Portland art blog + news + exhibition reviews + galleries + contemporary northwest art

recent entries

2019 1st links
2018 Summary
End of 2018 Links
PNCA + OCAC Merger Off
Loss of Material Evidence at Hoffman Gallery
Hoffman Gallery Changes at Lewis and Clark?
1st Weekend Picks
Meow Wolf The Movie
Giving Thanks Readings
Meet RACC's new leader Madison Cario
November Reviews
Early November Links

recent comments



Book Review
Calls for Artists
Design Review
Openings & Events
About PORT

regular contributors


Tori Abernathy
Amy Bernstein
Katherine Bovee
Emily Cappa
Patrick Collier
Arcy Douglass
Megan Driscoll
Jesse Hayward
Sarah Henderson
Jeff Jahn
Kelly Kutchko
Drew Lenihan
Victor Maldonado
Christopher Moon
Jascha Owens
Alex Rauch
Gary Wiseman



Guest Contributors
Past Contributors
January 2019
December 2018
November 2018
October 2018
September 2018
August 2018
July 2018
June 2018
May 2018
April 2018
March 2018
February 2018
January 2018
December 2017
November 2017
October 2017
September 2017
August 2017
July 2017
June 2017
May 2017
April 2017
March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005

contact us


Contact us






powered by


Movable Type 3.16

This site is licensed under a


Creative Commons License

Tuesday 03.06.12

« Monday Links | Main | Helen Molesworth lecture »

Candidates and the Arts

Last night's Mayoral and City Council, arts and culture Q&A at the Armory (video here) went pretty much as expected, except that Mary Nolan and Jefferson Smith were not able to be present (Smith due to his work in the legislature in Salem). There was a lot of boilerplate and outright dodges but here are some impressions:.

Overall, none seemed that terribly different from one another except Brian Parrot, whose constant equation of the sports and the arts fell on deaf ears. Look I'm a fanatical tennis player and his equation of art and tennis makes no sense to me and I wrote the book on it. Also, his call for an Olympics Winter Games bid as a way to heighten the profile of the arts was also a non starter.

City Council candidates and James Lavadour images

Surprsingly none of the city council candidates knew who James Lavadour was (major opportunity to score points lost, though technically he doesn't live in Portland)... I bet they do now.

All of the candidates (except Parrot) i.e.; Amanda Fritz, Eileen Brady, Steve Novick and Charlie Hales were staunch advocates of core issues like the planned but potentially delayed 10+ million dollar tax levy for arts and education as well as Mayor Adam's current call for diversity in arts funding. None seemed too eager to put the levy to a vote this Fall so the supposed key issue is a non issue. Surprisingly none of them wanted the be the arts commissioner with Brady, Hales, Fritz and Novick pointing out that another commissioner (probably Nick Fish) is likely most suited to that job. That is true but it also means that if Hales or Brady were elected, the arts commissioner's bureau wouldn't have the same profile as being in the Mayor's office. It would be crucial to know if Jefferson Smith would make arts and culture a personal priority like the current Mayor Sam Adams has? Yes there are pitfalls to having the Mayor as arts commissioner though... is the mayor's office too distracted by police affairs etc. to handle the arts? I don't think so but I did appreciate Brady's response that she would be too busy trying to grow the economic well being of the city to adequately do the job but would be a staunch supporter of the arts on the council.

