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Digital Fireside: Art of Vitality – The Peter Shinbach Art Collection

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Bamboo represents a millennia-old cultural symbol for vitality, suppleness, and strength – bending, not breaking under adversity. Like many other traditional crafts, bamboo basketry, once woven into the cultural fabric of everyday life has dwindled amid rapid modernization. Bamboo artistry in Japan is no exception to this trend, and yet mirroring the resilience of bamboo itself, contemporary craftsmen have transformed this art form by redefining the entire ecosystem in which works are produced, traded, and revered. 

In association with our current show, Art of Vitality: Peter Shinbach Bamboo Art Collection in the Tanabe Gallery, Portland Japanese Garden is honored to host an intimate conversation between Margo Thoma, director of TAI Modern and an expert known for expanding our contemporary understanding of Japanese bamboo art, and Peter Shinbach, a local collector with exquisite taste for master craftsmanship in bamboo.

This 60-minute webinar will offer professional as well as personal insights into the evolving dynamics of the art form while taking viewers on an immersive journey across the techniques and minds of bamboo masters. We hope you will join us on April 12, from 4:30-5:30 PM Pacific Time. 

About the Speakers


Peter’s interest in Japanese art and culture goes back to his high school days when he was given the choice of studying either Asian or Russian history.  He wisely chose the former.  

Peter became interested in Japanese bamboo art about twenty years ago and began collecting baskets about fifteen years ago.  His collection represents works created from the late 19th century up to the present; from baskets created primarily for the flower arrangements used in tea ceremonies, to contemporary sculptural pieces that illustrate the Japanese tradition of transforming ideas from other cultures into uniquely Japanese expressions. His collection includes several works created by 20th and 21st century Living National Treasures. 

As a member of the Portland Japanese Garden, Peter volunteers his time giving Garden tours.


Margo Thoma was born in Illinois in 1980. She moved to Santa Fe in 2006 after graduating from Stanford with a BA in Art History. She co-founded the contemporary art gallery Eight Modern in 2007. In 2014, Thoma purchased TAI Gallery, merging it with her existing gallery, to create TAI Modern. She and TAI’s team have continued gallery founder Rob Coffland’s mission of encouraging and advocating for Japanese bamboo art worldwide. 

Thoma has supported the Oita prefectural government’s efforts in promoting bamboo art to the West by serving as an advisor, facilitating public demos, and curating public bamboo art exhibitions. She is an active collaborator with and ally for senior artists across Japan, while simultaneously championing emerging bamboo artists by sponsoring submission fees and travel expenses. She has written essays for exhibition catalogs both in the U.S. and in Japan and spoken publicly on bamboo art. 

 Works by TAI Modern artists have been placed in some of the country’s most prestigious institutions, including the Art Institute of Chicago; the Metropolitan Museum of Art; and the Asian Art Museum, San Francisco.