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Quest for Beauty – John Yeon


The Portland Art Museum is currently hosting an exhibit on the works of John Yeon who is one of the most influential Oregon architects. The exhibit titled Quest for Beauty: The Architecture, Landscapes, and Collections of John Yeon, is a retrospective look at an Oregon original.

Yeon is most widely remembered as an architect, in particular for a series of innovative houses—most prominently, the 1937 Aubrey Watzek House—that drew an international spotlight to regional modernism in the Pacific Northwest and locally he is well known for the work that he did to preserve the Columbia River Gorge.

From the PAM website:

Developed with the University of Oregon’s John Yeon Center for Architecture and the Landscape, Quest for Beauty’s architecture and landscape section surveys two dozen projects and buildings designed between 1927 and the mid-‘50s, including a dynamic 1934 scheme for Timberline Lodge; Yeon’s inventive plywood houses of the late ‘30s; and the 1950 Shaw House, which elegantly anticipates the stylistic eclecticism of Postmodernism. The exhibition features original models and drawings, along with images by a trio of the midcentury’s greatest architectural photographers: Ezra Stoller, Maynard Parker, and Roger Sturtevant. Newly developed models and axonometric drawings will invite a greater understanding of Yeon’s careful siting of buildings and his cutting edge construction and sustainable design techniques. A high-definition time-lapse video records the changing seasons at The Shire, the stunning 78- acre preserve in the Columbia Gorge that Yeon saved from development and shaped into a unique landscape.

The exhibition features a wide selection of art, decorative arts and historic materials lent by Richard Louis Brown, who founded the Yeon Center in 1995 with his gift of the Watzek House to the University of Oregon. Yeon’s interests as a collector encompassed a range of materials from distant times and places, with concentrations of Chinese furniture and ceramics, Korean ceramics, Japanese screen paintings, Japanese lacquers and ceramics, and Indian miniature paintings, as well as European decorative arts of the 18th century. He had a keen sense of quality and an eye for detail, and he moved effortlessly across scale and scope, finding delight equally in small objects and vast vistas.

The exhibit is currently on display through September 3rd, 2017 at the Portland Art Museum, more info at their website

Portland Art Museum

1219 SW Park Avenue
Portland, OR 97205


Marisa Swenson
Licensed in Oregon and Washington

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