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Oaks Park Pentimento: Portland's Lost and Found Carousel Artby Jim Lommasson
Synopses & Reviews
Oaks Park Pentimento records the blurring of past and present, a moment when two generations of paintings collided to create remarkable new images.
Over two days in 1982, Jim Lommasson photographed the strange and beautiful paintings that decorated the center column of the historic carousel at Oaks Amusement Park in Portland, Oregon. The original carousel images were an exotic assortment of Edwardian pastoral scenes — western explorers, Native Americans, Arabs, idealized women — painted by anonymous German and Italian immigrants in the 1920s. In 1944, two itinerant painters, brothers from Vashon Island, Washington, painted over the eighteen panels. Their paintings featured Oregon landmarks from the coast to the Columbia River Highway and from Mount Hood to Multnomah Falls.
After years of wear, the new images began to flake and fade away, revealing parts of the original imagery in strange and unusual ways. The double exposures or apentimentosa include a ghostly sailboat gliding through a forest, an Indian chief looming over the Columbia River Gorge, and a parasoled woman with the road to Crown Point emerging from her loins. Each new image created a completely accidental, even surreal, story about the juxtaposition of two generations of paintings.
Just three years after Jim Lommasson captured these images on film, the original paintings were restored and the mysterious double exposures disappeared. Oaks Park Pentimento preserves Lommasson's haunting photographs and also includes an appreciation by art historian Prudence Roberts and a look at Oaks Park, past and present, by Oregonian reporter Inara Verzemnieks.
Native Oregonians who grew up visiting Oaks Park, newcomers interested in the city's quirky, offbeat culture and history, readers interested in folk art and art photography, and carousel and amusement park buffs alike will enjoy these remarkable photographs.
"The images are rich, intriguing, and poignant.... The three essays that surround and contemplate the images add layer after layer of beautifully voiced history and meaning." Katherine Dunne, author of Geek Love and One Ring Circus: Dispatches from the World of Boxing
About the Author
Jim Lommasson is the recipient of the Dorothea Lange-Paul Taylor Prize from The Center of Documentary Studies at Duke University and author of the critically acclaimed book Shadow Boxers: Sweat, Sacrifice, and the Will to Survive in American Boxing Gyms. An exhibit of his Oaks Park photographs was held at the Portland Art Museum in 2007. A recipient of regional and national awards with work in numerous collections, he lives in Portland, Oregon.
Inara Verzemnieks has been a staff writer at the Oregonian since 1997. In 2007, she was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in feature writing.
Prudence Roberts is an art historian and curator specializing in Pacific Northwest art. She is the former curator of American art at the Portland Art Museum and now teaches at Portland Community College. She lives just a few miles from Oaks Park
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Arts and Entertainment » Art » Pacific Northwest