Sunday, December 13, 2009

Day Thirteen: Oaks Park Pentimento

For Day thirteen of The 24 Days of Books, we're going to stay local again. Oregon State University Press has just published an important art book called Oaks Park Pentimento: Portland’s Lost and Found Carousel Art with photos by Jim Lommasson. This book contains photographs (taken in 1982) of the strange and beautiful paintings that decorated the center column of the historic carousel at Oaks Amusement Park in Portland. First painted by German and Italian immigrants around 1912, these paintings were an exotic assortment of pastoral scenes featuring western explorers, Native Americans, an Arab riding a camel, and idealized women.

In the 1940s, two itinerant artists were hired to paint over the faded images and they filled the eighteen panels with depictions of local landmarks. Over the years, these new paintings also began to fade and flake, revealing parts of the original images in unexpected ways. (“Pentimento” means the reappearance in a painting of an underlying image that had been painted over.) These haunting new images, combining both the first and the second pictures, were captured by the photographer just three years before they were lost (forever? or perhaps not?) to another layer of paint. A good gift for anyone interested in historical Portland.
For many more gift-giving ideas, check out our gargantuan December newsletter, which you can read by clicking here.

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