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.

Jul
7
Thu
Being John Malkovich
Jul 7 @ 8:00 pm
Being John Malkovich @ OMSI Bridge Lot

dir. Spike Jonze, 1999

R – 1 hr. 52 min.

Craig Schwartz (John Cusack) is a street puppeteer whose fast fingers land him a job filing documents at a bizarre company. But when he discovers a portal behind a filing cabinet that leads him into the mind of actor John Malkovich, he becomes the ultimate puppet master.

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This screening is part of PAM CUT Cinema Unbound Outdoor Movies.

Jul
8
Fri
A League of Their Own
Jul 8 @ 8:00 pm
A League of Their Own @ OMSI Bridge Lot

dir. Penny Marshall, 1992

PG – 2 hr. 8 min.

While American men are fighting in World War II, the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League is formed, bringing sisters Dottie Hinson (Geena Davis) and Kit Keller (Lori Petti) to the field with some of the greatest female ballplayers in the country.

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This screening is part of PAM CUT Cinema Unbound Outdoor Movies.

Jul
9
Sat
Face/Off
Jul 9 @ 8:00 pm
Face/Off @ OMSI Bridge Lot

dir. John Woo, 1996

R – 2 hr. 18 min.

When a criminal mastermind (Nicolas Cage) is caught, FBI Agent Sean Archer (John Travolta) goes undercover as the man he imprisoned in order to stop his crew from setting off a massive bomb. But the only way this plan will work is if Archer physically transforms himself into his nemesis by actually becoming him. 

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This screening is part of PAM CUT Cinema Unbound Outdoor Movies.

Jul
10
Sun
Purple Rain
Jul 10 @ 8:00 pm
Purple Rain @ OMSI Bridge Lot

dir. Albert Magnoli, 1984

R – 1 hr. 51 min.

When a musician (Prince) haunted by the actions of his abusive father lets his emotional trauma impact his relationship with his band, The Revolution, he ends up losing his bandmates to a new group formed by his rival, Morris Day.

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This screening is part of PAM CUT Cinema Unbound Outdoor Movies.

Jul
14
Thu
Back to the Future
Jul 14 @ 9:00 pm – 11:00 pm
Back to the Future @ OMSI Bridge Lot

dir. Robert Zemeckis, 1985

PG – 1 hr. 56 mins.

In this 1980s sci-fi classic, small-town California teen Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) is thrown back into the ’50s when an experiment by his eccentric scientist friend Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) goes awry. Traveling through time in a modified DeLorean car, Marty encounters young versions of his parents (Crispin Glover, Lea Thompson), and must make sure that they fall in love or he’ll cease to exist. Even more dauntingly, Marty has to return to his own time and save the life of Doc Brown.

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This screening is part of PAM CUT Cinema Unbound Outdoor Movies.

Jul
15
Fri
Sing 2
Jul 15 @ 9:00 pm – 11:00 pm
Sing 2 @ OMSI Bridge Lot

dir. Garth Jennings, 2021

PG – 1 hr. 50 min.

Sing 2 follows a group of animal performers as they scramble to put together a space-themed live show for entertainment mogul, Jimmy Crystal. But their show hinges on one rare element—Crystal was prematurely promised that it would feature the elusive pop sensation Clay Calloway (Bono).

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This screening is part of PAM CUT Cinema Unbound Outdoor Movies.

Jul
16
Sat
Miller Family Free Day and Paseo
Jul 16 @ 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Miller Family Free Day and Paseo

Join us for Miller Family Free Day, featuring the first day of the Perspectives exhibition, together with an array of Paseo festivities along the South Park Blocks. Activities inside the museum include visiting the Perspectives exhibition and joining the Perspectives artists for a panel conversation at 2:00 p.m. 

Free admission tickets can be reserved online beginning Wednesday, July 13. Tickets will be available for walk-in visitors on Saturday, July 16.

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.

Paseo, 12:00 – 9:00 PM

From July 15 to 17, the South Park Blocks will come alive with Paseo, a new kind of festival bringing creativity, health, and movement to re-enliven our downtown. Named for the sociable evening strolls that are a fixture of community life in Spain and elsewhere, Paseo will offer a showcase of emerging talent in music, performance, art, crafts, and food, along with activities and information in health, wellness, movement, parks, and outdoors. The event coincides with the opening of the Portland Art Museum’s exhibition Perspectives, as well as Oregon Historical Society’s Gambatte! Legacy of an Enduring Spirit.

Paseo is an act of civic reimagination to bring downtown back and also forward.  The Portland Art Museum is proud to be a community partner in this effort, and we invite members of the museum community to come take a walk with us! For more more information, visit paseopdx.org.

Perspectives Opening Panel Discussion
Jul 16 @ 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Perspectives Opening Panel Discussion @ Whitsell Auditorium

Join us for an artists’ conversation moderated by Teressa Raiford – activist, archivist, politician, and founder of Don’t Shoot Portland.  This opening panel discussion will dive into the work and process of the six Portland-based, BIPOC photographers featured in Perspectives.  Emery Barnes, Joseph Blake, Linneas Boland-Godbey, Daveed Jacobo, Mariah Harris and Byron Merritt will share their reflections on Portland’s Black Lives Matter protests in 2020, and the role photography plays within this ongoing movement.