Charlie Hales (L) and Eileen Brady (R) with arts patron Harold Schnitzer who passed away last year looming above

Overall, Brady came off as the most practical and tactical in that she spoke of the arts ecosystem needing growth in money, which is tied to job base creation. She is also the only one who seemed concerned that Portland was good but not great on both arts support and job creation. She saw the connections between patronage, civics and jobs in a way the other candidates did not. She's definitely the Portland don't be complacent candidate. Hales on the other hand kept referring to his extensive and tested record with RACC and the Oregon Cultural Trust. Both good things that still have a ways to go before they can be said to explicitly make a point of excellence... Portland tends to want to fund feel good community art but has a hard time funding excellence (in fact they avoid the word like the plague, probably because it sounds divisive). To be fair RACC and other funding sources have improved in the funding of adventurous, intellectually rigorous culture... but it's still the exception not the rule (Portland has the worlds attention for artistic excellence yet we still do funding like nobody cares). Would these candidates press for better standards, higher expectations and consistently higher quality peer review? PORT should just ask them some time in the future but my sense was Brady understands that higher bar having grown up in Chicago (the city with the best public art since Rome), Hales, Fritz and Novick would be more status quo (which is still improvement oriented) and Jefferson Smith we need to find out? (PORT should just ask some more specific questions of all involved, yes candidates consider that an invite). Everyone seemed to love all the TV and film production in Portland.

Of the group the most skilled politicians were in this order; Steve Novick, Amanda Fritz, Charlie Hales (who seemed more out of the current game than Fritz), Eileen Brady and way way WAAAYY back Brian Parrot a far distant last. Though Hales certainly seemed to have an edge in experience over Brady she did seem fresher... she came off pretty well as political outsider, her effectiveness being the big queastion. Novick is in another class all together, the sheer inanity of interjecting his love of classic rock into the discussion should have made him seem out of touch but with his skill he just seemed.. well a guy who likes to rock out. (I confess I think he should be Governor and would have been much better than Jeff Merkley in Washington... perhaps he's too good?) Novick was the only one of the candidates who seemed like a sticker for efficiency and better use of public money... he was also the most flaming liberal on stage. That is a feat! Might Novick be one to push arts funding to be more qualitatively targeted and quantitative? Brady might have that edge too... The fact is, arts funding can yield a tremendous bang for the buck and the most bang is begotten by handing even modest funds to edgy innovators who already do a lot with nothing. As I mentioned in my Portland Tribune Op-ed we dont directly support our alternative-spaces with operational funding, whatever they get is piecemeal and indirect. Give those people just $500-5k and you get way more return than giving to large established institutions. Hales wins points by actually having an artist opening at his campaign HQ, but honestly weve seen that before (very Adams-esque)... So which one of these Mayoral candidates Smith, Hales or Brady is the let's step it up candidate who can actually get things done? I want to see initiative, not resting on the laurels that tens of thousands of arty Portlanders have already achieved with scant institutional support. I want to see a plan for leveraging Portland as a creative catalyst.

Brady took ownership of the issue of patronage more than any other candidate last night. She pointed out how the so called Silent Generation (who happen to be great art patrons) are passing away (Jordan Schnitzer was mentioned by moderator Randy Gragg) and that our major institutions need to build up their endowments and retire institutional debt. She's right there and having a Mayor pushing that issue is a big deal. Hales seemed like he had the political network and experience but Brady seemed to understand how the Mayor as figurehead sets civic agenda (ie a dynamic Mayoral approach). Jefferson Smith's statement (read rather hurriedly by Gragg) was perhaps the best statement of the night... he stressed how he was brought up by Portland and felt a sense of responsibility for its continued success. It was mostly a feel good dodge. Overall though I felt like all of the mayoral candidates needed to hone their arts and culture policy a great deal, Fritz and Novick already had theirs down cold... and very familiar (more of the same) and frankly I want to see us step up our game because there IS a lot of room for improvement in the civic and institutional approach to the arts. PORT would like to ask a few more pointed questions of all the candidates to gauge who are the best arts and culture candidates, this Q&A seemed like a start and we are much tougher analysts. If there is a clear leader on the issue, the arts and culture vote will likely decide the mayoral election.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on March 06, 2012 at 13:13 | Comments (0)


Post a comment

Thanks for signing in, . Now you can comment. (sign out)

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)

Remember me?

s p o n s o r s
Site Design: Jennifer Armbrust   •   Site Development: Philippe Blanc & Katherine Bovee