Reub's journey

26 February 2012

John Frame's Fragments of a Lost Tale

Plaza outside Portland's museum of art
Have you ever looked forward to  what you thought was going to be a really cool experience, and then discovered that there was another equally amazing thing going on, something you hadn't expected? And its unexpectedness is an added plus? 

Like ordering a small plate of smoked ancho-coffee-glazed pork and finding out that the bed of lentils it is served on is shockingly spectacular? (Red Star Tavern, Portland, OR) To be side-tracked and delighted quite often, that's the goal.

A visitor looking at Rothko's Untitled sketch for Harvard mural, 1962
Yesterday we were in Portland for the jazz festival, and decided to fit in a visit to the Portland Art Museum to look at the exhibit of Mark Rothko's art.  We ran into an acquaintance from Corvallis who said "Yeah, Rothko, but have you been UPSTAIRS? You have to go upstairs!" So, although it meant a second trip back to the museum, we did; we went upstairs to see the John Frame exhibit.

Detail of a sketch by John Frame
John Frame is a self-described reclusive sculptor from California, and it is quite likely that you haven't heard of him. His exhibit in Portland is only the second showing of his phenomenal multi-media work Three Fragments of a Lost Tale. Born from fairy tales and half-dreams, this is a dark exploration of deep questions. I really hope that this exhibit travels east.

If you have time, the 12 minute video below is astonishing.

If you really want to explore this artist further, be sure to go to his excellent website. And for a very interesting 45 minute Q-and-A session with the artist exploring intuition and the creative process there is a video from the Huntington Library in southern California.

John Frame, if you should stumble upon this post I want you to know that your exhibit was swarming with interested visitors: standing-room only for the two videos. Many people came to pay homage to Mark Rothko, a native son of Portland, but they ended up being bowled over by you. You and your tiny sculptures, your keyboard, "Logic Pro" and your son-in-law to help with the videography.


  1. i was able to play the short segment (after some major buffering issues with my internet connection). looks like an amazing project!

  2. Oh I hope his work comes to my side of he continent too. Wow!

  3. twg: I hate it when it constantly stops. Happens here too, but right now everything is smooth.

    Laoch: Innit?

    Reya: This is very high caliber, thought-provoking work. I loved seeing all of the characters displayed in a pitch-black room, and then watching the videos. I came home & looked up John Frame. After sculpting the characters he says that they have taken on personalities and names of their own. It's like how I was as a child, playing alone in my room with my amazing collection of Steiff animals. Each creature had its own life, it's own virtues and faults, and it's own trajectory.


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