PORTLAND, Oregon — There was more noise than usual outside the peaceful Portland Japanese Garden on Tuesday. A huge, 2,000 pound ceramic statue was unpacked from its giant wooden crate in front of the entrance and hoisted into place in the emptied out water feature in front of the entrance.
“This is the largest art exhibition the Portland Japanese Garden has had in it's almost 60 years,” said communications specialist Will Lerner.
The dango-shaped statue stands tall tall and its deep blue color pops against the green of the trees behind it. About half a dozen other statues have been sprinkled around the garden for a new and rare art exhibition featuring the work of Jun Kaneko.
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“It's one of the first things that people see when they come to visit Portland Japanese Garden,” Lerner said.
Beginning Saturday, Oct. 1, visitors can enjoy “Garden of Resonance: The Art of Jun Kaneko.” It’s the Portland Japanese Garden’s final exhibition of the year and it runs through Feb. 20, 2023. Each piece is carefully curated to accentuate the landscape, not compete with it.
“He’s [Kaneko], an acclaimed artist, an important artist, and he's someone that you might have seen his work, but you just didn't know by name,” said Lerner. “In fact, if you've been to the Beaverton City Library, when you walk in through those doors, it's his glass art in the lobby.”
Some of Kaneko’s smaller glass art will be displayed at the garden’s pavilion as part of the exhibition. With the fall colors coming in soon, Lerner said the colors mixed with the statues, which are all nameless, will make for a stunning juxtaposition.
“[Kaneko] wants to kind of be open to interpretation as to the meaning of his work depending on who's viewing it,” he said. “He didn't want to lead people into perceiving his art in a certain way.”
Visitors can see the art with their garden admission from Wednesdays through Mondays. The Portland Japanese Garden is closed on Tuesdays.
Jun Kaneko is a major contributor to the field of sculptural art. Born in Japan, he is now based out of Omaha, Nebraska. He has had installations in several American cities like New York, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Washington, D.C., Detroit and around the world in Japan, China, England, Canada, the Netherlands and Australia.
The Portland Japanese Garden also has his work on permanent display in the Jordan Schnitzer Japanese Arts Learning Center.