Art Chat with Mako Miyamoto
Mako Miyamoto's unmistakable landscapes brim with vivid masked characters and compelling narratives. Thanks to the artist's consistency and sincerity, the subject matter (Wookies, skeletons, etc.) transcends any level of campiness to become something beautiful and even profound, unapologetically alluring the view into a realm existing somewhere between the real and imaginary. In anticipation of STRAIGHT OUTTA PORTLAND opening February 5th at Stephanie Chefas Projects, we had a chat with the Portlander. Here he talks about his process, the inspiration behind one of his pieces for the show, and Francis Bacon.
What was it about Portland that made you fall in love and call this city home? How has living in the Pacific Northwest shaped your creativity?
It's hard to say exactly what made me fall in love with Portland but I can name a few things that sealed the deal for me. To start off with, you have the mountains, the ocean, the snow, the rain, and the lush green that covers everything up here like a blanket. You've also got the coffee, the food, and the growing design and art community that has some great momentum and people behind it.
Living in the Pacific Northwest has given me such a rich and amazing canvas to explore. I've woven it into my photography as an integral character in my work. There are so many unexplored corners, breathtaking locations, and haunted alleys just waiting to be discovered up here.
Tell us about your process. How does a work evolve from conception to completion?
My process starts with a moment in time that gets stuck in my mind and starts rattling around. To get it out out of my head I sketch it out on paper and begin to gather the bits and pieces that make up that moment; time, place, texture, color, light, and mood. This usually involves a fair amount of location scouting, wardrobe searching, and exploring with my camera. Depending on the project and scope, this can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. During this process that moment in time becomes more visible, taking on a shape and form all its own. Once all those pieces are in place I finally assembly them all and run out to shoot it. Once the shoot begins everything changes and the fun begins.
Your works for Straight Outta Portland are a wonderful mix of pop culture and iconic Portland imagery. Tell us about the inspiration behind this pieces.
Calling Portland home for the last eight years I've seen a fair amount of change sweep across the city. Skylines have shifted, neighborhoods facelifted, and the city has grown. In these pieces I wanted to explore time and the idea of Satoyama, which is a Japanese term for the border between the flat land and foothills; Sato meaning home and Yama meaning mountain. The line between the city and the forest, humanity and animal, and the role we play in the constance of change.
If you could hang only one artwork from art history in your home or studio, what would it be and why?
I would hang Francis Bacon's Three Studies for for a Portrait of George Dyer in my studio. There is an amazing visceral quality and a blurring of identity that I find fascinating in Bacon's work. He has the ability to capture what seeps in on the borders of our subconscious and draws it out front and center with his paintbrush.
Tell us something about yourself we wouldn't necessarily know.
My favorite flavor is grape flavor.
If I were to spend the day with Mako, what could I expect?
If you spent the day with me you should expect to be highly caffeinated and be:
1. Exploring the Oregon coast
2. Wandering around the mountains
3. Getting lost at a flea market
4. Watching the Willamette roll by at Cathedral Park
5. Eating Nong's Khao Man Gai for lunch
STRAIGHT OUTTA PORTLAND opens February 5th at Stephanie Chefas Projects, 305 SE 3rd Ave. #202, Portland, OR 97214, www.stephaniechefas.com