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.
Henk Pander, Eruption of Saint Helens from Cable Street, 1981.
Henk Pander (American, born The Netherlands, 1937), Eruption of Saint Helens from Cable Street, 1981 (a/k/a View of Portland), Oil on linen, 54 x 64 inches, City of Portland, courtesy of the Regional Arts and Culture Council.
Mathias Van Hesemans (American, born 1946), Eruption, 1983, Mount Saint Helens, 1983.
Mathias Van Hesemans (American, born 1946), Eruption, 1983, Mount Saint Helens, 1983, gelatin silver print, Gift of Stu Levy and Cris Maranze.

Volcano!

Mount St. Helens in Art

Feb 8, 2020 – May 17, 2020

Main Building, Floor 1

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.

Sponsored in part by Ann Flowerree and the European and American Art Council of the Portland Art Museum and Exhibition Series Sponsors.

Feb
9
Sun
Blasts from the Past: Considering Mount St. Helens in Art
Feb 9 @ 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm
Blasts from the Past: Considering Mount St. Helens in Art

John E. Buchanan Jr. Memorial Lecture

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

This opening talk introduces the first comprehensive exhibition of art related to Mount St. Helens. Ranging from pre-contact Native American objects to contemporary works, the art celebrates the sublime beauty of the volcano in periods of serene calm and cataclysmic fury. Come learn how the exhibition chronicles the epic cycles of volcanic destruction and regeneration taking place in our backyard.

ASL/English Interpreters and automated real time captioning will be provided for this event.

Purchase tickets

Presented in conjunction with the exhibition Volcano! Mount St. Helens in Art

Feb
15
Sat
Mount St. Helens Institute Saturday
Feb 15 @ 12:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Mount St. Helens Institute Saturday

On select Saturdays, join volunteers from the Mount St. Helens Institute as they bring their outdoor interpretation skills inside the museum for hands-on activities and informal gallery conversations that help bring to life the history, geology, and natural environment of Mount St. Helens without the drive to the mountain. In addition, MSHI volunteers and PAM docents will be available at 12:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. on these days to jointly introduce the Volcano! exhibition and offer insights to the art and science of the volcano.

Mount St. Helens Institute
We are excited to partner with the Mount St. Helens Institute on a series of programs, tours, and in-gallery experiences during the exhibition. Founded in 1996, the Mount St. Helens Institute connects people of all ages to Mount St. Helens and the natural world through educational programming designed to enrich visitors’ appreciation and understanding of the Pacific Northwest’s youngest and most active volcano. For more information on the organization, visit mshinstitute.org.

Presented in conjunction with the exhibition Volcano! Mount St. Helens in Art

Public Tour: Volcano!
Feb 15 @ 12:30 pm – 1:30 pm
Public Tour: Volcano!

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 exhibition Volcano! Mount St. Helens in Art

Public Tour: Volcano!
Feb 15 @ 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Public Tour: Volcano!

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 exhibition Volcano! Mount St. Helens in Art

Feb
18
Tue
Volcano Views & Brews (Vancouver)
Feb 18 @ 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Volcano Views & Brews (Vancouver) @ Water Resources Education Center

Doors at 5:30 p.m.
Program at 6:30 p.m.

Now in its 13th year, Volcano Views & Brews is a popular monthly Mount St. Helens Institute lecture series on Pacific Northwest natural and cultural history. The winter/spring series will focus exclusively on a range of topics related to Mount St. Helens’ past, present, and future. Fascinating subjects and lively speakers, as well as beer and food for purchase, will make for an enjoyable and horizon-widening evening.

The series will alternate between the Water Resources Education Center (4600 SE Columbia Way, Vancouver, Washington) and the Portland Art Museum.

Mount St. Helens Institute
We are excited to partner with the Mount St. Helens Institute on a series of programs, tours, and in-gallery experiences during the exhibition. Founded in 1996, the Mount St. Helens Institute connects people of all ages to Mount St. Helens and the natural world through educational programming designed to enrich visitors’ appreciation and understanding of the Pacific Northwest’s youngest and most active volcano. For more information on the organization, visit mshinstitute.org.

Presented in conjunction with the exhibition Volcano! Mount St. Helens in Art

Feb
20
Thu
Evening for Educators: Volcano! Mount St. Helens in Art
Feb 20 @ 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Evening for Educators: Volcano! Mount St. Helens in Art @ Miller Gallery, Mark Building

Marking the 40th anniversary of the eruption of Mount St. Helens, this exhibition explores the overwhelming power of nature and epic cycles of volcanic destruction and regeneration with stunning photographs, paintings, and drawings of the mountain from 1845 to the present day. Join us for a program that includes:

Refreshments available at 5:15 pm. Program begins at 5:30 pm. Admission is free. PDU credits provided.

Register now
Feb
29
Sat
Public Tour: Volcano!
Feb 29 @ 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Public Tour: Volcano!

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 exhibition Volcano! Mount St. Helens in Art

Mar
14
Sat
Public Tour: Volcano!
Mar 14 @ 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Public Tour: Volcano!

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 exhibition Volcano! Mount St. Helens in Art

Mar
17
Tue
Art & Conversation: Volcano!
Mar 17 @ 9:15 am – 11:30 am
Art & Conversation: Volcano! @ Mark Building

Dawson Carr, the Janet and Richard Geary Curator of European Art

Presented in conjunction with the exhibition Volcano!

Join us the third Tuesday of every month for coffee followed by a lecture or film screening. Coffee at 9:15 a.m. and lecture at 10:15 a.m.

This is a free program and everyone is welcome.

