Lan Su Chinese Gardens, Portland

This morning I went to the Lan Su Chinese Gardens in downtown Portland, taking advantage of the free admission this week. It is a lovely—albeit a bit a small—collection of Chinese plants, gardens, pools and walkways twisting into and out of beautiful rooms designed exactly how they would appear as if it were a traditional garden. The garden is the result of a cooperation between Portland’s sister city in China, Suzhou. Construction began in 1999 on the old parking lot of Northwest Natural Gas. 500 tons of rock were imported to Portland from China for the construction, and 65 Chinese workers travelled here to build it.

I came across a room in which children were (supposedly) painting calligraphic Chinese characters. A sign next to two boards suggested the children try to paint the character “water (水)”, or “fish (魚)”. I noticed that, at least based on the children I observed, no one was painting Chinese characters. Instead, they created some very beautiful abstract paintings, and from these paintings one is reminded of the inhibitions of the young mind, and how at ease it becomes when liberated by creation.

(Camera: cell phone)

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