Strictly Ballroom
Jul 16 @ 9:00 pm – 11:00 pm
Strictly Ballroom @ OMSI Bridge Lot

dir. Baz Luhrmann, 1992

PG – 1 hr. 34 min.

Scott Hastings (Paul Mercurio) is a burgeoning dancer who wants to bring his unique ballroom style to the Pan-Pacific Grand Prix Dancing Championship but has to first convince the top dancing officials of Australia that he deserves to be there.

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This screening is part of PAM CUT Cinema Unbound Outdoor Movies.

Jul
17
Sun
Krush Groove
Jul 17 @ 9:00 pm – 11:00 pm
Krush Groove @ OMSI Bridge Lot

dir. Michael Schultz, 1985

R – 1 hr. 37 min.

A struggling record label attempts to save their business by signing Sheila E.

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This screening is part of PAM CUT Cinema Unbound Outdoor Movies.

Jul
21
Thu
Shrek
Jul 21 @ 9:00 pm – 11:00 pm
Shrek @ OMSI Bridge Lot

dir. Andrew Adamson, Vicky Jenson, 2001

PG – 1 hr. 30 mins.

JUST ADDED to the Cinema Unbound Outdoor Movies: Shrek (2001) – The beloved Ogre that captured our hearts over 20 years ago has left the swamp and has found his way up the Willamette River to join PAM CUT at the Bridge Lot @ OMSI for the Cinema Unbound Outdoor Movies series. On July 21, bring the whole family to see where it all started for this iconic character, his donkey friend, and the princess with a deep dark secret.

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This screening is part of PAM CUT Cinema Unbound Outdoor Movies.

Jul
22
Fri
D.E.B.S.
Jul 22 @ 9:00 pm – 11:00 pm
D.E.B.S. @ OMSI Bridge Lot

dir. Angela Robinson, 2004

PG-13 – 1 hr. 31 min.

A group of girls is recruited by the government to hunt down international jewel thief Lucy Diamond (Jordana Brewster). But when D.E.B.S. agent Amy Bradshaw (Sara Foster) catches feelings for Lucy, the entire operation is in jeopardy.

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This screening is part of PAM CUT Cinema Unbound Outdoor Movies.

Jul
23
Sat
Earth Girls Are Easy
Jul 23 @ 9:00 pm – 11:00 pm
Earth Girls Are Easy @ OMSI Bridge Lot

dir. Julien Temple, 1988

PG – 1 hr. 40 min.

Jeff Goldblum, Jim Carrey, and Damon Wayans play Mac, Wiploc, and Zeebo, three aliens who crash-land into a Los Angeles swimming pool belonging to Valerie (Geena Davis) who promptly transforms them into SoCal surfer dudes.

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This screening is part of PAM CUT Cinema Unbound Outdoor Movies.

Jul
24
Sun
Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Jul 24 @ 9:00 pm – 11:00 pm
Hedwig and the Angry Inch @ OMSI Bridge Lot

dir. John Cameron Mitchell *2020 Cinema Unbound Awards Honoree*, 2001

R – 1 hr. 33 min.

A gay teenager in East Germany undergoes sexual reassignment surgery in order to flee to the United States with an American military sergeant. While in the States, she attempts to make her way as a musician and struggles to find her identity.

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This screening is part of PAM CUT Cinema Unbound Outdoor Movies.

Jul
28
Thu
Monsoon Wedding
Jul 28 @ 9:00 pm – 11:00 pm
Monsoon Wedding @ OMSI Bridge Lot

dir. Mira Nair, 2001

R – 1 hr. 54 min.

A large Indian family comes together when it comes time for Aditi (Vasundhara Das) to get married, though the circumstances are far from ideal.

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This screening is part of PAM CUT Cinema Unbound Outdoor Movies.

Jul
29
Fri
Ghostbusters
Jul 29 @ 8:00 pm
Ghostbusters @ OMSI Bridge Lot

dir. Ivan Reitman, 1984

PG – 1 hr. 45 min.

This paranormal comedy teams brainy and zany college professors against one of the greatest evils known to mankind—an ancient entity from another dimension named Gozer.

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This screening is part of PAM CUT Cinema Unbound Outdoor Movies.

Jul
30
Sat
Magic Mike XXL
Jul 30 @ 9:00 pm – 11:00 pm
Magic Mike XXL @ OMSI Bridge Lot

dir. Gregory Jacobs, 2015

R – 1 hr. 55 min.

Mike Lane (Channing Tatum) reunites with his friends, The Kings of Tampa, to get back onto the stage and perform. But this time, the adventure takes them to Myrtle Beach.

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This screening is part of PAM CUT Cinema Unbound Outdoor Movies.

Jul
31
Sun
The Shining
Jul 31 @ 8:00 pm – 10:00 pm
The Shining @ OMSI Bridge Lot

dir. Stanley Kubrick, 1980

R – 2 hr. 26 min.

Jack Torrence (Jack Nicholson) is the winter caretaker at a historic hotel who is driven to madness as his wife (Shelley Duvall) and son (Danny Lloyd) fall victim to shifting persona. 

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This screening is part of PAM CUT Cinema Unbound Outdoor Movies.

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