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

Mar
21
Sat
Mount St. Helens Institute Saturday
Mar 21 @ 12:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Mount St. Helens Institute Saturday

On select Saturdays, join volunteers from the Mount St. Helens Institute as they bring their outdoor interpretation skills inside the museum for hands-on activities and informal gallery conversations that help bring to life the history, geology, and natural environment of Mount St. Helens without the drive to the mountain. In addition, MSHI volunteers and PAM docents will be available at 12:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. on these days to jointly introduce the Volcano! exhibition and offer insights to the art and science of the volcano.

Mount St. Helens Institute
We are excited to partner with the Mount St. Helens Institute on a series of programs, tours, and in-gallery experiences during the exhibition. Founded in 1996, the Mount St. Helens Institute connects people of all ages to Mount St. Helens and the natural world through educational programming designed to enrich visitors’ appreciation and understanding of the Pacific Northwest’s youngest and most active volcano. For more information on the organization, visit mshinstitute.org.

Presented in conjunction with the exhibition Volcano! Mount St. Helens in Art

Public Tour: Volcano!
Mar 21 @ 12:30 pm – 1:30 pm
Public Tour: Volcano!

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 exhibition Volcano! Mount St. Helens in Art

Public Tour: Volcano!
Mar 21 @ 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Public Tour: Volcano!

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 exhibition Volcano! Mount St. Helens in Art

Mar
26
Thu
Volcano Views & Brews (PAM)
Mar 26 @ 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Volcano Views & Brews (PAM) @ Portland Art Museum

Doors at 5:30 p.m.
Program at 6:30 p.m.

Now in its 13th year, Volcano Views & Brews is a popular monthly Mount St. Helens Institute lecture series on Pacific Northwest natural and cultural history. The winter/spring series will focus exclusively on a range of topics related to Mount St. Helens’ past, present, and future. Fascinating subjects and lively speakers, as well as beer and food for purchase, will make for an enjoyable and horizon-widening evening.

The series will alternate between the Water Resources Education Center (4600 SE Columbia Way, Vancouver, Washington) and the Portland Art Museum.

Mount St. Helens Institute
We are excited to partner with the Mount St. Helens Institute on a series of programs, tours, and in-gallery experiences during the exhibition. Founded in 1996, the Mount St. Helens Institute connects people of all ages to Mount St. Helens and the natural world through educational programming designed to enrich visitors’ appreciation and understanding of the Pacific Northwest’s youngest and most active volcano. For more information on the organization, visit mshinstitute.org.

Presented in conjunction with the exhibition Volcano! Mount St. Helens in Art

Apr
4
Sat
Mount St. Helens Institute Saturday
Apr 4 @ 12:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Mount St. Helens Institute Saturday

On select Saturdays, join volunteers from the Mount St. Helens Institute as they bring their outdoor interpretation skills inside the museum for hands-on activities and informal gallery conversations that help bring to life the history, geology, and natural environment of Mount St. Helens without the drive to the mountain. In addition, MSHI volunteers and PAM docents will be available at 12:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. on these days to jointly introduce the Volcano! exhibition and offer insights to the art and science of the volcano.

Mount St. Helens Institute
We are excited to partner with the Mount St. Helens Institute on a series of programs, tours, and in-gallery experiences during the exhibition. Founded in 1996, the Mount St. Helens Institute connects people of all ages to Mount St. Helens and the natural world through educational programming designed to enrich visitors’ appreciation and understanding of the Pacific Northwest’s youngest and most active volcano. For more information on the organization, visit mshinstitute.org.

Presented in conjunction with the exhibition Volcano! Mount St. Helens in Art

Public Tour: Volcano!
Apr 4 @ 12:30 pm – 1:30 pm
Public Tour: Volcano!

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 exhibition Volcano! Mount St. Helens in Art

Public Tour: Volcano!
Apr 4 @ 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Public Tour: Volcano!

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 exhibition Volcano! Mount St. Helens in Art

Apr
8
Wed
Midday Art Break: Volcano!
Apr 8 @ 12:30 pm – 1:30 pm
Midday Art Break: Volcano!

Dawson Carr, the Janet and Richard Geary Curator of European Art

Presented in conjunction with the exhibition Volcano!

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

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

Purchase tickets
Apr
11
Sat
Public Tour: Volcano!
Apr 11 @ 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Public Tour: Volcano!

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 exhibition Volcano! Mount St. Helens in Art

Apr
18
Sat
Mount St. Helens Institute Saturday
Apr 18 @ 12:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Mount St. Helens Institute Saturday

On select Saturdays, join volunteers from the Mount St. Helens Institute as they bring their outdoor interpretation skills inside the museum for hands-on activities and informal gallery conversations that help bring to life the history, geology, and natural environment of Mount St. Helens without the drive to the mountain. In addition, MSHI volunteers and PAM docents will be available at 12:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. on these days to jointly introduce the Volcano! exhibition and offer insights to the art and science of the volcano.

Mount St. Helens Institute
We are excited to partner with the Mount St. Helens Institute on a series of programs, tours, and in-gallery experiences during the exhibition. Founded in 1996, the Mount St. Helens Institute connects people of all ages to Mount St. Helens and the natural world through educational programming designed to enrich visitors’ appreciation and understanding of the Pacific Northwest’s youngest and most active volcano. For more information on the organization, visit mshinstitute.org.

Presented in conjunction with the exhibition Volcano! Mount St. Helens in Art

Public Tour: Volcano!
Apr 18 @ 12:30 pm – 1:30 pm
Public Tour: Volcano!

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 exhibition Volcano! Mount St. Helens in Art