Hakkodo: The Artisans of Kamakura showed four generations of one family’s mastery of carved, lacquered woodwork. / Photo by Jonathan Ley

As a work of art in its own right, the Portland Japanese Garden is also a natural vehicle through which to explore Japanese art and design.

Beginning in 2008, the annual series of Art in the Garden exhibitions have featured the work of more than 40 artists. Most have come from Japan, but the series has also presented the work of American artists inspired by Japanese aesthetics, traditions, or materials. These varied exhibitions have introduced the work of both internationally-renowned artists and master craftsmen.

Art in the Garden explores ideas and aesthetics integral to the fabric of life in Japan. By looking outside Western notions of fine art vs craft, the work chosen for exhibition aims instead to define the spirit of this complex culture and to reflect, whenever possible, the beauty of nature and the Garden itself.

“Just as evergreens provide the living thread of continuity throughout the four seasons in the Japanese Garden, Art in the Garden is intended to encourage the ongoing exchange of culture, art, and ideas between the US and Japan.”

—Diane Durston, the Arlene Schnitzer Curator of Culture, Art, and Education