Patricia Reser Arts Center at night (art gallery is at the far right and main lobby at left)
Yesterday the Beaverton Arts Foundation unveiled the 46 million dollar Patricia Reser Center For The Arts
or PRCFTA. With a lead gift of 13 million dollars by Reser it features facilities for dance, speakers, music, theater, art classes and of prime interest to us an art gallery. It is a place making opportunity for Beaverton (a major Portland suburb of 96,000 people, which up to now has suffered what Gertude Stein once said of America, "There is no There There." Well, there is now... or will be soon! I'll give special attention to visual arts, which have been in a lot of turmoil lately and have needed good news like this. The 46 million dollar center is now 80% funded, with commitments of 21 million from the city of Beaverton and 1 million from The Harold & Arlene Schnitzer CARE Foundation.
Lead gift patron Patricia Reser discussing the eponymous arts center
you can see from this view how prominently the art gallery (front right tip of building) is positioned, essentially greeting those who turn onto the road and will be visible from cars as they go by.
Main lobby space provides a mixing chamber (the art gallery is to the right) so openings can use this excellent space. It is reminiscent of current Japanese architecture, just compare to the superlative Kengo Kuma designed Portland Japanese Garden expansion
, which has a much more intimate lobby as befitting that institution. Here we have a much larger program and as the arts provide an opportunity for people of all backgrounds to mix and touch base this looks both expansive and intimate, like a street cafe.
The theater looks like a wonderfully round venue for speakers, theater, music or a design/visual arts talk. It is a fantastic amenity that all cities the size of Beaverton should have.
Directly above the art gallery is the art classroom, with views of the wetlands below.
Wetlands the center will overlook. The land in this area used to be used for farming horseradishes by the Biggi family. Certainly horseradish needs to find its way into the culinary landscape in and around the center.
The visual arts gallery is still in the design phase but Opsis is spec'ing it so movable walls can be used to let in the sun or keep it out, depending on the needs of artists. I like the trapezoidal non white box nature of it. Today's installation artists often incorporate the borrowed view or even continue their work outside. There are opportunities here. At just over 1100 sq feet it isnt too large or too small.
Art gallery shown with movable walls. Opsis architects are still working on the design but they understand that many contemporary artists need darkness and flexible control of lighting.
Another art gallery view. Contemporary artists are less interested in the fetish of some hermetically sealed white box. As for the exhibition program the center wants to engage serious contemporary artists as well host a yearly high school show. This can be done but with plans for a gallery director/curator they will likely need a good exhibition review panel with expertise as well as an understanding of how to install successful shows. PRCFTA General Manager Chris Ayzoukian (who has experience with the Walt Disney Concert Hall in LA...also home to the RedCAT exhibition space) seems to understand the need for both expertise and flexability of program and wants to engage artists and curators in the area (there are many). I think a funding inititiative for guest curator/artists would go a long way and having clear objectives and a serious review panel will help. At this point I think the approach is prudent rather than simply hiring a curator/director who will impose a contemporary art regime on the space. This is a new thing for Beaverton and by using a guest program for outreach perhaps they can reach out and find their as yet new audience. Only after the program matures should it then make a push to "professionalize" at the next level, besides they want to be a place where artists can get a leg up. At this point the institution is in a pioneering discovery phase and needs to acquaint itself with its community. The question is will it just b a community free for all with diminished standards? If the PRCFTA is smart they will allocate certain months to programs with clear objectives, community outreach/host ones like a high school show and more challenging ones for professional artists who consider artistic integrity something they cannot skimp on. Perhaps giving each program outcome an umbrella name... I like Horseradish Contemporary Art Series... or something similar to let people know the expectations. Horseradish is the contemporary art of condiments and there is a history here.
Gino Biggi (Left) with General Manager of the PRCFTA Chris Ayzoukian (center) and Tyler Ryerson from the City of Beaverton explaining how excited he is that his family's horseradish farmland is becoming an arts center and the area is becoming an active community. I just love this connection as change is hard and family histories and stories give soul to a place. There is no need to cover it up as the arts uncover such things.
Artist Valerie Otani and PRCFTA patron Jordan Schnitzer
Beaverton's Mayor Denny Doyle unveiling the name of the center and the poorly kept secret that Pat Reser is the lead donor. Frankly the anonymous reveal and $$$$'s are less interesting to me but the fact that leadership in Beaverton is doing this IS important. The specific execution of programming will be of the utmost importance as architecture is just the ribcage of civilization... its the arts that make the body whole.