6–9 p.m., supports the activities and acquisitions of the Department of Prints and Drawings.

Learn more about Portland Fine Print Fair 2023.

Feb
19
Sun
Miller Family Museum Free Day
Feb 19 @ 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Miller Family Museum Free Day @ Portland Art Museum

Enjoy free admission all day in celebration of the special exhibitions special exhibitions Dakota Modern: The Art of Oscar Howe and Jeffrey Gibson’s They Come From Fire and To Name An Other. Information on special programs will be shared as the date gets closer. You may reserve your free admission tickets online beginning the Wednesday prior to the free day.  A limited number of tickets are also available for walk-in visitors on the day of.


Annually, 1/3 of all visitors enjoy the Museum for free or receive admission at highly reduced prices.

Since 2008, the Museum’s quarterly Miller Family Free Days have welcomed the community to visit for free and enjoy special exhibitions and programming.

Other options available year-round include free admission for children 17 and under, plus more here: Admission Access Programs

Miller Family Free Days are generously supported by Sharon L. Miller and Family. Museum access programs are generously supported by the Gordon D. Sondland and Katherine J. Durant Foundation, Bank of America, the William H. and Mary L. Bauman Foundation, the Lamb Baldwin Foundation, the Joseph E. Weston Public Foundation of the Oregon Community Foundation, the Pamplin Foundation Endowment for the Arts, Members of the Portland Art Museum, and the Citizens of Portland through the Arts and Education Access Fund.

Apr
23
Sun
Miller Family Museum Free Day
Apr 23 @ 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Miller Family Museum Free Day @ Portland Art Museum

Enjoy free admission all day in celebration of youth arts and the long-standing community partnership between the Museum and Portland Public Schools HeART of Portland: K-12 Student Arts Showcase. Information on special programs will be shared as the date gets closer. You may reserve your free admission tickets online beginning the Wednesday prior to the free day.  A limited number of tickets are also available for walk-in visitors on the day of.


Annually, 1/3 of all visitors enjoy the Museum for free or receive admission at highly reduced prices.

Since 2008, the Museum’s quarterly Miller Family Free Days have welcomed the community to visit for free and enjoy special exhibitions and programming.

Other options available year-round include free admission for children 17 and under, plus more here: Admission Access Programs

Miller Family Free Days are generously supported by Sharon L. Miller and Family. Museum access programs are generously supported by the Gordon D. Sondland and Katherine J. Durant Foundation, Bank of America, the William H. and Mary L. Bauman Foundation, the Lamb Baldwin Foundation, the Joseph E. Weston Public Foundation of the Oregon Community Foundation, the Pamplin Foundation Endowment for the Arts, Members of the Portland Art Museum, and the Citizens of Portland through the Arts and Education Access Fund.

May
20
Sat
Museum Free Day
May 20 @ 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Museum Free Day @ Portland Art Museum

Enjoy free admission all day in celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month and in collaboration with Oregon Rises Above Hate. Free admission to select local museums will take place throughout the month of May. Information on special programs will be shared as the date gets closer. You may reserve your free admission tickets online beginning the Wednesday prior to the free day. A limited number of tickets are also available for walk-in visitors on the day of.


Annually, 1/3 of all visitors enjoy the Museum for free or receive admission at highly reduced prices.

Since 2008, the Museum’s quarterly Miller Family Free Days have welcomed the community to visit for free and enjoy special exhibitions and programming.

Other options available year-round include free admission for children 17 and under, plus more here: Admission Access Programs

Miller Family Free Days are generously supported by Sharon L. Miller and Family. Museum access programs are generously supported by the Gordon D. Sondland and Katherine J. Durant Foundation, Bank of America, the William H. and Mary L. Bauman Foundation, the Lamb Baldwin Foundation, the Joseph E. Weston Public Foundation of the Oregon Community Foundation, the Pamplin Foundation Endowment for the Arts, Members of the Portland Art Museum, and the Citizens of Portland through the Arts and Education Access Fund.

Sponsors

  • Exhibition Series Sponsors
  • The Ford Family Foundation
  • Dorothy Piacentini
  • Ann Flowerree
  • European and American Art Council
  • Theo and Nancy Downes-Le Guin
  • Carol Ann and Kent Caveny

Partners