Today I took the opportunity to enjoy some of the Oregon sunshine and rode my bike downtown to the Portland Art Museum, http://www.portlandartmuseum.org/ . Before I begin my reaction to the museum, I would like to point out to all the Portlanders who are reading this post that I do love Portland and have written many posts about all the great things this city has to offer, but I am sorry to say that I was not impressed with the Portland Art Museum. To be fair, it was mostly modern art, and that is not my favorite form of artistic expression. It is possible that many modern art enthusiasts would love this museum. To me it just seemed all too new, and I have never been a fan of things that are just too new. I like art that shows a bit of age and really delves into the human condition or the landscapes of the earth. Art that tells stories of human emotions and history. My favorite art always includes people in some way. A true artist can show so much about a person in the painting just by the way he/she paints the eyes or even the shading in the picture.
I have spent a fair amount of time in museums. This isn't bragging, it is just saying that I have an idea of what I like in art. I was totally spoiled by the Philbrook, http://www.philbrook.org/, and Gilcrease museum, http://www.gilcrease.org/, in Tulsa. I spent a lot of time in Philbrook studying the paintings and sculptures and walking through the beautifully landscaped gardens. The structure itself was built by Waite Phillips as his home back in the early 1930's. He was a very wealthy oilman (Phillips 66), and he and his wife brought a European elegance to their home from their travels abroad. Just the fireplace screens are incredible. He was also a collector of art and donated his house, art, and grounds to Tulsa as an art museum. It is listed in the top 50 museums of the United States, and it is in the top five for the combination of art, home, and gardens.
The Gilcrease Museum is a more modern structure which focuses on Native American Art and the West. It has some beautiful paintings by Thomas Moran, http://www.nga.gov/feature/moran/index.shtm. It also has a great collection of Latin American art. Thomas Gilcrease was an oilman who collected art and eventually donated his residence and art to Tulsa for a museum. It is an awe inspiring museum.
Once, I was fortunate enough to see an exhibit of Etruscian art. I had to drive a little ways for it, but it was totally worth it.
I will definitely miss the Festival of Trees put on by the Philbrook Museum every year. Local artists submit different interpretations of Christmas trees and ginger bread houses to the museum for display and auction. All of the proceeds go to fund the museum. The interpretations, based on a different theme each year, are truly remarkable.
Portland definitely has a lot of great things to offer it's residents, but art museums are not on the top of the list. Either that or I have just been spoiled by the art museums of Tulsa that are the legacy of a couple of very generous oilmen.
One can list many ways that Tulsa is lacking, but culture is definitely not one of them. For a city it's size, it has incredible museums, opera (http://www.tulsaopera.com/), ballet (http://www.tulsaballet.org/), and a very active performing arts center (http://www.tulsapac.com/). It has very active and established social groups whose missions are to promote the arts in Tulsa. All of these are products of Tulsa's Golden Era when it was the "Oil Capital of the World." All one has to do is pick up a Tulsa People, http://www.tulsapeople-digital.com/tulsapeople/200811/?u1=texterity, and see all of the party pictures from fundraisers and all sorts of balls. This months addition does not have those pages because October is the annual blackout period for events so that the United Way can get a great start on it's yearly fundraising goal.
Portland is a wonderful city; Tulsa is a wonderful city. This post just goes to prove what I have said all along, it is difficult to compare the two cities. It is definitely like comparing apples and oranges.