joakim eskildsen

Joakim Eskildsen’s "The Long Plaits, Tirnaveni"/Courtesy Blue Sky Gallery

I fully expected to be writing about music right now. On Friday, I was attempting to juggle my weekend calendar so I could try to catch Holcombe Waller and friends at the Alberta Rose, the Portland Cello Project and friends at the Aladdin and maybe try to squeeze in Oregon Ballet Theatre’s Holiday Revue with songbird Susannah Mars, though I was also very attracted to the “Hard Times” double bill at the Hollywood Theater (“The Grapes of Wrath” and “Wendy and Lucy,” each introduced by Jonathan Raymond and Kelly Reichardt, who wrote and directed the latter).

But early Friday afternoon I heard that Portland artist Robert Hanson had died (of cancer, aged 75), and suddenly my weekend ground to a halt. I wasn’t a close friend of Hanson’s, though we chatted occasionally when I saw him at art events with his wife, the artist Judy Cooke. I admired his work, which had taken a turn toward figure drawings in the ‘90s, curious little things that were immediately “readable” as portraits (or self-portraits) but then after some scrutiny proved much more elusive than that, the work of a quick mind and a deft mind applied to making creative marks on paper, not simply representations of people. But I had never engaged them on the digital page, which is where I try to work things out.

Maybe that’s what stalled my weekend, the realization that I’d never be able to enlist Hanson to help me, to guide me to an understanding of his work and through that work other things ever more central. I posted the sad news Friday on the ArtsWatch Facebook page (which you can find here), and finally, Saturday, I wrote something about him, drawing on an interview he’d done with the artist Anne Johnson. (You can read it here, if you want.)

By that time I was well past going to hear music, though, even though I knew it would be good, maybe even revelatory, and at the very least, good fun.