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Daily Art Moment: George Johanson

“For the last week, thick yellow smoke from wildfires across the West Coast has choked the Portland skies. I am reminded of George Johanson’s evocative print City with Small Skull in which the swirling clouds suggest an unnamed menace. The ghostly silhouettes of fir trees sway in the night, bent by the strong wind that propels the clouds. At the center of the composition, just beyond the Fremont Bridge, etched lines represent an explosion, or, perhaps, a burgeoning fire. A coyote skull at the lower-left serves as a memento mori. Although created almost forty years ago, Johanson’s print speaks to this moment as we weather the fierce fires and winds that endanger human, animal, and plant life across our state. We evacuate or remain sealed behind windows watching, waiting, and hoping for the best. Our thoughts are will all those displaced and affected by wildfire.”

Mary Weaver Chapin, Curator of Prints and Drawings

George Johanson (American, born 1928). City with Small Skull, 1981. Etching and relief on paper. Gift of the Artist, 90.29.10 © George Johanson