Right now, I’m in Portland, OR attending the American Association of Woodturner’s (AAW) 2007 Symposium. Since 2001, I’ve tried to go every year, and only missed last year’s. It’s 3 days of demonstrations and instructions by the finest woodturners in the world. It’s both educational and inspirational.
I arrived in Portland today (June 28) for the first time. As soon as I left the airport I felt like I’d validated most of my stereotypes about Oregon: Hills, lots of woods, overcast & rainy, fairly small and intimate. But, as you get into the downtown area, then it feels like most urban cities – too much traffic, high rise buildings in various states of disrepair, lots of downtown renovation, and people.
I checked into the hotel for the symposium (the DoubleTree – very nice) and walked over to the conference center to register. The Oregon Convention Center is on Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, and on the grounds is this statue commemorating him. It’s a lovely entry into the center.
The photo at the top of this post was taken just after I registered. Not too crowded yet, and everyone is still getting oriented, finding the demonstration areas, and meeting up with friends and acquaintances. The demonstrations don’t start until tomorrow, so everything is still pretty relaxed.
Three of the exhibits are open and located in the convention center. They aren’t too crowded yet, and so it’s a good time to see the pieces up close. Here is a small sampling of some of the exceptional turnings in the exhibit.
Study in Boundaries, 2006 by Giles Gilson. This is part of the 2007 POP Merit Award Exhibition. The Professional Outreach Program (POP) is a new program of the AAW which seeks to encourage and support the professional woodturning artist, and this is the first year that merit awards have been given out. Giles is one of the first three recipients.
Ascending Bowl #4, 1981 by Mark Lindquist. Another one of the inaugural POP Merit Award recipients, Mark’s work has been around for quite awhile. I’ve always liked his work, especially his emphasis on textures. I particularly liked this piece.
Next is the Japanese Demonstrator Exhibit. There are four urushi artists from Yamanaka Japan that are attending and demonstrating at the symposium this year. One has the title Living National Treasure which is awarded in Japan to someone who has reached the highest level of achievement in their craft. This is a small sample of their work.
This piece by Binh Pho is from the Japanese Bowls, A Western Perspective exhibit. This is a pretty interesting display. At a Japanese urushi exhibit in New York, the president of the AAW was given a large number of roughed out bowls. These are bowls that have been turned to roughly the same shape and size by a production facility, and would normally be presented to the urushi artist for final shaping and their finishing process. However, these roughs were given to a group of studio artists to finish in their unique (and western) styles.
The pieces finished by Ann Wolfe (left) and Sharon Doughtie (right). This exhibit was an amazing showcase of the distinctive styles and techniques of these artists. I’m only picking out a few to show here.
One of my favorite artists is Jaques Vesery. He’s known for his amazing surface carvings, which place natural textures (feathers, scales, rocks) on a variety of vessels and objects. This picture may not make it clear that he has carved and painted the surface of his vessel to look like rice. Up close, it looks like rice has been glued onto the surface of the bowl. What’s is most impressive about his work, and why his work commands such amazing prices, is that instead of just being a gimmick enhancement, his technique is an integral part of his artwork. It is beautiful work. My photo doesn’t do justice to this exquisite piece.
I’ve only shown you a few pieces from these larger exhibits. They are nothing more that a brief taste of the amazing work in these exhibits. I’ve picked a few of my favorite pieces to represent the show. And besides, the less time I prepare these posts, the more time I can participate in this wonderful symposium.