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Monday 05.19.08

« CA @ PCVA | Main | From Portland, OR to Portland, ME »

Connecting excellence


Last Friday the City Club hosted Tom Manley with Brad Cloepfil and Sohrab Vossoughi of Ziba Design to discuss Portland's "Creative Grid". Basically it was about networking Portland's creative institutions, firms and individuals. You can listen to it here. Overall this is an important shift in Portland's strategic future as the city is networking the hell out of itself in a way that lets creative types get in on the ground floor.

I liked several things about this rather 19th century style public forum at the City Club. First the word "excellence" was used frequently (if only both of our Mayoral candidates did the same, whoever gets the job needs to take their cues from these 3 Portlanders and a few others...). Second, Brad Cloepfil made a great point about being honest about our goals and instead of trying to do it all (like some arts institutions attempt) we need to focus on what we can do that is truly excellent. Finally, the best bit was when Cloepfil responded to a the question about money and funding (a red herring) by stating that Portland needs to "Get Over It" and should focus on doing things at a high level instead (I suspect that will bring more money in 5-10 years). The trick is to not get self satified or think that spending lots of money leads to excellence.

I've been saying the same thing for years, the actual amount of money matters less than how it is used. We simply need to ask better questions like my favorite gripe, "are the projects and institutions we are funding raising the level or of discussion, ideas and execution rather than simply existing to create communities of mediocrity. Communities are good but they matter most when they challenge themselves to be better rather than self-congratulatory.

Roberta Smith looked at a show of artistic mash-ups. Sounds like people are looking for something new and trying to see what happens when 2 artists are artificially put together. Of course when its not artificial as in Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg (rivals, lovers etc.) that's when art gets radicalized in exciting ways. I don't think those days are gone.

Last but not least Art Blogging LA has unleashed its redesigned site.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on May 19, 2008 at 10:28 | Comments (0)


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