Art Exhibitions

Portland Japanese Garden is a natural vehicle through which to explore Japanese art and design. Art exhibitions explore ideas and aesthetics integral to the fabric of life in Japan. Introducing a wide array of artists and art forms, these exhibitions reflect on ways we experience peace through connections to art, nature, and one another.

Art exhibitions at Portland Japanese Garden began with Diane Durston, Curator Emerita (former Arlene Schnitzer Curator of Culture, Art and Education from 2007-2018). It launched with a series of four special exhibitions a year— one for each of the four seasons—that would reflect the intersection of art and nature and introduce the importance of seasonality in Japanese art and gardens. The exhibitions would celebrate work influenced by the aesthetics of Japan or created in response to the Garden itself.

Aki Nakanishi, Portland Japanese Garden’s current Arlene Schnitzer Curator of Culture, Art, and Education explains, “Traditionally, the role of Japanese gardens is to offer a place of quiet contemplation detached from the noise of modern society. But at the same time, Japanese gardens have always embraced, if not strived for a sense of symbiosis created at the intersection of architecture, art, and nature, which demonstrates the balance that can be achieved when nature and human ingenuity converge.”

Now more than a decade later, Portland Japanese Garden has successfully introduced the work of more than 75 artists representing Japan and its unique artistic traditions. The works come from internationally known artists—some of whom have been recognized as Living National Treasures in Japan, as well as rising young artists and artisans from all parts of the country.

Current Art Exhibition – Vision of Place

Saturday, March 16th, 2024 – June 10th, 2024

Breathtaking river scene with cherry blossom and bare trees, showcasing 'Vision of Place' text.

Celebrating 65 years of the Portland and Sapporo Sister City relationship, Vision of Place welcomes the work of a local Portland photographer and Hokkaido-based photographers to showcase the beauty of Japan’s northernmost prefecture, Hokkaido.

Shashin: Photographic Frontiers of Hokkaido

Cherry Blossom reflecting over water with golden hue.
Cherry Blossom Season at Hakodate Goryokaku Castle ruins” 2022. Photo by Hisao Asano.

In the Pavilion Gallery, we’ve invited The North Finder. This Hokkaido-based group of photographers’ mission to “raise the image of Hokkaido through photography and help people to know Hokkaido more deeply” to share their perspective of Sapporo (capital of Hokkaido). The show exhibits the work of 23 photographers that capture the diversity of natural environments, distinctive seasons, and notable sites of Portland’s sister city from the perspective of the people who live there. Featuring a range of subjects, this exhibition shares poetic perspectives of the iconic region.

Quiet Reflections of Hokkaido Winter: Photography by Sandra Chandler

Abstract photo composite of trees and lake with a texture overlay.
Surrounding Birches, 2023. Photo by Sandra Chandler.

Connecting the perspective of Hokkaido with Portland is an exhibition of local artist Sandra Chandler, which is exhibited in the Jordan Schnitzer Japanese Arts Learning Center’s Calvin and Mayho Tanabe Gallery. Chandler is a passionate photographer, who has been a longtime supporter and Portland Japanese Garden’s Foundation Board Chairperson. Traveling the world using her designer’s eye, Chandler’s photography explores minimalist compositions artfully captured from nature. This exhibition showcases the essence of the serene winter landscape of Japan’s northernmost island. The artwork in Quiet Reflections evokes minimalism and reflection through artfully composed scenes from Hokkaido’s winter season.  

Learn more about the relationship between Portland Japanese Garden and the city of Sapporo and the stone lantern that serves as a tangible reminder of our longtime friendship.

Explore Previous Art Exhibitions