THOUGH YOU MIGHT not know it, August will be a very engaging month for international contemporary art in Portland. A brand-new residency program called End of Summer has begun, presenting a month-long occasion for Japan and Portland to connect over a shared interest in contemporary art. This month, Yale Union will be the nexus, providing private studios for six Japanese artists and hosting four public lectures by prominent scholars and artists. In a combination of public and private programming, End of Summer has quietly orchestrated an international and critically engaged moment for Portland’s arts community.
The artists-in-residence this year work in diverse mediums, including installation, performance, and conceptual work. Masashi Echigo, Itsuki Kaito, Tsubasa Kato, Masumi Kawamura, Sayaka Ohata, and Nao Osada hold active interests in research and experiential art practices, and have collectively racked up a number of international exhibitions and institutional experiences. Though they’re in town for the residency, the expectation of this program is an active dialogue between the artists-in-residence and the Portland community, culminating in a roundtable discussion and open studio event at the end of the month.
Alongside the talented artists who will be working in Yale Union’s studios, End of Summer’s lecturers and public outreach will provide the much-needed service of highlighting historical links and creative resonances between Japan and Portland. In bringing to town scholars and artists including Dr. Reiko Tomii and Japan Society gallery curator Yukie Kamiya, this program encourages Portland’s community to direct its attention away from the Western canon in favor of a wider artistic lens that encompasses the globalized present.
By considering the ties between the Pacific Northwest and Japan in both a contemporary and historic context, End of Summer makes no effort to art-wash the local histories of Japanese internment and urban racism that created stark geographic separations around Portland’s Asian and Pacific Islander populations. Rather, it takes into consideration the present, changing moments for both regions, with an awareness about the importance of mutual understanding and exchange—and hope for a future of international cross-pollination.