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The Garden Path

New Curator of Art Brings Innovation and Global Network to Portland

Portland Japanese Garden embarks on its eleventh year of Art in the Garden exhibitions with a new Curator of Art taking the helm in 2019.

“The retirement of esteemed scholar Diane Durston as an art curator at the Garden meant grand shoes to fill. Finding such an experienced and multi-disciplinary talent was no easy task. We had to search worldwide, never once under emphasizing the great significance of this role within the art community and to the Garden itself. There was a lengthy and rigorous search for the right professional for this job and we found her,” said Aki Nakanishi, The Arlene Schnitzer Curator of Culture, Art, and Education at Portland Japanese Garden.

Curator of Culture, Art, and Education Laura J. Mueller, PhD

Laura J. Mueller, Ph.D., joined Portland Japanese Garden in January. She comes to Portland from New York City, where she has been a prolific and successful independent art consultant and curator for more than a decade. Her expertise includes a wide range of Japanese art forms both traditional and contemporary, and her global experience has cultivated a global network of cultural influencers.

Dr. Mueller has curated several exhibitions, including Garden of Unearthly Delights: Works by Ikeda, Tenmyouya & teamLab; Competition and Collaboration: Japanese Prints of the Utagawa School; Adornment in Clay: Ceramic Netsuke from the Richard R. Silverman Collection; and, Strong Women, Beautiful Men: Japanese Portrait Prints from the Toledo Museum of Art. Before completing her doctorate in Japanese art history at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, specializing in the study and research of Japanese woodblock prints, she completed an M.B.A. and M.A. in arts administration at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. Dr. Mueller has spent more than six years in Japan as a scholar and art professional. She completed research under the Japanese Monbukagakusho (Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology) and The Japan Foundation dissertation fellowships at Gakushuin University in Tokyo, Japan. Dr. Mueller will oversee the Garden’s art exhibitions and their related activities.

“She will build upon the Garden’s already noteworthy art program and help elevate the Garden world-class profile on the global stage,” said Portland Japanese Garden CEO, Steve Bloom.