The story so far.
I own Hellion Gallery in Portland Oregon, curate art for Gigantic Brewing beer labels, co-produce the Forest For the Trees mural festival and I am the author of the “Tall Trees of” books. The Tall Trees series of books are not just monographs and they are not just image. They feature in depth content in the artists own words. A real connection to the artist. Curating art shows introduced me to artists from all over the world, and that led me to writing this series of Tall Trees books. I wanted to introduce the artists I have met by giving readers a true snapshot of their lives. Art, curation, and books are all about this kind of discovery. The Tall Trees books are just a moment in a city’s art movement. The questionnaires in the book are a handwritten guide to each artist’s experience in the city and a glimpse into their personalities. If I gave the questionnaire to them a year from now, the answers would most likely be completely different. This is what excites me about making these books. It’s the discovery. Creating these books also gives me a backstage pass to the cities food and culture. The goal of this site is to share these things as well as extra content that ends up on the cutting room floor.
Comfortable with Uncomfortable
Damaged goods that is what I am. Japan became my measuring stick for food after my first visit in 1999. My previous existence would no longer satisfy me. I first visited to Japan to visit family. I fell in love and created a job that would bring me back on a regular basis. First, I began finding Japanese artists for my gallery and bringing them to the states for exhibitions. After a few years I started exporting Portland artists to Tokyo. This led to the “Tall Trees of Tokyo” book and later two more “Tall Trees of” books– Portland and Paris. Producing art shows and working with artists also led to making close friends who know good places to eat and drink in Japan and France. I’ve never used a guide book in Tokyo or Paris. My guides have always been my Japanese and French friends or dumb luck. I have rarely been taken to tourist spots, although to this day I still get asked if I can use chopsticks (of course, yes), or if I can eat organ meat (I will in fact eat anything). Still they seem suspicious and inevitably I have to prove myself.
Honestly, many of the places I eat in Tokyo are not easy for non-Japanese. They are usually Japanese language only and to be completely upfront, some of these places really don’t like foreigners. There is an element of xenophobia for sure but usually the reason for this is that they just don’t want the hassle of dealing with a foreigner. Paris is just slightly easier. I had to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. I put myself in situations where I know nothing but want everything. I am also quite aware that my job is to absorb their culture and to assimilate myself into their world. This all happens in 2 to 4 week periods during 2 to 3 visits per year. It’s often enough that some of my friends do not realize I’m not a full time Tokyo resident.
How to Make the World Smaller in 5,649 Simple Steps – essay for Powell’s books.
Tall Trees Of Instagram
Hellion Gallery –
Overcup Books –
Arrested Motion piece about The Tall Trees of Tokyo –
Empty Kingdom piece about The Tall Trees of Portland –