John Foyston

 

On tap: 200 years of Oregon beer

The Historical Society's "Barley, Barrels, Bottle, & Brews" tells the tale of Oregon beer culture from then to now. We'll drink to that.

Oregon’s brewing industry is robust and growing, with nearly 300 breweries, hundreds of pubs and taprooms, and legions of fans thirsty for its hoppy, craft-brewed beers. But all that great beer had to start somewhere, so it’s instructive to put that pint down for a while and tour the new exhibit at the Oregon Historical Society that details the 200-year history of Oregon brewing.

Barley, Barrels, Bottles, & Brews: 200 Years of Oregon Beer fulfills its promise with a good selection of artifacts from the museum’s collections and a few high-tech twists such as the interactive brewing flow chart, the Hop AromaTron (not its real name) and the design-your-own-beer display that will interest even the non-beer-drinker ­– I mean, there must be a few out there, right? But not many, said OHS executive director Kerry Tymchuk as he led a gaggle of journos through the new exhibit. “Why should we care about Oregon beer,” he said, “because beer and brewing has always been a vital part of Oregon culture, thanks in part to the hops grown here and the fact that Oregonians have always loved their beer.”

Two hundred years of beer on the wall at the Oregon Historical Society. Photo: John Foyston

That love started early – if with a bit of orthographic diversity – with an entry from the Lewis & Clark journals: “Collins made Some excellent beer … which was verry good.” It probably wasn’t much like the hazy and brut IPAs that are the current Oregon favorites, it being brewed with Camas-root bread and all … but I imagine any beer was well received in that circumstance.

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Fast wheels, modernist dreams

The sleek cars and motorcycles in the Portland Art Museum's "Shape of Speed" reflect the swift rise of Modernist design in the 1930s and '40s

The striking black-and-silver 1934 BMW motorbike in the Portland Art Museum lobby sits in front of a digital reader board that intermittently displays an image of one of Monet’s Water Lilies – an apt reminder of the The Shape of Speed’s leitmotif: vehicles can be art.

Certain vehicles. Not Toyota Camrys or Dodge minivans or even split-window ‘Vettes; but these 17 cars and two motorcycles most definitely. The Shape of Speed: Streamlined Automobiles and Motorcycles, 1930-1942 is the latest exhibition in the Portland Art Museum’s design series, guest curated by Ken Gross, former director of the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles. The show is open now and runs through September 16.

Beauty meets beauty: Monet water lilies and 1934 BMW. Photo: John Foyston

Gross previously curated the Museum’s 2011 exhibition The Allure of the Automobile, which celebrated automobiles as kinetic art. This never-before seen collection celebrates Modernism as expressed by the streamline dreams of the 1930s, when the ever more slippery shapes of airplanes influenced everything from architecture to steam locomotives, radios and automobiles; even Raymond Loewy’s gorgeous – and it could be said – essentially pointless chrome teardrop of a pencil sharpener. (Not that I wouldn’t feel like Tommy Tomorrow himself if I had one on my desk…)

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