“Mono no aware”: Asian Celebration Storefront Art and "Discoveries" at the Karin Clarke Gallery
This is Sandy Brown Jensen, and you’re listening to Viz City, KLCC’s arts review program. Maybe it’s because my mom just turned a fragile 96, but I have been filled with an awareness of the transience of people and things, a feeling the Japanese have a special term for, “mono no aware,” and that you can always feel as an undercurrent at the City of Eugene’s annual Asian Celebration.
This year, downtown Eugene’s empty storefronts have been transformed into art installations by local Asian artists. One of my favorites I discovered at 856 Willamette by Sandra Honda. It is called “She Sat in the Forest Surrounding Herself in the Rapture of Birdsong.” Some of Honda’s calligraphic marks are taken from spectrograms of bird songs. She used their voices to guide her drawing as she built layers of ink and paper. Every line of this drawing reflects the joy Honda feels when hearing the music of birds, sweet and ephemeral.
At the Karin Clarke Gallery right now, there is a profound sense of honoring a great elder, Mark Clarke. Gallerist Karin Clarke and Oregon painter Margaret Coe, went rummaging among his rolled canvases and discovered forgotten or unseen paintings. Excavation was a labor of love--the canvases needed to be stretched, framed, and often repaired.
I’m so glad they went to all this effort because these are gems from the past. The story being told is the many ways Mark Clarke learned from those who went before him from Cezanne to David McCosh, and then developed his own soft style that speaks to a longer, deeper, gentle sadness and also joy at the transience of things and people.
Look for “Figure with Red Coat,” “Figure on a Path,” “Lovers and Cups,” when you go, and you will feel what I mean--people and objects suggested, caught like shadows moving between worlds.
This is Sandy Brown Jensen for KLCC.