Portland is becoming.... Portland of course
Portland's visual arts coming of age this week isn't just about the visual
arts, its about how the city conceives of itself and Portland blogger Gretchen
wonders if it's still Portland?
My answer is a resounding Yes, our visual arts scene is now more engaged internationally
(new museum wing, art fair, and international artists in the galleries... some happen to live here) but
there is a sense that Portland has something that other places don't have (from
the ground up with lots of small businesses) and the artists are articulating
that reality. Yes, there are "shiny people" but there are more funky artists as well and the great thing is how frequently they mix. The new Portland doesn't hide from the world, it engages it. People
here seem obsessed with a "better way of life" and a cooler less souless
city that is the envy of most people who know much of anything. It is the anti-imperialist
but opportunist and forgiving America that Portland celebrates. It generally
doesn't matter if you are a republican or democrat here, people feel enfranchised in this city.
It all spills over into the visual arts. The people moving here want something
different than New York or LA and so do the artists who keep streaming here.
Instead of merely vetting inside jokes, quality of "experience" (often
through design quality) is a big deal here. Now instead of Portland "not being like
other places" it is really starting to articulate what would work better. Its a shift towards acknowledged civic leadership that is openly discussed elsewhere as a model. Seriously,
what other US metropolis of 2.1+ million people is so obsessed with art, bicycling,
ecology, neighborhoods full of small businesses and good food?
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