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Wednesday 05.21.08

« From Portland, OR to Portland, ME | Main | Boadwee at Rocksbox »

Art on OPB

louis bunce mural pdx
Louis Bunce mural at PDX, 1953, from the Portland Public Art blog

There's some interesting art programming happening this week on OPB television.

The Art Makers explores the idea that Modern art is a century old in Portland. Although critics have a habit of positing a radical split - even conflict - between the young Portland art scene and preceding generations, the truth is that Portland has been an edge-of-contemporary art city for many, many years, and today's artists are deeply rooted in that history. The Art Makers goes back to the early 20th century to explore how Portland became such an "art-friendly place," drawing a relationship between early innovators such as Harry Wentz, C.S. Price, and Louis Bunce, and modern artists (interviewed) such as Lucinda Parker, George Johanson, Jack McLarty and the late Mike Russo. It airs at 9pm on Thursday, May 22, on OPB TV.

Earlier in the evening, you can catch this week's Art Beat, Everybody's Art. The episode explores the role of public art in Portland's community: "Whether you love it or hate it, or don't even notice it, public art is all around us. Where does it come from, who makes it, and what does it add to our communities and our state?" The show first airs at 8pm on Thursday, May 22, on OPB TV. It will re-run on Sunday, May 25, at 2am and 6pm.

Posted by Megan Driscoll on May 21, 2008 at 9:40 | Comments (5)


Artists have been coming to Portland to do their own thing for a very long time... the map to success isnt laid out and that appeals to a certain type.

Lucinda Parker was the first art person to welcome me here... she noticed that I had a pretty rare art book (circa 1946) that I was reading in the Torrefazione on NW 23rd.

The difference now is that are now moving to Portland to engage the world and certain progressive ideas. Portland is no longer an out of the way place, instead it's becoming a test kitchen for a different way to live and make art. It's a rebel base for artists now, as opposed to an enclave or outpost. These are slightly different expectations but very much of the same cloth and when Ive observed the younger generation and their predecessors speaking they seem more similar than not.

There is a lot of common ground.

Posted by: Double J [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 21, 2008 10:32 AM

Thanks for posting this Megan - I got a sneak peak last week and it looks like everyone who still thinks our arts scene started in 2000 will have lots of food for thought. And I think you're correct when you say that we have more in common with the older generation of artist that populated Portland in the early part of the last century. Though I think it has to do less with Portland being a rebel base and more with Portland's ablitity to provide a haven from the distraction of bigger cities.

Posted by: vmaldonado [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 22, 2008 01:16 PM


I think we are just describing the same thing two different ways. Rebel Base simply means that many of the typical rules in most cities don't apply, it's still defining itself... the size doesnt matter as much as the sense of change (there are smaller and larger cities that are way more predictable than Portland). For example artist are rarely defined by the MFA program they graduated from... sure there is an awareness but it isnt treadted like a brand or a passport.

Part of the reason I moved here in 1999 was an ongoing groundwork had already been laid but needed new blood, a real scene always needs new blood. I felt this civic need for a sense of constant change when I scouted the city in 1998 and it's definitey increased exponentially since then.

From Anna B. Crocker to Sally Lewis, William Jamison and Mel Katz (PCVA) things have happened here that many seem to want to forget... but it's historically false. Im a historian and the idea that nothing of consequence has ever happened here needs to face the truth.

Now that Portland is in a more ambitious mode again it needs to be more honest with itself. For example, the fact that Armory show made its only west coast stop at PAM says a lot about the kind of ambition founded this city. This isn't some sudden flash in the pan, it's a tradition.... If I had wanted to s start from scratch I could have lived in the desert or dealt with a less amibtious place and stayed in Milwaukee, Wi.

True, history isn't something that Americans do well, but I think Portlanders should aspire to a different standard.

Posted by: Double J [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 22, 2008 02:16 PM


I'm encouraged by your response and also by the historical peices that Port is publishing. I think you're right and hope that we continue to integrate the new with the old. Please keep the historical peices coming. I would really like to learn more about the folks that made PAM happen and how we can use their model to establish a contemporary art venue...511 Building?

Posted by: vmaldonado [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 23, 2008 04:16 PM

Big difference - the art of the NOW versus the art which SURROUNDS us. I couldn't care less about ambition or fame or who knows who knows who. It's boring. Swimming it trivia belittles the cosmic experience of mixing sense and memory.

I took the pic above while stuck going from here to there and spent a while trying to engage passersby to talk about the painting. No one knew what it was, most thought it might be part of the signage from the coffee stall below. Employees in nearby shops were unaware. Travelers simply didn't care. It is slightly invisible - because it is not NOW.

I didn't see the OPB thing. I assume it was of municipal collections.

Posted by: cicolini [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 31, 2008 08:55 PM

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