Wednesday, March 18, 2009

the art of going to an art museum

Beaded bag from the Columbia River Plateau

We finally discovered the best way to approach going to an art museum. Usually, we try to cover all the exhibits and spend way too much time all at once. We are just so greedy.
After years of post-museum burnout, our new modality is to choose one exhibit per visit and really allow ourselves to become immersed in it. Our very favorite exhibit at the Portland Art Museum is the Asian Art room,

but we forced ourselves to pass it by last time and focus on our second favorite, the Native American exhibit. We spent just over an hour there and left, sated but not exhausted. I suppose if you are traveling you can't afford yourself the luxury of such a slow method of perusal, but for your home museum I highly recommend trying it this way. We see new things in old pieces every time we look. When we are viewing work from the perspective of potters, I usually look at surface treatments and Mr. Cranky looks at form. first new necklace, stones, fir round, rufous-sided towhee feathers, elk hair

But now, because we are making jewelry, we have a whole new point of view. We see tiny details, methods of attaching things, ornaments, materials. Work in progress, shell, found wood (oak) piece, shell, mallard feather

Mr. Cranky is now obsessed with abalone shells and elk teeth and porcupine quills. He wants to use natural and found materials only and attach them in the most simple and direct way, so the Native American work is right up his alley. Work table for jewelry

We went to a bead store later that day and found abalone beads. We found an abalone shell too, but I can't remember where. And Mr. Cranky has a call in to a hunter friend for elk teeth. Now we regret not collecting the bear fur we found picking huckleberries last fall.

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