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Oregon: Rothko returns to Portland. Will artsy travelers follow?

February 17, 2012|By Christopher Reynolds | Los Angeles Times staff writer
  • Mark Rothko, No. 14, 1951, oil on canvas. Copyright 1998 Kate Rothko Prizel and Christopher Rothko.
Mark Rothko, No. 14, 1951, oil on canvas. Copyright 1998 Kate Rothko Prizel… (Courtesy of the Portland…)

This is the year of Mark Rothko in Portland, which means not only a proliferation of bright-colored blobs under those oft-gray skies, but also a flurry of arts and lodging offers.

At the core of the festivities is the Portland Art Museum, which will show a Rothko exhibition Feb. 18-May 27. It features 45 of the artist’s works, from early figurative paintings to later abstract works, borrowed from the Rothko family, the National Gallery of Art and private collectors. The museum bills the show as “Portland’s first comprehensive look at the artist’s development.”

Meanwhile, Feb. 21-March 18, Portland Center Stage, the city’s most prominent theater group, is staging “Red,” a bio-drama by John Logan that’s set in the late 1950s, when Rothko was commissioned to create a series of large pieces for New York’s Four Seasons restaurant. The production stars Daniel Benzali and Patrick Alparone.

As for lodging, the artsy Hotel Lucia in downtown Portland has a “Rothko in Retrospect” package starting at $199 a night that includes two tickets to the art exhibition, a $20 gift certificate to the museum gift shop and two free “Red on the Rocks” cocktails, created by the hotel bar to celebrate the show. There’s a separate discount of $10 a ticket for those who make their Portland Center Stage “Red” bookings through the hotel.

Rothko, whose color-saturated abstract paintings won global recognition, was born in Russia and arrived in Portland with his family at age 10. He did much of his growing up there, headed to Yale for college, dropped out and returned for long enough to mount his first one-man show at the Portland Art Museum in 1933. Shortly after, he headed east again.

Though his work brought him to fame in the late 1950s and 1960s, Rothko committed suicide in 1970 at age 66.

Info on the show: Portland Art Museum

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